"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
In my late teens, some friends and I composed a survey that began with questions about young people's main ambition in life and how they hoped to achieve it. The majority said their main ambition was to be happy. Being happy is what Jesus talked about in the beatitudes, but not a superficial happiness. He used the word “blessed”, which is a lasting, deeply rooted inner contentment, regardless of circumstances.
In the beatitudes, Jesus talks about happiness being for the poor in spirit, for those who mourn and those who are meek. These are traits we normally run from, but Jesus is not talking about happiness being found in the physical, material realm, but in the spiritual realm. It is not the “poor in pocket”, but the “poor in spirit” and refers to those who realize they do not have what it takes to live the way God intended or to be what God created them to be.
Human beings are the only living species made up of body, soul and spirit. Our bodies are our physical beings, which both plant and animal life possess. We make our bodies happy with essentials like grooming, exercise, clothing, food and shelter. Our souls are our personalities made up of character traits, likes and dislikes, which animals also have. We make our souls happy with relationships, possessions and enjoying the things we do. Our spiritual side, however, is unique to human beings. It is that part of us that has the ability to question the deeper, eternal things of life such as: Where do I come from? Why am I here and where am I headed? We will not find a tree worried about its future or a dog questioning the purpose of life.
The point is that most people feed their bodies first, their souls next, and their spirits last, with many neglecting to feed their spirits at all. They have it backwards! To feed our bodies and souls first, we are feeding the temporal things, which leave us dependent upon ourselves, and very often lead to frustration and discontent. It is in feeding our spiritual side first; reaching outside of ourselves for answers to life’s most probing questions that we are feeding the eternal. When we seek God first, Jesus tells us, “all these things will be given to you as well"; these things being the necessities of life. In the first beatitude, Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). That is our poverty; our weakness, sin and failure exchanged for the riches of Christ, and this is what leads to true and lasting contentment!