What to Seek First

Gary North

Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant model:

1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history

This is understood in terms of five questions.

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

These five points are inescapable in economics.

1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

The Kingdom of God

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:31-33).

Jesus made it plain: His people are required to seek His kingdom. Jesus also said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).

What is this kingdom? Jesus said it is like leaven, which expands.

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Matt. 13:33).And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Luke 13:20-21).

He also used the metaphor of a man who distributes coins to servants as capital for investment. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods” (Matt. 25:14). I covered this in Lesson 2: on budgeting.

The kingdom of God is the whole world. It is wherever covenant- keepers can lawfully exercise authority. They have responsibility to do this.

The kingdom belongs to God. He is sovereign. This means that He cares more about His kingdom than you care about your autonomous goals. Therefore, so should you.

He cares about your goals insofar as they are consistent with His plans for you in relation to building His kingdom. This should give you hope.

How do your plans fit with God’s? That is what “seeking the kingdom” is all about. You are part of a hierarchy: God>you>the world around you.

God’s kingdom is associated with God’s righteousness. This means that ethics is more important than money. Jesus said this in what has been called the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Yet God wants to see His kingdom in history expand. He wants to see your influence on His behalf expand. He therefore has structured cause and effect so that righteousness produces capital, which should be used to expand God’s kingdom. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Obeying God’s laws produces economic success. The text lists food, drink, and clothing. You already have these. You probably could lose a few pounds. You can drink safe water from a tap. You don’t wear all the clothes you own.

Think of yourself as rich. Kings in 1900 possessed less of the following than you do: electricity, automobiles, entertainment medical care, communications technology. What did kings possess in 1900 that you don’t. (1) Large estates invisible to the public; (2) large staffs to care for these estates; (3) jewelry that they rarely wore; (4) yachts for lavish entertaining.

Would you trade lifestyles with a king or queen in 1900? Probably not, unless you like leisure. With leisure comes great responsibility: not wasting your time, which is God’s time. How much responsibility are you willing to accept?

This raises a crucial question: Why do you need more goods than you possess now? With more goods always comes added responsibility. Could you do with fewer possessions than you have now? Probably.

You are to seek God’s kingdom first. God’s kingdom is deep and wide: a civilization. Everyone has a role to play: specialization. What is your role?

Productivity

God delegates tasks to individuals and associations. If anyone slacks off, the work does not get done. Cooperation increases productivity.

Good work requires the right tools. Good tools are expensive They cost money. They cost time to master them. Good tools are worth saving for.

Which tools? The ones you can use in your specialization in God’s kingdom.

You must discover your dual roles: (1) occupation: your job (serving paying customers); (2) calling: your most important lifetime task.

There are three questions that you must get answered.

“What do I want to achieve?”
“How soon do I want to achieve it?”
“How much am I willing to pay?”

When you have these three questions answered in a preliminary way, you have your lifetime goal. This is why goal-setting is crucial for your program of debt reduction. It gives you focus. It also gives you motivation. Budgeting requires both.

Why do you need to get out of consumer debt?

To decrease your dependence on lenders
To increase your mobility: geographical and occupational
To gain control over your life
To have money to buy capital, including education
To have more money to give away

These are primary goals. They have to do with production. You must shift your perspective from money for consumption to money for production.

Homework Assignment

Make a list of the tools you could use to serve God’s kingdom better. Maybe this is education. Maybe this is time to educate others.

Don’t think: “How much money do I need to do this?” Think instead: “What is it that I need to accomplish?” Your time is more valuable than your money. You can get more money. You cannot get more time.

You may need more money. Ask for it. Tell God why you want it. Write down what it is that you want to use the money to accomplish.

Would you hand out money to this fellow?

No? Why not? Because he will waste the money you give him? At least he is honest about what he will do with the money. Are you equally honest?

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