Seek Ye First

You will probably find this article difficult to understand if you have not first read about Jesus preaching to a crowd in Matthew 6:25-34, so please do so before continuing past this sentence (don’t worry, it is only a minute or two of reading). Now then, let’s please take a look at the verses in a bit of context.

Jesus is describing the provision of God for His creations as being sufficient and complete. For that which God has created, God will provide, and has provided the means of provision in His own natural world. The birds and the plants have all they need in beauty and in material need, according to the cycles of life that God has set up- cycles of nature that feed the animals and nourish the plants. It is clear that the world that God Himself set up contains the continuous means to care for the individual members of it.

Then, Jesus describes how if God has arranged for the care of these things how He will care even more so for people, who He loves even more than these other parts of His creation. Now this discussion of food, water and clothing would probably mean even more to ancient audiences than to us. Let’s look at the needs that Jesus discusses that God will supply.

First, food. In an age where there is no cold storage, food spoils more easily, especially in the desert of the Middle East which is where the Bible takes place. Also, you probably have to go to the market for food more often, because one big supermarket trip cannot be stored for extended amounts of time in the fridge-freezer. Second, water. This is an age where water is taken from wells, and carried home. There are no faucets in homes yet. Water-getting is more laborious, and you’d better hope that the water sources remain clean and absent of infections and contaminants.

Thirdly, clothes. Ancient peoples probably had no more than a few outfits, rather than closets or walk-ins full of clothing to select from. The needs that ancient people had were probably more work and more difficulty to obtain and maintain, so Jesus’s listeners probably had much more appreciation for Jesus’s words here.

Surely, if God who can supply the needs for these ancient peoples and structure a world to care for all things living, He can take care of us, who likely have it even easier to obtain the necessities of life than people of 2,000 years ago.

This should make us feel safe enough to reside in God’s care, and from there, these words should inspire and encourage us to follow the instruction that Jesus gives in verse 33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

And that first call to action, to place in first priority the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God, is our good responsibility as Christians. The point of this article is to instruct, comfort and encourage you and I towards this end.

When we seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, we mold our life around those two things in mind, in thought, in effort, in the way we spend our time, and other ways. The Kingdom of God refers to the Christians across the world who are the citizens of God’s nation, and to the collective efforts they engage in to spread the message and love of God, all led by God Himself. To base our lives around that means to live with the recognition and consistent respect to our role as citizens of God’s Kingdom, a citizenship with responsibilities and mandates, just like citizenship to any other nation. The way we live daily is supposed to be informed and guided by that role. To spread the love of God means both to spread the information of the saving message of God, but also to simply act lovingly and righteously towards the world around us. Both are required of us, and both go hand-in-hand in bringing healing to the souls of humanity. The efforts we enact towards these ends will not go unfruitful, for if you engage in efforts for the sake of God Himself, He will not let your labor go unrewarded or ineffective- though the reward and effect may be other than what you expected, and other than what you will observe in your lifetime on Earth.

Also, our obedience to our role in the Kingdom is to come first to all else in life, including material needs and other desires. If securing our own long-term material security (or chasing any other goal for that matter) gets in the way of the righteous living and responsibilities of our citizenship in God’s Kingdom, then judging by my best understanding of the verses we have discussed here, we need to choose the latter- though please remember, Jesus says that the watchful eye and provision of God mean that they will not be mutually exclusive, as God will provide what we need (if not necessarily what we desire or prefer.)

Lastly, our worries in life decrease as our faith in God increase. It may take time and personal experience walking with The Lord to know in just how many ways and in how many parts of life God can truly sustain us. But the information in these verses, spoken by Christ, shows how unnecessary worry for our material and worldly needs is, because of how powerful and loving a provider God is.

Let’s remember how great is our God, who can make a wonderful world to care for all its parts and living things. Let’s remember that God is so good, who calls us to be part of His mission of bringing salvation and healing to the world. And let us take comfort and courage in knowing that as we march on for God’s goals, He will provide what we need along the way.