University Bible Fellowship of
Toronto
           
 
           
 
 
Bible Search 

BUT SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM

Matthew 6:25-6:34
Key Verse: 6:33

Today’s passage is a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this passage Jesus teaches the fundamental truth about our life, how we should live in this world as God’s children and as his disciples. He deals with worry problem. The words “worry” or “worrying” is written 6 times (25, 27, 28, 21, 34, 34). Worry is one of the major problems of life. Most people think “worry” is natural and we cannot avoid it. Some think they were born to worry, having a careful and cautious character. Others form the habit of worry. Worry or anxiety is detrimental in our lives, probably as detrimental as fear. Upcoming U of T freshmen can be full of worries as they begin a new stage of life in the university. But Jesus gives us his words with which we can not only overcome worries but also be full of hope and vision with a clear direction in life. May we newly hear Jesus’ life-giving words and keep them deep in our hearts for ourselves and be prepared to welcome the coming freshmen with the words of our Lord Jesus.

First, do not worry (25-32). In verse 25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” “Do not worry about your life” Who can say this? Some may say, “Do your best not to worry” or “Do not worry too much, just worry moderately.” But Jesus said, “Do not worry about life”, even for basic things in life. An assumption of socialism is that unless basic things in life such as food and clothing and residence are provided for, humans cannot do other things like seeking God or religious activities. Actually the problem of material scarcity (or specifically, the ‘eating problem’) originated from man’s fall. God said to Adam, “…through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…” (Ge 3:17-19). In this fallen world, men are to work hard to eat three meals a day. When they cannot earn bread, they become anxious. They also worry about their children’s bread and even grandchildren’s. So they accumulate wealth. Many struggle to eat better food (Ecclesiastes), wear better clothes, and live in a better house. They wanted to be secured in these areas of life. When we glance at the advertisements on television, in newspapers and in public transport, and internet, we find a vivid modern illustration of what Jesus taught nearly two millennia ago. When these are not secure, people become anxious and worry. Worry seems to be an essential part in life in this fallen world. There are also many other worries in life, including how to raise our children.

But Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life.” How can it possible not to worry about our life or body? Jesus did not just say, “Do not worry…do not worry.” Jesus explained it very logically, raising five obvious but profound questions. He continued, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Why did Jesus say this? Here Jesus draws us to our human experience, which is this: God created and now sustains our life while we live on earth; he also created and continues to sustain our body. This is a fact of everyday experience. We neither made ourselves, nor keep ourselves alive. Now, our ‘life’ (for which God is responsible) is obviously more important than the food and drink which nourish it. Similarly our ‘body’ (for which God is also responsible) is more important than the clothing which covers and warms it. Well then, if God already takes care of the greater (our life and our body), can we not trust him to take care of the lesser (our food and our clothing)? The logic is inescapable.

And Jesus said in verse 26. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Now Jesus turns our attention to the nature. About ten years ago, two scientists attempted to count the number of birds in the world. They estimated between 200 and 400 billion individual birds. None of these birds know how to raise or store up crops. No bird worries about their food. They seem just enjoy their lives, flying freely in the air according to God’s command, “Let the birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky” (Ge 1:20). At the provision of God, what the birds are to do is to go and catch the food at each time of hunger. It seems that they are peaceful, joyful and thankful, flying, eating and singing, of course hardworking.

And they are valuable creatures in God’s sight. Jesus asks the second question, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” At that time two sparrows were sold for a penny (Mt 10:29) and five sparrows, for two pennies (Lk 12:6). So the value of one sparrow was half-penny or less than that. Then how about our value? In Matthew 18, a king canceled the debt of his servant, 10000 talents, that is, 6 billion dollars in our currency, because the servant was more valuable than the money to the king. So let’s say that the value of each of God’s children is 6 billion dollars. Then if we try to compare the value of a bird and that of a child of God, it is comparing half-penny and 6 billion dollars. In truth it is incomparable. But Jesus used the expression of comparison so that we may really know the value of each person before our heavenly Father. So the point of the question is “How much more will your Father in heaven feed you, who are much more valuable than the birds of the air? So trust in your heavenly Father.” Then Jesus asks another rhetorical question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Our life span is in God’s hand, which is God’s care. No one can add a single hour to his life by worrying. Rather worry merely increases the wrinkles on our faces.

Jesus asks consecutively. Look at verse 28. “And why do you worry about clothes?” Clothes are also one of the basic necessities of life. Among all animals only human beings wear clothes. In the Bible, God was concerned about poor people’s clothing. Clothes are also a way to present oneself to others. In the Old Testament priests wore dignified clothes. In Jesus’ time poor people wore shabby clothes, and rich people, fine clothes. Then, Jesus says, “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.” How can we describe the beauty of lilies? It shows its unique, natural and perfect beauty. Jesus compares this beauty of the lilies with that of Solomon’s clothes. God blessed King Solomon with such riches that he had no contemporary equal among kings (1 Kings 3:13). So we can imagine Solomon’s splendorous and pompous clothes. But the clothing of Solomon could not be compared with that of lilies. The beauty of lilies represents the beauty of God’s creation, designed by God and coming out of his riches. God’s clothing cannot be compared with man’s clothing, even the richest king’s clothing himself.

Then Jesus says in verse 30. “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?” The answer is obviously “Yes, he will much more clothe us than lilies.” Then what does God’s clothing us mean? Does it mean that God supplies us with much money to buy necessary clothes, even more, fine clothes? Surely we cannot possibly be clothed more splendorously than Solomon. When God created us, God gave each person his or her inherent prefect beauty, as his masterpiece (Ge 1:31). But people try to have artificial beauties with expensive clothes and various hair styles and diamond rings and perfumes, etc. But the Apostle Peter said to all believing wives, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Pe 3:3-4) When we believe in our Father in heaven, we don’t need to worry about how we can present ourselves to others. We don’t need to try to impress others with distinguished clothes and accessories, although we should be responsible for how we dress. One’s inner beauty which the heavenly Father has given is revealed when the person lives by faith. Though we wear ordinary clothes, we can be more beautiful because of God clothing us.

Jesus continues, “O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Here Jesus says again in summary, “So do not worry” including all three cases of worry, and wants God’s children to be different from the pagans. The pagans run after all these things. “Run after” is a strong word. In other translations, “pursue” (NET), “seek” (NASB), “seek after” (ESV), particularly in NLT, “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers.” Pagans or unbelievers are occupied with these things. This is the obsession of pagans. Day and night they pursue these things. The great majority of today’s advertisements are directed towards the body. For them it seems to be a natural way of living in this fallen world. But God’s children should be different. God’s children should keep their faith in the heavenly Father and should live a different life, that is, the life of faith believing God’s perfect provision to fill all their needs. If still worry comes, then they should pray. Prayer is an expression of faith. Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And also Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” There should be a distinction between God’s children and the pagans in their lives. The distinction is faith.

Second, seek first his kingdom (33-34). Then Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And all these things will be given to you as well.” While pagans or unbelievers run after all these things, his disciples are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. This is a radical transition in seeking. In paradise, before man’s fall there was no need of seeking God’s kingdom. For God’s kingdom was right there. After man’s fall the world became the kingdom of Satan under God’s curse. Then, the seeking of God’s kingdom began with the promise of God given concerning the Saviour. In the Old Testament God has been working for his kingdom through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, etc. Then through the coming of Jesus, the kingdom of God has come. From the outset of his messianic ministry, Jesus said, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. He called his disciples and trained them for the future kingdom work. Finally he died for man’s sins and rose again as the foundation of this kingdom.

In the Old Testament, a beautiful seeking is seeking the Lord. Amos 5:6 says, “Seek the LORD and live.” But now Jesus’ disciples should go further to seek God’s kingdom. This is the reason Jesus asked his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus said, “Seek God’s kingdom,” instead of, “Live for God’s kingdom” or “Work for God’s kingdom.” “Seek” puts more emphasis on one’s inner declination and attitude than outward actions. One seeks what is deep in his or her heart. Seeking is a constant concern. Our Lord Jesus wants us to let our hearts and minds be preoccupied with the thought of God’s kingdom, Instead of with all kinds of worries of this world. This is a radical change in our seeking.

Jesus said, “But seek first…” The word “first” means priority in life. In Mark 13:10 Jesus said, “The gospel must first be preached to all nations.” In Luke 9:59-60, when a man said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father,” Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” There seems to be many things that demand priority in life. Yet according to Jesus the very one thing that demands first priority is seeking his kingdom.

His kingdom contrasts the kingdom of this world, that is, the kingdom of Satan or my kingdom or the kingdom of any human organization. In this world people work hard to build up their own kingdom. But in this fallen perishing world the only kingdom that matters is his kingdom.

Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” His righteousness, the righteousness of God, is Christ Jesus. All human beings are unrighteous sinners and so the object of God’s righteous wrath. However, he poured out his righteous wrath and punishment upon his Son on the cross, and thus opened the way for unrighteous sinners to come the righteous God through his Son Christ Jesus. Those who believe in him are accepted and made righteous. Thus Jesus is the righteousness of God. His kingdom comes through his righteousness, Christ Jesus, never through man’s righteousness. His kingdom and his righteousness go together. And his kingdom is the kingdom of righteousness. As we studied, David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. His reign was the shadow of the Messiah’s reign. In the prophecy of the Messiah’s rule, Isaiah wrote in 9:7, “…He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…” Apostle Paul said in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

To seek his kingdom can have both an internal and an external meaning: Internally, God’s kingdom, God’s rule, begins in the hearts of those who believe in Christ Jesus. Then God’s rule should increase in one’s heart and life until his rule covers the whole being and affects every area of life. So God wants each disciple of Jesus to be a God-centred person. Externally, each disciple is to participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom. We can do so by preaching the gospel in season and out of season to perishing souls, and making every effort to raise one more disciple and establish one more a shepherd family, a house church, in God’s ministry. And we are to know that we are collectively the members (and people) of his kingdom. So Apostle Peter said, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” For this kingdom we pray for raising Bible teachers and spiritual leaders like David, a God-hearing ruler. I newly accept that expanding God’s kingdom should be my primary concern in my daily life that in each chapter God’s kingdom may grow and really God’s kingdom be expanded in Canada. His kingdom is to be expanded in this world until the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15b), which will come true at the Second coming of Jesus Christ.

And Jesus promised, “….and all these things will be given to you as well.” Who can promise this? Who can promise my full security over my entire life in this world? Nobody can guarantee even tomorrow’s security, let alone even one year’s security. But Jesus gave such a promise, for all my future and the future of the whole world are in his hand, in his control. Jesus gives us the spiritual life direction, saying, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” Then all things related to our physical life will be given. Jesus did not want us to live on a physical level, but a spiritual level. The solution of physical problem is setting the spiritual life direction. People in the world say, “Seek first your own happiness, your happy marriage.” Then happiness never comes. But when seek first his kingdom, the true happy and meaningful life will be there, while everything is meaningless under the sun.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” Each Christian needs such a crystal clear life direction and life objective. We are expecting to meet U of T freshmen. They say that 1% of the whole world population goes to college or university. University students are privileged and blessed people. According to Webster’s definition, “college is an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of great studies leading to a bachelor’s degree.” But Steve Shadrach defined, “College is a four (or more!) year window in a person’s life when God has maximum opportunity to build a foundation into a life lived for Him.” This period is the most critical time in their lives to make significant decisions to shape for the next fifty years of life. When a student meets Jesus and has a clear objective and direction of seeking God’s kingdom first in their college years, how great it will be. This will be a heart of God. We believe that God wants us to help the coming freshmen in that way. The students who have this priority will worship God absolutely. They will study truly for the glory of God, not for success in the world to establish his own kingdom. And for ourselves we need to make a critical decision at each important step of life based on this wonderful command and promise of Jesus. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” can be the most beautiful and significant and fundamental life direction in this fallen perishing world.

And then Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Here Jesus does not deny troubles in life. Each day has enough trouble as we live in this world. Jesus does not want us to worry about tomorrow. We should not worry in advance. Worry is a waste—a waste of time, thought and nervous energy. We should plan for the future, of course, but not worry about the future. In this uncertain and troubled world, it is easy to worry about tomorrow. But Jesus wants us to trust in God each day, day by day. He wants us to live by faith today. All the troubles in life are opportunities to learn faith in God our Father in heaven, his provision of food and everything we need in life.

Thank God for the wonderful words of Jesus. May we not worry about anything in life but trust in our heavenly Father fully. May we truly seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and live by faith each day, and experience his perfect provision and security in this world.

UBF headquarters | Chicago UBF | UBF TV | Northwestern UBF | Washington UBF | New York UBF | Europe UBF  | Email Us | Site Admin
Home