July 29, 2009
Seeking First the Kingdom
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)
When is the last time any of us worried about food or drink? Clothes? Not only do we rarely show signs of anxiety over any of these but our options are limitless when it comes to where we'll eat the next meal or cover our bodies in garments. Read this passage to someone in an underdeveloped country (or possibly even your local homeless person) and it will probably relate quite differently.
Jesus was talking about the essentials for human survival. Eating is essential. So is drinking water. Being clothed helps keep our sensitive skin from all the elements - heat, rays of the sun, rain, snow, cold, insects, etc. So, why would Jesus talk about a passage that is likely difficult for most of us in the western world to truly relate to. Maybe the prophet Isaiah will help;
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)
God does not only make His home in the heights of Heaven. He also finds a place with the lowly and the contrite - those who show a sign of remorse for their sins. It explains why Jesus had such a heart for the poor. Even to the extent of comparing Himself to the poor - "whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you do unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Will it ever be possible for us to start looking out for the needs of others way before our own? Only if God fills our hearts with His concern and care for His children - especially the poor and those who can't help themselves.
God cares for us. Even when we worry or become anxious, He still cares. Our internal (or external) circumstances don't change how much He is willing and wanting to express His love towards us in the form of care. "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5: 6&7). If we truly believe God is creator of heaven and earth; when will we believe that He cares enough to love and look after us?
I'm challenged by the perspective Jesus gives us in overcoming worry. It boils down to priorities. Not seeing our condition as a hindrance but an opportunity for God's deliverance. God's point of view is from beginning to end. He sees our lives not in the way we do. He know "the plans He has for us" - all the way through.
Pray God helps us to:
Seek FIRST His Kingdom - all things that glorify Him in our lives and bring us under submission to His will.
Seek FIRST His Righteousness - a right-standing relationship with God through the salvation of His son, Jesus. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, seeking first Jesus over everything else.
Trust that All "these things" will be added - food, drink and clothing (and even our very worry taken from us).
God, fill our eyes with the right perspective and focus. Guide us towards seeing your Kingdom and Jesus, Your righteousness. Give us hearts that are hungry for all things everlasting and pleasing to you. Keep us from treasures that will spoil. Help us to lay up treasures that will last. Fruit that keeps on producing. Give us the full measure of your Spirit so that we can live in right-standing with You. We can't do this alone. Forgive us for even trying. Forgive us our worry, the burdens we are weighed down by, and the anxiety that holds us back. We welcome Your presence into our lives anew today. I welcome Your presence into my life today. Prepare me to be a sanctuary for your freedom to someone in need of it today.