Seeking God's Kingdom First
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
In times where discouragement, confusion or worry would creep in, a good friend would encourage me with this scripture found in Matthew. They would remind me that; as you are seeking the Lord and finding yourself to be fulfilled by Him- there is no reason for you to worry as all your needs will be provided for. (Now, what I consider to be a need and what God considers to be a need is another story...)
But I think before we even begin to address our needs (which don't worry, the Lord sees and cares about them), we should take a step back and ask ourselves, "Who's kingdom are we seeking with our lives?" God's kingdom, my kingdom, or someone else's?
Do you consider yourself a planner? One who is organized and goal minded? If your answer is yes, then maybe you can relate to me when my "type a" tendencies come out. At the end of the year, I like to set aside some time to reflect on what the Lord has accomplished and jot down some goals for the year to come. Although this is fairly new habit, it has been shown to be a beneficial one as it helps me to stay focused and intentional throughout the year.
As important it is to plan, I believe it is even more crucial that we are aware of our motives behind our plans before we begin to create a "to-do" list. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the time we spend on earth is time spent building something. Those motives behind how we choose to spend our time, money, and energy end up pointing to what kingdom we are actually seeking.
What Are We Building?
Whether you are a person with a plan or the complete opposite of that, let me encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself, "What am I seeking and therefore building with my life?"
Take a look around you. Where is your time being spent? What do you find yourself thinking about often? Maybe even worrying about? What topics were your conversations centered on today? What do you find yourself praying for often?
Maybe some of your answers included; your family, career, a relationship, ministry, future, money, health, school, or your reputation?
Now that we have defined where our priorities are spent, let's dig deeper and ask "What are we trying to accomplish through them?"
Why Are We Building It?
Have we believed the common misconception, that one of our priorities (if managed successfully) has the ability to help us find worth, value, or even feel complete? Have you tasted the affirmation received from the success of these things and have continued to search for more?
These priorities that we defined earlier should be appreciated and seen as wonderful gifts from the Lord. Yet, we must recognize that the priorities which we fill our lives with can't actually fulfill us like God does. Created things were created to point back to how good the Creator is, not take His place.
As we dissect the motives behind our priorities, we find out why and who we are building it for; either for God, our self, or others.
Here are two questions we can ask ourselves to uncover who we are building a life for; "Do you find yourself typically planning and living out life the way you see best?" Or "Have you asked God how He would want you to use what He has given you in this life for His glory?"
Our faithful God extended a grace that we never deserved, making a way for us through His son to live in relationship with Him. We are called to rest in and give thanks for what He did at the cross, enjoy Him, and look to extend His kingdom instead of the kingdom our man-centered flesh cries out for. If we put our hope in building a future in something other than for the Lord, we will be let down (Matthew 6:19-20). As we are content in the Lord and are focused on building something eternal, we won't be held back by the dissatisfaction of lacking temporary things of the world.
How Do We Seek God's Kingdom First?
- Remind ourselves of the Gospel every day. The Gospel should fuel the why behind what we do, otherwise some other motive- some other faulty idol, will.
- Seek to be selfless. Paul encourages us to submit our lives as living sacrifices. Just as Christ took our place on the cross, it should be our response to live for Him instead of ourselves.
- Remind ourselves that Heaven is our future home. Continue to look forward to the day that we will be reunited with Christ. Though the things on earth are temporary, we can live a life of purpose for the Lord while we are here.
- Come to the Lord in prayer. Continue to ask Him to check your motives and equip you by the Holy Spirit to live out a life for His glory.