Life can get complicated in a hurry, can’t it? When it does, you yearn for simplicity. In those moments, you need a way to prioritize.

Grand jury duty complicated my life. Many in the jury pool took time away from work to report to the courthouse. The nominal pay is little consolation for a worker supporting a family. But when the court officials thanked the jury for our service, it prompted me to reconsider the workers’ plight. Communities with law, order, and effective government are vital for families, jobs, and civilization itself. Simply put, jurors were missing a day of work to prioritize conserving the foundations of a decent life.

WWII put civilization in peril. C.S. Lewis blamed a focus on preserving peace at all costs and maintaining a quality of life instead of confronting evil, which had shattered their tranquility. “You can’t get second things by putting them first,” he wrote. “You can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, ‘What things are first?’ is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone.” He wrote this as his fellow citizens struggled to understand how such a war could happen again.

The ultimate answer to Lewis’ question is clear to the believer. Jesus said not to worry about food, drink, and clothing, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33). Simply said, to submit to God’s will and way is to put first things, first. Put your priorities in order. Then you can address complications and deprivations from a place of peace and strength.

Even non-believers like Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert comic strip) recognize this. His hypothesis is that life is complicated and unhappy if you must rely on many things that really are unreliable. By contrast, he admires people who “accept one thing on faith – God. And then once they’ve accepted that one thing, the path to a happy life is clear.” The simple, first thing is that God is there.

Having God as your “first thing” has practical implications. Faith is the antidote to fear and worry. It means having pre-set priorities, clear moral boundaries, and a future hope. It seasons your time management, people skills, and personal resiliency. It means having church friends. (Resource: look up “simple church.”) Life works better when you have a firm starting point, a clear worldview, and friends to share the journey.

When life gets complicated, what is your starting point? How do you prioritize your life? Jesus’ answer is both simple and profound. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put first things, first.