First Things First

When I was in the 5th grade, my teacher gave us a special test.  The entire class was excited because this test would have no affect on our grades, and would only take a few minutes.  Mrs. Sara promoted this test as one that will tell who the smart kids are.  She pressed us to take the questions one at a time; we were encouraged to answer every question in order, and to do exactly what every question said to do.  Man, I was excited!  I wanted to be known as one of the smart ones, so I determined to glance through the questions, answer the easy ones first, and then double-check my answers before I turned the test in to Mrs. Sara.

“Do not pick up your pencil or turn your paper over until I tell you…”.


“Answer every question in order and do everything it says…”


“Don’t skip any questions…”.


Committed to my game plan, I skimmed through the questions.  I read the words, but the directions of the very first question never penetrated the adrenaline coursing through my brain.  I remember writing some things.  “Easy“, I thought to myself.  In my peripheral vision, I could see other kids working furiously.  I was determined I was going to win this one!  So I pressed even harder…

Hmm…”  One of the questions required me to stand up and say the alphabet aloud.  So, I did.  Snickers drifted through the room, but soon, another kid was reciting, then another.  Another question had us say aloud the color of our socks (I think).  “White…”

Soon enough, all the questions were answered, and I victoriously laid down my pencil, turned my test over, and raised my hand.  With a wide grin, I looked toward my teacher, Mrs. Sara.  Mrs. Sara didn’t look too happy.

Shortly, all the pencils were down, and the testing was complete.  Because I finished first, I would now have my moment in the spotlight!

Mrs. Sara asked me to repeat the directions to the test.  I answered,  “Um, read every question, work as fast as you can, um, do everything each question said, um, don’t skip any…”

“Eric, turn your paper over, and read to the class the first question.”

Uh, oh….

My stomach sank when I read question one; “1. Do not go any farther on this test.  Please put your pencil down.  The test is over.”  (or something similar- it has been 37 years…).

I missed the first, and most important question of the entire test.  I was the first loser, the first to fail because I didn’t take the time to read and understand the first question.

No glory, no praises.  Only emptiness and failure.

In Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 6, verse 33, Jesus is teaching about worry, and the fact that there is no value in worrying.  The answer we often overlook in the frenzy of life?  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

No hype, no glory.  Don’t miss the answer to the first question in life.  Seeking first the kingdom of God will take care of all the other questions.  Eternity, hope, salvation, freedom, anything.  It all starts here.

What areas of your life need to be filtered through Matthew 6:33?

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