Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church said that in order to live a fulfilled, God-glorifying life, Christians must avoid "crooked paths" and refrain from elevating themselves above the Lord.
Giglio's message was part of a sermon series titled “Seek First" and based on Matthew 6:33: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
“Some of you are on crooked paths. And you are like, ‘How did I get on this crooked path?’” the 63-year-old pastor said in his sermon on Sunday.
“You didn’t start out with God. You didn’t put God first. You put you first. You thought you’d work it out. You listened to your friend. You thought you’d just go with the flow. And now, [you’re] on this crooked path. … And what God is saying is, ‘Before you start on the path, put God first,’” Giglio continued.
Having the ability and willingness to put God first happens through humility, he contended. When Christians realize that “everything they have is a gift from God,” it creates a humble heart while giving them an attitude and posture of humility.
“Some of us are so tired because we’ve been trying to lift ourselves up, and God is in the business of lifting you up,” Giglio emphasized. “God is waiting for you to lower yourself and to put God first so that God can go to work in your life and then elevate you. Because He knows when He elevates you, the world will hear about a person who put God first.”
Earlier in his sermon, Giglio told the audience that God should come first in all things, even in decision-making.
“You’re expanding your business — put God first," he said. "You’re expanding your family this year — put God first. You’re heading back to get that degree, you’re moving to a new city, you’ve been elevated to a new role, you didn’t get the new role — which was kind of a gift in a way because it showed you that you have some improvement to do — put God first,” he said.
The How Much More author explained that putting God first in one’s estimation of self means to understand that they were “created on purpose and for a purpose.”
“To put God first is to realize that my life is a gift from God and everything I am and everything I have is by the grace of God,” he said.
The pastor encouraged those who don't think they're worthy of God's love and affection to nevertheless put Him first.
"Your struggle isn’t that ‘I’m all that,’ or ‘I’m a self-made woman,’ or ‘I accomplished all this,’ or ‘I’m the one who brought about all these great results,’ [but] you are kind of tipping over to the other side and it’s a little sneaky over there, sometimes the way the enemy works,” Giglio said.
“If you’re a person today saying, ‘I’m not loved,’ I want to remind you that God has loved you with an everlasting love,” he added.
God destined Christians for great things in life, Giglio posited, and before they came out of their mother’s wombs, God had already declared, “I love you … unconditionally.”
“God has loved you since before you were born, before you knew who He was, before you did good or bad, before you needed to make an adjustment, before you knew even knew how holy He was. Before you took one step to love God, God already loved you. He loves you today, even if you don’t like Him today. He’s still in love with you,” he stressed.
Putting God first, he said, will help people realize that “they are loved” and “that they can do the greatest thing that God asked of them, which is to ‘Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“[God] is still here. He is still with you. He is still committed to His purpose and plan for you. Put God first. … He valued you enough to give His life for you,” Giglio said. “God, when He is first, will help you agree with Him and love yourself in such a radical way that you can make a difference in the way that you love your neighbor, as you live out a life of loving God with all your heart.”
“Make sure your story is that you put God first in your expectations so that when the challenges are big, you know they are not bigger than my God," he advised listeners. "My expectation is that God is going to come through. Maybe not on my timetable. Most likely not on my timetable. Most likely, He didn’t get my memo, but He’s on a throne and He’s got a plan.”