This “Application” column goes with the Bible Lesson for Jan. 17, 2021: Reverse Rewards (Matthew 6:1-18)
Remember the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Thine is the kingdom”? It’s tempting to say “mine” instead of “Thine.” Every day I have to choose between the kingdom of God and the chaos of self. Every day I need to ask, Am I in charge, or is God? Often I find myself trying to run my own little kingdom—the “kingdom of Dave.” I know that sounds ridiculous, but it won’t sound any better if you substitute your own name in the phrase.
If I don’t guard against it, the kingdom of Dave will dominate my life. When it’s time to take out the trash and I pretend to be busy so my wife has to do it, there’s a struggle going on between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Dave. When I want others to listen to me but I don’t want to listen to them, the kingdom of Dave is taking over. When I’m tempted to play to the crowd, that’s not the kingdom of God at work; it’s the kingdom of Dave.
Hypocrisy runs rampant when self occupies the throne. That’s why Jesus warned about doing religious acts in public places. Public admiration brings a fickle, fleeting reward, but nothing more. The heavenly Father sees how and why we give, pray, and serve, so why do we seek attention from others?
“Seek first the kingdom of Dave”—that has an absurd ring to it.
Putting Self in Its Place
When my wife, Candy, and I moved to Indiana from Ohio nearly seven years ago, I went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get my new Indiana driver’s license. The worker behind the counter asked me to take off my glasses while she took a picture of me, but after glancing at the photo, she shook her head and mumbled, “Oh, that’s not good.” She took a second picture and discarded the first one.
It’s an understatement to say the photo that ended up on my driver’s license is less than flattering. It looks terrible—and very funny! Anytime I want to make my wife laugh, all I have to do is pull out my driver’s license and show her the photo. My own mother cringed and laughed when she saw the picture. And remember—this was the second photo the worker took. How bad must the first one have been?
I sighed and told the woman behind the counter, “This picture is really embarrassing. And now I’ll have to put up with it for the next four years.” She shook her head and said, “No, in Indiana your license is good for six years.” So for six years, I quietly looked forward to renewing my driver’s license when I finally would get a new photo.
Sure enough, right on schedule, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles sent me a postcard saying it was time to renew my license. But because the offices were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, I had to renew it by mail. The postcard said, “The BMV will use your last photo on-file for your new driver’s license.”
Now I am stuck with that same terrible photo for another six years—12 years altogether. Except the new photo is black and white instead of full color, so it looks even worse.
So much for the kingdom of Dave.
Personal Challenge: Pray a prayer of confession like this: “Father, my life is an open book to you. You know me inside and out. You see everything I do, and you know why I do it. Forgive me for trying to impress others. Purify my motives, humble my heart, and help me discover the joy that comes from seeking your kingdom above all else. Amen.”