Summary: Often times we say things without understanding their meaning. Often times we quote, "seek first his kingdom and his righteosness," but what does that really mean for us?
What Does it Mean to Seek First the Kingdom?
One night, a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes. Those who couldn’t afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures.
Sometimes I think we might be a little bit like that as a people. Sometimes we forget what is really valuable and important and we often get distracted with those things of lesser importance.
Several years ago, construction workers happened upon a corpse outside the ancient city of Pompeii, where many people died when a volcano exploded. The evidence surrounding this corpse (a woman) was interesting. Apparently, she had been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Overtaken by the molten lava, she died in the hot ashes. The corpses revealed hands that were clutched around jewels. The jewels had survived, but the woman had not.
Often times we say things that we do not really mean. Perhaps sometimes we even think we mean them, but we don’t really. For example, often times when I hear someone proclaiming, “I love God” I often realize their idea of love and my idea of love are quite different. For some “love” is some emotional feeling or positive feeling towards someone else. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” Perhaps some are like that with the church. They say, “I love the church”, but their actions tell a different story because they fail to do any real work to support the church. After Jesus’ resurrection, he came to Peter and asked him three times if he loved him. Three times Peter assured Jesus that he did, in fact becoming a little frustrated at the redundancy of the questioning by the third time. Jesus asked three times if Peter loved him because three times Peter denied Jesus, and Jesus was trying to make the point to Peter that if you really love me don’t just back it up with mere words, but also with your actions.
To me one of the most interesting statements that Jesus made was when he taught, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. I suspect I will spend a lifetimes attempting to unpack and understand the depth of what it means to seek first His kingdom. The idea or concept of the “kingdom” is a prominent theme throughout the entire Bible. Jesus taught his disciples that when they prayed, they were to say, “Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” There was great confusion among those during Jesus’ time about what the nature of the kingdom that the Messiah was to set up would be like. They expected some earthly, physical kingdom that would overthrow the Roman rule of the time, but the kingdom of which Jesus rules over is not of this world. His kingdom’s boundaries cannot be measured, and mere man cannot number the members of that kingdom, but His Kingdom is the Church. Therefore, if His kingdom is His church and we are to seek first the kingdom of God, shouldn’t the church be a priority for our lives?
Text: Matthew 6:25-33
This whole passage regarding seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness is all in the context of Jesus’ teachings on worry. He teaches that we do not have to worry about our basic physical needs because he will take care of it, and we need to seek the kingdom first and his righteousness. So I began to think to myself, that sounds like a great offer, but how do I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? What exactly does it mean to seek the kingdom first? Obviously, it is a matter of priorities. What is it that we spend our time and energy focusing on? Jesus said, that the pagans seek after those physical things, but we should make the kingdom and His righteousness a priority in our lives.
I. It Means You Will Love the Kingdom
I have heard some people say before, “I love Christ, but I don’t love the church”. Well it is impossible to love Christ without also loving the bride of Christ His Church. If we are going to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness than we must love the kingdom of God.
a. Love the Kingdom Individually
I hope that we all know and understand that the church is not a building, if you are a Christian today than you are the church and a part of the kingdom of God. If you are to seek first the kingdom of God, you must love the kingdom and the individuals that make up that kingdom. Jesus made it clear that the greatest command is to love the Lord you God with all of your heart, soul and mind and the second greatest is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. I cannot over emphasize the importance of having love for one another within the church. The Apostle John all throughout the book of I John spoke of the importance of loving those that makes up the kingdom as individuals. We need to love the church, but loving the church is not about loving a building or a mass of people, it is about loving your brothers and sisters in Christ and that love will compel you to put their needs even above your needs.