Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

I want you to appreciate this verse now and in the future when it is quoted for a blog like mine, a message from the pulpit or simply as a favorite verse - so let us take a closer look.

I will be starting by working the verse backwards.  Take the second half of the verse/sentence (after the comma) and read it - "and all these things will be given to you as well".  The "things" that are spoken of that "will be given you as well" are found in previous verses - Matthew 6:25-32. The main thought is that your life, your body, your clothing, and daily food should not be worried about.  They will be supplied. This is a great challenge with the American society and it's advertising agencies convincing us that we are inadequate and offering us just the thing for our lack.  We should attend to these matters. However, a mature, balanced, and moderated manner is the approach. Your life, body, clothing and food should not be something that becomes your focus.  Anxiety should not set in concerning these things. If this verse is fulfilled properly the things "given to you as well" will be things in addition to a blessed condition you should have already pursued. 

Now that we know what "will be given to you as well" (i.e. life, body, clothing, food), what is it that we must do at first?  Answer:  "seek his kingdom and his righteousness".  Now I will show you what is in front of the comma.  So, what is "his kingdom" and what is "his righteousness" that we must seek? 

Kingdom in this verse, basileia, is cross-referenced to Matthew 3:2 where the phrase Kingdom of Heaven is used. Matthew is the only Gospel writer that gravitates to this phrase.  The other Gospel writers lean on the phrase basileia tou Theou (The Kingdom of God).  This Kingdom/Kingdom of Heaven term that Matthew uses here signifies God's rule within believers while on this earth (other supporting verses Mt. 13:41, 47; 20:1).  

Kingdom to me is a catch-all word for God/King, Believers/citizens, and all it's governing precepts.  A Kingdom requires a King.  A King rules by His laws and governs as He sees fit.  The Kingdom of Heaven and/or The Kingdom of God lives within the Christian believer.  When Christians are told to "seek first His kingdom", we are being told to consult the Laws of Grace and Mercy that now govern us through Christ Jesus.  Believers are being told to support and encourage one another because the Kingdom will keep getting stronger if we do.

God's righteousness is most certainly within His Kingdom. So, to see "His righteousness" listed alongside God's kingdom or in addition to God's kingdom tells me that it needs emphasizing in my life - "seek first his kingdom AND his righteousness."  The original Greek word for "righteousness" in this verse is Dikaiosyne (from dikaios) meaning upright, just, honest, integrity and someone who stands against lawlessness.  We can see it used when Joseph, the earthly parent of Jesus, was spoken of in Matthew 1:19.  The Hebrew counterpart to Dikaiosyne is Saddiyq. Noah is an example of this righteousness (Genesis 6:9). 

Believers can know that "all these things will be given to you as well" - a blessed life, healthy body, clothed body, and filled stomach.  Christians can know what to seek - God's ways, His people, and upright living. You and I can know these things and can still miss the message.  We have missed the point if we do not "seek first His...".  Ending up receiving counsel in the middle of a situation is not His way.  It does not mean He will not give His counsel to you.  It means there was a much better - approved way.  Even in the blindsided circumstances of life we can begin correctly by getting with God immediately and seeking Him first.

You see, it is all a matter of prioritizing.  God says He is a jealous God in Exodus 34:14Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.  And like Paul (2 Corinthians 11:2), I have a godly jealousy for God to be first in your life.  Seeking God first also means to me - do not consider anything before God.  Screen/filter everything through the Holy Spirit.  So, my paraphrase of Matthew 6:33 would read/sound something like this - 

Consult God's system of operation and integrity first in life, then all the things you normally worry about, like your body, your food, your clothing and life itself will be blessed even more than they are already. (Pritchard Paraphrase - Matthew 6:33)