But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6 continues with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and ends off with one of the most prominent passages on the topic of worrying. The message of this passage is clear – do not worry. Matthew 6:25 – 34 is one of the more notable passages on the topic of worrying in the Bible, and a similar passage can be found in Luke 12:22-34; particularly of note is the similar Luke 12:31, with just a minor difference in phrasing – But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Referring closely to the context of the sermon on not worrying, we will examine this verse as an important reason given to us by Christ on why we do not have to worry.
But – the previous few verses indicate to us that Jesus knows that we have our needs, and we are tempted to run after our worldly needs like the pagans do. We worry about necessities like clothes and food, and God knows we need them. That’s where the ‘but’ comes in. Even though we need them, we are not to place our focus on them. We are not to obssess over these worldly necessities and instead, seek his kingdom.
seek first – don’t you feel as humans we are always trying to figure out what’s our purpose in life? Why are we living? What are we looking for? It’s like a young, fresh graduate not knowing what he wants for his own future, and goes around looking for jobs, grabbing whatever job that comes his way first. If stripped of everything, what will you look to achieve first? What will you want to gain first? What will you prioritise? What will you seek first? To a lot of people in this world, money. Love. Happiness. Fame. Power. The list goes on.
But Jesus tells us to prioritise two things.
his kingdom and his righteousness – what? What is his kingdom? What is his righteousness? In general, the kingdom of God is probably the gospel, the church, while the righteousness of God, which is revealed in the Gospel, gives us a right and title into the kingdom of heaven. This is not just any righteousness – certainly not the righteousness of the world, but of God. It is something that can only be found by faith, and something that God allows, approves, delights in and advocates. In other words, this probably means for us to be in the presence of the Lord, to not hide or shrink away from the Lord or the Church, and to follow his word with our acts, that we can glorify him and uphold his righteousness.
and all these things will be given to you as well – not as rewards, really. This is not about receiving blessings in exchange for our efforts in seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness. Following God’s commands and putting God first is not the condition to us being blessed or the condition to our necessities being met. But these are given to us out of the goodness of God, even when we do not deserve it. Things we need – food, air, a roof, rest – things that mankind would usually to be looking for, we will be freely given as long as we seek first the kingdom and righteousness of the Lord.
In life, what do you seek first? Well, as Christians there must be some kind of moral obligation to answer, ‘God’. Often, we hide the truth from our own hearts. This is probably an easy question to answer – what in your life is the one thing that you cannot live without? Your relationship with a person? Your ambitions and career? Your money and assets? Your pride? Do you ever find yourself standing at crossroads, where you have to make a decision between God, God’s kingdom, church – and work, and a stable income, a promotion?
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and everything else will come after.