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Two Principal Principles

by Alex Wilson

Part One

Amid all the heights of Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, a few verses tower up like the peaks of Mount Everest. Two of the loftiest are these:

  1. "Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness, and all  these things will be given to you as well." (Matt. 6:33)
  2. "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to  you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 7: 12)

In the first statement, "GOD's kingdom" reminds us of "Love God with all your mind, heart and strength." The second statement  (Do to OTHERS ... ) reminds us of "Love your Neighbor as you love yourself." Jesus said those are the two greatest commands in God's law. Let's dig deeper into these foundational words of our Christ.

The Pursuit of God

"Seek first God's Kingdom and his Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." The preceding verses reveal the meaning of all these things that He promises us. Matt. 6:19-32 were all about possessions. He spoke
about our necessities (food and clothing), but more than that He addresses our scale of values. What do we "treasure"? And how much do we treasure them? How inclined are we to share them? How do we use such valuables, and why? What motivates us in our use of money, and possessions, and the other things we treasure?

Most unconverted people (and many church people) are all wrapped up in bigger and better Things, seeking more, More and MORE! The t-v game shows and the state lotteries are sufficient proof of that statement. So too are closets, attics and garages not only full to the brim but overflowing.

Jesus calls us away from such materialism and idolatry, in which people put possessions near or at the top of their want-lists. He warns us (though He did not use these exact words), Be very careful what you want, for you may get it! And if you've formed wrong priorities and pursued useless or even merely secondary treasures, you'll cheat yourselves out of the highest values, the true treasures.

Seek GOD!

Yes, SEEK God! And seek Him FIRST! He alone is worthy of that! A. W. Tozer said, "We want God, it is true, but we want something else more- and we get what we want most!"

Precious Promise

Then our Lord gives this gracious guarantee: If you do that, your heavenly Father will meet all your needs. "All these things will be given to you." All? That's exactly what He said. All your needs, that is. He does not necessarily guarantee all our wants, all our "gimmies, " all the items on our wish-lists. Yet note that it "does not say, 'Your Father knows that you don't really need these earthly things'; on the contrary, verse 32 says that he 'knows that you need all these things, '" comments Dale Bruner. So those things we actually do need, God grandly promises to supply. What a promise! Praise the Lord for that word "all." He is a loving, caring Father. But remember the command that precedes
the promise, and seek first

His kingdom -- His kingship over you. J. C. Macauley wrote, "The finger that points the way is part of the hand that will provide. lf we want the hand's provision we must go where the finger points." There's an unfailing divine provision, but also an unavoidable human condition.

Where God guides, He provides. If the Israelites had gone back to Egypt, God would not have given them manna. His unavoidable condition to us is "Seek!" And the verb tense used there is continuous, that is, ongoing: keep on seeking; never cease seeking. Seek His kingdom -- obey His kingship over you -- and His righteousness - walk with integrity of character.   . -

The meaning of that verb is not only continuous but also intensive: "Seek" is not a lackadaisical word. It means to search for something intensely, earnestly, whole-heartedly, passionately. Nothing is sadder than a person with no spiritual hunger and thirst, no drive or passion, but only small interests. To many people in our time, spiritual matters related to God, the Bible, worship, and loving service - all such things seem blah and boring!

A wonderful hymn says, "The lack of desire is the ill of all ills." But our culture, and the flesh and the Devil all tempt us to be passive, just spectators.

There's so much just to watch and listen to ... but for too many church members it ends there-with very little change, growth, application or action. What are you, and I, doing? Let's be seekers, those who pursue God.

I guess that at least in some small way, everyone does seek something - if only seeking to do nothing -- or to seek escape from responsibility by watching soap operas, or wrestling, or even stuff more crude than that! Or being totally absorbed in the chatter and moment-by-moment details of My-space, etc._

So Jesus tells us, make sure you're not only seeking, but also that you're seeking the tight goals, the highest desires, the supreme good - God, and His kingship over you and others, and His righteousness-His holy character. Devote yourself to that which will last forever, and is of highest value. Why waste your life in the trivial and degrading. Think of what you miss if you don't seek God and His good, wholesome and beneficial ways.

Reprint from the September-October 2007 Word and Work magazine.

-Alex Wilson lives in Louisville, KY. he  is  Editor of Word and Work and one of the  Ministers   at Portland Ave. Church of Christ


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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10