The Kingdom of Christ
Each of the men that Solomon executed had one thing that he refused to give up for the kingdom of God. Adonijah had to have Abishag. Joab wanted his revenge. Shimei wouldn’t let go of his servants.
We all face similar temptations. Some of us are like Shimei: our temptation is what money can buy. So we are unwilling to walk away from a lucrative business deal that isn’t entirely honest. Or we build our careers at the expense of our families. Or we shortchange God by skimping on our tithes and offerings. Other people are like Adonijah: we put sexual gratification ahead of our commitment to the kingdom. Or, like Joab, we are guilty of angry violence.
The question for each of us is: What is the one thing that is keeping me from giving everything to the kingdom of God? It is all or nothing with God, as it is for every self-respecting king. It is of the very nature of a king to demand total allegiance. If we only follow God when he gives us what we want, then we are not treating him as a king at all but only as a servant. For God to come first for us, he has to come first in everything, including the one thing we really do not want to give up for his kingdom, whatever that one thing may be. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
To accomplish this saving work, Jesus had to put the kingdom first, and so he did. He did not come to do his own will, he said, but the will of his Father in heaven.
What Do You Want?
The trouble is, of course, that we often put what we want ahead of what God wants. We build our own kingdoms rather than seeking first the kingdom of God. This is evident every time we indulge a sinful pleasure, or speak an angry word, or make a selfish purchase. And this is why we need the mercy and forgiveness that God offers us in Jesus, the king who established God’s forever kingdom by bleeding on the cross and then rising from the grave. Like Solomon, Jesus established his throne by eliminating all his enemies, only his enemies were the strongest enemies of all: sin, death, and the Devil. Jesus defeated these enemies by suffering the deadly punishment that we deserve for our sins (the same punishment, in fact, that Solomon’s enemies deserved), so that we would not die but live.
Jesus’s Example of Good Stewardship
To accomplish this saving work, Jesus had to put the kingdom first, and so he did. He did not come to do his own will, he said, but the will of his Father in heaven (John 6:38). This included renouncing all the temptations of money, sex, and violence. Jesus could have claimed the wealth of the nations, but he chose instead to live in poverty, proving that money was not his master. Nor did Jesus give in to sexual temptation, sinfully gratifying his sexual desire, but lived instead with perfect purity and chastity. He did not seek power through wrongful violence but patiently suffered the abuse of sinful men, even to the point of death. Jesus put the kingdom first, refusing to let even a single thing get in the way of giving his life for our salvation and doing the work of the kingdom of God.
Now Jesus calls us to join him in putting the kingdom first—first in our minds and hearts, first with our bodies, and first with our bank accounts. It is only when we share our wealth for kingdom work, protect the purity of our sexuality, and give up any claim to rule our destiny that we are able to stop using money, sex, and power for ourselves and use them instead for the glory of God and the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
This article is adapted from King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex, and Power by Philip Graham Ryken.
- The Three Stages of Temptation (Russell D. Moore)
- Living in God's Two Kingdoms - A Vision of Christianity and Culture
- What Is the Kingdom of God? (Sam Storms)