Author: Ron Graham
Remember to Seek the Kingdom First
—Nothing in this world is worth more
The Lord warns us that we should not let ourselves be turned aside by the needs of the body, but always keep the needs of the soul at the top of our priorities.
How easy to forget and neglect
We are constantly reminded of our bodily needs by our bodily senses and desires, and by the material world. If we forget to eat physical food, we will be reminded by hunger pains. If we neglect to clothe our bodies and to collect fire wood, we will be reminded by feeling cold. If we neglect to earn and save money, then bills in the mail will soon make us aware of that need .
However, it is much easier to forget the needs of the spirit, because the promptings are not automatic. Deprivation signals don't remind us when we forget or neglect to read our Bibles, to pray, to talk about Jesus, to attend church services, and so forth.
If we are fortunate, a concerned brother or sister, who is aware of our neglect, may stir us up to remember, or in some other way, God in his providence may cause us to notice our neglect or forgetfulness. However such reminders are not automatic.
The Power of Habit
We have one power in our favour, the force of habit. If we get into the habit over a long period, of always putting God's kingdom first, then it will not be so easy for us to forget and to neglect.
1 Seeking God First
Christ promised that our physical needs would be met if we seek him first and foremost.
A. We should not be anxious about food, clothing, and shelter. God provides food for the birds and he clothes the wildflowers. How much more will he look after us, since we are more valuable than they (Matthew 6:25-32).
B. David said, "I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous person forsaken nor his children begging bread" (Psalms 37:23-26.
C. When we put God first in this world, we will always be looked after even in times of persecution, and in the world to come we will have eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).
2 Providing For This Life Second
Making provision for this life is commendable, and necessary up to a point. However, labouring for eternal life is even more necessary.
A. If we do not provide for our own, we are worse than the infidel (1Timothy 5:8).
B. Paul writes, "If anyone will not work, neither should he eat" (2Thessalonians 3:10 cf 1Thessalonians 4:11-12).
C. However, laboring for eternal life is more important than working for the things of this world. Jesus said, "Labour not for the food which perishes, but for the food that endures unto eternal life". Comparing this with the above passages, we see that, while some earthly work is necessary, we can work too long and hard for earthly comforts, and neglect to work for things eternal (John 6:27).
3 Not Losing our Souls
By forgetting and neglecting the things that are eternal and spiritual, we can foolishly exchange our souls for the things that are only temporary and earthly.
A. Jesus asked, "What is a man profited, if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul? Or what shall he give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
B. Jesus illustrates this principle with the parable of the foolish rich farmer, who made excessive provision for this life and did not think about his soul (Luke 12:16-21).
C. Nothing we can gain in this world is worth the loss of what Jesus has gone to prepare for us in his Father's heavenly house (John 14:1-3, Revelation 21:1-7).
4 God Rewards Those Who Seek Him
By not seeking God we forget the purpose for which we were created, and overlook the reward God has in store for those who remember and seek him.
A. God considers people wise who seek him. "The Lord looks down on the sons of men to see if there are any who act wisely, who seek after God" (Psalms 14:2).
B. God created man for the purpose that man should seek him. "God made from one every nation of mankind... that they should seek God" (Acts 17:26-27).
C. God will reward the one who seeks him. "God is a rewarder of those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
1. If we seek God first, our physical needs will be... (A) Provided, (B) Neglected, (C) A constant anxiety.
2. Making moderate provision for this life is... (A) Commendable and necessary, (B) Unspiritual and foolish, (C) Neglecting to labor for eternal life.
3. We can exchange our souls for earthly things by... (A) Wanting to eat food and wear clothes, (B) Getting so distracted by earthly things that we forget and neglect the things of Heaven, (C) Trying to gain the whole world instead of just a big slice of it.
4. A dedicated Christian is... (A) Too busy in Christian work to provide even basic material needs, (B) Of the opinion that physical or secular work is not in keeping with true spiritual devotion, (C) One who spends most of his life gathering into barns and storing up worldly wealth, (D) One who realises that only heaven can provide for our deepest needs and longings, and who lives accordingly.
5. A dedicated Christian is... (A) Reduced to begging for food on the streets and has only rags to wear, (B) Much more concerned about his soul than about his body, and about missing out on heaven than missing out on worldly comforts and pleasures, (C) Expecting to be 100 times richer in dollar terms and to be materially prosperous, (D) Not willing to part with income, possessions, or worldly blessings if forced to choose between them and God.