Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seek First the Kingdom

Over the past few months, I've been trying to live my life according to the Bible verse "seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all [of your material needs] will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33, NIV). I should say I've been trying it off and on, frequently for very brief periods and with limited success. My life is usually overloaded with distractions, all tempting me to seek something with more material substance.

Part of the problem is figuring out exactly what "seek God's Kingdom" means. Are the only legitimate activities those that directly and obviously advance the Gospel? Am I settling for less than God's best if I take time to read National Geographic or eat a leisurely meal? Even in my religious activities, can I ever be certain it's God I'm seeking, not my own pride or pleasure?

It is perhaps significant that Jesus does not say, "Find the kingdom and righteousness." He knows well that our best motives are mixed, our best understanding dim. He promises His blessing not contingent on our success, but on our making a sincere and honest effort.

What does that effort look like? One thing it must include is regular, honest self-examination, lest we slip into the attitude, "God sure is lucky to have me: I go to church every Sunday; I read the Bible every day. I'm so wise that I always know what's good and what's bad; and I'm so holy I have a right to expect the world to run according to my liking." An important part of seeking the Kingdom is never forgetting Who the King is--nor how far short we fall of His ideals.

Once we accept that, it becomes easier to seek His will for the whole of our lives.

What does it mean to seek? -- To search:
To look with an earnest soul and eye;
To hold to the quest till the sought is found;
To keep your eyes peeled lest it pass you by.

What does it mean to seek? -- To work:
To stay on the trail of a thing long sought;
To toil in the sun till you pluck the prize,
More precious than all that wealth ever bought.

What does it mean to seek? -- To yearn:
To thirst for the thing that so long evades,
With vision to guide you though sight be lost;
To never give up till the goal is made.

What does it mean to seek God first? --
To search for His will through long hours of prayer;
To work for His Kingdom with all your might;
To yearn toward the goal, for the crown waits there.

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