What is the most important thing in each of our lives? I mean, what is the number one feature that comes before everything else. Let’s ask ourselves, what’s my ultimate priority? What do I care about the most?
Some of us might respond “It’s my family.” Others might say I need to care for my family so it’s financial security or my job that’s most important. Some of us might think getting healthy this year is most crucial or finding a meaningful relationship. But if we have 2020 vision, we’ll need to review and renew the priority given to us by the Lord Jesus Himself – it’s found in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you.” So what should be our ultimate priority for 2020 and actually for every day of every year?
We are called to pursue eternal values not temporal ones. The word “seek” in this verse is a present tense command and has the nuance of “Always seek.” The Lord is most concerned that we pursue that which lasts forever not things that fade away. Of first priority, God wants us to seek His rulership in our lives. That’s what Jesus is talking about when He says “Seek first His kingdom.” It means pursuing whatever it is that God wants to accomplish in our lives. When we ask what is God’s will, this is at the top of the list, that we willingly pursue His direction and rule in our lives. Many of us give lip service to this commitment but we resist following God’s rulership if it’s hard. Too many of us rewrite the old hymn this way: “I’ll have my own way, Lord, I’ll have my own way. I’ll be the potter, You be the clay. I’ll mold you and make you after my will, while you are waiting, yielded and still.”
But it’s not just God’s rulership that we’re to prioritize—we need to pursue God’s righteousness as well. Seeking His righteousness refers to making the pursuit of the holiness of God a reality in my life. We can become so frustrated with our own failures that we just give up and give in. We’ll never be holy. Yet Jesus encouraged us to hunger and thirst for righteousness so that we’d be satisfied. That means my 2020 vision has to include a renewed commitment to spiritual disciplines like reading the Word daily, praying persistently, actively serving in a congregation, and other dsiciplines as well.
And what does the Lord Jesus promise those who put His eternal values first and foremost in our lives? It’s simple: God will provide for all of our temporal needs and concerns. That’s what He means by “all these things will be provided.” In the context Jesus was discussing basic needs like food and clothing. He said that if we pursue God’s eternal values, God would provide basic necessities. Note that this is a promise that God would provide basics not luxuries. There’s no promise that we’ll be rich. And it won’t necessarily come like manna from heaven—He’ll provide jobs so that we can work for our bread.
Also, notice that this promise really is directed to God’s children not all people. God in His common grace allows the rain to fall on the just and unjust alike and He provides for all people. But He only promises this provision to those who pursue His rule and righteousness.
Some of us might object that there have been followers of the Lord Jesus who have experienced poverty, even starvation. I think the answer is that this is a general promise but there are exceptions. When the Lord wants some of His children to suffer for righteousness sake, He will provide enablement for them to cope with starvation, exposure, even martyrdom. Their faithfulness to the Messiah Jesus to the very end, even in terribly difficult times, will bring great glory to God.
Jesus point in this simple verse is that if we pursue spiritual priorities, God will give us material provision. If we have eternal values, God will meet our temporal needs.
A.W. Tozer once said, “When we take to ourselves the place that is God’s, the whole course of our lives is out of joint.”
What Jesus taught is actually the reverse: When we give to God His rightful place in our lives, the whole course of our lives comes into balance. That’s how to find 2020 vision in this New year.