In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I wonder if I am seeking first the kingdom of God and what does that look like? I found a variety of interpretations during my research that were interesting but not enlightening. I would like to know what your thoughts are.
Context of This Verse
I began by looking at the context of this verse. The context, history, and who the audience is helps us understand the meaning. After Jesus is water baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God leads Him into the wilderness to fast 40 days. While in the wilderness, the devil tempted Him to sin, which He did not sin (see Hebrews 4:14-16). After the 40 days, He begins His ministry.
Matthew 4:23 and 24, describe His audience, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24) So, his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them.” Seeing the big crowds following Him, he went up on a mountainside and preached His first sermon. The picture with this post is of the mountains around the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus was ministering.
The Apostle Matthew records Jesus’s first sermon in Chapters 5-7. Luke also records His first sermon. I wonder if this is the message He received from His Father while He was in the wilderness. Jesus begins His sermon with how they can be blessed (made happy). He explains how they are the salt and light of the earth as they do good works (Matt. 5:16), and He taught how He came to fulfill the Law (see Romans 8:3-4). Other topics He preached in chapter five were anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies. Chapter six continues with giving to the needy, how to pray, fasting, investing in heaven, not being anxious. Chapter seven continues with judging others, asking to receive, the golden rule, the fruit of false prophets, who will enter heaven, and obeying His words.
Matthew 6:25-34 is Jesus’s explanation why we should not be anxious but instead seek the kingdom of God first. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus identifies the problem, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Then, Jesus explains the solution in verses 32-34, “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” 33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34) “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” The Apostle Paul told the Philippian church in Philippians 4:6-7: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication (requests) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Based on these verses, it is safe to say that being anxious is a natural reaction of our flesh when we don’t trust God. Not trusting God is a sin because being anxious is not faith in God’s ability to help us.
Interpretation Based on Context
The key belief is our heavenly Father knows what we need, and He will give us what we need (see Philippians 4:19). So, instead of being anxious about how to get our needs met, we are to seek Him and His righteousness. Seek means to look for or inquire. And the Greek translation for the kingdom is rule or reign. So, if we seek (look for) the reign of God in our lives and seek to do what He says is right, then He promises to give us what we need. James 4:7 says to “submit to God” that is, be under God’s authority and yield by surrendering to the action, control, and power of God. Romans10:3 states, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
Romans 14:17 explains, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Only as you renew your mind and submit to God, will you experience righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Your sinful flesh prevents you from entering the kingdom of God (see Galatians 5:19-21 and 1Corinthians 6:9-10). So, you need to put off your sinful thoughts and put on His character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. through the Holy Spirit. Read my post on Three Steps to Renew Your Mind (Part Two).
During several tough times in my life, I submitted to God and His righteousness, and I can testify, that God does provide what we need. One difficult time was enduring a nasty divorce and custody battle for two toddlers, and I had no job or a place to live. God provided miraculously when I humbled myself and sought His help through prayer, praise, and pondering the scriptures. I do have to confess that I was going to walk away from my faith in God. I was so angry at Him for not answering my prayers to heal my abusive marriage because I did not believe in divorce, that I told God I was going to not follow Him anymore. He has only spoken to me a handful of times and this was one of those times. He said, “What is the alternative?” I thought about it, and I knew the devil would destroy me, and I probably would have committed suicide because I was so depressed. Read my amazing testimony in Trust God to Keep His Promises.
To not be anxious, you must first submit all your concerns to God as you seek Him through prayer, praise, and pondering His promises. Because I grew up in a dysfunctional home and married an abusive first-husband, I developed an anxiety disorder. I share how God set me free in the blog post called Why, What, and How to Submit to God and be FREE.
Know for Certain You Will Enter The Kingdom Of God
John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
5) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Bible uses the term “born again” two other places. 1Peter1:3-5 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven (the kingdom of God) for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” By believing that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Spirit of God (see Romans 8:11), then His Spirit dwells in us, and we are born again by His Spirit.
1Peter 1:22-25 states, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news (gospel) that was preached to you.” God’s Word is living and abiding, which means when you internalize His truths, it creates life in your soul and will abide with you and help you to purify your soul as you obey its truth.
Painful memories and our sinful desires corrupt our hearts. My short book on my website called, “Hope for Complete Healing,” was written to help you put off wrong thinking and sinful desires and put on right thinking and righteousness, so you can love with a pure heart. Begin reading: 1–Healing Begins by Transforming Painful Memories
Part of seeking the kingdom of God is to seek for God to keep His promises. In Ephesians 1:3, we learn that we are “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Heavenly places are where God’s kingdom is. And, when we are saved through grace by faith in Jesus Christ, Ephesians 2:6 states that God, “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” So, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is for our advantage and a matter of priority and position.
There is hope when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, that God will provide what we need because He promised.
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P.S.: Experiencing a lasting change in your life depends on having a right relationship with God the Father through believing in His Son Jesus Christ and obeying His command to love (1 John 3).