Devotions

I thought I’d share something that has been on my mind in recent months: whether we should save our money (store it up) or give it up for God’s kingdom, sharing it with the poor, etc. One passage that speaks strongly for this is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NASB)

Like Jesus’ commands to take up our cross and follow Him, and to cut off our hand if it causes us to sin, this is a radical command and one that most–if not all–of us fall dreadfully short of. Admittedly, since I am single, it is easier for me to follow this command. Those who are married and have children would understandably feel the need to store up money as a contingency plan for future problems, such as job loss, financial reversal, etc. It’s only right to think of one’s family and to plan ahead for their welfare.

Even so, I wonder if even married couples with families are really sacrificing enough for the needy out of their treasure trove. I see lots of luxury around me every day: large, gas-guzzling SUVs with only one occupant (quite a common sight, actually); enormous homes; etc. But that’s really not for me to judge; it’s between them and God. The burning question for all of us, married and single alike, is this: After we spend our money on our bare necessities (“If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content”–1 Tim. 6:8), are we using the excess wisely and in accordance with what Christ commanded?

The phrase personal relationship has become a very common buzzword in our culture, appearing in various venues, from the military to business to religion. Not surprisingly, it has also crept into Christianity, particularly evangelicalism.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with personal relationships. What is problematic, however, is when the concept is elevated too high.

One example of this is the popular evangelical emphasis—or, more specifically, the overemphasis—on having a personal relationship with God. It’s not the idea of a personal relationship per se that is troubling. The idea of having a relationship with God can be found throughout the pages of Scripture. God is very personal. He stoops to our level to reveal Himself to us in various ways: through both special and general revelation. His ultimate condescension to us was in Christ, who was the ultimate revelation of the Father: Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9, ESV). In fact, as one radio talk show host once rightly commented, everyone has a personal relationship with God; the question is whether God is near to you in wrath or in friendship.

What concerns me is when the concept of personal relationship is emphasized so heavily to the exclusion of objective realities, like Scripture, doctrine and the sacraments. It’s not uncommon for those who are enthusiastic about having a personal relationship with God to also frown upon what they call “religion”: doctrine, liturgy, creeds, councils, and so on. For such people, it seems their personal experience is all that matters and is, in fact, their final authority for determining truth. It’s the elevation of the subject over the object, making one’s own subjective experience the measuring rod for determining what constitutes genuine religion. That is always dangerous.

A friend recently shared this gem spoken by Charles Spurgeon, and I thought it should be posted here. Even though it was spoken more than a century ago, it seems that it applies to many of today’s churches.

Feeding Sheep Or Amusing Goats?
By C. H. Spurgeon (1834–1892)

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.” Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? “Ye are the salt,” not the sugar candy something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead.” He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of his teaching. I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow?’ Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel of amusement. Their message is, ‘Come out, keep out, keep clean out!’ Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.’ If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They ‘turned the world upside down’. That is the only difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them half-way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

Matthew 7:1 is arguably one of the most abused Bible passages in the entire history of Christianity. If you don’t know that reference, the text itself is likely familiar to you: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (ESV). In our society today, you are very likely to hear that verse quoted at you if you try to tell someone they are doing something wrong or that they are believing something wrong. But is that how Jesus meant His words to be used? Hardly. I say that for two reasons.

First, when the verse is used in that way, it is taken out of context. Here is the statement along with Christ’s explanation of it:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5, ESV)

Clearly the Lord was teaching against hypocrisy. That is indisputable since He clearly refers to criticizing others for little faults (“the speck that is in your brother’s eye”) while failing to see one’s own major faults (“the log that is in your own eye”). It is also indisputable that He is speaking against hypocrisy because He plainly says, “You hypocrite, … ” His final admonition in v. 5 should put to rest the kind of abuse of this passage I described earlier, where Christ said, “[F]irst take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Obviously the Lord was not prohibiting all criticism but specifically the hypocritical kind whereby one delights in finding fault with others without concern about changing oneself first.

Second, if Christ really meant this verse to mean that we should never criticize at all, isn’t it odd that He calls people “pigs” and “dogs” in v. 6? Look what He said:

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

I heard someone once say, “A text taken out of context becomes a pretext for a proof-text.” How true.

The sign I use in street evangelism

Recently I was doing some street evangelism with my A-frame sign, which asks the poignant question, “Are You Good Enough to Go to Heaven?” A woman approached and adamantly quoted Matthew 7:1 to support her belief that people of all faiths are going to heaven. Her basic argument seemed to be that we should not tell people they are not going to heaven because that would be judging them. Aside from the fact that I don’t actually tell people they are not going to heaven but instead ask them to take a quiz so they can determine that for themselves, she was clearly misusing Matthew 7:1.

Now it shouldn’t—and didn’t—surprise me that this verse was misapplied. It happens often nowadays. What amazed me, though, was that the woman who said this was a professing Christian. Before she went into her message of religious pluralism, she declared confidently that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and that she prays every day. Let me say it again: This amazed me. Why? Because it was a blatant denial of the value of Christ’s blood coming from someone who claimed to follow Him! Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is pointless if people who don’t believe in Him will get into heaven anyway. The truth is that the One who said “Judge not” also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV).

There is only one means of atoning for sin, and that is the blood of Christ. Faith is like a hand that receives that blood and all its benefits, but the hand itself does not do any saving. It is only instrumental, and Scripture bears that out:

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith [διὰ πίστεως]. (Romans 3:24-25a, NASB, emphasis added)

When the Greek preposition dia is followed by the genitive case (as in the bracketed Greek words at the end of the quote), it indicates instrumentality, the means through which something happens.

Faith cannot appease God’s wrath for sin. Only the blood of Christ can do that. It’s the difference between a cause and an agent. To use an analogy, if you are underwater and breathe air through a straw, what is the thing your body needs to remain alive—the air or the straw? It needs the air. It needs the straw, too, but only as an agent through which the air is breathed in. The straw, in and of itself, cannot directly keep your body alive because the straw does not keep your lungs going. It is the air coming through the straw that does that. If you were in outer space and you had a hose to connect you to an oxygen tank, but the tank were floating out of reach of the hose, trying to breathe through the hose would do you no good at all. It’s similar when we talk of faith and the blood of Christ. Faith—like the straw and the hose—is the conduit through which the benefits of Christ’s saving blood come to us, but that precious blood—like the air—is what actually saves.

It should be pointed out, though, that like all analogies, these ones eventually break down and can be easily misunderstood. They do not mean that faith is some kind of work that earns salvation. Faith is merely passive; it simply receives. Another analogy is that of an eye: The eye does not create the light or deserve the light; it simply receives it. In addition, faith is not something that a person can do on his or her own. Scripture clearly says that faith is a gift from God; it is not something that one can create inside oneself.

Scripture makes it pretty clear that our assurance is based on the presence of spiritual fruit in our lives as well as a pattern of spiritual growth and increasing maturity:

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. (Hebrews 6:7-9, ESV, emphasis added)

But what are these fruits? That also is made clear:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11, ESV, emphasis added)

Unless I’m misinterpreting this passage, the text does two things, in general: 1) It commands us to make our calling and election sure (i.e., to seek assurance), and 2) it tells us how to go about obtaining that certainty. Since what Peter described here is a process, it seems clear that gaining such certainty is not instantaneous. It is acquired only after developing a pattern of increasing holiness, Christlikeness and maturity.

I cannot imagine that God would give anyone assurance of salvation who is stagnating in their Christian life, failing to grow or, even worse, taking steps backward. There is only one proper direction for the true Christian: forward into more and more Christlikeness. If that forward progression is not happening, we have good reason to doubt our salvation.

This wild, untamable beast is in everyone’s house. It is not a dog or a cat—far from it. It is more ferocious than the most aggressive predator you know of, more vicious than the fiercest lion, and more insidious than the most cunning snake—yet more alluring than any treasure you have known. Its grotesqueness is indescribable: horrific stench, insoluble filth, unimaginable ugliness.

Some think they can tame it and control it, and for a time they can do so by keeping it locked up in a cage. This strategy is doomed to failure, however, for eventually they feel sorry for the beast and decide to release it from confinement. “Just for a short while,” they assure themselves, “and then back in the cage it will go.” Then it wreaks utter havoc and destruction in their home. But it won’t stop there. It will jump through one of the windows and attack others in the neighborhood, affecting them as well. Only with difficulty and pain can the beast be returned to its cage. Nevertheless, sooner or later the owner’s heart will once again go out to it, sympathizing with the beast and longing to release it yet again. Thus the horrible cycle will repeat.

The only way to deal with the beast is to exterminate it. Complete annihilation is the only solution. There can be no mercy for it: A knife must be taken to the beast’s throat, or a gun to its head, so as to destroy it once and for all. Again, though, our love for the beast works against us even there. How hard it is for us to take such drastic measures against it. We sympathize with it, foolishly take pity on it, and pamper it, telling ourselves the lie that the beast is really not all that bad.

“[S]in is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7b)

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom. 8:13)

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Col. 3:5–6)

Anyone who has shared the Gospel with others has probably heard that familiar demand: “Prove that the Bible is the word of God.” The naturalistic assumptions driving such a demand are staggering. When people demand such proof, usually what they want is some empirical proof that they can test with their senses. Thus, they are assuming that empiricism is the default standard for determining truth of any kind. In other words, they assume that all truth propositions can be—and must be—evaluated using the natural senses alone.

But before the empiricist can proceed along this line, he or she must prove first that empiricism really is the standard by which to judge all truth claims. Sadly, though, they usually do not make any attempt to establish this, assuming at the very outset that science is the measure of all things and, operating on that presupposition, putting theists on trial and on the defensive.

The task of proving anything is actually quite a tricky business and not nearly as simple as the naturalist or empiricist may think. The problem is that as soon as you appeal to something to establish a belief, that thing you appealed to now becomes your authority—call it authority A. If you then appeal to yet something else to establish authority A, then that new thing to which you have appealed has now become your higher authority—authority B. If you continued like this, you would go on forever in infinite regress. Nobody does that, though, so all people have some starting point, some point beyond which they do not go, some unprovable foundation on which they build their belief system. Otherwise they could never form any beliefs at all, scientific or otherwise. In this respect, everyone is on the same footing, whether they are evolutionists, scientists, theists, atheists, Christians, and so on.

For example, if a person claims to rely on just plain facts—no feelings, no personal interpretations, but just the facts—on what authority does he establish that those facts are true—by reasoning? If so, does he establish reasoning by something other than reason? If not, then he has made reason his ultimate authority, but that begs the question: Are his reasoning capabilities beyond error? Of course not! But if that is the case, why would he make it his ultimate authority, his starting point? He does so because he wants to.

Perhaps another person’s ultimate authority is empiricism. Perhaps she thinks that all knowledge comes through the senses. But the same question I asked about reasoning also applies to empiricism: Is it beyond error? Are our senses always reliable? A green shirt, for example, appears to have the color green, but in reality it doesn’t have one bit of green in it. All it’s doing is reflecting that color from the spectrum of light that is falling upon it. Our senses can deceive us in other ways, too. I’ve heard of people who, after having a limb amputated, actually sensed that the amputated limb was still there. So the same question could be asked of the empiricist, namely: If empiricism is fallible, why would someone make it their ultimate authority? And we end up with the same answer: She does so because she wants to.

And if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, can empiricism be proven empirically? Or can the need for proof be proven?

It is important at this point to clarify that none of the above is meant to say that people may believe whatever they want; the point is that people do believe whatever they want. Thus, none of the foregoing comments endorse the idea that it is morally correct to believe in whatever we feel like. The point is that human beings are so constituted that they believe whatever they desire, without complete proof. Everyone—including the atheist—is a person of faith.

In my opinion, this is where so many in the scientific community go wrong, especially atheists. They are not right to claim or imply that Christians are at some kind of disadvantage because they rely on faith while they (the atheists or skeptics) allegedly examine the straight facts in an unbiased manner. The truth is that they are not neutral at all. Their beliefs ultimately rest on some unprovable authority, and that because of their own personal presuppositions. That is certain because that authority cannot be substantiated by any higher authority. Otherwise it would no longer be the ultimate authority.

Of course, this does not mean that science is worthless. On the contrary, science is very useful when and where it applies. That, of course, is the restriction: where it applies. The physical world—all that is subject to the physical senses—lies within the domain and jurisdiction of science. The unseen world, however, lies outside its domain. To say that God does not exist, for example, merely because God has not been empirically discerned would be like saying that the planet Pluto had not existed prior to its discovery in 1930. Someone or something does not have to be discerned in order to exist. Reality is not created by the senses. Thus, science has no right or authority to declare dogmatically the truth or untruth of any religious, spiritual claim.

My ultimate authority for the Christian life and spiritual matters is the Bible. When I engage in evangelistic discussions, I start with that presupposition. I don’t proceed with a “The Bible is true because…” approach but rather “Thus says the LORD.” If I were to attempt to prove the reliability of the Bible using some extrabiblical authority, such as my own reasoning, then I would be making that authority higher authority the Bible. God’s word, however, is not subject to the judgment of men. Herman Bavinck summarized this truth well when he wrote:

If Christian revelation, which presupposes the darkness and error of unspiritual humanity, submitted in advance to the judgments of reason, it would by that token contradict itself. It would thereby place itself before a tribunal whose jurisdiction it had first denied. (516)

How liberating that is! We don’t have to be defense attorneys for the Bible, lining up proof after proof of its inspiration in the hope of convincing the unbeliever that it can be trusted. All we need to do is proclaim it and teach it faithfully.

If we don’t have to prove that the Bible is the word of God, then how will people come to believe what it says? God’s word is self-authenticating. The Holy Spirit creates faith in a person, with which that person then responds in faith to God’s revelation. I agree with Herman Bavinck’s teaching that faith is the organ of any knowledge of God. This truth is borne out in the epistle to the Hebrews:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1–3, NIV, emphasis added)

Faith itself is the assurance of what is hoped for and the certainty of what we don’t see. Thus, true knowledge of God is a faith-knowledge. We don’t become intellectually convinced of God’s existence or of a particular truth about him first and then believe solely on the basis of that intellectual conviction. If that were the case, it would no longer be faith. Faith presupposes that which it believes; it does not require proof to believe in its object. I’m not saying that faith is divorced from the intellect; the two go hand in hand. I am just not sure that faith depends entirely on the intellect’s being convinced that something is true. People can, and do, reject things that they know to be true, so convincing the intellect alone does not guarantee faith. There must be an inner assurance and conviction that the object of faith is true, and in the spiritual realm, that assurance and conviction come from the Holy Spirit.

Is faith voluntaristic or intellectualistic? Is faith a moral act of the will whereby we willingly receive what God has said because we want to do so, or is it primarily an intellectual act? If the former, then the unbeliever’s issue is not that he needs to be intellectually convinced that the Bible is divinely inspired. Rather, his real issue is his willful rejection of the Bible’s authority. The will must be changed before belief will occur.
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Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Ed. John Bolt. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003. 4 vols.

One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is Romans 4:5: “[T]o the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

There’s a lot packed into this short statement. One of its most comforting truths is its emphasis on the kind of person whom God justifies (or declares to be righteous). He doesn’t justify those who are already righteous, but rather those who are “wicked.” Not only that, but it also says that to the one who “does not work but trusts,” his faith is credited as righteousness. The salvation provided by Christ truly is “such a great salvation” (Heb. 2:3) because our own righteousness does not contribute one bit to our acceptance by God. I’m glad it doesn’t because if it did I’d be in deep trouble!

What does this mean for us? It means that we don’t have to—in fact, we shouldn’t—beat ourselves over the head when we commit a sin, trying desperately to work our way back into God’s favor. We are already in his favor because it is his own righteousness he gives to us, as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8-9: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (emphasis added). When he looks at the believer, he doesn’t see our imperfections but rather his own righteousness, Christ’s own obedience whereby he kept the law on behalf of all those who believe in him.

This doesn’t mean that we should not take sin seriously or not be sorrowful when we commit it. We should hate sin and loathe every moment that we fall into it, seeing the terrible price that Christ paid to redeem believers from it. It simply means that we should have the right perspective about how we are accepted by God. It is not on the basis of our goodness because we can never measure up, whether we live to be 1,000 or even 10,000 years old. It is on the basis of Christ’s own perfect righteousness credited to us.

Just a simple—but valuable—reminder of how great salvation through Christ truly is.

3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:3-9, ESV)

In addition to the highly instructive (and sobering) tale of the woman sacrificing her valuable ointment to anoint the Lord, this passage provides us with a valuable reminder about priorities. Note the word reminder: There is nothing particularly new in this short article, no unique insights, no special revelations. Sometimes, however, reminders are just as powerful and necessary as fresh insights; in fact, often they are more so. We are always in need of being reminded that there are more important things than the material world around us. To be sure, we have material needs, and they are an integral, unavoidable quality of our mortal lives. We need work, food, shelter, transportation and a host of other material things. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that we sinful human beings frequently care far more passionately about material things than we should.

This story is not the only account in the gospels that deals with the tension between material and spiritual values. For example, when the Pharisees complained that his disciples ate grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus reminded them of the Old Testament accounts of David unlawfully eating the bread of the Presence in the temple and the priests profaning the Sabbath with impunity. Then he pointed out, “Something greater than the temple is here.” Truly for the woman who gave up all her precious ointment, something greater than perfume was there. Unfortunately, the woman’s critics could not grasp that the material does not—must not—outweigh the spiritual.

While it is very easy for us to become critics of the critics in this passage, standing comfortably distant from the events of the story, we truly delude ourselves if we think we are all that different. I fear that we are just like those faultfinders of so long ago. Contrary to the Bible’s principles, our culture—like our Middle Eastern counterpart of yore—widely emphasizes material results as the prime criterion for determining value. One of the most poignant commentaries on this prevalent problem of pragmatism is Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV):

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Time and time again the scriptures remind us of this spiritual priority with indisputable clarity; yet how often are our lives preoccupied excessively with the “here and now” of this world instead of the “there and later” of the next life? How often do we truly seek to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven that shall never wear out? Our culture looks upon “forward thinking” with great favor, and this is an admirable quality, for prudence and thinking ahead are always wise. But how much of our looking ahead includes the kingdom of God? Let’s make the pursuit of the kingdom of God and his righteousness always our first priority and leave the rest to him.