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“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

A FIRM DECISION MUST BE MADE TO “SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” Very few people are willing to do this, even among those who profess allegiance to Christ. “Everyone wants the kingdom of God, but few want it first. Everyone wants high achievement, but few want to pay the price. Everyone wants God, but few want to put him first” (Charles L. Venable). Especially in the modern culture of so-called “Christian nations,” very few do anything more than add a little “Christianity” to their busy lifestyles.

But Jesus was clear: we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). He said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23). When it comes to our discipleship, a radical choice has to be made. Will Jesus get all of my heart or will He get nothing? There is no middle ground.

But did you notice the last part of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:33? If we put the kingdom first, “all these things will be added to you.” Whatever other needs we have, these will be supplied — but we have to be willing to do without them, if need be, in order to maintain the priority of the kingdom. And, of course, the very worst thing we could do is to serve God for selfish or utilitarian reasons: looking at religion simply as the best way to get “all these things.”

Whether to put God’s kingdom first in our hearts is a hard decision, hard because of the sacrifice required and also the carefulness demanded by the decision. Consequently, we often dither about it and procrastinate. (I love the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of “dither”: “to be nervously irresolute in acting or doing.”)

We need to hear Joshua’s challenge: “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Or Elijah’s exhortation: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). Or Moses’ plea: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). In this life, it pays to be careful what we grasp and what we give up.

“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead” (William Law).

Gary Henry — +

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