Text: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
You have read and heard this Scripture many times, but have you ever stopped to think about what the words “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (v. 33) really mean? Is there the possibility we have been doing this and have never given it a thought? On the other hand, have we overlooked or have we chosen not to follow Jesus words of seeking the kingdom?
What did Jesus mean when He instructed the people to “Seek first the kingdom of God?” He wants us to turn to Almighty God to request help. We are not to count on our own wisdom and knowledge because it is of the world. In other words, we think as the world thinks.
When we do that we are leaving God out of our life.
When we leave God out of our everyday activities, there is an excellent possibility we depend on our ability to do everything ourselves. Soon it will become evident things aren’t working to our favor and when things don’t work the way we think they should, we soon become discouraged and even depressed.
When we become dependent on God the Father, our mind is constantly focused in His direction. Our minds are filled with positive thought of what He would have us do in all circumstances. It is not bad to think what we want to do or what we would like to do as long as our final decision is based upon what we hear from the wee small voice within our heart.
If we follow in Jesus’ footsteps our life will exhibit the characteristics of His life. For example, Jesus was in constant contact with His Father. He talked to Him and prayed seeking His direction concerning every aspect of His life.
When Jesus was going through the temptation course and Satan said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3), Jesus responded with the words, “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus knew the Scripture, the words of the Father, but in addition, He obeyed those words. He knew the Father would not let Him down. It is good for us to know the Scripture so that when we are faced with temptation, we can do as Jesus did and call upon Almighty God.
When it was time for Jesus to pick His disciples, He did not do it without first praying to His Father. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (Luke 6:12-16).
This prayer, this conversation with the Father was not a two minute prayer or conversation, but Jesus prayed and talked to His Father all night until morning came. This decision was so important that He did not choose to make it on His own, but chose to seek the help of His Father.
When Jesus finished preaching to and feeding the 5000 men plus women and children, He sent His disciples to the other side of the sea and “He departed to the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46).
Notice that Jesus went alone to pray. He wanted the undivided attention of His Father and He wanted to give His Father His undivided attention. Jesus prayed often and He prayed long. Nothing was more important to Him than communication with His Father.
The lesson to us here is that we need to have time set aside when we can pray to the Father in a place where we will not be interrupted or distracted. Our prayer time is not to puff up our selves, but to humble ourselves.
Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men…. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father…who sees what is done in secret” (Matthew 6:5-6).
You might wonder what prayers are important or what you should pray about. Every prayer is important to God and every prayer is heard by God. When we pray we are usually looking for guidance or direction before making a decision. We may be praying for another person who is having health, finance, family, or employer or employee concerns. We are asking God to intervene and lead these people in the direction He would have them go.
Furthermore, God is concerned about anything on our mind. We may be setting goals and wondering how to reach them. God can help us. We might be praying about some type of object, like buying a house or car and God is willing to give us direction if we will ask and then listen to His answer.
When we pray or consult God about everything in our daily life, as did Jesus, our focus will remain on Him. On the other hand, if we never consult or pray to God, this is an indication we don’t need His help and in fact don’t even want Him in our life. If we do not give God first place in our life, we are traveling the wide road to destruction.
To “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” is to give God first place in our life and in our heart. When we do this, we will follow in His footsteps and we will take on the characteristics of His Son. His Son was love and His love will shine forth from us as we follow His teachings and walk in His footsteps.
Jesus was compassionate and willing to help those in need. He cleansed the leper who said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Jesus had the authority to do this and the leper had faith in Jesus that he could be healed.
On another occasion, Jesus met a centurion who had a servant who was paralyzed and tormented. When he told Jesus about his servant, immediately Jesus responded. He didn’t say He would think about it as we sometimes do when someone approaches us for help.
Jesus didn’t say, “Wait, let Me check My Blackberry or my appointment book and see if I have space to pencil you in.” If we follow in Jesus’ footsteps like many of us claim, we would not have to look at our appointment book to see if we had a little free time to assist the one in need.
Jesus didn’t say, “The church board is meeting this evening and I will present your case to the members of the board. They will have the opportunity to discuss your need or needs and then they will vote to see if there is a possibility of giving you help. They might just have to put your request on hold and discuss it at next month’s meeting.”
Often times, people who are in need will approach a church pastor or members of a church board with a definite need and will hear words of encouragement, but will have to wait for a week or month until the board meets to hear the request of the person in need.
Jesus was in the boat with His disciples and a great tempest or storm suddenly created huge waves that rocked the boat and filled the boat with water, the disciples thought they were going to drown. Jesus was very calm, and in fact He was sleeping, but was wakened by His disciples in fear for their lives. They said, “Lord, save us! We are perishing” (Matthew 8:25).
Jesus did not scold or rebuke them for being afraid. He did not give them a lecture about the weather or about what they should do. He didn’t question them as to why they were afraid. He didn’t tell them to use their knowledge of sailing they had used for years and stop acting fearful. This is what you and I would have done.
Think for a moment of times someone has come to you because they are afraid of an event taking place in their life. Maybe someone in their family is sick or perhaps dying or possible has died and they don’t know what to do or which way to turn. It is easy for us to give them a verse of Scripture, pat them on the shoulder and tell them everything is under control. You may even say this very thing happened to you or your loved one and you are just supposed to take it in stride.
When the disciples woke Jesus because they were afraid, Jesus said, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). That was the extent of His words. The next thing He did was to restore their faith by standing up on the boat and calming the storm. “He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26).
Jesus was a man of love, compassion and understanding. He liked to teach and preach, but He practiced what He preached. He wanted people to be healthy, happy and shining examples of His love. When someone approached Him with a need, His response was one of action.
He taught people how to live a rewarding life by providing the necessary words, demonstrating the correct actions and giving His Father all the honor and glory. If we follow in His footsteps, we will do the same thing.
Jesus did seek the Kingdom of God by giving the Father first place in His heart. By doing this, He demonstrated to all the people of His time and to all of His children today that when God has first place in a person’s heart, all things are possible. Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Our Scripture reading started with these words: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
Today’s English version of the Bible says, “No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
We live in a materialistic world meaning that people are surrounded by things and these things can become more important to an individual than their relationship with Almighty God. One of the material things of the world is money.
Some people have a great love for money and a desire to accumulate as much as possible. Money soon becomes their master or they become a slave to money. Their desire for money is greater than their desire for a relationship with their heavenly Father. Money comes between them and God. When this happens their commitment to God gets pushed to the back burner.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter 6 and verse 10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Money in itself is not bad, but the problem arises when it comes between a person and that person’s relationship with God, the Father. A great desire for money leads one to be greedy. Greed then pushes forth and can cause the breakup of a marriage. Greed can also push one to steal and rob in order to satisfy one desire to accumulate more money.
Drugs enter the picture when a person’s greed for money is not satisfied. Selling drugs seems to be an easy way to acquire much money because so many people are hung up on this destructive habit.
A test to determine what is more important in life is to ask yourself this question: “What one thing occupies all my thoughts consumes all my time and uses all my efforts?” If this one thing is money, we have a major problem in our life. If our response is placing God first in our life, then we are living heavenly and not worldly.
Jesus taught that we should not “…store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Anything worldly or materialistic can be stolen, lost, used up or even worn completely out. Heavenly things are completely different than worldly things. Remember when Jesus called His disciples, each disciple left all the worldly possessions he had.
The worldly or earthly possessions we have do not compare in any way to the possessions God has in store for us. We are not to glory over worldly possessions. People have a tendency to try to accumulate more and more worldly possessions without having a stopping point in mind. In other words, “How much is enough?” The answer most people give is just a little bit more or just a few more possessions.
There is no hope in worldly possessions. We cannot take them with us when we leave this life. When we consider ourselves as an amazing creation because God made us, how complex we are and the things we can accomplish with God’s help, we will realize there is no comparison between earthly treasures and heavenly treasures. Worldly possessions do not compare with “…seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Then Jesus gave us a pep talk on the topic of judging. Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too well be judged…the same way you judge others, and with the measure you use… (Matthew 7:1-2) We need to examine our motives and we need to look at our own conduct before we look at the motives and conduct of others.
We are not perfect. The only Perfect One is Jesus Christ. We were born with a sinful nature. Jesus was not born with a sinful nature. We have an ego that often gets inflated. Jesus had no ego because everything He did was according to the Father’s will.
We have a tendency to find fault with people and criticize them. Jesus looked at the positive attributes of people and found no reason to criticize them. We need to “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and then we will be in line with the Great Teacher.
Jesus taught us not to worry. Is there anyone in here who has never worried about something at some time in their life? I venture to say that all of us have worried about things that never came about. In fact, most of what we worry about never becomes reality. Some people worry about getting sick, while others worry about losing their job. We have all worried about our children for some reason or another. We have probably worried about finances, retirement, getting along with someone or a host of other things. Most of what we worry about comes and goes.
Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing” (Matthew 6:25). Why are we not to worry?
It is unnecessary and is only a waste of valuable time that could be used to glorify Almighty God. Worry is unprofitable, unproductive and unbeneficial. Furthermore, worry is not a positive attribute of a Christian.
God will supply everything we need if we just remain faithful to Him. We may or may not realize that worry will ruin one’s health. Many people are sick because through worry, they have brought the sickness upon themselves. Furthermore, worry occupies our mind and our thoughts and it is impossible to think positive and remain productive.
Just think for a moment the last time you were burdened down with worry. Your deep concern for whatever you were worrying about changed your attitude to the point that people who came across your path were mistreated by your words or your actions. Instead of the light of Jesus reflecting from you, the dark cloud of the devil was overshadowing the bright and glorious rays of Almighty God projecting forth a negative attitude.
Story: “Worry, A Sin Against God and Ourselves”
Worry is not only a sin against God; it is a sin against ourselves. Thousands have shortened their lives by it, and millions have made their lives bitter by dropping this gall into their souls every day.
Honest work very seldom hurts us; it is the worry that kills. I have a perfect right to ask God for strength equal to the day, but I have no right to ask Him for one extra ounce of strength for tomorrow’s burden.
When tomorrow comes grace will come with it, and sufficient for the tasks, the trials, or the troubles. God never has built a Christian strong enough to stand the strain of present duties and all the tons of tomorrow’s duties and sufferings piled upon the top of them.
Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34).
What does God think about when we worry? Have you ever thought about it?
He thinks we do not trust Him with every facet of our life. He sees we are not being as fruitful and productive in our walk with Him. God knows we are harming ourselves physically, mentally and morally. He gets the feeling we do not depend on Him for our needs.
He doesn’t like the fact that it appears we are losing faith in Him and His word. He sees we are giving up our opportunity to face the real challenges He has in store for us. He sees us losing our joy and happiness because of worry.
Story: “Two Things No to Worry About”
There are two things, at least, about which we should never worry. First, the things we can’t help. If we can’t help them, worrying is certainly most foolish and useless.
Secondly, the things we can help. If we can help them, let us set about it, and not weaken our powers by worry. Weed your garden. Pluck up the smallest roots of worry.
Watch for their first appearance above the ground and pluck them while they are small. Don’t let them get a start. They will crowd out all the beautiful things that ought to grow in our hearts unless we do.
Trust God! He created you and knows you inside out. He wants the best for you and if you will seek Him, He will provide everything you need.