I was considering the admonition, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” when it occurred to me that this is the intended message in the book of Matthew, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
What is the Kingdom of God? According to the parables of the book of Genesis, it is that place at the end of warring with men and with God. When we are no longer at war, outwardly or inwardly, what we then do with our lives, our money and our time is done with peaceful enthusiasm and fascinated curiosity. And, this is the Kingdom or state of Heaven.
Despite what anyone else may want another to believe, this Kingdom of God, this Heaven, is a personally defined experience. It is that place where the individual feels joy, at one with the surroundings, and fully freed of cares and limitation. It is that sustained life of “doing what you love.” To the devoted fisherman, Heaven is out at sea, along a stream or on a lake with rod and reel. To the poet, Heaven is the mind alive with images, a pen in hand and something to write on. To the baseball fan, Heaven is being in a ballpark filled with other fans cheering the home team to victory against their arch opponent.
Another way to see how subjective and personal the experience of Heaven is is by having the examples above change places. Put the baseball fan out on a fishing boat in a heavy sea, and you may soon see a guy chumming with regurgitated beer, hotdogs and kraut. Lock the fisherman in a room with a stack of blank paper and a pen and he may soon be using the pen to dismantle the door. Surround the solitude-loving poet with a stadium full of screaming baseball fans and watch him stuff hotdogs in his ears in search of quietude. In essence, one man’s Heaven is another man’s hell.
The following joke demonstrates this, too:
What’s a European’s idea of heaven?
It’s where the English are the police, the French are the cooks, the Swiss are the bankers, the Italians are the lovers, and the Germans are the engineers.
What’s a European’s idea of hell?
It’s where the English are the cooks, the French are the engineers, the Swiss are the lovers, the Italians are the bankers, and the Germans are the police.
So, what is “righteousness”? Righteousness is “being right,” “doing right,” “putting right”. Applying these to our three examples, for the fisherman to be, do and put “right” his Heaven, he must take his rod and reel to the water and fish. The poet’s righteousness involves intentionally shutting out the world’s activities for time to think and write. For the fan, righteousness is leaving the substitute comfort of his TV for the real experience of the stadium. Righteousness is devoted adherence to the qualities, behaviors and states of mind of that which you love.
And then, “the money will follow” “all these things shall be added unto you.” Both of these statements are promises of what is to come to those who do what they love and those who seek the Kingdom and righteousness. Yet, what money? What things? Money is the generic essence of the objects we desire; money is “things” in an undeclared or fluid state.
First, understand that it will never be the same “money” and never the same “things” for any two people. What is abundance to me may be a pitance to you. What is a precious gift to one may be a useless waste to another. ”One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Thank god for www.freecycle.org.
These words, “money” and “things,” are symbols for satisfaction. In all that we do, we seek satisfaction. For the examples above, the satisfactions could be a fish, a poem, a day of reveling. But look deeper. For the fisherman, satisfaction may well have begun the day before as he prepared his kreel and fishing gear. For the poet it may have begun a week earlier when he found the perfect paper on which to write his poems. And for the baseball fan, it may have begun a year earlier when he reserved great seats for the upcoming season. The vast majority of qualities which make up our happiest times and our best days are literally price-less. If we were to enumerate those qualities, most of us would find them too many to count.
So much for “things,” but what of the “money” that is promised to follow? The fisherman may trade his sea bass for a $30 dollar dinner at the local waterfront restaurant. The poet’s words may be bought by Hallmark for $100 and used in a nationally distributed greeting card. And the fan may catch a fly ball and sell it for $500 on eBay. None of these outcomes could be possible if the individuals did not first do what they loved, sought the Kingdom of Heaven and acted upon its righteousness.
Test this for yourself.
If Biblical writing has not touched or guided you in the past, then just put the first statement to the test. Plan and do something you know that you love to do, or catch yourself in the act of doing something that you love. Then notice what follows. If you go for a swim, do you return feeling the deep bodily satisfaction and refreshment of an $80 massage? If movies are your pleasure, go, eat some popcorn, and be so thoroughly attentive that you learn from the character’s story how to deal better with a problem in your own life — the lesson of a $120 psychiatric visit. And, if you love to cook, prepare a delicious meal, incorporate all the ingredients you yourself love, then introduce your children to the broader world of available foods while demonstrating to your partner the price-less value of your presence. And what other benefits you may not see in this “doing what you love” today, may show up next week or years from now when you are wearing a swimming medal, you are promoted for your problem-solving skills, or you and your partner are being celebrated by your loving children at your 50th anniversary.
Satisfactions are sure to follow righteous devotion to what you love. Be assured, whatever you are investing in today, whatever you are “loving” enough to give your attention, imagination and time, it will pay off. Love yourself enough, respect your Life enough, and practice righteous devotion toward only those outcomes you truly hope and fully intend to bear fruit. Then, prepare for the harvest. It will come.
These statements are offered to remind you of your blessed value to and for yourself that you will bloom outward and be of blessed value to Life and all who know you. Go on, test it for yourself.