But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Years ago I heard the story of a conservative Amish man who was taken to the city by a worldly friend.
Wishing to show the Amish gentleman the wonders of modern society, a prolonged stop was made at a giant mall. Together the men toured one store after another.
After the visit, the Amish man was asked, "Well, are you impressed by what you saw?"
The Amish man thought, then he nodded in agreement. The nod was explained when he said, "I truly was impressed. I never thought there were so many things I didn't want or need."
That was the way I felt reading the story of the man who was recently arrested at Bangkok's international airport. While the man was being held in custody, officials went through his luggage. Inside his suitcases they found two baby leopards, two newborn panthers, a young Asiatic black bear and two monkeys. All were about the size of puppies; all had been drugged and some were in cages, which held them flat to minimize movement.
And where was the man going with his mini menagerie?
His first-class ticket said he was headed to Dubai.
And why Dubai? Well, folks it's this way: on Thailand's black market a leopard or panther will sell for a paltry $5,000 or so. But if an entrepreneur-smuggler can get those leopards or panthers to oil-rich Dubai, well, he's going to turn a real profit. There, people keep such animals as status symbols or to move ahead of their neighbors.
It was the kind of news story which made me cringe. Animals were paying the price to stroke an overpowering human ego, an overwhelming craving for stuff.
When Jesus told us to "seek first the Kingdom of God," He probably wasn't referring to folks who wanted to own an Asiatic bear as a pet. Even so, those words need to be heard by the black-market buyers who ordered those animals.
They also need to be heard by us.
Too often our priorities get messed up, and God gets put on the back burner while we search for the newest and the latest. Brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Far better for us to thank the Father in heaven that His Son never forgot He had come to save the world -- not figure out a way He could own the world's transient riches.
His is an example we should follow.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there is a poem which reads, "All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all." From that poem as well as Your Word may we learn respect for the Creator and His creation. May our priorities be kept in the proper order. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries