“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
What is really important to us? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for our priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if we do not actively choose to give Him first place in every area of our lives. To “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” means to turn to God first for help, to fill our thoughts with His desires, to take His character as our example, and to serve and obey Him in everything.
One of the biggest obstacles that all of us face is the gap between what we think should be done and what is actually done. It is the pull between priorities and our ability to move the resources needed to attack the priorities. We know what is important (or at least we think we do). In our world of instant answers, we try to move directly from bright idea to action plan with little time for contemplation, feedback, and prayer in between.
Yet, I must admit that on several occasions, what I thought was the right time to solve a problem or reach a goal was not God’s perfect timing. Sometimes, He did make me wait. In turn, this caused me to spend much time thinking and praying for God’s will to be accomplished, especially if His will was different than mine.
Although it is in our best interest to slow down, be patient, and wait for God’s perfect timing, we will only wait for Him if we have a clear basis on which to function. For me, my main priority is my love and commitment to Jesus – knowing Him, becoming like Him, and worshiping Him. My second priority is my love for people. This rises directly from my commitment to Christ and includes loving my family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies.
Usually, if I appear to have a conflict, a clash between what I think should happen and what actually does happen (because of my limitations or the people involved), I need to examine my priorities to see if they are in order. This forces me to put my love for God and other people before anything else. If I ever find myself feeling frustrated, it is usually an indication that I have misplaced priorities.
To commit ourselves to the Lord means entrusting everything – our lives, families, jobs, possessions – to His control and guidance. To commit ourselves to the Lord means to trust Him (Psalm 37:5), believing He can care for us better than we can ourselves. Here are four tough questions to answer, but provide the basis for setting godly priorities:
Are our motives pure? Why do we want to accomplish a particular task? Will it make us look good? Will it move us up a popularity ladder and give us more leverage? We may frown at the idea that we could be less than sincere, but our motivations are complex. We all struggle daily against the desire for recognition and power. For example, the same program that will comfort the sick may also score points for the pastor. This is where our human reasoning often fails us, so we need to ask God to search our hearts.
Does our activity fit in the Bible? I once heard of a church that runs a bar in its parish hall. I do not believe that fits into the teachings of the Bible, but the pastor thinks it brings people together in a social setting and contributes to the life of the church, so he is ok with it. That is an extreme example and our issues may be subtle, but the point is that we need to examine our activity through the grid of the Bible.
Will our goals enhance the lives of other people? The love we have naturally for ourselves—a constant tendency—should be directed equally toward others (Mark 12:31).
Are we seduced by our culture? Has society’s worship of size, success, speed, production, promotion, and glamour influenced our evaluation of what God says is good and right?