Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
A continual heavenly focus will guide our actions to doing what’s right, and our needs will be met.
This teaching of Yeshua was intended as an encouragement to keep one’s focus on the kingdom of God first and foremost above all worldly concerns, and the worldly concerns would take care of themselves. Which worldly cares? Specifically the items he mentioned previously.
Matthew 6:31 – “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'”
Having enough food to eat has been a constant struggle throughout history, and in Yeshua’s day was no exception. People had to depend on their own efforts or the efforts of their farming neighbors, the weather, and the political stability of their region to ensure they would have food to eat.
To have enough to drink or to have appropriate clothing for whatever season was at hand were equally ongoing concerns, especially for the lowest classes of people. There were no local clothing stores, and even drinking water was dependent on the condition of local communal wells.
These were real and legitimate concerns that could become all consuming. Knowing where the next meal was coming from, if one would have enough water or clothing to wear were a source of constant anxiety for the majority of the people. This created a work ethic that demanded constant attention to finding and attaining these needs.
In our modern industrialized societies we are so blessed with the common availability of these things that we take them for granted, as if they are some sort of inherent right. Yet, we still abuse this privilege by being consumed with seeking the best food, the highest quality drinks and the most trendy clothing and latest fashions. If you are not convinced of this, just scroll through your social media feed.
As an antidote to this worldly focus, Yeshua states that if one prioritizes God’s kingdom above these things, these things will be provided anyway without all of the stress and striving after them. That is the context of his teaching.
Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”
There will always be some concern that can draw our attention away from the things of God to where that concern becomes all-consuming. But Yeshua’s “kingdom first” ideal is the overriding principle that should guide our thoughts. By replacing our anxiety over worldly needs (or exaggerations of those needs) with a dedicated and committed focus on God’s kingdom and the righteous actions that result from that focus, we can be free from this endless striving. Those things begin to pale in comparison within the more expansive and eternal perspective of the kingdom of God.
Of course we all need to eat and drink and have appropriate clothing, but when those things consume our waking thoughts above doing what’s right according to God’s standards, then our lives are out of balance. This is another way of stating that it is more important to God for us to act in right ways than the basic living of life itself. If this is not how we view our faith, then our lives are out of balance. This heavenly focus must guide all of our decisions, not just the religious ideals we hold. The promise of Yeshua is that enacting the principles of the kingdom in our daily lives will ensure that our physical needs (not necessarily our desires, but our needs) are met, as well.
Likewise, he set the example for us to follow. If Yeshua believed in this principle enough to put the kingdom of God first in all of his life and teaching, then as his followers, we also should do so.
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