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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Keeping things in Perspective

‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given unto you’ – is a Biblical phrase we are all familiar with. I think that this phrase is particularly apposite as we are in the midst of our exam period. But what exactly does this phrase mean?

To me, there is no doubt that we must keep the “big picture” in mind always. God was, is, and always will be, the biggest picture, and in the end, he will be the only picture left – only he will matter. So the first part of the phrase – ‘seek ye first the Kingdom of God’ can thus be satisfactorily explained. We must, at all times, regardless of our surroundings and circumstances, put God first. Now, how about the second part?

Initially, when I came across the phrase, ‘and all these things will be given unto you’, it struck me that it is almost like a barter trade of sorts – but we know this cannot be so, God does not need to, nor is it in his nature to “trade” with us or indeed, anything else. God is complete and perfect by himself. Rather, I think the phrase is one that teaches us to have faith and hope, by placing love first. Let me try to explain.

Jesus said that we can move mountains if we have faith merely the size of a mustard seed. And he told Martha that she worries and frets over many things, yet few indeed are important. Perhaps, in our context today, we can learn from these two phrases – about the mustard seed and about Jesus’ apparent admonishment to Martha. We need to have faith that the word of God – Jesus must come first in our lives, and not worry so much about the gifts God gives us (i.e. Exam results, etc), but the Giver himself. God himself is the gift. And like the Martha’s of old, perhaps we focus too much on ancillary matters, even when God is directly in our midst.

So if we remember Mary (Martha’s sister), Jesus told her that ‘she has chosen the better part, it is not to be taken away from her’ – we know therefore that because she put Christ first, ‘all other things were given unto her’: she recognised that the biggest gift was the giver! And Mary’s wisdom was fuelled by faith. Are we perhaps too much like Martha by fretting over unimportant things? I certainly have. And unlike Martha, who, at the very least, served the Lord of Hosts with food and drink, some of the unimportant things that occupy my attention at times, are sometimes not even remotely connected to God.

So to summarise, we need faith to allow our wisdom to grow, so that we can truly put God first in all times, with the confidence he will give us what we need, at that particular time. We recall that even the number of hairs on our head God knows; the number of sparrows in the skies God knows. So, let us ‘seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be give unto us’.

I conclude with an exam prayer from CSS (In the Name, etc):

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I feel a little strange praying to you because of an exam – it doesn’t really seem all that significant when you consider the “big picture”. But right now, the exam looms so large that it is all I can see before me.

I pray to you for three things: the strength to handle the pressure that I feel, the confidence to feel secure in my knowledge and preparation, and the ability to keep a good perspective on it all. Help me to keep in mind what is really important, even as I focus all of my time and energy on this exam in the immediate future.


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