Are you feeling that if you could only get a handle on a few key issues, you could definitely be content? Happy? What are those for you? Maybe it’s weight or health, relationships, career, finances. The biggies, right?
If you’re like me, sometimes the results of my best efforts take me in the opposite direction of my stated goals. You know–the massive diet push that ends with a ten-pound gain; the relationship that began with such high hopes becomes the bus that drops me off alone on a dark stretch of highway without a clue as to how to get back to the main road. We think we know what we need to be happy, but our plans to get those things don’t seem to be working.
What’s up with that?
It turns out, God has plenty of wisdom regarding these self-improvement efforts.
Jesus addressed this striving in the Sermon on the Mount. He talked about the essentials of life such as food, water, and clothing. He assured us that God knows we need them. In the 21st Century, we’ve moved up the scale of self-actualization as described by Abraham Maslow from the lower rungs mentioned by Jesus to the higher levels of Maslow’s pyramid but Christ’s advice still applies to us.
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 NKJV).”
How does that work, exactly? As Christians, we imagine that if we are “good,” meaning that we go to church, tithe, read our Bible every day, God will just rain down wonderfulness. Our bank accounts will fill with money, our relationships will be smooth and harmonious, and our pajama bottoms will fall to the floor when we get up in the morning due to the miraculous overnight weight loss. Except that never happens, so we come to one of two conclusions. Either God’s a liar or we are not good enough.
Neither of these is true.
In the Amplified Version of the Bible, the phrase, “and His righteousness,” in Matthew 6:33 is expanded to include “His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God.” So this verse is saying that when you make God king of your life, study to know Him, and surrender to His way of being and doing, the entire spectrum of self-actualization will open up to you.
Here’s the process:
- Love God and desire to please Him.
- Search His Word to know Him and His ways.
- Apply those characteristics and ways to your Life.
- Ask for His help.
- Do it again tomorrow—and the next day, and the next.
Before you know it, all the things you have been chasing have taken up residence in your life.
Turns out, you didn’t need the latest diet book. The Bible App on your phone contains the oldest route to a slender figure:
- Put a knife to your throat, if you are a man given to appetite (Proverbs 23:2).
- Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
- Man shall not live by bread alone… (Matthew 4:4).
Do you have relationship problems?
- Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
- Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:3-4).
Want to get ahead at work?
- Try to please [your employer] all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (Ephesians 6:6-7).
This is just a small sample.
Another saying of Jesus was, “If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 16:26)”
Though Maslow didn’t acknowledge it, our highest need is not self-actualization, but God’s love. Jesus called living in this love “Eternal Life.” I can keep chasing all those things that seem so important my own way and end up farther from the prize, or I can turn to Christ, allow His Holy Spirit to do His work in me and find, not only the most wonderful love of my life, but “all these things as well.”
I think that’s the way to go! How about you?