When you were young, did your parents ever admonish you not to eat sweets too close to dinner time because it would “spoil your appetite”?
Mine certainly did. However, delaying dessert until after dinner is difficult to do.
The look of a beautifully frosted cake or the smell of freshly baked cookies can be notoriously tempting. And of course, one cookie or piece of cake invariably leads to another…
Before you know it, you’ve stuffed yourself with sugary foods and are too full to eat dinner. You miss out on all the good protein and vegetables in the main meal.
I guess Mom and Dad knew best: we should fill ourselves with more nourishing things first, and leave the dessert until afterward as a treat, not the main course.
The same lesson holds for us spiritually, doesn’t it?
We should concentrate on things of substance in our lives first.
So often we fill our lives with things we think will make us happy: entertainment, money, accomplishments, or possessions. But these things are temporary, and will eventually disappoint us. They’re not really satisfying in a lasting way.
Worse, these things can end up “spoiling our appetite” for the things of God. When we spend all our time and energy chasing after success or material things, we won’t have much time left for the Kingdom of Heaven. We stuff our plates full of temporal pleasures or status-seeking, and things of eternal importance fall by the wayside.
We have things in the wrong order.
Jesus tells us to focus on the “meat and potatoes” first: the Kingdom of Heaven. Have as your first priority the things that will make an eternal difference, like telling others the good news about Jesus.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33 NIV)
There’s nothing wrong with material things: God knows that we need them. But we should put them in the proper place: secondary to the Kingdom. In fact, Scripture tells us that if we attend to the things of God first, He’ll see to it that we’re provided with the earthly things we need. God won’t shortchange people who put Him first!
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2 NIV)
Living out God’s mission for your life is truly filling and satisfying. Seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness as a priority will bring you lasting meaning and joy, and our gracious God will make sure you don’t lack the things you need here on earth. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
So let’s not “spoil our appetite” by consuming the things of this world first. Let’s focus on eternal things as our main meal.
The rest is just icing on the cake!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.