Few passages of Scripture have challenged me more or caused me more introspection than Matthew 6:33-34 when Jesus concluded his discussion of worry and priorities by saying, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be supplied for you. Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry enough about itself. Each day has enough evil in it for itself.” Even without knowing the context of Jesus words they challenge our sense of what matters in our life. God’s kingdom can’t be just a part of life or something we focus on during convenient times. It can’t just be something that affects our life on Sunday’s or any other day we might consider holy. God’s kingdom is to have the primary place in our life.
Without looking deeper that just the text itself we can see some things that stand out. Kingdom living involves being righteous. We seek the kingdom and righteousness of the Lord Jesus first. We tend to think of righteousness as one dimensional. It is about doing right. When we think only in that dimension we all walk away feeling this is hopeless. Without doubt we should try to do right in our life. But such efforts are what Paul described in Romans 7 as he pictured his efforts to do right on his own. Every time he planned to do right he found himself doing wrong. When he said he wouldn’t do any wrong again he found himself doing the same wrong. So righteousness isn’t just about the effort to do right on our own. But if that isn’t all that is involved in righteousness then what else is involved? Actually Paul described two other aspects of righteousness that should be noted in this context. First, as he moved on into what we know is chapter 8 he changed the whole picture. One who is in Christ is not under condemnation any more. We are no longer on our own in doing right. If we belong to Christ we have the Holy Spirit as a gift to help us live for him. In verse 26 he notes that the Spirit helps us in all our weaknesses and illustrated it by saying that he didn’t know what to pray on his own, but the Spirit takes what we say and intercedes for us to God with groans we aren’t able to utter. So the point he makes is that God doesn’t leave us on our own to do right. Through him nothing can separate from the love of Christ and that in all our challenges we can be more than conquerers through him who loves us. On our own we utterly fail in doing right. With God’s help we can live without condemnation.
The other statement from Paul that helps in this discussion is found in Romans 4. He had talked about our salvation through faith, by the grace of God. He illustrated such salvation by noting David’s statement that God blesses the ones to whom he doesn’t impute sin. He turned to the discussion of Abraham and how he is the father of the faithful. He notes that all who walk by faith are the children of Abraham, without any regard to whether they are Jews or Gentiles. It is in this context that Paul makes this point that not only did Jesus take our sins upon him when he died upon the cross but that his righteousness is imputed to us if we walk by faith. To seek first the kingdom involves the personal faith that one has in Jesus that commits our life to him in obedience to his will and trusting that he has taken our sins away and washed them in his precious blood and that he continues to wash them in his blood. It also involves the trust that the righteousness of Jesus is placed to our account as we commit our life to and live a life of commitment to him.
Also, Jesus tied seeking the kingdom first to living each day to the full instead of allowing the failures of yesterday or the worries about tomorrow’s problems to torment us. Each day has enough worry of its own so don’t pull yesterday or tomorrow into each day.
But it is vital to pull the context into this discussion. It started back in the middle of this chapter as he challenged us lay up our treasures in heaven and not on earth where they can be destroyed by parasites of the world or by thieves who steal them. He quickly tied that admonition to the declaration, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will love the one and despise the other or you will hold to the one and hate the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Jesus lays out the challenge of kingdom living by saying that you can’t make money and things the primary thing in your life and have the kingdom first. He then notes that one of the primary results of trusting in things and money is that we worry about what we will wear, where we will live and what we will eat. Instead of living by worry our life should be lived in faith in a loving Lord and God who loves us more than we can ever imagine. Certainly, not worrying over these things doesn’t mean that we should sit down on the corner and wait for God to bring manna from heaven. We are to work to provide for ourselves and our family. But without the blessing of God no amount of work will be sufficient.
Seeking first the kingdom means that we put our whole trust in the Lord and His rule in life. It means that we submit to him as the king. It means that we stop worrying all the time over things. It means that we live each day to the full. It means that we live for him each day as we walk by faith. This kind of kingdom living will put us in touch with the king on a daily basis, living for him, listening to him and waiting for his guidance in our life. It is a life of huge trust.
Seek Christ’s kingdom first now and forever.