But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Each of us has priorities in our lives. Known or unknown, we have them, and they can be identified by what we give our time and attention to throughout our day. Many of those things are good and necessary. For instance, we have jobs to attend to each day. We have families that require our attention and care. We have homes to maintain, people to care for, and other such matters that, in and of themselves, are not wrong. The problem for most of us is that which the Savior tells us plainly in the verse cited above: Are we seeking God’s kingdom primarily as we engage in these things? Do we place God and his kingdom in the center of all we do, or do we tack him on somewhere throughout the day, if at all?
Jesus makes it clear that worrying about temporal matters is not a good use of our time or mental energy. He plainly states that our heavenly Father knows we need those things that keep us alive. He knows that we need daily bread, so he provides a job to fulfill that promise. He knows we need shelter and clothing — things needed for the body. All of these things mentioned in Matt. 6 that our Father knows we need are temporal and physical, but they are not the end all, be all of life for the Christian. Yes, he provides for all of them. Yet, in the context of these statements, Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” That is, the highest priority in our life should be that which God desires above all else. More important than your house, family, job, status in the community, and all others is the advancement of the Kingdom that will never end. Those material things we think we need are temporal, fleeting, and passing away. Treasures stored up on earth profit nothing. Only those things that are stored up in heaven will gain eternal profit. What does that look like in the mundane, ho-hum affairs of life? A few thoughts:
- Endeavor to structure your home around first principles — the first principle is that which stores up treasures in heaven. Many families have many activities throughout the week. Many of our covenant children, however, are being starved of the first things because of the tyranny of the urgent (jobs, homes, etc.). Seeking first God’s Kingdom means parents are laboring daily to teach their children the precious doctrines of our most holy religion. It means that they are structuring their calendar around the means of grace (worship and prayer meetings). Yet. Due to the pull of temporal affairs, many families are absent from these things. As a result, they are teaching their children that seeking first God’s Kingdom is not that important. No, those words are not used, but the example lived by parents serves to teach that truth. Mom and Dad, do you engage in family worship each day? I know you’re busy. But, are you that busy to deprive your children of first things? We cannot expect our children to automatically learn the faith if you will not focus on the first things and teach them.
- Endeavor to structure your week around first principles — Many things we do each week are good. Many of them are not sinful or wrong. Yet, each of us has been given the same number of hours each week. How are you using that time the Lord has given you? You are not guaranteed tomorrow. You must live today as though it is your last. What does your week look like? Do you have set times to worship the God of heaven as a family or individual? Do you pray with your family and others? Do you seek first God’s Kingdom with your schedule? I suspect if I looked at the schedules of many, it would be discouraging. How much energy is spent on fleeting things? How much time is given to seeking first God’s Kingdom? We have time for so many other matters — soccer, ballet, karate, entertainment, etc. — and, again, none of those things are wrong. They are wrong when they remove first things, and the attention to those matters that advance the Kingdom is pulled or pushed to the side. As a pastor, I have witnessed parents do this time and again. Their week is structured around other matters. They absent themselves from worship because a child has an event on the Lord’s Day. They routinely miss prayer meetings because they are busy with other secondary things. Yet, the priority that Jesus places before us in this well-known verse must come first. God has given us the means to do it. Yet, we push it to the sideline. That is not seeking first God’s Kingdom. That is seeking first your own.
May the God of grace help us all to seek his kingdom first. The journey is hard and long, but the journey to the heavenly Kingdom will be worth it when we behold the God we placed first in all areas of this life.
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