What are “all these things”, anyway? I heard “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” for years in song form and quoted from Matthew 6:33 (KJV) before I got to thinking just what “all these things” are. I knew that we were supposed to put God first, and I kind of let the rest pass. But, I finally became curious as to just what things God was promising us if we seek his kingdom and righteous above all else. To get the full context, we need to read Matthew 6:19-34. It becomes clear that “all these things” are the material needs we have. Instead of being concerned about money, food, shelter, or clothing, we should be concerned about the things of God. Then, he promises he‟ll take care of those things. He doesn‟t promise that we‟ll have every material thing we ever wanted, but that he will give those things we need. Money is probably the biggest one of “all these things” that wants to take first place away from God. After all, we can buy the rest of them for ourselves if we just have money. But, we can‟t seek both God and money equally. One of them will be our master. In our society, we‟ve heard lots of things about money: “Money makes the world go around.”, “Money is power.”, “Everyone has their price.”. But, it‟s God that makes the world go around; he made it to do that. No one has more power than God. Jesus paid the price for us on the cross. Why would we want money more than God? Well, we can meet our own needs with it and not have to wait on God. We can do things our way. That sounds innocent enough on the surface, but that‟s really what sin boils down to: wanting things our way instead of God‟s way. We want control. We want to be our own gods. That was the temptation that was too great for Satan that led to his fall. That was what he tempted Eve with in the Garden of Eden that led to man‟s downfall. And that is the ongoing struggle between our spirit and our flesh, one wanting to do things God‟s way, and the other it‟s own. God puts us to the test about what our first love is all the time. It‟s not because he doesn‟t know, but because we may think we‟re putting him first when we have others in his place. One of the simplest money tests is tithing. Are we willing to give back a tenth of what he gives us, or do we hold on to it because we think we need it to meet our needs? Interestingly, God asks us to test him with our tithe as well; Malachi 3:10 says, “‟Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,‟ says the Lord Almighty, „and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.‟” The blessings may not be monetary; they could be more valuable things than just money. Tithing isn‟t a “get rich quick” scheme. God doesn‟t need our money. What he does want us to know is whether we place more value in it or in him. We probably all remember, “God loves a cheerful giver.” from the verse, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” If you only give from feelings of guilt, don‟t give. If you begrudge every bit you give God, don‟t give. If the most you can give God joyfully is your loose change, that is all you should give him. God means it; he doesn‟t want you to feel compelled to give him anything, and would rather not take anything from you under those terms. But, before you decide, this is another place where the context is so important. We need to read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 to get the full effect of God‟s plan. What power there is in God and giving joyfully! If God promises us “all these things” if we seek his kingdom and righteousness first, why are we reluctant to part with the money that we may think we need to get them for ourselves? Well, maybe we‟re worried about giving the money up without seeking him first… that‟d be a valid concern. His promise is only good if we put him first. But, if we‟re really trying to put God in first place, what else might hold us back? Trusting in his promise? Do we really believe he‟ll keep his word? Well, he‟s asked us in Malachi 3:10 to test him in this (kind of a departure from the usual “Do not put your God to the test.” found in Deuteronomy 6:16 and quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:12). Of course, God never fails a test that he‟s agreed to take on. Well, wondering about what “all these things” are started me on a journey of discovery about God‟s promises and some ways I need to test my own heart to make sure he‟s the one in the center.
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