Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
- Matthew 13:44
J.I. Packer said, "once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord."
What are these problems of which he talks?
I think the biggest problem for the Christian is where to place Christ in life's race! Who sits in the red centre on your dartboard?
Every Christian has wrestled with the issue of putting Christ first in a world full of competing aims. God asks every believer to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all the problems J.I. Packer refers to become easier to deal with, and most just fall way.
God asked Cain to do the same thing but in a different way. When it was time to bring an offering, Cain brought the wrong type. He knew in theory what the right type was, but when it came to the practice of it, his humanity came first, and his creator came last.
Joshua challenged his fellow believers as he noticed God wasn't high enough on their list of priorities. Joshua 24:14 says, "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth..."
In verse 15 he delivered that remarkable line every believer has underlined in their Bible,"...choose you this day whom ye will serve; ...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
At a time when they were meant to be putting God first in their lives, their competing issues forced God to a lesser place, causing them to be overcome by unhealthy desires. Joshua showed them the decision he had made and will make sure his house follows.
I Kings 18:21 finds Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal to make the same decision, calling them to follow the living God, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him."
We don't know if those prophets of Baal were raised as children to follow Baal, or whether they were raised in believing households but slowly walked away. The Bible doesn't tell us that. What Elijah's scenario discloses is that he challenged their two opinions. When it comes to following the Lord, we can't have two opinions of who comes first in our life. Neither can we have two firsts. God is not interested in being a joint-winner in your life. He wants us all to make that big decision at some time and stick to it. He wants First Place.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 that none of us can serve two masters. Jesus wants us to choose this day who we will serve and which things serve us.
The second master Jesus speaks of is the world and what it delivers. When we make a conscious resolve, as Joshua did, that God comes first in our lives, that he is our master, we then become aware that those other things serve us. We don't serve them. They are there to help us walk with the Lord, not dictate to us. They are no longer our masters but servants. They facilitate our walk with the Lord.
Only when we have made that one big choice are our eyes opened to the truth. Only then does the kingdom become to us the treasure it should be. Only then can we freely sell off all our human aims and desires to purchase it. And only then do we find the unconditional joy that comes with that transaction.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I want you first in my life, but I keep getting confused with the competing masters. I find myself putting my prayer and study last and other things first, and regret it later on. Please help me to make that big decision and not forget that I've made it.