«But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you» – Matthew 6:33
When one turns from their sin and places their trust and hope in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin and for their eternal salvation, they are saying from that point on, Christ is their affection and His kingdom is what they are now living for. Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is the Christian life. All other things become secondary or even denied.
But this is not as easy as it seems. The truth is, is that we are constantly bombarded with other things of this world to focus on and have affection for. Will my sport team win? I need a bigger house. I cannot wait to go on that ski vacation. I have to know what happens in the next episode. Did you see that movie? Gotta keep working out if I want to turn heads this summer.I want a wife. I want a husband. I want more money. I want to be famous. If I do not graduate from university, I will not make it in life. How many «likes» did my post get? Do others see me as successful? Attractive? Cool? Smart? Funny?
All these things and more seek to take our attention off Christ as our first love and affection and place it on something else or someone else. This is idolatry. And this is the devil’s way to trick us into thinking that we can have Jesus and love others things too. But, this is a lie. Now, let me be clear, cheering for a sports team, working out, vacations, movies & TV shows (depending on which ones), getting married, home renovations, Facebook, and going to university are not evil in themselves. We must be clear that these are neutral things. Yet, when the desire for these things choke out the desire for Christ, His word, and seeking His kingdom, we be ineffective and unfruitful as followers of Jesus, as well as unsatisfied, always wanting more, something else, or the next thrill.
What God offers us is much more (in quality and quantity) than winning championships, having a six-pack, the best vacation, the highest paying job, or even getting married to a Prince Charming or your dream Princess. All those things, while maybe fun to have, are temporary. God has offered us something eternal. He has offered us a life much more fulfilling. He has offered us the chance to to live for eternal things and be a part of His great salvation mission. Rather than living for treasures here on earth that rot, erode, disappear, require protection and cause worry, He calls us to lay up treasures in heaven that are secure and eternal. He has offered us the chance to join Him in seeing lives changed for eternity as the gospel moves across our globe into places where people have never heard the name of Jesus. He has asked us to take this message to them. He desires that people from all nations (people groups) find their joy in Him, and He desires and demands that His church join Him in this good work. So I ask, is not seeing others find joy in God by believing in the gospel of Christ more fulfilling than living for some high paying job and having a comfortable retirement? Is that not a cheap way to live. Is not Christ more glorious and greater in worth? So why do we run after so many other things and abdicate God’s command to take the gospel to the nations to others? The answer: there is a battle for our affection, love, devotion, and obedience to God, and we are losing that battle.
Mark 4:18-19 says, «And others are the ones sown among the thorns. They are those that her the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for others things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.»
We need to be honest with ourselves. Though we may be followers of Jesus, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires of the world are like a magnet trying to draw us into its power. They entice us like a shiny lure does with a fish. Often, like a fish, we are just minding our own business, then, BAM, something attractive draws our attention off Jesus and calls us to it. Sometimes we do not even feel the trap until we are caught. And these things choke out our desire to seek first the kingdom of God and our love for our Savior. Once our affection and desires are on something other than Jesus, it is not His word we hear or desire, but that of our idol. It is not God’s word that we desire to obey, but the desires of our flesh. Often it feels like a losing battle. But, wait. There can be victory. But, not without a fight.
In 2 Timothy 6:12, Paul tells Timothy to, «Fight the good fight of faith.» This is in the context of battling against the deceitfulllness of riches (see v.10-11). But if you go back even further in the chapter, it is a call to fighting against the temptation of sin. Or probably better said, it is a call to fight for the glory of God in your life. Seeking first the kingdom of God does not happen automatically, nor is it passive, like waiting for some warm fuzzy feeling to occur before obeying God’s word. I think this is where many of us fall. We do not see our relationship with Christ as a relationship to fight for, rather one taken for granted. I have heard some tell me, «If God wants me to do something, the Holy Spirit will push me to do it.» While that can be a true statement, what the majority mean when they say that is, «Until I feel like doing it (which the Holy Spirit is equalled to feeling), I will not do it.» But what about all the commands in God’s word that we do not «feel» like doing? Are they not given to us by the Holy Spirit? Here is where the battle ground is for believers. It is in the heart. God’s word calls us to glorify Him in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). So when passions, desires, and the cares of the world seek to convince our heart to glorify and obey something or someone more than God, we must push back with Scripture, prayer, resisting the devil, and trusting in the Holy Spirit to use it to transform us. It is a fight and it is a good fight, because it is a fight to glorify God above all things and a fight for our joy in God. Thus fighting the good fight of faith is a fight for our own joy. This is what it means to seek first the kingdom. His reign in our hearts. Unfortunately, we are often lazy in this fight. Some think that it is God’s job to do all the fighting. In one way it is. But it does require our desires, actions, and an active faith on our part. We must fight to cherish the kingdom above all things. If we are to seek first God and His kingdom, then it requires constant effort.
So, if you are a believer, I encourage you to fight the good fight of faith. Fight in your heart to seek the kingdom of God first. Fight the good fight by seeking to glorify God in all things. I encourage you to do this and I encourage me to do this. We are at war. Not against flesh and blood, but against the cosmic powers of darkness and the spiritual forces of evil that seek to turn our hearts, our minds, and our lives away from savouring and glorifying God above all things. And until heaven, it will continue to be that way. But if we will resist the devil, he will flee. If we submit to God and draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. He is our ever present help in the day of trouble. Fighting the good fight of faith is hard, but necessary. It is hard because it takes constant attention. We cannot be lazy in this. It is hard because it takes constant devotion toward God, where His word takes presidence over all things and where prayer is never ceasing. Why is this hard? It is not hard because these things are not pleasant to do. It is hard because the distractions and cares of the world are like bombshells coming against us seeking to turn us away from our Lord and General, Jesus Christ. They are loud, explosive, non-stopping and seek to destroy us.
But, the fight is also necessary. It is necessary because, for the believer, our source of joy, delight, and fulfillment come from God. We have tasted that God is good and we want more. And because we want more, we fight against anything that would seek to take away the joy, delight, and fulfillment we have in our Lord and Savior. The fight is necessary because our strength comes from the Lord, not us. And we if we do not abide and trust in Him, we will turn to other things for joy. We will begin to delight in other things. And we will seek fulfillment elsewhere. We are simply not able to resist temptation without the Lord. We are not that strong. If we do not fight the good fight of faith, like C.S. Lewis once said, we will be satisified with playing in mud puddles when God has offered us the ocean. We fight the good fight of faith because our God is good, satisfiying, and more enjoyable than all the treasures the world can offer us. In other words, living and abiding faith in Christ is just simply that good. Thus we fight for it. For God’s glory and our joy.