Seek ye First the Kingdom of God

This week’s scripture reading – Matthew 6:25-34

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.

* (raiment – clothing) * (cubit – ancient form of measure about the length of a forearm) * (stature – height) * ( arrayed – clothed) * (Gentile – non-Jewish person) * (morrow – tomorrow)

Importance of Context

Who wrote seek ye first the kingdom of God? In this case, Matthew wrote the words of Jesus. The importance of context in scripture is brought to light in this passage on the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God. Context in this case ensures the above passage of scripture is considered in light of what Jesus said just before this, Ye cannot serve both God and mammon (money/riches). By combining this verse with the next pivotal verse, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you, this brings the passage into better perspective. These two verses and the use of the transitional word therefore, used three times throughout the passage helps to bring all of his teaching together.

How do I seek God first? In between the two key verses, Jesus then adds some very important principles for living a life of faith. He accomplishes this through simple illustrations encompassed around the phrase, take no thought. In other words, do not be anxious or filled with worry. He is not advocating imprudence or carelessness, rather he is telling us not to be consumed with anxiety on typical things in life such as what we will eat, drink and wear, for today and tomorrow. Jesus illustrates this with two basic examples from nature with birds and flowers, and yet God still takes care of them. 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

What is the seek ye first the kingdom of God meaning? Jesus is telling us not to take thought of these things, or be anxious, or worry about them. Instead, he is telling us to, …seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. But, just how do we do this? Do we sit in church or sing worship songs all day? Does it not come down to seeking him through prayer and through trusting in him and having faith in him to meet our needs? Let us have a look at what the scriptures say in this regard.

Prayerful Petition

Consider Paul’s teaching for godly living in his letters to the churches on the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God. He outlines the importance of prayer and petition to God for our needs with the resulting effect of receiving the peace of God upon us in Phil. 4:6-7, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The peace of God upon us is indeed the opposite of our own self inflicted anxiety and worry. * (supplication – prayer and petition to God)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Philippians 4:6

This teaching tends to harmonize with the message from Jesus in this week’s scripture reading. After he provides examples from nature, he then highlights the fact that the heavenly Father knows our needs, even before we ask. Jesus once said to a person who was overcome with worry and anxiety to have complete faith in him as noted in Luke 8:50a, But when Jesus heard [it,] he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only.

Did you know believers are actually taught to fear only one thing in life and that is a godly, reverent fear of God as Jesus expressed in Luke 12:5-7, But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Fear in general, is something closely associated with being anxious and worried. It is often fear of the unknown on what will, may or could happen tomorrow and prayer to God is the first step in mitigating this in someone’s life. With this, let us now move on to the second aspect and that is trust. * (farthing – something of very small monetary value)

Fear not: believe only.

Luke 8:50a

Trusting in God

Paul also wrote to believers on the importance of trusting in God to meet our needs as shared in his letter in Phil. 4:19,  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. This theme is further echoed by Paul who also brings to light the importance of not coveting what other people have since this can create further anxiety and worry as shown in Heb. 13:5, [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6

With faith in God for meeting essential needs in life, there is an important element of trust required, often symbolized by a popular acronym for the word faith – Forsaking All I Trust Him. This parallels with Solomon’s writings in Prov. 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Solomon was advocating a complete and utter trust in God with all of our heart.

Often this measure of trust can be diminished in people’s lives from many worldly distractions. Perhaps this example from David helps to affirm the absolute devotion and commitment people should have in God as expressed in Ps. 18:2, The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower. * (buckler – a protective shield). David epitomized the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God. This is indeed a notable verse worth memorizing and repeating on the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God.

Encouraging Trust

David wrote on the subject of trusting in the Lord no less than fifty times in the book of Psalms and often referenced trust for provisions in life as shared in Ps. 37:3, Trust in the LORD, and do good; [so] shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. David also wrote a cross referenced point from this week’s scripture over the futility of trusting in riches as noted in Ps. 49:6-7, They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None [of them] can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.

The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

Psalm 18:2a

The utmost importance of unfailing and unwavering trust at all times in God’s provision for people in life is shared in Ps. 62:8, Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us. Finally, before leaving the book of Psalms, an important distinction of trusting in the Lord versus trusting in people for our needs is expressed in Ps. 118:8, [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Thus far, we have covered the importance of prayer and the importance of placing our trust in God for our daily needs. Let us now combine this with the importance of faith in God, which becomes a position of belief and believing in God.

Encouraging Faith

The apostle Peter encouraged believers to place their faith in the Lord and to share their concerns with him accordingly as noted in 1 Pet. 5:7, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Peter also pointed out that as believers it does not necessarily mean an abundant life of riches and material possessions. Rather, through faith in the Lord, our faith is strengthened in becoming a more mature Christian as shared in 1 Pet. 5:10, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you. ]

Similarly, Paul wrote of this need to not only have faith in the Lord but to be obedient to his will and calling for individuals in their lives. Further to this, Paul mentions that not only is faith important for believers but the Lord is also faithful in his promises to them as shared in 1 Thess. 5:21-24, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it.] This point was so important that Paul emphasized it in his second letter to the same church in 2 Thess. 3:3, But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil. 

Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it.]

1 Thessalonians 5:24

Concluding Thoughts

To close off this Bible study on seek ye first the kingdom of God, it is important first to never minimize the genuine, heartfelt and often serious needs of people where poverty may be a stark reality in making ends meet.  This is implied in this week’s scripture reading since Jesus is referencing essential daily needs such as food, drink and clothing. While it is important to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, it is vitally important when serious poverty persists and prevails to seek out assistance from friends, family and worthy organizations who are able to provide during those times.

It should also never be construed that prayer, trust and faith in God are merely intended to serve as placebos for people in need or who are anxious and worried. On the contrary, they should serve as absolutely fundamental and foundational aspects in living for the Lord and seeking his will for our life as Paul wrote about in Eph. 3:20, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. It is his power and not ours.

Finally, it is often during these times, when our faith must become the proverbial walk into the realm of complete and utter trust as the writer expressed in Heb. 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Therefore, prayer to God, trust in God and faith in God is where we must start in overcoming anxiety and worry in life. This really should become part of our daily walk in the Lord and not simply something applied when needed.

Bible Study Questions

  1. In this study on the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God, why is it important to view it in the light of Jesus’ statement, Ye cannot serve both God and mammon (money)?
  2. In seeking first the kingdom of God it is helpful to pray, trust and have faith in God. True or false?
  3. Fill in the blanks from this verse, …for your heavenly Father _________ that ye have ________ of all these things.
  4. Try to memorize Psalm 18:2 noted above as a reminder to encourage your faith walk when anxious about things.
  5. In the section Encouraging Faith, how does it help you with anxiety knowing that God is the very God of peace?
  6. Why is it important to acknowledge that there may be underlying issues of poverty with people in this passage?
  7. What is one small step you can take to either pray, trust in God or have faith in God to calm your anxious feelings?

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