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First things first. Great advice for a wide variety of situations, this phrase typically is taken as a reminder to break big tasks into smaller, sequential tasks. It’s generally a very effective approach to utilize in working toward goals, and one that is easy to forget in the fervor to “achieve.”
In New Thought, first things first relates more to the Biblical verse:
But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
I was reminded of this quote in the Emmet Fox e-zine I receive from Golden Key Books each month. Emmet Fox is one of my favorite New Thought authors, and his explanation of the verse was shared in the e-zine :
Echoes of Emmet
The principle that Jesus expressed in these words is the basic law that underlies all demonstration or answer to prayer, for it is the realization of God that heals.
Many people know this in theory, but are confused about putting it into practice. Without quite realizing what they are doing they often think, “I will ignore this problem and think about God instead.” Here there is a subtle mistake; because they are really thinking of their problem as existing in one place, of God as existing in another; and of themselves as going in thought from the first place to the second place.
This, of course, is by implication to reaffirm the existence of the problem in its own place, and such a belief will not heal.
What we have to do is to seek the kingdom in the very place where the trouble seems to be. We have to know that in Truth and Reality it is not there, because God is there. This is the critical step. When we succeed in doing this, the difficulty disappears.
I realize that, to many, this perspective regarding problems makes no sense –and I respect that. 🙂 I myself often approach problems more pragmatically. But I have to say that the notion of seeing God/Spirit where a problem seems to be and having that awareness resolve the “problem” in actual experience is very appealing and intriguing to me 🙂 There are anecdotal stories of such healings to be sure…and even a documented case as shared here on this site–from one of Gregg Braden’s books ( I think it’s from Secrets from the Lost Mode of Prayer). The case involved a woman with bladder cancer and a group of monks praying over her as the bladder was viewed via sonogram in front of a group of medical doctors. As the monks prayed the tumor shrank and disappeared! The monks said that their chant/prayer loosely translated meant “already accomplished.” I would venture to guess that it wasn’t the words themselves so much as the monks awareness that healed.
I cannot claim any such healings myself 🙂 But I can say with confidence that when I “detach” from a problem and take a moment to find inner calm, things improve. It can be hard to take this moment each and every time something arises, however. I think that’s the value in the “seek ye first” verse. Combined with the advice to “pray without ceasing” we get the gist: Seek the kingdom of God/inner peace everywhere, always, and in the midst of our daily lives, and not just when we are”officially” praying or meditating or pondering. Do this, and “all things will be added”–life’s problems will lessen or cease. Wow. It’s simple but not easy-to-follow advice! Be/see vs do.
Who’s with me? ?