“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled”
What is it that is important to you? What is it that consumes your thinking, keeps you up at night, or is the focus of the coming day?
The things we dwell on are the things we esteem. If my focus is on the game tomorrow, everything in my life must coordinate with this priority. If someone else wants to watch something else on T.V., well, the thought of it is out of the question or becomes a focal point of conflict with those who aren’t interested in the game. If the game is to be played on Sunday, during church service, the idea of missing the game takes precedent over going to church. We make excuses for our kids games, tournaments, or some practice that ‘just can’t be missed’. Heaven forbid my kid doesn’t qualify for that college scholarship 10 years from now or doesn’t make the all star team.
What about my health? Is my workout “a must”? I cannot miss it for the world is a phrase often said nonchalantly. I’ve experienced this personally and so many others in the way we prioritize events or routines.
We don’t call these patterns of prioritizing health, wellness, money, or entertainment idolatry, but really, that’s what they’ve become. If our thoughts are continually on how we look or feel, our priority is on this world and not on God’s plan. If our thoughts are continually on our well being, undo stress begins to occur, fear grips our lives, we react in ways we wouldn’t otherwise do. The result of misplaced priorities can lead to a negativity that adversely affects us in a myriad of ways.
I recently mentioned the condition commonly known as “broken heart syndrome” in the post “Silver and Gold”. The stress that some people hold becomes more than their hearts can endure and consequently they have a major cardiac event. Stress causes many other reactions, usually based out of fear or anxiety, we tend to over or under react to situations that may under normal conditions not pose a threat, but when filtered through the lens of anxiety, appears differently to us.
If we gain comfort in food, eating can become a major trouble in our lives. Obesity, and all of the side affects from this condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and vascular disease, or joint pain follow in the path of this crutch we might lean on. According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
Proverbs 10:24 "What the wicked dreads will overtake him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted."
What about money? Do we invest in items that squander our wealth and only lead to our entertainment, pleasure, or status, or do we invest in people and items that lead others to Christ? Are we investing in that which is eternal or only those things that are temporal?
The things we pursue are reflective of that which we adore. When we place high esteem on a great athlete, regardless of their character, we reveal our bias towards athletic achievement rather than their moral condition. If I exalt a movie star or great singer based solely on their talent, I’m overlooking a key aspect of how or where honor should be placed.
Where is honor derived from, who qualifies, who determines if someone is deserving of honor? We have a bad habit in America of labeling people hero’s for almost everything. There is a local news broadcast that does a segment called ‘Eric’s Hero’s’, and focuses on people in the community who do what he considers ‘extraordinary things’. What would be considered ‘extraordinary’? Would finding someone’s purse and returning it unopened to a local police precinct be considered hero worthy? How about helping a little old lady across the street, or assisting a widow with changing the oil in her car, would those be considered hero worthy? These incidents I mentioned were considered normative when I was a kid. You helped people, you acted honestly, you went out of your way for a friend or someone who was in trouble because it was the decent thing to do, not because it was some exceptional act of heroism, people have value, morality is worthy of honor and self-respect was a product of character and principle.
Society today has changed dramatically in my country. Local people have recently taken to starting fires in our region to prove global warming is taking place. Others are rioting in streets, breaking windows, violently attacking police or those who disagree with them, because of the unfortunate event of a drug abuser who resisted arrest then was shot by law enforcement.
Hatred for an elected official seems to be the excuse for eliminating friendships or ruining the testimony of a fellow believer, simply because their political aspirations differ from that of someone in the world.
The desires of the heart likewise affect our attitude. I remember as a child wanting an Atari game system. Everytime I opened a toy catalogue, I would remind my parents of how much I desired that as a gift for Christmas. When Christmas came around that year, I was overjoyed in opening the box that I thought would be the answer to all my hopes and dreams. I must of spent hundreds of hours playing that game system, those habits then carried over into my early marriage and became a stumbling block for the time consuming addiction I had developed. I would stay up far too late trying to beat a particular game, I would get angry if I was interrupted at the wrong moment of a critical juncture in completing a level, and I would waste more money on renting or purchasing other games that furthered my addiction. As I grew older, I realized the detriment of that time wasting addiction on my marriage and other relationships, particularly with my kids. I felt agitated after hours of game play and time would seem to go by at a rate far quicker than I realized.
That addiction for me was an idol in my life. The priorities that God had placed in my life, such as my wife, children, relationships, school, or ministry took second place to the other priorities I had elevated into position of godlike prominence in my life.
There are times when we can take something that looks right and make it an idol as well. If I am so caught up in doing ministry for the poor and neglect my family, I have forgotten my first responsibility as a husband and father. I can be so determined to start a church or begin a ministry in a particular country that I forget to pray and seek God’s timing and approval of that endeavor. What looks good from everyone else’s point of view may be contrary to what God had planned all along.
The things we hunger for are derived from the priorities we place in our lives.
If I desire the Lord, my life, priorities, relationships, goals, ambitions, time spent, and even my future are directed toward honoring Jesus first. If a game conflicts with taking my family to church, the game is forfeited. If my time in the morning with the Lord in devotion is compromised because I want to go to the gym, I’ll need to find some other time to work out. If I run to food when my life seems empty, I learn to run to the Lord for my strength and my comfort.
Just as Isaiah spoke in chapter 55, so it is with the things of God. All that is ‘good’ in life comes from God. All that He wants to give us is free. Jesus already paid the price, the tab has been covered, now all he says is “come to the table.” The great thing is, you will not be dining alone!
Overcoming addictions to food, money, prestige, health, and all the other things we make priorities in our lives is not easy. To have the mindset that is on the things above and not on this world can be difficult. The world is always pulling us toward seeking after the things of the world.
What is it we are trying to fill up in our lives?
When we seek after the things of the flesh to fill up what we lack in the spirit, we will be left in a continual state of need. The food, entertainment, money, power, prestige, they all are attempts to bring joy, fulfillment, and peace into our lives. Jesus likened these attempts at fulfilment to drinking water. As Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, He brought understanding to her darkened heart.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The water of the world is like the bitter waters of Marah in Exodus 15. The Israelite’s were journeying from Egypt to the promised land in the wilderness of Shur and came upon water in a region called Marah. Once they tasted the water and realized it was bitter, they began to complain, what they thought would bring relief only brought death. Moses was instructed by the Lord to throw a tree into the waters and they became sweet. This testing that the Lord brought upon His people was a sign of things to come.
Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
* That tree thrown into the waters of Marah represented the same water that Jesus gives to His people. He fills His people with the Spirit of life, that life giving water then spills over to others and becomes like a tree of life to them. The bitterness of the world, the result of seeking fulfillment in a system that cannot fulfill is made sweet by the presence of the Lord, to those who receive Him.
Proverbs 3:13-18 “Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.”
As I move through scripture, there have been many times when I was looking at a particular subject and found a correlation between many other concepts of truth. This look into God filling us is one of those moments.
Water—–>Tree of life—–>Fruit——>Wisdom—–>Understanding——>Leads to length of days, riches, honor, pleasantness, peace, and happiness.
Let me show you one other thing here…..
Water===>comes from Jesus (Revelation 21:6)(John 4:14)
Tree of Life====>is given by Jesus (Revelation 2:7)
Fruit======>Jesus is the vine that bears fruit through us.(John 15:4)
Wisdom=====>Jesus is the wisdom of God(1 Corinthians 1:24)
Understanding====>Jesus reveals understanding(Job 28:20-28)
For those who dwell among the world, who seek fulfillment in the world…you’ll never find it, many have tried and many have failed. To those who seek fulfillment in Christ alone, you will find all that your heart desires. Jesus holds the key to life and if you submit to His work, if you die to your old life and then made anew in Him, you will find life both now and in the age to come.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”