By Pastor Robert L. Donnelly.
WORDS OF JESUS – “Seek First the Kingdom of God.”
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
The Words of Jesus for today's consideration, are among the best-known words that He left with us: A simple formula for happy, prosperous living – a recipe which, if followed for this New Year, will make certain the best possible use of time, and provide a motive for living that will make life a high adventure, and satisfying experience.
Here are the words, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Everybody is seeking something, in fact life would be a very drab affair if there was nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for, nothing to expect. And if we were to analyze the reason why people seek for the things they do, it would all work out to the same answer, personal satisfaction. The sad thing is that so many will never realize their ambition, and many more, if they do realize the fulfillment of their dream, will find it bitterly disappointing.
One of the wealthiest men who ever lived tried every form of pleasure by experiment – every known luxury. He had beautiful gardens, liveried servants, herds of cattle, Arabian horses, instruments of music with trained choirs. He personally owned ships that brought spices, perfumes, rare woods, beautiful birds from every part of the known world. And when there was nothing left to wish for, and nothing could be added to his possessions, he looked it all over and declared it was all empty show, and everything he owned, or tried could not bring into his life the satisfaction that he craved. You can read about this man in the Bible in the second chapter of Ecclesiastes.
Then we read of another man in Scripture who had great personal advantage, social influence, and proud parentage. He had a voice in politics, and was a leader in religion; but he threw it all away for what he called “the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all other treasures.” (Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 11:26). That young man's name was Paul; a man who stands in history as one of the greatest characters of all time – and all because of the choice he made that day on the road to Damascus – to put first things first. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” There is always more “added” than what we seek.
The one who seeks first for the riches of this world, will have worry, fear, stomach ulcers, and self seeking friends added to them. He who seeks pleasure first through dissipation, will have added disease, poverty insecurity, and eternal despair to that pleasure. Whoever seeks social pre-eminence first, or political fame, will find jealous neighbors, sleepless nights, and nerve-racking responsibilities added to that position. But Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
The things in question here are those common things that always please, and which alone are necessary for our short stay in this world – food and shelter.
But what does it mean to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”? Well, it's just the opposite to “seeking for the things of this world.” The Kingdom of God is that realm where spiritual and eternal values take pre-eminence over material and temporal things. It means to seek the rule of Jesus Christ in daily living, instead of the rule of self – to give first place to things that carry the stamp of Divine approval; as one saint of God made it the habit of life, when awakening each morning, to say, “Now LORD, what will we do today?” This is just another way of praying “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.”
The laws that govern the Kingdom of Heaven are not just a collection of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” They are governing principles of righteousness that God would write not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of the heart; so that, to do God's will becomes life's greatest desire, and the fulfillment of God's purpose, life's greatest pleasure. To seek for the Kingdom of God is to pray daily, “May Your Kingdom come in ever increasing measure in this life of mine.” It means to seek for ways and means of extending that Kingdom so that others will be brought under its influence and see the reality of its power.
There are only two kingdoms in the spiritual realm – the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan; and we are either under the control of the one, or the other. To seek the Kingdom of God is to seek a way of life where the conscience is clear, the mind is at peace, and the heart is satisfied. In short, the Kingdom of God is any place where Jesus Christ is LORD and King.