Have you ever spent way too much time playing a video game before? Pokemon, Fortnite, Mario Kart, Halo or Zelda? When I was younger, I spent my own fair share of time on video games. Reading about some of the psychology behind video games, I came across a concept I had never heard of before. It’s called “Flow.” And it’s a completely focused mental state. It’s what a well-designed game does so well is that it’s challenging enough to keep your interest but not too challenging to make you give up (Sekg.net).
And if you’ve played a good video game, you’ve experienced this. You’re locked in. You could play for hours as you seek to complete whatever quest the game has handed you. Now let’s turn from virtual reality to reality. Life may not always be as exciting and colourful as a video game. But we are all seeking to do something with this life God has given us. And the Lord in His wisdom and sovereignty and goodness has given us an overriding quest. His will for your life includes what He wants you to seek. Because we all have choices on what to seek after and pursue in this life. And God’s Word directs us on a pursuit we are to pursue with single-mindedness—absolute focus—a completely focused mental state. And this is what we see Jesus talking about in Luke 12.
In the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12, Jesus taught us not to covet. He taught us that having this “strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions” is sin (L&N, 291–292). And Jesus says don’t do it. Don’t do it! Instead of thinking about how you can be generous towards yourself, put your mind and resources towards being generous towards God. Don’t even worry yourself over your basic needs. God will provide for you. So you can see why our outlook should be so different from the message and values of this world. Our outlook is different because our theology is different. Our seeking should be different. We are people of faith. And that’s where Jesus is going with his disciples. Our faith should make a difference. It’s our amount of faith that will make the difference here. Because if we’re coming up short when it comes to trusting God, then, in this respect, we’re pretty much like the rest of the world that doesn’t know God.
Take God’s work in nature for example again. Jesus already told us how God cares for birds—even nasty, unclean ravens. If He makes sure they’re fed, He’ll surely feed us. And don’t worry about clothing either. Jesus says in Luke 12:27:
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Look at the lilies—the flowers. They don’t work, they don’t make their own clothing or go to the mall to buy clothes someone else made. But the Lord makes sure they are visually stunning in their beauty beyond anything the wonderfully wise and wealthy Solomon could have provided for himself. And these are just plants we’re talking about. Here today and gone tomorrow. Yet God cares about them too. So of course He’s going to take care of you. Don’t live in suspense over your stuff. He’ll take care of us. And if we doubt that, then we have a faith problem. If we fail to trust God for His provision, we are among the “Ye of little faith” Jesus is speaking of. If our life is about seeking after material things, even the basics of life then our trust in the Lord is deficient. Our confidence in Him to sufficiently provide for His children is insufficient. God is your Father, isn’t He? Then how different should your seeking be from the rest of the world? They don’t know God so what else would they make life about. Jesus draws this contrast:
For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them (Luke 12:30).
The rest of the world doesn’t know God as their Father so how would they trust Him to meet their needs? But the Christian is a child of God. And He is the ideal Father who knows, cares, and meets the needs of His children. So this is a call to radically shift our seeking. What we are seeking must change. What we’re striving for must change. If God wants to assure us that He’ll meet our material needs this is a relief. This gives us the luxury to concern ourselves with something else. Something better. What’s that?
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you (Luke 12:31).
There is something else to strive for—the future kingdom of the Messiah. This should be our completely focused mental state. Our singular pursuit. What we are all about. And Jesus says if we concern ourselves with seeking His future kingdom instead of material possessions, God will take care of providing these material benefits for us.
So how do we do that? Well, one way we know for sure is what Jesus has already made clear back in v. 21 at the conclusion of the parable of the rich fool. Jesus says we’re all faced with a choice: to be foolish by laying up treasure for ourselves or to be wise by being rich towards God. And How can you be rich towards God? That’s what’s coming next week as I wrap up this section of Luke’s Gospel. But I don’t want to leave you with nothing to go on. So I’ll conclude with some helpful words I found from Darryl Bock who answers this question in his commentary. How do we know if we’re being rich or generous towards the Lord? He says:
This is a test that we have to engage in privately before the Lord. No one can tell someone else exactly how to answer such questions, for there is no magic percentage that is to be reached” (346).
How can you seek God’s kingdom by being rich towards God?