Seek Him First

What exactly does it mean to 'seek first God's Kingdom and His righteousness?' If this is the secret to peace, comfort, and assurance in these days of financial uncertainty, it would be to our advantage to understand the meaning of Christ's words in this regard so that we, by His grace, can tap into that peace.
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net

In these economically depressed times, many are growing increasingly anxious as the cost of living continues to spiral out of control and unemployment lines grow longer and longer. A quick walk through any public venue will reveal the apprehension and anxiety of many, for it is clearly seen in their faces. Even in the church, many are struggling to walk in faith, as financial hardships continue to loom over their lives like a dark, menacing cloud. How will I meet the mortgage this month? How will I pay my utility bills? Where am I supposed to come up with money for my child’s college tuition?

Many who belong to the household of God are losing their joy, as well as their spiritual fervor, because the weight of our nation’s plummeting economy is keeping them down. Clearly, this is not the walk of faith to which you and I have been called.

When the Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth, He taught His disciples not to worry about their lives, what they would eat or drink, or what they would wear. He taught them not to worry about their physical needs and gave them the following assurance: "for your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things." [Mt 6:32]. The Lord then went on to give us a promise that too few are willing to take seriously, now that financial hardships are closing in on them, and their faith is being tested: "Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." [Mt 6:33].

What exactly does it mean to ‘seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness?’ If this is the secret to peace, comfort, and assurance in the midst of a financial storm, it would be to our advantage to understand the meaning of Christ’s words in this regard, would it not? In a nutshell, I believe that to seek God’s Kingdom means to put Christ first in our lives and to allow nothing to come before our relationship with Him. The Lord wants us to spend time with Him each and every single day, praying to Him and communing with Him from our hearts. He wants us to spend time studying and meditating on His Word so that we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him and how He desires us to live. Having prayed and studied, He then wants us to put into practice those things which we have read in His Word, living obediently before Him; otherwise, we have studied in vain. To seek God’s Kingdom also requires us to find our place of service in that kingdom using the gifts, talents, skills, and abilities that He has bestowed upon us for this very purpose.

But Jesus also instructed us to ‘seek God’s righteousness’ as well. What does this mean? Simply put, the Holy Spirit wants to change us so that our lives reflect the Lord Jesus Christ more and more. Not only are we called to salvation, but we are also called to sanctification, which is the process by which we are made holy. Our sanctification begins when we become born anew in Christ. It is then continued by the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to change us and to make us more like Christ; our job is to yield, and for this God has given us His grace. If I am not becoming more and more like Christ in my daily life, it is not because God’s Spirit has failed me; it is because I am not cooperating with His work in my life.

Now that we understand what it means to ‘seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness,’ we need to examine our lives openly and honestly before Him to see if we are doing this. Jesus clearly instructed us that this was to be the object of our focus as well as the number-one priority in our lives. This is what we are to live for, not the things which pertain to this life.

Christ is not a man that He should lie or spew hollow words out of His mouth. When He makes a promise, He stands by that promise, and it is up to us to take Him at His Word. The Lord Jesus Christ has promised that if we will do all of the above, making them our number-one goal and priority, God the Father will take care of the rest. Let the man who has rejected God and thrust His Word behind His back worry about having his earthly needs met. Let the one who denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God spend his days pacing the floor and wringing his hands, and let him who says, "God is a lie" lose sleep at night when his bills start piling up. Jesus said it was the pagans and unbelievers who spent their days running after and worrying about the things of this life; we who are in Christ are called to a different reaction and a different pursuit.

The Lord Jesus Christ then went on to instruct His disciples as follows: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." [Mt 6:34]. I can’t think of anything that has led me to gloomy paths of despair and depression more than focusing on tomorrow instead of just focusing on today. What troubles we borrow when we focus on tomorrow! Human beings have a tendency to wish their lives away. I wish it was Friday. I wish it was Christmas. I wish it was summer. I wish I lived elsewhere. I wish I had a different job. I wish, I wish, I wish! We lose our spiritual focus on today because we’re convinced that tomorrow’s grass will be greener. Then, when tomorrow becomes today, we find ourselves wishing for yet another tomorrow.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus is calling us to live one day at a time.  Not only this, but He is calling us to live moment by moment. Do we understand what it means to live in the moment that is before us? If we make tomorrow our focus, life becomes overwhelming. It becomes too big to handle. It’s like standing at the bottom of a staircase and trying to get to the top in one step when there are 12 more stairs before us! But when we live in the moment, we are able to give God our undivided attention in that moment. How liberating it is to cast off tomorrow and to just focus on the moment! Think about the many moments you experience at home or on the job. In every single one of those moments, there is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to become more like Christ, or to bring honor to Christ. Are we making the most of those moments or are we allowing them to go wasted and unused because we’re so obsessed and worried about tomorrow, which for us, may never even come?

I am convinced that if we will put into practice the Lord’s instructions to us in Matthew 6:25-34, the current economic hardships and uncertainties that have so many gripped with fear will lose their power in our lives. I know it because I’ve lived it! Our job is to seek the Lord, His Kingdom, and His righteousness and to keep our pursuit of these things first and foremost in our lives. God’s job is to take care of the rest, and this I know He will do, for Christ has given us His promise.

Beloved, when we make Christ the center of our lives, everything else falls into its proper place, and we achieve balance. The minute we relegate Christ to another position in our lives other than front and center, imbalance is the result, and the structure of our lives comes tumbling down.

I want to encourage you to get alone to some quiet place where you can spend time with God. Open up your Bible to Matthew 6:25-34 and meditate on it in the presence of the Lord. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart. Allow Him to show you areas in your life which need to be changed so that you can apply these verses to your life. Pray to the Lord with these verses before you, asking Him to help you to put them into practice in your life.

Don’t spend your days worrying about tomorrow. Focus on today. Focus on the moment. Make Christ and His Kingdom the center of that moment...

... and trust in your Father to take care of the rest.



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