But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
Most of my life I have been content with the “normal” American life. I graduated high school and went to college. I met an amazing woman, and we started a life together. We raised three wonderful kids. I eventually finished college (while working full time), and I made a decent living at a challenging job. We always had enough.
The world around us has always been constantly bombarding us with advertisements selling the newest gadgets, the fancier cars, the newer house. Society pushes us to crave more. More money, more status, more stuff. I was constantly asking myself if we really had enough, or if we could get more.
I was vaguely dissatisfied with life.
I spent so many years weighing every pay raise and opportunity. We spent money on clothes that wore out, nice dinners that were consumed, and cars or gadgets that wore out or broke down. The stuff never erased the discontent. It only led to cravings for more of that stuff.
Well, it wasn’t until late in 2012 that I realized that the source of that vague dissatisfaction was really a craving for more of what God had to offer. I was tired of the empty more that the world kept promising. I discovered that I wanted and needed more of what God had for my life; more of His wisdom, more of His grace, more of His power, more of His presence. I wanted more of Him. So, I began to chase after God. Just He has always pursued me, I realized I needed to pursue Him. My satisfaction could only be found in Him. He was the key to more of everything in my life.
I know it sounds easy, right? At least when you read stories of the “greats” it seems like it was a simple thing for them to position themselves and encounter God in deeper, fuller ways. But it isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t quick. I discovered it was more of a lifestyle than a fad craze that quickly fades.
Three Parts of a “Seek First” Lifestyle
I believe there are three parts to a seek-first lifestyle. We can find it in many stories throughout the Bible and in many great church leaders’ lives. We can see what it looks like in the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel, but Paul captures it best in a single, short passage from the book of Romans.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
Perseverance: No Compromise with “Enough”
In Daniel chapter 1, the young men of royal and noble families from Jerusalem were taken into captivity in Babylon. The best and brightest of a generation were stolen and enslaved to a conquering tyrant. They were taken into captivity. Granted it was captivity in a palace with much of what the world would deem excellent readily available.
But four young men held themselves apart. They didn’t buy into Babylon’s worldly idea of more. They refused to eat from the king’s table, from the choices meat and drink. They turned to God and refused to “pollute [themselves] with the king’s rations or the royal wine” (Daniel 1:8).
They chose to hold to their beliefs. They refused to compromise even though they were away from home and family. They fixed their sights on God, and they went after what He had for them even in the face of adversity. They persevered.
Character: Having a “Seek First” Mindset
Character refers to moral qualities, ethical standards, and principles.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego held to their principles and faith in God. They refused to participate in bowing down to an idol of the Babylonian king. They held God’s laws for their lives as sacred, and they sought God daily.
Officials in the king’s court became jealous of these young men’s successes. They found a way to remove them from influence and advance their own agendas. These officials reported the young men’s failure to conform to the culture of idolatry to the king.
When the king confronted them, these three young men stood their ground. Even through their captivity and tribulation, their character was identified by their steadfast resolve to seek God first. You can see this when they responded to the king by telling him, “We will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you’ve set up” (Daniel 3:18). They were fearlessly unwavering knowing it would cost them everything.
Hope: An Impartation for “More”
They knew the king would destroy them for their stance. However, their perseverance and the quality of their character led them into a realm of expectation. They had expectation in the promises and power of God Most High.
They had hope.
They realized their hope was not in their own strength or ability. They were captives, slaves. Their hope was completely dependent on God. Their focus was on Him. They told the king, “If our God-the one we serve- is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your Majesty, then let him rescue us” (Daniel 3:17).
And He does! He steps into the fire with them. He raises them up to be fire-walkers. Their seek-first lifestyle led to a powerful encounter. Because God does not disappoint. He raises us up instead.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:5