My grace out-performs your hustle

 

I always thought Jesus was just comparing what He tells us to seek, as opposed to what most people seek- we seek the Kingdom; they seek stuff. Remarkably, though, it's not just the “object" of that search which He’s suggesting should be different; it's also the manner of “seeking.”

Follow me for a second... 

I’ve learned that one of the biggest hindrances to walking with a healthy soul is striving, straining, and seeking to achieve things in our own strength. That is, it’s not just “doing bad” things that knock us off course. Many times, we can do “good,” but do it from a sense of obligation instead of overflow… 

There’s a great line in the Sermon on the Mount that speaks to this…

Matthew records Jesus’ admonition: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). 

He tells us that if we do this- if we seek His Kingdom first AND seek HIs righteousness- that “all these things will be added to you…”

What are the “these things” that Jesus is talking about? Well, in this part of His teaching, He points to the grind of life. Everyone seeks food, clothing… the basics. 

“For after all these things the Gentiles seek…” (Matthew 6:32). 

I often thought Jesus was just telling us that, “Yeah. People in the world are anxious about the stuff of this world…”

  • The things they’ll wear. Whether they’ll look GQ or not. Whether it was made in a sweat shop, or whether a fair wage was paid to the workers.
  • And the things they’ll eat. Will there be enough to go around? Will it be gluten free? Is it organic or grass fed or does it have carcinogens or other random things that might hurt you in it?
  • And everything else in life. Jobs. The kids’ soccer practice. Dance recital. Traffic. The car. My goodness- the oil needs to be changed again. And we should really stop tossing money into repairs on the old one- it would be just as much to simply by a new one with what we keep throwing down the drain at the auto shop.

In other words, I thought Jesus was just comparing what He’s telling you to seek, as opposed to what most people seek. 

 

Seek this way vs. seek that way

Remarkably, though, it's not just the “object" of that search which He’s suggesting should be different; it's also the manner of “seeking.” You see, the word seek in the passage is two different words (in the Greek language) which we've translated the same in English.

  • Jesus says we should seek “as a hunger, without labor or toil.”
  • On the other hand, Gentiles seek “with much sweat, toil, stress, anxiety.”

One kind of seeking receives; the other kind of seeking chases and hunts and strives...  

We could rephrase what Jesus tells us to do like this: “Hunger / desire (without labor or toil) for His kingdom and His righteousness… and everything else comes your way, too.”

Do you see it the difference?

  • The seeking Jesus tells us to do is simply to desire… to trust… and to be prepared to receive.
  • The seeking the world tells us to do is to, well… hustle.

Jesus says, in effect, “My grace out-performs your hustle. Rest in it.”

(Here's one of my favorite graphics on the subject.)

 

 

My kids don't hustle = neither should I

I thought about this the other day as I reflected on my kids. They wake up every morning and don’t worry about a thing. Well, other than, “Hey, can we go do something fun…?” Or, “Can I have ANOTHER snack?!”

They don’t wonder if there will be food in the pantry when they wake up.

I doubt they even know that there’s such a thing as a power bill. Or a water bill. Or any kind of utilities. 

In our house, the cars always run, the television always works, and the wifi- though it can drag late in the evening when everyone in the neighborhood is jumping on- seems to always work.

There's always ice cream in the fridge. And when there's not we can just walk to the store. 

They don’t “seek” these things. They just desire them. 

They don’t hustle for these. My grace to them delivers the goods.

It’s amazing that Jesus routinely calls us back to look at parent-child relationships in order to understand our Heavenly Father (i.e., Matthew 7:11). He says things like, “You know how this works… you do this… and IF YOU do this for your kids… HOW MUCH MORE will your Heavenly Father do this for you?”

My resources are limited, His aren’t. 

My love- let’s be honest- has bounds. His doesn’t. 

My patience… well… still working on it. He, on other hand, is extremely patient and kind…

And, whereas I’m subject to change moods with the emotional wave of the day, He is constant. He doesn't change.

Right? My children don't hustle, so neither should I. Not in this anxious, overbearing, soul-toxifying way...

 

How do you seek without hustling?

So, How do we seek the kingdom? How do we define the kingdom in a way that we can understand it and then actually do what Jesus is asking…?

Paul actually defines the kingdom in the book of Romans: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

If we  join the two verses- Jesus’ and Paul’s- and exchange Paul’s definitions for kingdom where Jesus mentioned the kingdom, we get this: 

  • Seek first the kingdom righteousness… and everything else will be come to you…
  • Seek first the kingdom joy… and everything else will be come to you…
  • Seek first the kingdom peace… and everything else will be come to you…

 That is… 

  • Desire righteousness… right relational connection with those around you…
  • Desire joy… bliss, happiness, contentedness…
  • Desire peace… harmony… honor… 

When we do that, yes- everything else comes, too :-)

And, remember, the power to do this is always available, because Jesus said “the kingdom is among you” (Luke 7:28). Or, to flip it around, again, "Righteous, peace, and joy are [already] among you."

When you are spiritually vibrant, your entire outlook changes… you begin operating from the deepest part of you… everything is transformed...

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