First Things First
Our Responsibility toward the Lord
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up—Deuteronomy 6:4-7
By James Parkinson
Our life responsibility is to our God. Scholars reconstruct the past, and experts confidently give conflicting predictions for the future. But only God was there when it all happened, and only God can bring about the future that He has promised.
We must be decisive. Elijah stated the matter clearly: “If the LORD be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1Kings 18:21).
Where is Baal today? Who professes to worship him now? But even today the Lord GOD of Israel is at the helm and steering a determined course.
Each of us should wholeheartedly answer, as did Joshua, Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River [Euphrates], or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me, and my house, we will serve the LORD (Josh 24:15).
Worthy is the Lord
God the Father was the architect, and His Son the craftsman, in the creation of all life and the planet on which we stand. “To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him” (1Cor 8:6).
“Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created.”—Revelation 4:11
God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that every man might have one full and complete opportunity to learn righteousness and to do righteously forever. “As through one trespass condemnation cometh unto all men; even so through one act of righteousness justification of life cometh unto all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous” (Rom 5:18, 19).
“Worthy art thou . . .for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they shall reign upon the earth.”—Revelation 5:9-10
Christ, with His bride the church, will raise all the dead and reform them, to fulfil God’s sworn promise, In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22:18).
“Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”—Revelation 5:12
After the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ, and the little season of the world’s final examination, God will forever head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth (Eph 1:10). The experience with Satan, sin, sickness, and death will ultimately bring health everlasting to all the families of the earth (Ps 74:14).
“Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, for ever and ever.”—Revelation 5:13
We must both learn what our Lord does for us and learn our own undone condition. The more conscious we are of our own shortcomings, the more we see our need for Christ.
We have nothing of which to be proud. We brought nothing into this world, and we have nothing of our own. We owe everything to our Lord – even our own selves. “Ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God in your body” (1Cor 6:19-20).
How can we glorify God? How can we show him our devotion?
Consider how a wise young man can know ahead what kind of a wife an attractive young lady would be for him. When he sees how she treats others before they are married, he will have a good idea how she will treat him after they are married. (Similarly, can a wise young lady look ahead.) In like manner, Jesus Christ watches His prospective bride: he watches to see how we treat others.
As we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of faith (those who are on trial for life now)—Galatians 6:10
It is tempting to put on a good face toward those we see only occasionally. But it is a better measure of the heart how we treat those whom we see continually.
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen”—1 John 4:20
A similar standard will apply in the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
We are sinful. To bring glory to the Lord we must do our utmost to overcome sin. “Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? Be it not so. Know ye not that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”—Romans 6:15-16.
And again, “Give no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministration be not blamed” (2 Cor. 6:3).
We are to be cheerfully zealous to honor the name of our Heavenly Father and of His Son Jesus Christ. In case of conflict with anyone and anything else, above all we must not deny our Lord. However, this in no way excuses us from our responsibilities towards others: spouse, father and mother, children, providing things honorable in the sight of all men, and those with whom we meet in the ecclesias of Christ. We must not excuse ourselves by saying, I cannot help you, because I have devoted all my available substance to God (Mark 7:11); both the Mosaic Law and Jesus Christ affirm that our responsibilities to those we have seen are essential to fulfilling our responsibilities to our Lord whom we have yet to see (Exod. 20:12, Mark 7:8-13).
Quotations from ASV (1901) translation; modified where required by the Greek text.