Q: Jesus said that the way to be happy and successful in life is to “seek first the kingdom of God,” but how is that possible today? How can I lead a God-centered life, do more than survive in this materialistic world, and still be me?
A: Yes, it is possible to do all three of those things–and it’s not as hard as you probably imagine.
The first step is to assess your values and goals in life. Put pen to paper. Be honest.
To “seek first the kingdom of God” means to bring your priorities in line with God’s, so the next step is to know what God’s priorities are. What would He like to see you do? Many people stop here because they expect God to ask something impossibly difficult or sacrificial of them. They would probably be pleasantly surprised if they knew how simple and clear the Bible is on that, and how attainable it is:
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Galatians 5:14 NIV).
Yes, living for those things isn’t always easy and may involve some initial sacrifices, but they are sacrifices that are soon more than repaid. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
It’s also important to clear up another common misconception: While it’s true that the Bible doesn’t define success in terms of material comfort and gain, God isn’t against material success; it’s what people do with their success that matters to Him. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil, as 1 Timothy 6:10 is so often misquoted; it is “the love of money” that’s to blame. God will be more than happy to bless you materially if you will use those blessings to “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, the Bible promises, “Delight yourself … in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), and “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
And what about the third part of your question: Can you still be “you”?–Yes, only you’ll be a happier, more focused, and more fulfilled you. God made you to be a unique expression of His love. He’s not going to spoil that, but rather improve on it!
God wants to give you not just the good life, but the best life there is! It’s within His power to give it to you, but you’ve got to want it too. When your values are in line with God’s values and you let His priorities become your priorities, it’s a win-win situation!