“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Two things that keep us out of the kingdom of God are appetite and attitude. As disciples, we understand that we are no stronger spiritually than our weakest moment.
When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, the word He used is basileia, which actually translates as kingship. Jesus tells us to seek first the kingship of God. That means we are to submit to Jesus Christ as our King; we are to obey His commandments and serve Him as loyal subjects.
Deep inside each of us is an attitude which declares, “I have a right to determine my behavior, and I refuse to surrender that right to anyone…even to God.” We may be very moral, but we still experience that same sense of independence, that inner claim to our right to ourselves. This condition has nothing to do with morality or immorality, it has to do with deliberate and emphatic independence of God. God calls it rebellion.
Attitude is the product of appetite. Our appetite influences our attitude. The most obvious is in food consumption. The appetite says, “Just this one time won’t hurt anything.” Attitude picks up on that right away and confirms, “You’re right, one time never hurt anybody.” This collusion results in 300 more calories, which equates to another pound or two. Not exactly blatant sin, but it develops into habit, and two pounds become four pounds, and on and on, until each additional pound becomes more deadly, and life is snuffed out before God can complete His work and fulfill His destiny in us.
Appetite is everywhere. Another example of unbridled appetite is lust. Jesus said, “Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Adultery is always preceded by adulterous thoughts. When we feed that appetite, our attitude uses any form of rationalization to justify our inevitable action.
Satan never quits in his attempt to give us false appetites. For instance, he exposes us to various forms of the spirit of fear to see if he can develop a false appetite through one of them.
If we accept the fear of criticism, we develop an appetite for approval and an attitude of rebellion against correction; if we accept the fear of failure, we develop a voracious appetite for success and an attitude of accomplishment at any cost; if we accept the fear of poverty, we develop an unhealthy appetite for money and an attitude of refusal to share.
These appetites and attitudes take a dominant position in our personalities and consume large portions of our time. We take our eyes off the direction God has given us, and we step out from under His kingship; therefore, out of His kingdom.
Our problem is ignorance and unbelief. Because no one in the world can possibly know everything there is to know about even one subject, we all act on the basis of incomplete information. In this case, we are all ignorant. In addition, our egos prompt us to make decisions on the basis of our limited knowledge and we defend those decisions as correct. Ignorance and unbelief create mutated appetites and attitudes that keep us out of the kingdom of God.
None of this should happen to a disciple, and it doesn’t have to. The solution is so simple it is difficult to accept: We turn to the Word of God to acquire knowledge and overcome ignorance. In the process, God takes care of our unbelief.
As we trust the Word we become less rebellious because we understand that obedience brings us a better life. Slowly, God becomes a reality to us, a living God with awesome power who cares for us personally, and our fear dissolves. As the Spirit of God takes over, the lust of the flesh loses strength.
Our appetites and attitudes are given boundless opportunities to express themselves. If we take the time to place our eyes upon Jesus, He raises us above the incessant temptations that appeal to our vanities. He frees us from worldly priorities that pull us away from His kingship. It is time for us to narrow our focus, and place our appetites and attitudes on the altar.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?