Seek First the Kingdom of God
At first glance, the title of this post would seem a bit strange for an article written about worry and anxiety. One may think, “What does the kingdom have to do with my current daily struggle and fear?” Another might say, “That sounds great but how does ‘kingdom-seeking’ put food on my table?” These are legitimate cares and concerns for many right now.
Matthew 5-7 are what many refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount.” In these chapters, Christ is addressing the crowds that were gathered around him to hear His teaching (Matt. 5:1-2). His popularity was growing and many were interested in what this “Rabbi” had to say. One of the topics that Christ addressed in His sermon was anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34). In these verses, there are at least three takeaways for us as we seek to find victory over our fear and anxiety in this present time.
Don’t Be Anxious
This phrase is repeated three times in verses 25-34. In these verses, Christ provides supportive reasons as to why one should not be anxious. Before these reasons are addressed, it would be wise for us to stop and consider these three words, _“Don’t be anxious.” _How is this even possible? How is one not to be anxious when they are locked in their house all day long? How are they to put away worry when they don’t know how the bills will be payed next week? How can they possibly not worry when they won’t have a job next month? These are real struggles and questions that are on many hearts.
Before me move on to the answer Jesus gives as to how someone can actually live out this command, we need to remember the word of the LORD to Abraham in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”. The God who commands, “Don’t be anxious,” is the God who gives the grace to obey this command. He is all powerful. He is all good! Nothing is too hard for Him.
God’s Care for His Creation
As Christ commands his followers with the words, “Don’t be anxious,” He reminds them of His repeated provision for His creation. This is meant to encourage His disciples. He reminds them, in verse 26, that He provides food for the birds of the air. He reassures His followers that they are worth so much more than the birds; therefore, God will provide for them also.
Christ goes on to ask a pointed question that is meant to stir the hearts of those listening to him. In verse 27, He says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” In a basic sense, Christ was getting the point across that He is in control, man is not, and worry does nothing to change this. He does not make this point to discourage his listeners, because He goes on to assure them of His love in verses 28-30 by directing their focus to His care for His creation.
Then, in verse 32, Christ summarizes His words to His listeners by reminding them that their Heavenly Father knows everything that they need. God is fully aware of the fact that you need to eat. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need clothes, nourishment, and shelter. At certain times, He may be calling His children to endure struggle, heartache, and pain, but He knows their needs. He assures them that He will take care of them. Knowing this truth, we can then live out God’s command in verse 33.
Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness
What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? What does “kingdom-seeking” have to do with your current struggle or trial? R. Kent Hughes answers this well when he says:
…we are to be in a continual quest for God’s kingdom and God’s
righteousness. When you and I do this, our focus is no longer on what we wear,
eat, and drink, and we are thus liberated from the blight of anxiety. If we
constantly seek him, there will be no room for lesser matters. If we seek his
kingdom and his righteousness, the cares of the day will flee.
God’s kingdom is not here, yet, in it’s totality. It is a kingdom to come. But those who have been born again by the Spirit of God are citizens of that kingdom…now. Paul says in Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven…”. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Throughout the New Testament, we see that Christians are an expectant people. We await a Savior and a kingdom where that Savior, Jesus Christ, will reign forever.
But although we await a future kingdom, we are citizens of that kingdom now (although “out of country”). As Jesus declares to us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” He is telling us to live our lives, in our current context, as citizens of His kingdom. Citizens of Christ’s kingdom do not worry and become anxious over things such as food, clothes, and life circumstances, because they know that their King reigns over all. He loves them. He provides for them.
In conclusion, what does Matthew 6:25-34 have to teach us during this current trial? It carries us above the worry and fear of the present circumstances to hear our Savior King say, “Live as those with a greater calling than food and clothing.” So we seek His kingdom as we trust His gracious and loving hand to provide. If He cares about the birds and plants enough to provide for them, how much more will He care for His redeemed and blood-bought saints whom He purchased with His own blood?