Have you ever heard, “God helps those who help themselves?” How about, “You take one step and God will take two?” These sayings and others like them encourage people to address their problems. In fact, they suggest the best approach for solving a problem is to attack the problem. When someone has a problem, they should address the problem. When they address the problem, God will step in and assist them in getting to a solution. That is wrong! God doesn’t send us on a pathway to solving our own problems. He is not a catalyst for us to access in addressing our problems. God is the problem solver. He is the one to whom we must look towards.
One of the key questions we must answer is, “Who is on the throne of our life?” Who has the ultimate authority over our lives? I have often asked this question when trying to discern if someone is a child of God. If they answer that they are in control of their lives. If their answer parrots Invictus’ “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” then Jesus is not lord of their lives. They are not a Christian. However, this question needs to be addressed as Christians live out their lives. Who is in charge? Who do you turn to in times of trouble? To whom do you depend on? Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 6:24-34.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 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. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus speaks about God and money in this passage. He states we must decide either to serve God or to serve money. He assumes our preoccupation with money is driven by the desire to ensure what Maslow calls the physiological needs are met. Jesus states we should not worry about our most basic needs. He invites us to look at plants and animals who flourish without worry. I believe Jesus is using a specific example to express a larger general principle. Although he cites basic physiological needs in his example, his principle applies to any problem or need.
The ultimate focus of our lives must continue to be God. If we have basic needs, focus on God and not the need. If we have problems with a relationship, focus on God and not the relationship. If we have problems with governments or other amorphous systems, focus on God and not the systems. Whatever our problem or life circumstance is, the answer is always the same, God.
To help me apply this concept I created a rubric called God’s triangle. At the base of the triangle, I am at one end. Along the base on the side opposite me is the problem or need. God is at the vertex of the triangle. My response to the need or problem addresses them through direct action. What can I do to fix the situation? If it is a relationship, how can I find a middle ground between me and the other person. If it is a need, how can I provide for the need? However, God wants me to stop making the problem the ultimate focus of my attention. He does not want me to make it an idol. He directs me in all situations to turn my attention towards him. I am to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. I paraphrase this passage by saying, “See first his agenda and his character.” When faced with whatever comes our way our response should be the same, seek to draw closer to God, to understand his will, to do his will, and to reflect his character. This is God’s triangle.