This month, we have examined the disastrous consequences of idolatry and the danger of misplaced priorities. At the beginning of our study of the second commandment, we introduced a practical application of this commandment for the New Testament believer:
I am to set my priorities and affections toward God, forsaking all forms of idolatry.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His disciples: “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). We have seen over the last two weeks that anything on earth that draws our allegiance away from the Lord Jesus can be considered an idol. In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus gently but firmly calls our attention and loyalty away from the things of this world and onto Himself.
Having just spoken in His sermon about the focus of our eyes, the motivations of our heart, and the place where we are laying up our treasures, Jesus next emphasized that there are only two choices. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (verse 24). Mammon (originally a Chaldean word) was considered the personification of all that this world has to offer: confidence in physical possessions, pleasure, ambition, wealth, and outward success.
When we are preoccupied with these misplaced priorities, we become anxious about the things of this world. Jesus pointed His disciples to consider the grass of the field, adorned with beautiful flowers, and to observe the birds of the air, full of life and abundant song. If a kind Heavenly Father can clothe the grass and feed the birds, He can certainly take good care of His own children. (See Matthew 6:25–33.)
On the basis of this confident trust in the caring, sufficient provision of our Father, Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (verse 33). Let’s take a moment and focus specifically on verse 33.
“Seek Ye First”
The Lord Jesus calls us here to an active pursuit. This verb is present active imperative. The emphasis is upon the ongoing nature of the action. Seek, and keep on seeking! Pursue, and keep on pursuing! Moreover, Jesus said this pursuit must be “first.” The Greek word here—πρῶτον (proton)—is not merely first as in the context of time. Proton is first in priority, order, and importance. Before anything else in life, even above our necessary food and clothing, this specific “first” must be our all-consuming priority.
“The Kingdom of God”
Many Christians have the mistaken idea that the Kingdom of God refers to a time yet in the future. But at that time, as Jesus spoke about food and clothing, He was clearly calling for the loyalty of His disciples that day, now, on earth. He instructed them to proclaim to others that “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:9). He told them “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Wherever the Word of the King is obeyed, there is His Kingdom! The Apostle Paul defines the Kingdom in Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” In every practical situation of our life while on earth, we are to make God’s Kingdom our priority. Kingdom life is now and yet also to come.
“And His Righteousness”
When confronted with a daily decision in the workplace, is your first thought, “How can I prioritize the righteousness of my King, the Lord Jesus Christ?” When seeking to guide your wife and children, are you leading them to love and pursue the righteousness of Christ? When you search for a church to attend, do you look for a place where your family can actively serve and promote the growth of God’s Kingdom in the lives of others? When you go to the ballot box to cast your vote, is your first priority to vote according to God’s righteous standards? When you sit down to eat, do you make choices that will build up your strength and vigor to serve the Lord?
“And All These Things Shall Be Added unto You”
When Jesus says “all these things,” He is making a gracious promise to fulfill all your needs and answer your prayers according to His will and pleasure. If the Lord can feed the birds, He can certainly feed His children who are seeking first His Kingdom.
This Thursday we will look at the life of a king of Wessex who lived over a thousand years ago. He ruled over the scattered tribes that eventually became England. This courageous monarch was mightily blessed by God because he determined that he would seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.