“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
What is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning? Lately I have found myself with this thought: “I want the Giver more than the giving.” There is a song by Natalie Grant entitled ‘More Than Anything’ with the key verses as follows:
Help me want the Healer
more than the healing.
Help me want the Savior
more than the saving.
Help me want the Giver
more than the giving.
Oh help me want you Jesus
more than anything.
You can listen to the song by clicking:
More Than Anything
To coincide with this, I found that Gary Wilkerson wrote a very convicting pamphlet entitled ‘Ultimate Favor’ of which the following is a part of:
Those who love God know the great difference between his unlimited favor and his ultimate favor. Today, when a lot of pastors preach on favor, their definition is limited to possessions, positions and acquisitions—better homes, cars and jobs, a happier family and a growing income. I do believe God favors his people this way. But there’s a danger when we live for this kind of favor at the risk of losing something much higher. We short-change ourselves when we live for anything but ultimate favor. Let me explain.
The original Promised Land was a gift God gave to ancient Israel—a literal place called Canaan, a fertile land bursting with oversized fruits and flowing rivers. It was the stuff of dreams for the Israelites. They’d been beaten down and exiled for generations. Yet when they arrived at Canaan’s border—a land of plenty in every sense—God made an unusual statement to Moses: “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3, ESV).
But Moses’ faith was different. He knew the goodness of God, as demonstrated in all his supernatural works for Israel. In fact, the Lord’s favor toward his people seemed bottomless, never ending, unlimited. No matter what obstacle they faced or how impossible it seemed, God brought them through every time. Moses marveled at the character of a God who mercifully performed all these things on their behalf. So when the Lord said he wouldn’t go with them into the Promised Land, Moses answered, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (33:15). In other words: “Lord, if you won’t be there, then I’m not going.”
To mature in faith, every Christian ultimately chooses between seeking God’s unlimited favor and his ultimate favor.
Moses knew how important God’s blessings were to Israel. His supernatural works had saved their lives. He sent manna from heaven when the people faced starvation. He brought water from a rock when their bodies were parched beyond their limits. Yet Moses recognized that even those vital blessings weren’t the point of these experiences. Rather, it was to know and trust the compassionate, loving God who bestowed them.
Moses’ next statement comes as no surprise: “Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight” (33:13). Moses knew that, ultimately, God’s favor wasn’t found in the blessings he provided; they were found in knowing the Lord himself.
I thank God for all his earthly blessings. As a pastor, I get to see his amazing work in people’s lives all the time. All of these things speak of God’s unlimited favor—his ability to breathe life into any desert wilderness. We all experience his favor in ways too great to measure: our relationships, our health, our work, our school. When we struggle in any area of life, or our circumstances get too difficult, he sustains us with his soothing presence. God has done things in our lives we never could imagine happening. His unlimited favor knows no boundaries.
Yet beyond God’s unlimited favor is his ultimate favor.
Like Moses, we’re able to know something of God that exceeds even his supernatural blessings.
This sort of favor isn’t found in the things God does—it’s found in the Lord himself. As Moses said, in so many words, “Lord, what good are grapes and milk and honey—all the blessings of life—if you’re not present?”
A famous Christian writer posed a similar question. He asked, in essence, “What if heaven was a place where you could have everything you wanted—where all your dreams come true, every aspiration and desire is made a reality—but God isn’t there? Would you want to go?”
It’s a legitimate question for any Christian. Do we desire God’s blessings apart from knowing him, the Giver of all good things? Or, like Moses, would we prefer to have every blessing stripped away rather than lose God’s presence?
I don’t take God’s blessings lightly. And neither does his Word. There’s hardly a book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God’s concern for the poor. But for those of us who know God’s abundant blessings, Moses conveys something important: Even daily bread pales compared to knowing God. Moses’ example calls us to experience a higher kind of favor.
It’s not that Christians today aren’t grateful for God’s blessings. Our problem is we stop there. We say, “Lord, your unlimited favor is enough for me.” But according to this passage, it isn’t enough. Are we willing to declare with Moses, “Lord, if you’re not there, I won’t go”? If we do, God will answer us the way he did Moses: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14).
The Lord wanted to enter Canaan with Israel, but he couldn’t abide their idolatry. Even after the Lord blessed them so powerfully, the Israelites turned to idols. When you pursue God’s blessings without seeking God himself, you end up in idolatry—because the focus of your pursuit is something earthen. As Paul says, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25, ESV).
Thankfully, today most of us don’t have to plead for water or bread. But we have golden idols of our own, things we seek apart from God: job success, financial security, material comfort. Those aren’t bad things; they’re great blessings. But if we want them more than we want God—if they become the focus of our life’s pursuit—we’ve built an idol. And God will say to us, “Go ahead, pursue that. Enjoy it. But you won’t find me present in any of it.”
I love Moses’ response: “God, kill me in the desert before you lead me to someplace that you aren’t.” I pray this becomes the church’s cry as well: “Lord, my life has been so blessed that I’ve let myself get misdirected. My eyes have been on your unlimited favor, the blessings you give. I want something different. Let my life be defined by your ultimate favor—to know you for who you are. That’s what I want for my life!”
I want to ask you: Is God enough for you? Does knowing him satisfy you? Or is there anything that keeps you from that, an idol you’ve put before him? His first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3, ESV).
So, in summary, it comes down to this: “Do you want God’s ultimate favor in your life or do you only want His unlimited favors?” Simply put, “Does your faith only run as deep as what you can receive from God, who has become your magical genie, or are you willing to desperately seek and follow Him even when His favors and blessings run dry?”
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (John 6:66 NKJV)