My church is doing a church-wide campaign using a well-known pastor’s material as a common focus through our small groups and several classes. This week the main topic is that of our finances. Each day we are given a passage to read in the Word along with a small devotional; then we journal our thoughts on what we read. A simple, but effective method of spending a quiet time each day in the Word, and it is the best one that I have ever found for myself.
A couple of days ago I read the passage below:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
-Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)
The thrust of these verses is simple. Don’t be caught up in the things around you, even the important things like food. People who do not know God are always looking out for those things, chasing after them. Instead, look to the kingdom of God, and chase after righteousness. If you do that, then you will have the things that you need. Pretty simple. I have heard it all my life. Makes sense.
Something popped in there for me the other day though. the phrase “run after” was not in the version of the Bible that I had used as a kid. We had the word “seek”. So I looked at another version, the Amplified Version, and they used words that paint the picture of the word “seek” in a different light. They use the words, “wish for and crave and diligently seek“. Now that gives a picture of a chase or a hunt. It has an imperative sense of urgency.
So, when I read the passage again with that thought in my mind of chasing after food, shelter, clothing – basically all the things that money can buy – the Bible says that is something that the pagans do. Pagan meaning people who do not worship God. Hmmm. Not a crowd I want to be associated with.
So, what are we supposed to do? “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The way that is phrased, I am led to believe that we are still supposed to be on a chase. We are still supposed to “run after” something. Still supposed to “wish for and crave and diligently seek” something. We are supposed to have the same intensity for the chasing down and hunting the kingdom and a righteous life that a person would be expected to hunt and chase down food when hungry or clothing when naked. I have been known to feverishly hunt for a Chik-fil-a or a Five Guys Burger and Fries, so I think I understand what Jesus is saying here.
So, if that is the intensity that we are supposed to have for the things of God, it is pretty easy to draw a comparison in my life and see where I stand in that level of desire. Pretty easy for all of us to do. When we compare our desire for the things of life that we need every day to taking the time to read our Bibles, pray, encourage a friend, help someone in need, share the Gospel with someone, we come face to face with what we really want. How much time do we spend preparing and eating meals in a week compared to the time we spend doing anything for God? *Ouch*
Christ doesn’t stop there though. He gives us a promise. If we do this, then all the things we need we will get. All of it. Huh. So, let’s see if I am understanding this right. Be Relentless in living a life that is in constant pursuit of God, the kingdom, and the good things He has gifted me to do, and all the things that the world tells me to chase will just be given to me? You have my attention.
A Relentless life looks at a job not as a way to make money, but as a way to impact the kingdom through earning money to give to God’s work in the local church, through missions, or even personally impacting another person in need. They see their job as a way that they can share what God means to them with the people they work with so they can have the same hope and strength of God at work in their lives. They can look at the difficulties of a job as a way to let God teach them a lesson in humility or patience. When a job is looked at in that way, the “work” of the job turns into something else. It becomes a ministry. God loves His people to have a ministry, and He rewards it in many different ways. Employers see you as a person that has a purpose, a passion, a desire to succeed and help others. They kinda like that sort of stuff in their employees and tend to reward that behavior too!
This passage has always been an encouragement to me, but I had never noticed how it is a great example of Relentless Growth in the Christian life. It really encouraged me, and I hope it did you as well. Let me know your thoughts. Feel free to comment below and share it with your friends.
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong