“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
– Matthew 6:33 [NKJV]
If I am honest, I must admit that sometimes I want what I don’t need, and what I need I do not want. Such is the state of human nature. We can identify with the Apostle Paul when he said, “O wretched man that I am!” – Romans 7:24 [NKJV]
This tendency can lead us away from seeking His kingdom first, even when the things we pursue are legitimate or good.
Most of us are needy people. We want to have our needs met, and there is nothing innately wrong with this. But it does not start with us but Him (Christ). In congregations today, many are clamoring for the pastor to meet their needs. Alistair Begg, the Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, has said that “preachers are besieged today to begin their sermons with man and his need rather than God and His glory.” It is not so much that one is good and the other bad. It is the order of importance we place on these that can lead us astray.
Begg further commented, “preaching today has become more concerned with wholeness, not holiness. We have, in many ways, developed a self-centered theology.
The critical point is where we start in our discussion about God’s glory and man’s wholeness. If we begin with man’s needs, we allow our circumstances or the culture to determine our theology and our corresponding preaching rather than the Bible.
Those of us who preach, teach, or write are not called first and foremost to meet people’s wishes but to give, as much as possible, a clear exposition of the full counsel of God, the Bible. And the critical element that enables us to focus on God and not man is our motivation for doing what we do.
Remember, Jesus was never motivated totally by need but by the will of the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). When the crowds were waiting for a great revival meeting, Jesus was off to a new location. When the multitudes were clamoring for his presence, he slipped to a quiet place to commune with His Father.
Was he insensitive to the requests of His seekers? No! He understood that only if he kept his focus on what Jesus saw His Father doing would He ultimately meet the cries of His followers. But not in the manner or timeframe anticipated by the people and not by placating needs that were only wants in disguise.
How could Jesus pull this off? He could do it because He was not dependent on the applause of people. Many years ago, James S. Stewart, the Scottish Presbyterian minister, said, “The disease of contemporary preaching is its search for popularity.”
Jesus taught His disciples to seek to serve instead of being served and look past their desires to see a needy world. Yes, God does want to meet our legitimate needs but in His time and way.
A.W. Tozer put it in perspective when he said, “Faith looks out instead of in – and the whole of life falls into line.” If we seek God first and His Kingdom needs, He will meet all our earthly needs but not vice versa.