God, I want to keep You first,
above and before all things.
I pursue You with passion ~
to know You and Your truth.
I desire to serve You, and not myself.
Today, I die to myself and I live for You.
Series: “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”
The 1776 Declaration of Independence of the United States of America states that all men are created equal and are provided by their Creator the “unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our perception of Life and Liberty may be similar. However, I imagine there are as many different pursuits of happiness as there are people! My pursuit is distinctive from yours.
When we pursue something, the goal, object, or desire sometimes consumes us. We often incorporate tunnel vision to avoid anything that would distract us from our quest. Passionately committed to the goal, we shut out all opposing voices and our hearts become set solely upon the successful achievement – the fulfilled desire – the accomplished mission.
Inconspicuously, and probably innocently at first, selfishness and self-seeking creep in. If not checked and corrected, self-serving overtakes every thought, word and action pertaining to the mission. No matter how good the goal, greed for our success drives our motives and intentions.
In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus taught a parable about a rich man whose pursuit was focused solely on his own success:
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
The man’s production is not an issue. Him building larger storehouses is not bad. The evil is found in the heart of the man. His eyes are solely upon himself: his work, his needs, his success.
In Deuteronomy 6:10-12, God instructed the Israelites to not forget, as they experience provision and bounty, that it is He who brought them out of poverty. David, in Psalm 106, recounted the rebellion of the Israelites as they pursued their own desires. Paul, in Romans 1:21 wrote, “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
All these accounts involve idolatry – exalting, desiring, reverencing something more than God. The root is selfishness, self-seeking, greed, and covetousness. The people exalted, pursued, desired, worshiped the creation above the Creator.
Jesus provided so much good instruction for us:
- Matthew 6:21 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
- Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
- Matthew 22:37-39 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
What are you pursuing? Happiness. Education. Occupation. Promotion. Fitness. Health. Relationship. Success. None of these are bad. It’s healthy to have goals. However, if our focus, passion, and pursuit of the goal supersedes our desire for the one, true, living God, then our hearts have become foolishly darkened by greed and idolatry. God desires our affections, and He shares His glory with no one. Let’s seek the Lord above all other things, love Him first, and worship Him most.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Luke 12:16-21; Deuteronomy 6:1-19; Romans 1:21-25; Psalm 106; Matthew 6:19-33, 22:37-39; 1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20; Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 42:8