What You Get
They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. (Psalm 78:35)
The solemn truth of the gospel is that, in spiritual things, you get what you set your heart on. Set your heart on knowing God and He will reveal Himself through His Word; set your heart on serving Him and you will not lack opportunity to do so. But set your heart on nothing of spiritual consequence, and that is precisely what you will receive- nothing of spiritual consequence. Set your heart on your own ambitions, and they will very likely be fulfilled. God may give you your heart’s desire. He did exactly that for His people in the wilderness. He saved them for His own sake and glory, and led them through the desert, yet “they soon forgot his works, they did not wait on his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them. (Psalm 106:13-15)
All that, despite Moses’ warning to them: “And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)
Think for a moment about where your life has led you thus far. What ambitions and aspirations have been fulfilled? Has the Lord given you many of the things you’ve longed for- materially, personally, socially, professionally? But now meditate on this: Do you have the Lord Himself with these things, or do you have them without Him? Have you forgotten the Lord?
The man or woman who has a heart for God will be someone who is determined to remember the Lord.
Jesus gave us a powerful principle about how to be successful in life. It is a tried and true method that has no time or selective limits.
25 “Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothes? See how the lilies and wildflowers of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin [wool to make clothing], 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory and splendor dressed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
The principle that Christ is teaching us in this is one of priority. In the 33rd verse He says that we must make our first priority our relationship with God. The most important part of you and the only eternal part of you is your soul. I realize that developing our minds is important and having healthy bodies is important and being comfortable financially and having social connections is valuable but they cannot replace or become the first of our priorities as Christians. Caring for the soul is the most important task we have. The constant pressure by the devil and the world is to make time and space for that which is only temporary at the expense of that which is eternal. If the devil can’t persuade us not to accept Christ as Savior he attempts to get us to minimize our relationship with Him and to become so occupied with the temporary that we forget the importance of the eternal. This was exactly what the Israelites did in the wilderness and we too, are subject to the same temptations. They became more occupied with what they were to eat and drink than they were with being in the presence of God. To be sure, they wanted to tap into God’s power and provision; they wanted Him to fix their problems and to provide for their needs, but they had little desire for His presence. So God granted them the material needs but they perished in the wilderness without ever entering the Promise Land. This may be us. It is possible to receive the natural provision of God and forget that it is God who has been gracious and generous.
The person who seeks and strives to know God and serve God will always be blessed. They may not have the most of the things of this world such as wealth or possessions, but every need they have will be supplied and more importantly their souls will become enlarged with the presence of God. Their true riches will be laid up for them in heaven.
As I think back over my life and experiences I can testify personally to the validity of Christ’s statement. I’ve discovered that when one places the kingdom of God first as a priority and makes serving God the most important part of life that God truly not only supplies every need but more times than I can count, He also gives the desires of our hearts. I’ve learned that as we grow in our relationship with God that He trusts us with more of this world’s substance. Perhaps one of the best examples of someone who practiced the “seeking of the kingdom of heaven first” was Abraham. We read that upon God’s instruction, he left family and friends to follow God, he gave his nephew Lot first choice of grazing land, he gave a tenth of his goods to Melchizedek, and he was willing to give his son Issac back to God in sacrifice. What we find was that Abraham was perhaps one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. He became the father of the nation of Israel and the father of faith to many nations. It seemed the more he followed God the more God blessed him. His priorities never changed. Even in the increase of the things of earth, Abraham kept his relationship the first of his priorities.
We also read that Solomon began well by asking God for wisdom and understanding. Because at that point in life, Solomon’s priority was his walk with God, God also gave him wealth and power. As you read through Solomon’s life you find that rather than keeping his relationship with God as his priority, he began to pursue the follies of the world. He says he gave himself to pleasure of every description. He says he withheld nothing from himself. His conclusion after tasting all that the world could offer was that it was all in vain.
Go back and read again the instructions and it’s accompanying promise. Ask yourself what do you give the most thought, time and energy toward. Is it the kingdom of God and righteousness or do you find yourself preoccupied with all the things of this earth? To be sure this isn’t some kind of neglect of working and having things. This isn’t some monkish idea of taking a vow of poverty. This is a matter of setting priorities and boundaries in your life making the things of Christ first and letting everything else revolve around that.
Those who choose this course will be those who enjoy a life of blessing that is rooted in relationship with God and they will learn they can trust God to meet their need and to give them the desires of their hearts.
Dr. John Thompson