“But seek first the kingdom ofand His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Yeshua ca A.D. 31 (Matt 6:33)
These words of Yeshua (Jesus) have long interested me. Often I find myself focusing on the latter part – “all these things added to me.” Wow! That sounds great. Who doesn’t want tons of stuff added to them? The only question is how can I get it? The answer of course comes by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Sounds easy, right? Well, in a way, it is. Of course, in reality, if it were that easy, then it is doubtful that Yeshua would have needed to tell us in the first place.
I would like to share with you a book that has caused me to think very deeply on the matter. Though the author did not write the book as a “Christian devotional”, I consider it as such since it has made me meditate on the meaning of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and practical ways in which we can go about that. The author is James Allen, an English inspirational writer who lived in the latter part of the 1800’s. What I appreciate most about Allen, is that he cuts straight to the pragmatics of living a life that is characterized by the utmost integrity, righteousness, and truth. He stresses that for the world to be a better place, we need to be concerned with not pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye when there is a plank in our own. (Matt 7:3) Essentially, rather than complaining about the evil around us and the injustice of the world, we ought to focus on our own sanctification and in so doing, we can actually make a lasting difference. The writer of Hebrews stated it as:
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. (Heb 12:14-16 NKJV)
I literally hear the resonance of Scripture every page of his writings and that is why I want to share this book with you. In the foreword, Allen writes:
In seeking for pleasures here and rewards hereafter men have destroyed (in their hearts) the Temple of Righteousness, and have wandered from the Kingdom of Heaven. By ceasing to seek for earthly pleasures and heavenly rewards, the Temple of Righteousness is restored and the Kingdom of Heaven is found. This truth is for those who are ready to receive it; and this book also is for those whose souls have been prepared for the acceptance of its teaching.
I found his writing very profound and to be honest, I had to reread some passages to plumb the full impact of his keen insights. As with any book, we always need to compare it with Scripture. James Allen has tremendous insights on living a righteous life a plethora of which come straight from the Bible. Nevertheless, we always fall back to the Bible alone as our final authority. If you are interested, you can listen to the audio version on Youtube here or you can read the book in its entirety here.
It is my hope that you will enjoy this devotional writing as much as I have..
– Douglas Hamp
All These Things Added by James Allen
Part I: Entering the Kingdom
1. The Soul’s Great Need
I sought the world, but Peace was not there;
I courted learning, but Truth was not revealed;
I sojourned with philosophy, but my heart was sore with vanity.
And I cried, Where is Peace to be found!
And where is the hiding place of truth!
EVERY HUMAN SOUL IS IN NEED. The expression of that need varies with individuals, but there is not one soul that does not feel it in some degree. It is a spiritual and casual need which takes the form, in souls of a particular development, of a deep and inexpressible hunger which the outward things of life, however abundantly they may be possessed, can never satisfy. Yet the majority, imperfect in knowledge and misled by appearances, seek to satisfy this hunger by striving for material possessions, believing that these will satisfy their need, and bring them peace.
Every soul, consciously or unconsciously, hungers for righteousness, and every soul seeks to gratify that hunger in its own particular way, and in accordance with its own particular state of knowledge. The hunger is one, and the righteousness is one, but the pathways by which righteousness is sought are many.
They who seek consciously are blessed, and shall shortly find that final and permanent satisfaction of soul which righteousness alone can give, for they have come into a knowledge of the true path.
They who seek unconsciously, although for a time they may bathe in a sea of pleasure, are not blessed, for they are carving out for themselves pathways of suffering over which they must walk with torn and wounded feet, and their hunger will increase, and the soul will cry out for its lost heritage—the eternal heritage of righteousness.
Not in any of the three worlds (waking, dream and sleep) can the soul find lasting satisfaction, apart from the realization of righteousness. Bodied or disembodied, it is ceaselessly driven on by the discipline of suffering, until at last, in its extremity, it flies to its only refuge—the refuge of righteousness—and finds that joy, satisfaction, and peace which it had so long and so vainly sought.
The great need of the soul, then, is the need of this permanent principle, called righteousness, on which it may stand securely and restfully amid the tempest of earthly existence, no more bewildered, and whereon it may build the mansion of a beautiful, peaceful, and perfect life.
It is the realization of this principle where the Kingdom of Heaven, the abiding home of the soul, resides, and which is the source and storehouse of every permanent blessing. Finding it, all is found; not finding it, all is lost. It is an attitude of mind, a state of consciousness, an ineffable knowledge, in which the struggle for existence ceases, and the soul finds itself at rest in the midst of plenty, where its great need, yea, its every need, is satisfied, without strife and without fear. Blessed are they who earnestly and intelligently seek, for it is impossible that such should seek in vain.