Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” NASB
This is an involved and powerful passage and it is beneficial to read verses 19-34 for the broader context and application. However, I want to take this isolated verse and delve into it for a greater understanding of this directive and its potential, power, and benefit for the believer.
Here, our LORD gives the command not suggestion to “seek first”. But what are we to seek, when are we to seek it, and what can we expect as a result? All germane and relevant questions. I have learned that our LORD gives no instruction without a specific purpose and that purpose always provides a powerful benefit for the obedient.
What are we to ‘seek’? The Kingdom of God and the Righteousness of God. If we go back to the early part of this chapter, we discover what is often called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ but I suggest it is the ‘Lord’s Pattern of Prayer’ for the believer. Jesus had just given a warning to those listening to ‘beware.’ That is an arresting word and should immediately cause us to pay attention to it.
What are we to ‘beware’ of? Practicing our righteousness for wrong motives. Jesus made it clear that the Father would not accept any display or act of righteousness that had the ulterior motive of notice and recognition. The Bible frequently warns that what we do, we do as unto the LORD, not for the purpose of personal gain, recognition, or any accolades we might receive as a result. Our motive is always heavenward and outward in servant-hood. Ministry is, in truth, service not selfish.
Jesus then instructs about charitable giving and warns that when we give and do good deeds, we are never to do them tooting our own horns. He called that hypocritical and a trait of the Pharisees. If you do a charitable deed for the purpose of personal recognition or praise, that is your reward, God will give no additional honor or benefit. The heart of God is for us to do what we do out of love for Him and for our fellow man and His preference is for us to do so anonymously.
He then gives instruction regarding prayer and we have all heard and seen long pretentious prayers in public. He declares that if our prayers are for recognition and notice that’s the extent of those prayers and we should expect no response from God, the notice is our reward. There should be no public praying that has not been seasoned through private praying in the ‘Prayer Closet.’ He then gave what we call the Lord’s Prayer taught that our praying should first be praise and worship of the Father, then we should pray for the Kingdom and will of God to come. Doesn’t that sound a lot like ‘Seek Ye First’?
What are we to ‘Seek First’? His Kingdom and in keeping with the early directive of Jesus regarding prayer we can realize that the primary mode of seeking is in prayer. However, that is incomplete if we do not include study, meditation, and implementation of the truths discovered in prayer and study of the Word of God. We want His Kingdom, which is His Rule and Lordship to be present and manifest in our lives and in our world.
He is to be sought ABOVE or MORE THAN anything else, thus FIRST! But He is also to be sought BEFORE anything else, thus FIRST in time as well as objective. The first order of business of our day should be to “Seek Him, His Kingdom, and His Righteousness.” Our day should begin with time in His presence and in our closet of prayer and reflection.
I have had believers tell me, “But, I don’t have time to pray early in the morning, I have to go to work. I have to get the kids ready for school. I have to do this or that.” My response may sound unfeeling, but I believe valid. I frequently say, “Then get up a little earlier.” If we are too busy to spend time in His presence, we are too busy and that is the title of my first book, “Too Busy With Busyness To Hear God.” What would make us think that we are capable of managing the day without His guidance? We need Him and need to become seekers of His Kingdom and His Righteousness.
I want to address this further but ask that you consider the benefit of becoming one who begins the day ‘seeking’ the Kingdom of God and the Righteousness of God. I want to address the benefits and the promise of our LORD for those who make this commitment and leap of faith.
God bless you and we will discuss this more in the next devotional.