By age 12 he was playing the French Horn. By 15, he was performing professionally with the great Jazz musicians of his era. He was the first black musician to break the color barrier in Hollywood as a composer. He’s earned 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend award in 1991. And he achieved notoriety for composing the score of The Color Purple.
However, Quincy Delight Jones Jr has suffered a lot of trials in life. He’s been married three times. Endured an emotional breakdown. Survived two brain surgeries. And once faced a life-threatening surgery for an aneurysm. The surgeons said his chances of recovery were 1 in a 100. But he beat the odds.
Following this last operation he was asked, “What have you started doing differently?”
Jones replied, “The first thing I started doing was hugging a lot. When you get to be 50, you start dealing with the countdown, and you can deal with it in a positive or a negative way. I [see] this little life to be this great gift. You know that old cliché about your life passing in front of you? Well, it really does.”
I don’t know if Quincy Jones claims to be a Christian. But he’s right about three things. (1) Life is a gift. (2) It passes by pretty quickly. (3) It’s good to prioritize what’s important to you. And hugging others is good, if it’s done with a holy motive.
However, Jesus, in the Mountain Message, forever offered the best of all possible priorities when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33)
In the context, Jesus discusses some of our challenges and concerns of life. But He tells us not to worry. Fret. Or become sidetracked by earthly treasures. When our focus is clear, and our priorities straight, life becomes a lot easier.
Consider these few simple points from this great verse.
(1) Concentrate on the kingdom. Kingdom living involves the rule of God in your life (Lk. 17:21). The exaltation of King Jesus in your heart. It is within you. It transcends the physical. It is spiritual. And it is the most important treasure you could ever obtain (Matt 13:44-46).
(2) Realize that righteousness is not an ideal to be admired, but a life to be lived. Jesus said in the beginning of the sermon that we should “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matt 5:3) We should crave it. Ardently desire it. And passionately pursue it. And remember, He wants us to seek His righteousness, not ours! (Rom. 10:6) Thankfully, we are not left in the dark about the nature of the righteous life, it is revealed in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16-17).
Ultimately God’s righteousness should issue itself in a new life. The Bible says that we should “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:23)
(3) Seek the Kingdom and His righteousness. Seeking involves searching. Soliciting. And striving. It is active. Not passive. A seeker is always alert. On guard. And vigilant.
Jesus said earlier in the sermon, “Seek and you shall find.” We find what we’re looking for. Is it ease? Earthly treasure? Or personal pleasure?
Paul commanded young Timothy to “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22
(4) Get Your Priorities Straight. Ultimately this verse is about the proper priorities in life. Seek God’s righteousness instead of just doing acts of righteousness. Develop a relationship with Jesus instead of just saying your prayers. Solicit the solitude of the Spirit instead of pretending to be pious. Work at being conformed to the Divine nature, instead of worrying so much about your own image.
Yes, life is a gift. Life is short. And while hugging others is good, getting right with God is better. Make it your priority.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman