I stood in front of the mirror with one arm raised in a biceps pose. No, I wasn’t admiring my muscles, quite the opposite. I took my other hand and pushed on my triceps then let go. My triceps waved at me. Maybe I should have been thrilled my triceps were so friendly, but I wasn’t.
My Quinquagenarian (50th birthday) arrives in less than a year and the results of my lifetime of laziness stare me in the face. My results don’t flinch, but I do. I have read books written by fitness experts about how great exercise is for my health, but until I put into practice what I have read my triceps will continue to flap and I will never run a marathon from my living room chair while reading a book. In the meantime, I half heartedly do a few arm exercises when I think about it and wear longer sleeves.
It’s easy to read the Bible like I read an exercise book. I whole-heartedly agree that what I read will make my life better if I put it into practice. But, instead of putting it into practice I look at the time and rush off to take care of my needs in life; what to eat, drink and wear and everything that goes along with those three things.
Jesus tells us to seek His kingdom first and He will take care of what we need to eat, drink and wear. But, we live life backwards and seek first to satisfy our temporal needs rather than our spiritual needs. There is a problem with satisfying our temporal needs first, it will never lead to satisfying our spiritual needs. But, if we seek first the kingdom of God, He will take care of everything else. Seeking the kingdom of God first doesn’t come naturally, just like most people weren’t born with the desire to rise early and work out, most people aren’t born seeking to be dependent on God for all their needs. We don’t have a problem recognizing we need to depend on God for our spiritual needs, but we don’t want to give up taking care of our physical needs. It’s a little scary to give that part of our lives up to God. What if He wants us to drive a mini-van when we would rather be driving a Mustang? It usually doesn’t take much longer than a moment of thought to conclude that it’s best if we pursue taking care of our own eating, drinking and wearing.
Just like I use long sleeves to cover up the waving triceps, I go to church and look like I’m seeking God first, at least for a few hours. But, then I go home and work on receiving those blessings God says He will provide for me. For the rest of the week I seek the blessings first and wonder why it feels so empty, why I’m never satisfied with more stuff, better stuff. Several years ago I went to a yard sale in Las Vegas and overheard the woman running the yard sale say she had three storage units of stuff. But, did she have three storage units of stuff because she sought God’s kingdom first? Or did she have three storage units of stuff because she sought to fill her own needs first? She was constantly flitting from one desire to the next, never satisfied and always needing more.
Is God egocentric because He asks us to seek Him first? It could appear that He is self-centered by wanting all of our attention. But, let’s look at it in a different way. God created us His children. There is no greater love than that of a parent for their children. God loves us that much and more. From our side of it, God is our Father. We were created to love Him as our parent. Jesus says we are to become as little children. Little children love their parents more than anything. They want to copy everything their parents do. They want to vacuum, or mow the lawn, or apply make up and wear high heels or dress in the uniform dad wears to work. That is the type of relationship God created us to have with Him. But, most of us don’t want to become as little children. We create our own gods to worship, money or the things money can buy. We seek those things like we should be seeking our Father in heaven.
Jesus tells us to take a look at the flowers of the fields and see how they grow. God made them beautiful and they live their beauty. When we seek first the kingdom of God we will grow with the same pure simplicity, our faces seeking the Son, and living the beauty He created for us.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34