Losing Everything or Gaining Everything

Being brought up in a Bible believing Protestant home, I had to memorize verses from the King James Version of the Bible. I’m glad I did. Not only did I learn God’s word by heart, but the words were written in my heart. There in there. Down deep.

One of the verse I had to learn was, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” It is a question of priorities, and it is really very simple: Put God first and everything else falls into it’s proper place. Put God first and you shall have all things according to their worth.

The converse is therefore also true: Put something else first and you will lose all things, and the surprising thing is that you will eventually also lose the thing that you put first. Here are some examples: Let’s say you put money as the very first thing in your life. You spend your whole life trying to get money. Making this your greatest value you will eventually lose everything of real value. Good friends will disappear and you will find yourself with similarly vile money grubbers. Goodness will disappear for if you are really seeking only money you will compromise your values at some point along the way. What was it you were really seeking in the money you were trying to accumulate? It wasn’t about money after all, it was about power or prestige or pleasure. All those things will evaporate. You will be powerful, but those over whom you have power will hate you. You will have prestige, but the only people who will admire you will be those who are as slimy as you are. You will have pleasure but it will be fleeting like a drug. Finally, in the end, even if you are as rich as King Midas you will die naked and alone as we all do.

The same can be applied to anything which is put first instead of God. The present debate over homosexual marriage is another example. Those who seek homosexual marriage as their great good will end up not having marriage at all for they will have destroyed the very thing they were seeking by seeking it the wrong way and as the wrong priority. Take any longing or lust or ambition and think it through and take it to it’s end point and you will see that, not only will the thing that is falsely desired be destroyed in the process, but everything else will be poisoned by the false desire as well.

The Bible verse therefore may be stood on it’s head with a stunning result: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you.” or “Seek ye first anything else and everything will be taken from you.” Or to stand upside down another gospel precept, “Lose your life to gain it.–Gain your life and lose not only your life but everything else.”

There are therefore two ways open to each person. Put God first and everything will be yours. “Put yourself first and nothing shall be yours”, or if you like, “Put yourself first and that’s all you’ll get.”

Yourself. That’s it. Nothing more. Are you really willing to settle for so little?

 

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
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  • Michael

    Although we differ in opinion on same sex marriage, we don’t on the excesses of wealth and the excessive emphasis and societal support for the rampant greed we find around us. The US has just gone through an election cycle where a millionaire presidential candidate payed only 10% of his income last year in taxes while the bus driver who drove his campaign bus payed 35%. Prominent billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have advocated that their rate of tax should be the same as the average person. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church treat this immorality with the same vigour as they attack sexual sins?

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      What do you mean by “the Catholic Church”?

  • Michael

    As the Catholic Church is currently consituted this message needs to come from the bishops, the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church. Just once I would like to see the Church attack a non sexual moral issue with the same vehemence with which it goes after sexual issues. Most parishioners don’t know of the rather progressive, in my opinion, position of the Catholic Church on social issues, from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerun Novarum to Pope John Paul II Cenesimus Annus. But they make people uncomfortable, especially those who rather enjoy the excesses of capitalism.

    And if you say that’s not the case here’s a question I’ve never had an answer to. Can you name one person that has been removed from a Catholic institution (school, hospital, etc.) for a legal action that is not a sexual sin.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      This is an interesting point, however, I believe the issue is clouded not by the Catholic Church focussing on sexual sin, but by the media focussing on it.

      If you read the actual statements of the US Catholic Bishops you will find more documents on social issues like greed, poverty, immigration, child abuse, education, elder care, euthanasia, medical ethics and so forth than you do on sexual sin.

      Why not jump over to the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and start reading through the official pronouncements, social teachings, advice and so forth? You will actually find very little on sexual sin.

      However, should the bishops say ‘boo’ about one aspect of sexual sin the media pumps it up into a big story because sex sells.

      • Michael

        Their actions speak louder than their words. When was a politician ever chatised by the bishops for supporting capital punishment? When was a teacher ever fired from a Catholic school for cheating on their taxes? When were members of congress ever threatened with Church sanction for opposing the rights of workers to unionize? Why weren’t politicians excommunicated for supporting torture and sanctioning the killing of civilians.

        Don’t blame the media. Blame the bishops who know that these topics are unpopular among the faithful and occasionally run press releases to cover issues but don’t press the point.

        Imagine if the Catholic Church went after the moral imperative to have health care for all rather than seeking to stop insurers from offering contraceptive coverage to employees. an option Catholics would not take, but non Catholics would.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          You’re the sort of critic who would see Jesus walking on the water and blame him for not being able to swim.

          • Michael

            No. If the Catholic Church continues in this direction, stressing sexual sins and paying lip service to almost all others it will just seek to alienate more Catholics, especially the young who more and more do not have the prejudice about gays and while they are not gay themselves are not able to be roused to moral condemnation about their gay friends and colleagues. I was the same way 20 years ago. Now that I know gay people, gay couples and gay families, I can’t condemn them. I don’t want that lifestyle myself, but I do not feel compelled to prevent them from have the right to marry.

            As an atheist seeing the Catholic Church diminish in numbers and stature is fine with me, but having gays denied their ability to marry is not worth it.

        • Ben

          Well, there is a point. A lot of these social issues aren’t exactly teachings of the Church as they are prudential judgments arguably based upon them. Sexual sins just happen to be one of the areas in our time where the actual solid teaching itself is being completely disregarded, hence the greater need for serious focus on them.

          Honestly, though, I think there is an argument that these social issues are focused on too much by the Bishops confusing the laity as to matters of doctrine (in this very confused age).

  • Michael

    Tangentially related to this, here are two article written by two well known public atheists that advocate knowledge of the Bible, in their case the Authorized Version, in order to understand Western Literature.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/05/hitchens-201105

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/may/19/richard-dawkins-king-james-bible

  • http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com A J MacDonald Jr

    Que paso? The US-NATO wars are unjust. Why aren’t you dealing with that issue? Por favor, it’s not rocket science. And please don’t block me, as other “Catholic” sites have, for asking a legitimate, moral, theological question on a life and death issue, which homosex is not. Gracias.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      We hate war too.

  • CR

    The love of money is evil. Yet money itself is amoral. It’s just like a brick. You can build something with it or smash something with it. God loves us and wants us to recognize the difference between stewardship and stupidity. I failed to recognize this difference and I caused people to suffer. If you don’t acknowledge the difference between a house and a home , trust me you will lose both.


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