“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (verse 33)
We’re lingering for a second day on this portion – we simply couldn’t leave without focusing on this key statement: “Seek first his kingdom.”
Jesus has been talking about how easy it is to focus on earthly treasure, indeed to become a doting servant of Money. Equally, we can so easily become nervous about life’s necessities – food, drink, clothing, shelter – wondering where on earth it’s all going to come from, wondering whether or not we’ll have enough. We can become so nervous that we expend our energy reserves running after those daily needs, just like the pagans do. So, whether we set our sights on riches, or spend our time worrying about our lack, we can end up discounting the care and compassion and faithful provision of our Father in heaven. We end up not trusting. We end up becoming people of “little faith.”
It's not where we want to be. Yes, we have those real needs. But our Father knows full well, so leave it all in his hands.
Rather, focus your attention and energy and passions on the Father himself. “Seek first his kingdom.” Remember, the “kingdom” is not a physical entity, like a castle situated on some distant hill, such that “seeking” becomes an enterprise with spyglass and compass, desperately hunting to locate its geographic coordinates. No. The “kingdom” is the dynamic rule and reign of God. It is established in human hearts. There is a coming day when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The kingdom will then have come in all its fullness. But in the meantime, it is experienced when we ourselves submit the kingdom of our own lives to the Sovereign Lord – right here, right now – submitting our will to his, allowing our very life to become an outpost of the kingdom of heaven.
That’s what we’re to seek, Jesus says. Seek his kingdom.
And the “seeking” itself is a passionate endeavour. “Seek” is a simple word that is loaded with focused intensity. That intensity becomes clear when we look at some of its other occurrences in Matthew’s Gospel.
This is the word on Jesus’ lips when he talks about the merchant seeking for exquisite pearls – there’s a persevering passion to his pursuit, made abundantly clear when he sells everything he owns to purchase the pearl he finds. The same word describes the focused activity of the shepherd whose hundred sheep are safe and sound, all except one, which then propels him into ardent pursuit. And it is the word used by the angel on the first Resurrection morning, when he accurately describes the longing in the hearts on the women who have arrived at the Master’s tomb: “You are seeking Jesus, who was crucified.” Yes, indeed. Their focused pursuit brought them out early, fearlessly, when everyone else was still asleep, or cowering. And it was rewarded with the first hearing of the glorious, good news which has reverberated down through the ages ever since:
“He is not here; he has risen!” (Matthew 28:5-6).
Seek like that. Seek first his kingdom. And then leave everything else in the Father’s hands. He is able. He cares. He knows your needs. Seek – and trust.
Father, thank you that you know my needs, even better than I do. You are altogether trustworthy. I submit myself to you again, setting my sights on your purposes. Your will be done. Your kingdom come – here, now, and in that great coming day. Amen.
Reflect: Is there anything keeping you from more fully seeking the Lord’s rule and reign in your life right now? If so, confess it. Then submit it into his hands.