Seek Ye First Health, Wealth, and Comfort: A Word from Hudson Taylor

Hudson_TaylorI love hearing from the voices in our great missions tradition, men and women like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Lottie Moon. Even more recently, missionaries like Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, write with passion and spiritual maturity that stirs the heart toward the things of God and his Great Commission to us.

The following is one such excerpt, and I came across it preparing for a lesson I was teaching on the history of missions.

Hudson Taylor was one of the great pioneer missionaries of the modern missions movement. He served faithfully in China and started the China Inland Mission. While raising support for that endeavor, he wrote a little piece titled, China: It’s Spiritual Need and Claims. Below are a couple of paragraphs that perhaps ring truer today than they did when the ink first flowed from Taylor’s pen.

Here is the excerpt:

Early in the course of our Saviour’s ministry, the Lord Jesus taught His people that they were to be THE LIGHT-not of Jerusalem, not of Judea, nor yet of the Jewish nation, but—of THE WORLD. And He taught them to pray—not as the heathen, who use vain and unmeaning repetitions; nor yet as the worldly-minded, who ask first and principally (if not solely) for their own private benefit and need: “For,” said He, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye:

“Our Father which art in heaven,
“Hallowed be THY name;
“THY kingdom come;
“THY will be done; as in heaven, so in earth.”

And it was only after these petitions, and quite secondary to them, that any personal petitions were to be offered. Even the very moderate one, “Give us this day our daily bread,” followed them. Is not this order too often reversed in the present day? Do not Christians often really feel, as well as act as if they felt, that it is incumbent upon them to commence with, “Give us this day our daily bread; ” concluding with, “If consistent with this, may Thy name be hallowed too?” And is not the popular version of Matt.vi. 33, (even amongst the Lord’s professed followers,) Seek first food and clothing, health, wealth and comfort, and then the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Instead of honouring Him with the first-fruits of our time, strength and substance, are we not content to offer Him the fragments that remain after our own supposed need is supplied? While we thus refuse to bring the tithes into His storehouse, and to prove the Lord therewith, can we wonder that He does not open the windows of heaven, and pour us out the fulness of blessing that we desire? (Taylor, China, pp 4-6)

Maybe these words hit you like they hit me. Let us concern ourselves first with the Father’s kingdom and glory.

The rest will work itself out.

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