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First Things First

Do you “seek … first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33)?

In the October 2013 general conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that God is our first and highest priority, as stated in the first two of the Ten Commandments:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3–5).

Elder Oaks then said: “The question posed by the second commandment is ‘What is our ultimate priority?’  Are we serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship? Have we forgotten to follow the Savior who taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments? (see John 14:15). If so, our priorities have been turned upside down by the spiritual apathy and undisciplined appetites so common in our day” (“No Other Gods,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 72–73).

How Do You Stack Up?

Here are a few examples of things that may compete for your devotion. They're not all good vs. bad. Sometimes we must choose between good, better, and best. Because every situation may be different, the answers aren't always obvious. But how we make the decision should never change: God should not take second place to anything. How would you put God first in the following situations? Discuss your answers with your family or in class.

1. “I have to get stronger, and the only time I can lift weights is at the same time as early-morning seminary.”

Excelling at my sport vs Attending seminary

2. “My old phone broke and I haven't saved up enough for the new one I want. I'll have just enough if I don't pay tithing this week. So I'll pay twice as much tithing next week.”

Material possessions vs Tithing and mission

3. “I really need to earn a scholarship to college, and I just don't have time to study the way I need to and go to all of my Church meetings on Sunday and during the week.”

Educational aspirations vs Church activity

4. “Everybody makes fun of that girl to get laughs; if I stand up for her, they’ll probably turn on me.”

Popularity vs Kindness

5. “I really want to be friends with her, but she's not a member, and some of the things she does don't fit with Church standards.”

Friends vs Standards

6. “Prophets have taught us not to get tattoos, but that's just what you do where I live.”

Cultural tradition vs Church teachings
 

7. “I realized that I don’t ever play with my little sister anymore ever since I got that new video game a while back.”

Recreational pursuits vs. Family relationships

How Can I Turn It Around?

If you’ve placed a high priority on something ahead of God, decide now to turn your priorities around and put God first. Here are some things that can help you do it.

  • Pray. Your priorities have a lot to do with your motivation and desire. Ask Heavenly Father about your priorities specifically and in detail. Ask for His help in changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions so that they will reflect your love for Him and His Son.
  • Enlist the help of others. Talk to your parents or Church leaders and ask them for support as you try to change.
  • Imagine success. Picture yourself thinking, feeling, and doing the right things in the situations that challenge you the most. Ponder what it would take for that to happen, and then make it happen.
  • Just do it. Determine to put God first, and then do it. Be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who said, “I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it ” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 160).

 

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