Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33). “These things” to which Christ referred are the means of living here on earth—food, clothing, shelter—the blessed provision of Father God. Not to mention air to breath and our lungs that once again draw it in—life itself and those creatures with whom we share it. So, to maintain a Godly perspective and live accordingly will not only provide us assurance of tomorrow, it will also lead to blessings today. In other words, we taste of the kingdom to come … today.
So why is it that even if I’m not living an actively sinful life—I’m not worshipping Buddha, for example, or disrespecting my elders; I’m not murdering or committing adultery, stealing or lying—I can still find myself discontent with God’s provision today? That is to say, why do I have to “work” at being grateful for his many blessings? The answer is usually because I’ve become focused on the blessings or lack thereof instead of remaining focused on He who grants or withholds them.
All that is required to drive a wedge between us and God is that our perspective or priorities become skewed. Consider the Israelites who were delivered from Egyptian slavery under circumstances that made it clear their savior was the Lord of the Universe. Ten frighteningly miraculous plagues had been cast on cue upon the Egyptians in order to secure their release. When their escape was in jeopardy because the Pharaoh had changed his mind and chased after the Israelites in the desert, they were saved once again by the parting of the Red Sea. Who but the Lord of the Universe could have done such things as these?
At first the Israelites worshipped their deliverer with trust and gratitude in their hearts. Eventually, however, they started focusing on what they didn’t have—fresh water upon demand, meat instead of manna, the guaranteed strength and numbers to defeat their enemies in battle—instead of focusing on what they did have—the God of the Universe as their Lord and Savior. The inevitable result was their trust in God and contentment waned, while their fear and grumbling increased.
Satan has used this strategy against God’s people from the beginning. He cannot have our salvation (Romans 8.38—39), so he tries to rob us of our joy in salvation (Romans 7.23). Our salvation is in the Lord, and so will our joy be in him! Yes, it is true that while we are here on earth, the Lord blesses us through means and creatures. But, oh, what a clever but subtle trick of Satan to insidiously ease us into focusing upon these means and creatures instead of upon the Creator and Grantor of them.
That is precisely how he deceived Adam and Eve to commit the first sin! He massaged Eve’s visceral nature by getting her to focus not on the Creator of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, but on the fruit itself. He manipulated Eve’s intellectual nature by getting her to focus not upon he who gave the commandment not to eat of the fruit, but on the commandment itself. The moment we cast our gaze and desire horizontally rather than vertically, we’re bound to do the devil’s bidding, for he is “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” of this world (Ephesians 2.2).
Yes, we are to be thankful for the means and creatures he blesses us with, but they are not to become the focus of our eye or the desire of our heart. Only God deserves such devotion! “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If we seek first “these things”, we forego God’s kingdom today.
© 2014 by Patrick Lloyd—the WORD runs deep publishing (TWRD Short # 022)