This post is transcribed from Emma's wonderful talk on 22/11/14 at St John's College, Durham University for the event 'A Life More Precious'.
The years we spend at school and university, as well as the post-university season of life, are all times in our lives when we are faced with lots of big decisions. Which GCSEs and A levels shall I do? Which activities am I going to be involved with? Shall I do further study after school, or travel, or find a job?
And as we know, the Bible doesn’t always give us a precise answer for every single decision we face. But what does the Bible tell us about making decisions?
What is the art of making a great decision?
Let’s take a look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Right here, God gives us the big picture – the answer. Four words. Verse 33:
Seek first His Kingdom.
This is a radical way of living. Seeking first God’s kingdom means that He the number one priority in our lives. It means that we seek him first, before anything or anyone else, and that we surrender all things to Him.
It means that we don’t live lives full of ‘as long as’ moments, like where we might say: ‘God I completely trust you and give you my heart, just as long as I get a 2.1, or as long as I have a boyfriend, or as long as I graduate with a grad job, or get to live with that group of housemates next year, or as long as I feel like I’m winning in at least one area of my life’.
Seeking first God’s kingdom means that we seek His glory wholeheartedly, passionately, 100%, full on! It is unequivocal. There are no more 'as long as' moments; we surrender everything to Him. We give our first and our best to him.
We need to remember that we are part of His kingdom, He is not a part of our kingdom.
The other half of the story that we see in these verses is that we are called to trust God with the details. It’s all the way through the passage in Matthew 6: ‘do not worry… do not worry… do not worry…’.
What’s the summary? Jesus is saying, don’t get caught up in worrying about the details.
He calls us to:
Seek first God’s kingdom and trust Him with the details.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the decisions we make should be taken lightly or not thought through. Absolutely not. God gives us brains. He expects us to use them. He calls us to be wise. We should find out the facts, do due diligence, engage our minds with situations we face.
But Jesus commands us not to worry about the details, and whether we will have what we need, because he promises to give us everything we need to do what he has called us to do.
So how do we do all this? How do we seek first God’s kingdom and trust Him with the details?
In order to make decisions that seek God’s Kingdom first, we have to look to Him first. We get on our knees and fix our eyes on Jesus. Why? Because when we do this, we see that we can trust Him with the details.
Fixing our eyes on Him reminds us of who He is. Real prosperity is only found in Jesus Christ. We need nothing else. Jesus loves us more than we can even imagine. The God of the entire universe, the creator of everything that we see around us, the God of the whole of history, loves us, enough to send his son to die for us. He made the biggest sacrifice that can ever be made, for us.
Even though you and I are just one little tiny microscopic dot on the vast canvas that is the whole of the history of humanity, God knows our names. He knows our deepest fears and our biggest dreams. And because of Jesus’ abundant and overwhelming love, we can be in a relationship with Him.
The more we grasp the immense love that Jesus has for us, the greater our joy will become. It is contagious. It is unbridled. It is unconstrained and infectious. It is relentless. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we grow in the joy it is to know Christ.
Psalm 23 says:
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
So in practice, when we pray and worship God, we acknowledge who He really is. It is a way of articulating all that we believe about God, and saying that it is true.
We acknowledge that there is a God, and it is not me. When we speak to wise Christian friends, they also help point us to Jesus too.
The more I see God as He really is, the more I see that I can make decisions where I seek His kingdom first, and trust everything to His unfailing love.
Every single detail.
Emma graduated from Cambridge two years ago, having studied law. She now enjoys working in finance, which comes as a surprise to those who know her. Emma lives in Cambridge and loves being a member of Christ Church. She loves music, food, Jesus, her friends and since her wedding in April this year (!) is loving the adventure of marriage!