Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hungry (Part 2)

“Seek first God’s kingdom & His righteousness”

Later in the S.O.M. Jesus offered the command above.  You can find the section in Matthew 6:19-34, and this particular phrase is the summary teaching in verse 33.  What’s important about this statement is that Jesus is teaching this as a cure for worry, stress, and/or anxiety.  I’ll write about it in more detail when we get there, but for now I want to focus on two things:
  1. New disciples
  2. Righteousness

New disciples

This command is important for new disciples, because this is your prime directive.  “Seek first” means: above all else in your priorities, your first goal is to seek God’s kingdom & righteousness. Top priority – above family, friends, money, career, love life, even above church - above all!  God’s kingdom & His righteousness should be our primary concern, and it should be the first thing a new disciple learns.  Knowing what this means, and obeying it fanatically will save the newbie from many issues.  After all, one of the hardest things for a new disciple is rearranging one’s life.  We want to study the bible, pray, make other disciples, tell all our friends and family … heal the sick, go to church a lot … it can be daunting.  If you learn to focus on this one phrase and wear it out – it simplifies your life and helps you stay on track.  If you have someone who’s shepherding you along this path, be sure and have him guide you into the full meaning of this section, and especially this verse.  If you don’t have someone clearly guiding you on this point … get in touch with me.  I will help you. 

God’s righteousness

As we discussed in the previous article, righteousness is fairness or justice.  In this case Jesus is commanding us to “seek first God’s righteousness.”  Pay attention to each part of this and make it real in your life.  Our Boss (Lord/Master) said:
  • Seek
  • Seek first
  • GOD’s righteousness

Seeking something can be unnatural unless you are hungry for it, as in our beatitude.  If you’re hungry for righteousness, you’ll seek it automatically, just as a person hungry for food doesn’t need to be told to go find food.  So why does Jesus say this, if we’re already supposed to be hungering and thirsting for it? 

The answer is in the word ‘first.’  We all want to be good, and we want good things for others.  The problem is that we don’t put it first in our lives.  As you can see in this section, the pitifully poor people are seeking first physical food and clothing and worried about where tomorrow’s meal will come from.  In our culture, we seek friendship and partnership and fun – or maybe family first.  Some put church at the top of their lives, many others seek money, fame, popularity, power, or respect.  Some of us (like me, sadly) seek the truth above all (usually only a mask for wanting to be ‘right’ all the time).  Examine yourself.  What keeps you distracted from seeking first God’s righteousness? 
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)
God created us in Christ by His grace, but He did so for a reason: so we would do the “good works” which He has prepared for us to do.  What keeps you from discovering and doing these works?  This is our “Father’s business.”  It’s worship.  It’s caring for widows and orphans and those in distress (James 1.27), it’s feeding, clothing, housing, visiting … it’s doing good things for Jesus, by doing them for his creation (Matthew 25.31-46). 

And remember this is God’s business, it’s His righteousness … and we are only His slaves.  Slaves don’t work for themselves, they don’t work for a paycheck, and they don’t do only the tasks that interest them or that they find pleasant.  Rather, slaves do what they’re told.  When we prodigals came home, we asked our Father to be slaves in His household, and that’s what we are. 

The question is … are you hungry and thirsty to do good?  Can you put your own issues, dramas and struggles on the back burner and seek first God’s business?  If so, He has promised to give you peace.  But if you insist on being selfish, peace will elude you.  Seek ye first 

 “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

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