Week Five – blue plate special

Monday

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

“Will You Choose?”

This is one of the most, if not the most, pivotal passage in the gospels.  It is so important that it warrants a review before we press ahead to the Book of Acts and study the early Christian Church and how they applied these principles.

None of us has an intrinsic disagreement with Matthew 6:33.  Of course not, Jesus said it!  But there is more than  just  believing in the truth of this passage.  We want to apply it successfully.  Every Believer that I have ever met struggles in this life with keeping this verse in focus and continuing to apply it.

Let’s look at the verse.  The word “seek” is in the present tense.  It means “keep seeking.”  The word “first” doesn’t mean first in a series of priorities, but “desire above-all-else.”  Look at Matthew 22:37-38: “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  The application of the word “first” in Matthew 6:33 is desiring God with your entire being above all else.

This is a constant effort.  Moment by moment choices are made: God versus something else.  Every stage of life has unique options, but there are common basic desires.  In mid-life, one desires job/promotion, family/relationships, material things and comfort.  Older adults value health, family/relationship and some material things – but not as much.  Youth value friends, school and sports.  Each of these things fall into 3 major categories: Desire for recognition, desire for material things, desire to look good physically.

The issue is that of application.  After we look into each area of “desire,” we will apply these principles.


Tuesday

Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

“Desire for Recognition”

The problem with applying Matthew 6:33  is competing desires.  We are called to continually seek God first.  It’s not a once for all phenomena.  Choices are made day by day, moment by moment.  Each of the three major categories of desires are expressed slightly differently, depending on the stage of life (see the previous devo).  The first major area of consideration is the desire for recognition and significance.

This is a major need for every human being.  God knows this – after all He created us!  The second part of Matthew 6:33  says that He will meet all of our needs and desires if we choose correctly.  The need for recognition and desire in a young person is played out in his desire for friends and acceptance.  In mid-life, it is friends and position.  Even in advanced age, people have the desire to be acknowledged for what they have done.  Is this desire wrong in and of itself?  No, but it cannot be your priority.  When given the choice between God and the need for recognition and significance, you must choose God.  That’s why Jesus said that when you do a good work, do it without being seen (Matthew 6:1).  When you pray, be concise.  Don’t pray long, flowery prayers so that you receive the recognition of man (Matthew 6:5).  When you fast, don’t look miserable and somber (Matthew 6:16).

Each of us has an intense desire for recognition and acceptance.  God will meet this need, but you must continually choose God above this need.  Otherwise, you will wallow around like the rest of the world trying to prove yourself!


Wednesday

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19

“Desire for Material Things”

Do you have the desire for material things?  These are value neutral unless they become more important than God to you.  Pursuing happiness through the accumulation of material things is a “dead-end.”  Have you ever seen a “U-Haul” truck full of goods at a funeral?  Of course not.  You cannot take it with you!

This is a very tricky area.  In this world, a priority for material things can gain a hold of you at any moment.  You will have to choose between God and things over and over again.  What makes this so difficult is the fact that with accumulation of more material goods, we tend to become self-sufficient rather than dependent on God.  That’s why it says in the Book of Proverbs, “…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9).  God made the Israelites gather manna daily, to reinforce their dependence on Him.

Remember, material things are value neutral.  There will always be choices to make.  Other people will choose to spend their money in different ways than you do.  IT DOESN’T MATTER!  What does matter is if the desire for things is ahead of your desire for God.  Only you can answer this.  No one else can answer this question for you.

With more choices, come more options for failure.  It is such a difficult area, that some people in the past have chosen to live in monasteries without any personal goods to speak of, so that they wouldn’t fail in this area.  The key issue is that you must have a loose grip on things.  God must be your heart’s desire.  By doing so, you store up true treasure in heaven.


Thursday

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you would wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25

“Desire for a Good Physical Appearance”

The third major area of desire is our physical appearance and health.  What a major issue in our society today!  Billions of dollars are spent on diets, exercise equipment, vitamins and cosmetic surgery.  It’s played out in our youth with respect to clothes, etc.  As adults, we are trying to stay in shape by any means possible.  The elderly often are totally focused on health issues, almost to the exclusion of everything else in their life.

As with the other categories of desires (that is recognition/significance and material things), the issue is the priority we place on these things. It’s not unspiritual to desire to be healthy.  But if you spend more time pursuing physical fitness than spiritual fitness, you have failed the test.  You have chosen unwisely.  That’s why Paul said, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8).

No matter how hard you try, the aging process will prevail.  Don’t seek happiness through your appearance, your health, or your fitness.  These things will not satisfy and can disappear in an instant!  In addition, a choice to pursue these things is not pleasing to God.  Seek God first and His righteousness.


Friday

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

“It’s Your Choice”

We have said this week that seeking God is a life-long task.  It is a matter of moment by moment, day by day choices that we make and put into action.  “Put into action” – it’s more than just mental ascent to the truth of these principles.  It’s putting them into action.

God is not saying that the desire for recognition and significance, the desire for tangible/material things and the desire for health/fitness and a good physical appearance are not important.  In fact, Jesus said, “all these things will be given to you as well.” (See Matthew 6:33  above).  But in order to fulfill these desires in a spiritually healthy, God-led way is for the desire for all these things to pale in comparison to your pursuit of God and His righteous plan for your life.  Keep seeking God above all else.

Why do we fail in these endeavors?  Because we are distracted by our choices and we make the wrong choices.  We are free moral agents.  God will not make these choices for you.  He just won’t do it.  You can’t just pray that God will allow you to love Him more.  He wants you to make the choice: Him and His righteousness or these other things.  “Don’t try to believe without intending to obey.” A.W. Tozer.   You will unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within your life as you make the right choices.  To love God is to obey God. (John 14:23).  This is how we work out our salvation.

The choices are ours to make every step of the way.  God will not make these decisions for us.  Remember, this struggle is real, it’s life-long.  It will be worth it because some day we will stand before the Father and account for our choices (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Don’t give up.  Let 2 Timothy 4:7 be your ideal: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

IT IS DEFINITELY A CRIME FOR A CHRISTIAN TO BE WEAK IN GOD’S STRENGTH: Oswald Chambers