In His sermon on the mount Jesus talked about priorities. A person could choose to either pursue treasures in the here and now or choose to serve God regardless of the cost. Jesus said there was no middle road.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24
Recall Ishmael was Abraham’s son ‘born of the bondwoman (Hagar) according to the flesh,’ i.e. Ishmael was born as a result of personal efforts taken by Abraham and Sarah to achieve God’s promise of a son in their old age.
Isaac on the other hand was born to Abraham’s wife Sarah at age 90. Isaac’s birth was a supernatural act of God to fulfill His promise to Abraham and Sarah which required faith to accept.
Likewise those in Jesus’ time could expend worrisome effort to provide for themselves or depend on God’s promises by faith to meet their needs.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.” Matthew 6:25
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Jesus taught that one needn’t worry about everyday needs if they faithfully pursued the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The Greek word for ‘first’ means one’s top priority, i.e. to ‘be in front’ in importance.
‘Added’ has several significant synonyms including ‘supply,’ ‘give,’ and to ‘bestow freely and graciously.’
Jesus then compared an earthly father’s compassion and love for his children with the heavenly Father’s compassion and love for His children.
“If you then, being evil (a natural man), know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
Christians should never forget that their citizenship is in heaven. They are just passing through the world during this lifetime preparing for the future. Jesus was reminding His followers of their eternal heritage.
The half-brother of Jesus, i.e. James also referred to heavenly gifts and their Giver.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
That which is truly important and significant is gifted from above.
Then during the eternal stage of redeemed man’s odyssey God reveals that His eternal provisions are also freely given.
As God sat on His throne he spoke to John:
“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.’” Revelation 21:6
There was nothing before God and there will be nothing after God. He has always been and He will always be. Inasmuch as He created all things, He has the absolute right to ‘give’ it to His chosen. The fountain of the water of life is the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Blessed are those who have washed their robes (their sins having been forgiven), that they may have the right to the tree of life.” Revelation 22:14
The tree of life is located along the street of New Jerusalem and produces fruit and leaves to sustain the saved of all nations throughout eternity. God’s chosen have been ‘given’ the right to the tree of life forever.
Then the Holy Spirit and the bride echo the Father’s invitation to the fountain of living water.
“…and let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
It is certainly a truthful and popular saying, ‘The best things in life are free.’
One can spend their lifetime trying to earn God’s favor or, in humble faith, simply take Him at His word.
Consider this, is the pursuit of the American Dream more Ishmael centered or Isaac centered?
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