The Challenge Of Putting Christ First

1. The Principle Stated: Lk. 14:25-33 (Jesus taught that true discipleship demands putting him first.)

2. What Hinders Us: Lk. 14:15-24 (This is a story of three different excuse makers. It illustrates different things that hinder us from putting Christ first. Their three excuses will be categorized; employment, possessions, and family. Also we will look at self as a barrier between you and God.)

A. Self: Lk. 14:26 (The word "hate" in this verse means to love less. He includes self in this group. You must love Christ more than yourself. Sometimes we allow our own selfish desires to stand between us and Christ. When you let what you want take priority over Christ's will, that is putting self before Christ.)

2 Tim. 3:2 (Paul lamented a time when people would love themselves more than God. Selfish self-love is listed with grievous sins. Therefore, it too is a grievous sin.)

Mt. 6:24, Mt. 16:24 (Jesus taught you cannot serve two masters. If you try to serve God and self, your allegiances will be confused. Illustrate with citizenship of two countries at once. Who will you be loyal to in time of war? Therefore, you must deny self and not let it hinder your discipleship. You must loose or give up your life in order to follow Jesus.)

Eph. 5:29 (This passage illustrates proper care for self. The proper perspective is that you take care of your, but understand that you serve God first - even before meeting those needs - Matt.6:33.)

B. Employment: Lk. 14:18 (The person who bought land allowed their farm work to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of letting employment [or possessions] hinder your discipleship.)

Lk. 12:16-20 (The man who was so absorbed in his work was considered a fool by God. Look at how many times he referred to himself in vs. 17-19. His selfishness caused him to put his work before spiritual concerns.)

Jn. 21:15-17 (Jesus challenges Peter's love. "More than these" refers not just to a plate of food. It refers to the food they had eaten, fish. Fishing was Peter's way of life and his occupation before he met Christ. Christ challenges Peter to love him more than his own livelihood. Therefore, you must love Christ more than your employment.)

Eph. 6:5-7, Eccl. 9:10 (The proper perspective is that you work hard at your job. Be the best you can be, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

C. Possessions: Lk. 14:19 (The person who bought oxen allowed their possessions to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of putting possessions [or possibly work] before the Lord.)

Lk. 12:15 (Life's joy and success cannot be measured by what you have. Instead it should be measured by what you are.)

Mk. 10:17-22 (The rich young ruler was very obedient but felt unsatisfied with his effort. Jesus listed all the commandments that pertained to relationships with your fellow man except "thou shalt not covet". Jesus knew he was a greedy man. By laying it out this way, Jesus exposed the man's greed. The man refused to repent which made him full of sorrow. Refusal to overcome greed for possessions will destroy your joy, your life.)

Deut. 8:11-14 (Greed for possessions will make you forget God.) 

Eccl. 5:18 (The proper perspective is that you work hard and enjoy what you gain, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

D. Family: Lk. 14:20 (The person who had married a wife allowed their family to prevent their attendance at the feast. This is an example of putting family before the Lord.)

Lk. 14:26 ("Hate" = "love less" in this context. You must love Christ more than all your family.)

Lk. 9:57-62 (At first it may seem Jesus was very strict with these people. However, a closer look reveals that some expressed interest in following Jesus until they learned he had no place to stay. After learning this they used family as an excuse to delay following him. They put their hands to the plow when they expressed a desire to follow Jesus. But they looked back when they saw the going would be tough and began to make excuses. Letting family hinder your service to God will make you unfit for the kingdom.)

Eccl. 9:9 (The proper perspective is that you love and enjoy your family, but not to the exclusion of serving God first.)

3. How To Put Christ First:

    A. Prioritize: Lk. 10:38-42 (Jesus commended Mary because she chose the good, important things. Like Mary, you must make a decision to put Christ before everything.)

    B. Set Your Mind On Heaven: Col. 3:1-2 (Set your cares and affections on heavenly things. Don't be too absorbed with earthly goals. Instead, make heaven your goal.)

    C. Seek To Fulfill The Needs Of The Church: Mt. 9:37-38 (Jesus saw the need for spiritual workers in the vineyard. Don't just see the church as something that is there to fulfill your needs, see the church as something that has many needs. Be consumed with what you can do to help fill the need for workers in the church.)

    D. Invest: Mt. 6:19-21 (Jesus said your heart will be where you put your treasure. If you invest the treasure of your time, money, and effort in the Lord's work, the Lord will become more important to you.)

4. Conclusion: Mk. 10:29-30 (Laying other things aside for Christ brings reward in this life, but especially the great reward of heaven.)