Friday, February 20, 2009

A Different Priority

Yesterday, I wrote about living in an economy that is different from that of the world. An economy that is one of increase, abundance, prosperity, fulfillment and peace. It is not an end in itself but the byproduct of something else. It comes, not as the result of seeking it, but of seeking something else. Jesus put it this way (don’t let the familiarity of this passage cause you to miss what He is saying  — let it soak in):
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:30-33)
No doubt, we need food to eat and drink, clothes to wear, a place to live, the means to travel wherever we need to go, and other things. The world worries — even gets into a downright panic—about these things. But God knows we have need of them. It has not escaped His attention. However, the way we get all these needs met is not by worrying about them. Worrying will get you nowhere. Jesus said, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Worry is just another name for fear, and fear does not change anything. Someone described worry as “meditating on the devil’s lies.” Someone else defined fear by the acronym F.E.A.R., “False Evidence Appearing Real.”

See, the “Gentiles” worry about all these things. The word “Gentiles” refers to all those who do not have a covenant with the Lord God. But God has made a covenant with His people in which He has promised to take care of us if we will trust Him. The essence of covenant is exchange: He gives us all He is and has; we give Him all we are and have.

So the Gentiles, the world outside of covenant with God, is seeking frantically after all the necessities of life. In this current economic crisis, some are suggesting that we need to do something drastic, but that is far too vague. Anything is something, so the advice to do something drastic translates into a plea to do anything drastic. That is not the response of wisdom but the reaction of panic, and doing it quickly does not make the results of foolish action any less foolish.

Jesus gives us different counsel: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” It is a priority very different from that of the world. In fact, it seems counter-intuitive in the world’s way of thinking. But it is the only way to lasting peace and prosperity. It is not the way of fear but the way of faith.

The kingdom of God is His rule and reign in the world. The righteousness of God is His way of doing things, which is always right and always brings the right results. If we make it our priority to seek after His kingdom and rightness, the promise is that “all these things shall be added to you.” Everything else will be well taken care of and all our needs will be met. For “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

To live in a different economy, one where everything is taken care of, you must have a different priority — the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

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