Jesus taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). Simply put, place God’s kingdom first, and the Lord will take care of us. Putting God’s kingdom first must be the rule of our life when ordering priorities. However, it would not be right to think that this is just another priority to fit onto our list of priorities, putting it at the top. Instead, in everything we do and everything we have (our time, talent, treasure, and testimony), we seek first the kingdom of God. What this verse calls us to is a commitment to find and to do the will of God by following the Spirit’s leading in all things. This commitment comes first. When we put God’s kingdom first, then we will be blessed with heavenly treasure, divine rest, and fulfillment as we know Him and make Him known. Over the next four weeks, I will be writing on keys to a blessed life by exploring the most fundamental choice everyone makes when they first come to Christ, and that is placing Him as Lord of our life. Every day after that, a believer’s life either reinforces that decision or denies it. What we will discover is that this is not mostly an issue that is material or physical, but spiritual and God’s Word holds the keys to a genuinely blessed life.
The first key to a blessed life I will explore is that God must increase, and I must decrease. This is an issue of surrender. We discover that when believers keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we experience a deeper dimension in our walk with God releasing the resources of heaven in our lives. Paul writes to the church in Rome:
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom 6:6-7).
The power of sin has been broken in those who have placed their faith in Christ. It is important to remember that it is not the strength of our faith, but the object of our faith that actually saves us. The Bible teaches us that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works. God loves, forgives, and saves us not because of who we are or what we do, but because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. We all were born into this world as sinners, ruled by sin. Sin’s rule was broken when Christians died with Christ, and are therefore no longer enslaved to sin. This does not mean that a believer never sins but that the tyranny, domination, and rule of sin have been defeated in them. This means that the normal trajectory of life for a Christ-follower ought to be becoming more and more like Christ. Therefore, I become less as Christ becomes greater in my life. Paul explains further:
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11).
“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Rom 6:13).
Christians must realize that the power of sin has been broken in their lives. The tension surfaces between what God has already accomplished and the responsibility of His people to obey. A Christian is still tempted by desires to sin and must not let those desires gain control. Therefore, each and every day, a believer is to give themselves to God. More God causes less of our old selves to be in play. Paul shares with the church in Galatia an essential step in practically seeing God become more and us less in our lives. He writes:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
The only way to conquer the flesh (sinful desires of our old self before coming to Christ) is to yield to the Spirit. To “walk by the Spirit” implies both direction and empowerment. This occurs when we make decisions and choices according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, following God’s Word, and acting with spiritual power that the Spirit supplies.
When we come to Christ, we are filled with the very Spirit of God whose mission is to make us holy (more like Christ). The Spirit resides in us completely. Our walk with Christ is never an issue of the Spirit being in us, but how much we surrender ourselves to the Spirit. This is why Billy Graham often said, “It is not how much of the Spirit we have, but how much the Spirit has of us.” To be full of the Spirit speaks of the Spirit’s full control and influence in our lives.
It is impossible for Christ to become greater in my life and not at the same time for me to become less. As I surrender myself more and more to God, feeding those things in my life that enable me to grow in Christ while starving those things that would only encourage me to walk contrary to the things of the Lord, I can live a genuinely blessed life. The resources of heaven are released in and through me for God’s glory, my blessing, and the benefit of others.
It is a blessing to be on mission with Christ with each of you. Let us be reminded of the newness of life we have in Christ. We are so privileged to be filled and led by the Spirit of God. Let us be found with God increasing in us as we decrease. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!