Life is busy. It seems as though there are continually overwhelming demands on our time as well as relentless distractions. In this busyness we can feel unease about missing our purpose, sensing that the urgent things tend to crowd out the important. To regain some control and bring a sense of order to our lives, we may try to establish priorities. But those priorities will be determined by our perspective.
As a mother of young children faced with running a busy household, I have often felt overwhelmed with competing demands. When I didn’t know where to start, I would often think of a piece of sage advice I had once read: ‘your family primarily needs to be clothed and fed, so just put another load in the washing machine and organise the next meal’. While this was a good strategy for those busy days, I would miss so much by focusing only on meeting these basic physical needs.
Jesus warned against a preoccupation with meeting physical needs. He recognised how easily we fret and become anxious with the daily demands of life. In the Sermon on the Mount, He taught that the most important need was a spiritual one: to live in the light of God’s Kingdom and be righteous before God: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”
Earlier, Jesus had explained what being part of the Kingdom of Heaven meant. He hadn’t come to set up a physical kingdom but to transform the hearts and lives of those who trusted in Him. He gave a new perspective on what righteousness meant; not merely an outward compliance to rules but true righteousness which sprang from within, affecting every word, thought and action – a righteousness to which none of us can attain. The book of Romans affirms that “None is righteous, no not one…no one seeks for God”, but it also explains how Jesus can transform those who believe in Him because God’s righteousness is freely given to all who trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death (Romans 3:21-25).
By demonstrating the generous care of God the Father, watching over every sparrow and clothing the lily in the field, Jesus put our preoccupation with food and clothing into perspective. When we understand that, purely by grace, God declares us to be righteous in Christ when we believe in Him, we can start to appreciate the extent of His love and care. We can depend on Him. That perspective will help us order our lives with the right priorities – living for His kingdom and resting in His righteousness, even while meeting our legitimate physical needs.