Over and over we see in the Bible that followers of God need to seek him first. Christ reiterates it when he says “seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all of these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:23). However, what does it mean to “seek his kingdom,” and how do we know if we’ve done it?
My trek in looking at the idea of “kingdom seeking” first started with the story of Abraham and Isaac. The entirety of Abraham and Sarah’s time together, they’d hoped in vain for a child. They were promised by God that Abraham would be the father of a great nation, but without an heir, this would be impossible. After many years of trial, however, Isaac was finally born to them.
Shockingly, Abraham was then asked to give up Isaac when he was still a boy. In this instance, Isaac unflinchingly followed his father up the mountain. Abraham similarly did not ask questions but knew that God would provide for the sacrifice that he required. Nevertheless, Abraham was willing to carry out the Lord’s command, even though it would seem to cost him dearly. The story ends, however, with Abraham being stopped from killing Isaac by the angel of the Lord, who produced a lamb for the sacrifice instead. Through it all, Abraham set a clear example of putting the Kingdom of God first – even above his own son.
Isaac carries on this tradition of seeking first the Kingdom of God, and in a rather remarkable way. When Isaac first established his family and is spread out from the land of the Philistines, he ran into difficulties with the surrounding people when he tried to dig wells and settle in the land he was cultivating. Two times he dug wells only to have them contested by the Philistines that lived nearby. Both times Isaac gave up the wells and springs he and his slaves dug and moved on. Finally, he settled in a land that was not under dispute.
Several things strike me as odd in this story. First, is that Isaac would dig the wells and springs and just move on. It was evident from the story that it was the work of his hand and the digging by his slaves that gave his group a legitimate claim on the land. Second, he was unquestionably giving up the good land by letting the Philistines win the argument. Deep down I was confused and shocked that Isaac would give up something that was his, especially after the hard work that was put into it. I couldn’t imagine that I would be able to give up something that was, for all intents and purposes, mine. This internal struggle is what makes the story so impactful – deep down I see my own sin and shame reflected in His Word.
So many times I’ve been willing to risk my personal beliefs to keep the things that I own or believe I have dominion over. I dig in my heels to defend my territory, forgetting that the needs of others must come first. I am more interested in protecting my own, over protecting the promises of God in my life. It is often difficult to see the goodness that he has waiting for me if I just choose to abide.
But my kingdom must be sacrificed – His must be sought.
I am continuing to learn that I can’t use my past hurts, rejections, and setbacks as a reason to hold on to the kingdom that I’ve built and the wells that I’ve dug. I have to understand that material items, positions, jobs, and notoriety ultimately mean nothing. I know as a Christian that when I am face-to-face with God one day, none of it will matter – only the things that I did for Him. I must be willing to leave my wells – although they seem deep and promising – and pursue the One who is Living Water. It is impossible to seek God’s Kingdom and still defend my own. In the end, life is about showing love to our fellow man and loving the God who created them. If this means turning over our hand-dug wells, then so be it. His Kingdom is worth so much more.
I must be willing to leave my wells – although they seem deep and promising – and pursue the One who is Living Water.