I am tired. I mean really, truly tired. You know the kind of tired that permeates the mental, the physical, the spiritual and the emotional? Yes, that’s the one.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you too have felt the bee hive at times or the dense fog at others. There are so many things, so many problems that pile up and somewhere along the line you’ve lost the ability to manage them all.
The bee hive is the laundry list of problems and the fog hinders my ability to deal with them. Granted, we all have problems that we can’t deal with. For example, there is health. There are many aspects of health that we can address. Diet and exercise go a long way towards that. But there are other issues that we just have to live with. I have so much pain in my body at any given moment, I’m not always sure where to start. It can be overwhelming and extremely fatiguing day to day, moment by moment.
Of course some of us struggle with finances, or our jobs/careers, or with our families, or with our relationships… The list could be quite long. But the list all boils down to anxiety. Worry.
I come by worry naturally. My mom is a worrier. I made a conscious decision as child to always expect the worst so that when it doesn’t happen, I won’t be disappointed. So you might say that, without knowing it, I fostered a fear of disappointment from the time I was old enough to think about things.
And what is disappointment? It is not getting what we want or what we need (or think we need). Solomon said that hope deferred makes the heart sick. I’ve always had a terrible time with hope. I have to agree with Norm MacDonald during his standup routine where he said “I don’t like hope. Hope is never good. Don’t try it. It never works out.” I’ve had a sick heart plenty of times from deferred hope.
All of this can lead to anxiety and depression. Sure, that’s another natural family trait. So my family always turns to the Word of God for answers to such issues.
There is a famous passage of Scripture in Matthew chapter 6 (starting at verse 25) where Jesus speaks about the cure for anxiety. He asks us why we worry about what we will eat, drink or wear. The Father knows that we have need of these things. He feeds the animals though they don’t plant the crops.
That passage alone suggests a misguided focus on our part. Our attention is placed upon ourselves and, in this case, our bare fundamental needs. But it’s what Jesus says next that drives the point home. You all know the passage. It’s pretty famous. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… I’ve heard this Scripture since I was a child. It’s been memorized in my head, but not my heart.
Our focus should be on the Kingdom of God. But there is something very important that Jesus adds on here. Most of us focus on the first part of this verse. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS… So it’s not enough to be seeking the Kingdom of God. We must also be seeking His righteousness as well. What does that mean?
Well my first thoughts are to define righteousness. Webster defines the word as “morally good”. Great! I follow some of the Ten Commandments. I do good deeds. I feed homeless. I rarely murder anyone (I kid). Maybe I’ve got some moral high ground to stand on. I’m certainly not as bad as a lot of other people I know. I work hard to temper myself and my morals. But wait. Those things are MY righteousness. Isaiah told us (Isaiah 64:6) that our own righteousness is filthy rags.
So what does it mean to seek His righteousness?
I think to start with, it requires us to understand our predicament and just who He is. We are hopelessly lost in sin. And no effort on our part can win us salvation over it. If we could then Jesus died in vain.
It is important to recognize the attributes of God. Check out the graphic I borrowed from the great folks at khouse.org.
In that list is Holiness. Holiness is not accepting of sin. Holiness is purity. God is incorruptible. Were it not for His love and the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, we couldn’t approach Him. But because of that unmerited, immeasurable grace, we can enter into the throne room of God. We can have a relationship with Him.
Unfortunately, modern ‘enlightened’ Christians have begun to accept sin and even support it. Our churches are diluting the Gospel so that it ‘tastes better’ to the sinner. This is an abomination. I feel very strongly about the Word of God. It says what it says and means what it means. I do not have the authority or permission to apologize for it. I don’t have the authority to cut out the parts that people find offensive.
But I also don’t have permission from God to abuse people by beating them up with the Bible. It is the job of a Believer to love the Lord God with all of our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict sin.
But we must not embrace the sin that the world embraces. We must not water down the Gospel to increase church attendance. This is wildly harmful to the souls of those that we think we are helping.
God is a just God. His justice will not wait forever. He alone will judge. But as the Word tells us in 1 Peter 4:17-18, judgment BEGINS in the house of the Lord. And if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God? We as Believers have a responsibility to be holy as He is holy. This isn’t exclusively an Old Testament command. Peter repeats it in 1 Peter 1:15-16.
There are other ways to chase His righteousness
We need to commune with God. Prayer is a powerful gift that allows us access to the most high God. We should pray always. When I’m going well, I am talking to God all throughout the day. Sometimes He wakes me up in the middle of the night to pray for someone or about something. It’s an amazing gift that we often do not use. How long do your friends continue to be called ‘friends’ if you don’t talk to them?
We need to fellowship and build one another up. We are great at tearing each other down. But we need to improve our game when it comes to being a strong, Godly influences in each other’s lives. This allows us to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than any fancy speeches or emotional alter calls, this is how the Lord works in the lives of His people.
As Bob Dylan said, we need to serve somebody. Serving someone else in need removes the focus from yourself and your own issues. It places your heart in line with the Holy Spirit and allows God to use you in powerful ways. Sure it’s hard. No one wants to be taken advantage of. But when we are seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness, we will be doing eternally meaningful work. Someone ‘getting over on you’ as you serve pales in comparison to how we all got over on Jesus as He hung on the Cross with our sins on His shoulders.
Study, study, study. I am amazed at the modern Church and its acceptance of Sin. The Bible outlines very specifically what is sin. Many in our churches practice, support and celebrate this sin. We need to read the Scriptures! We need to educate ourselves. Aside from the gift of Salvation, the Bible is the greatest gift that God has given to us. It is the number one way that God speaks to us. Yet so many Christians ignore it. This should NOT be. The Word of God is critical to your growth as a Believer. We should be absorbing it every chance we get. Without a doubt, it will draw you closer to Him. He reveals Himself to us in those pages. And as we learn more and more about who He is, we will find His righteousness.
And all these things shall be added unto you.
So coming full circle. I’m still very tired. I’ve still got a lot of real problems. But I realize that I’ve lost my focus. The problems have become the thing that I chase.
I believe that God is telling me (and you) that it is time. Time to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. With wickedness and evil prospering in this world, we need to focus on Him.
And I find that I don’t even care if these things are ‘added unto me’ – so long as I inherit the Kingdom of God and taste of His righteousness.