The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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Seek first

We find these words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 6:33. There we read:

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

According to Jesus Christ, the FIRST we should seek, the top priority we should have, is the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This in turn, does not simply refer to an external seeking. Nothing can be manifested outwardly and be genuine, if it hasn’t first been established inwardly. It is the heart that should FIRST, above all, seek the Lord and His kingdom.

1. Matthew 6:19-20

Taking the things from the beginning, we will start from Matthew 6:19-20. There Jesus said:

Matthew 6:19-20
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal"

Though there are earthly treasures, the real treasures are in heaven. It is these, the real treasures, that Jesus Christ calls us to lay up. Really, what is the profit if one is very rich on earth, yet he is very poor in heaven? As Jesus Christ said to the angel of the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:

Revelation 3:17-18
"Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;"

It is the Lord Jesus Christ that has the real gold, calling us to go and buy from him. Will we accept his call for heavenly riches, for refined gold, or will we pursue the perishable riches of this world? As I Timothy 6:6-8 tells us:

I Timothy 6:6-9
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."

and Hebrews 13:5-6
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

The great gain is godliness. The genuine wealth is the heavenly. The really rich is the one that has bought gold from the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us therefore go and buy from him refined gold to become truly rich, and let’s not allow the deceit of riches and the cares of this world to make the seed of the Word of God fruitless in our heart (Luke 8:14).

2. Matthew 6:21

Carrying on, Jesus Christ makes clear why it has so much importance what one considers as true treasures. Thus, in verse 21 we read:

Matthew 6:21
"for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"

Where our treasure is there our heart will be also. In other words, it is impossible to have our heart attached in the earthly and at the same time to store treasures in heaven. Real treasures in heaven are stored only by those who have their hearts in heaven. That’s why Paul says:

Colossians 3:2
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

And as the Lord continues:

Matthew 6:24
"NO ONE can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon"

It is impossible to serve both God and the world. The one is contrary to the other. As James characteristically said:

James 4:4
"friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

The more that one desires the world the more God’s flame will be quenched in him and conversely. Of course, we are not speaking about our physical presence in the world, for all we live in the world and the Lord has set us as alive witnesses in it. What we are speaking about is mixture with the practices and the spirit of the world. It is impossible to serve both this spirit and the Holy Spirit.

And as the Lord continues:

Matthew 6:25
"Because of this I say to you, do not be careful about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

The phrase "Because of this I say to you", links what Jesus says in this passage to what he said previously i.e. that we cannot serve two masters. In other words, "because of this" i.e. because we cannot serve two masters, we should not be careful about our life. Otherwise, we will serve the wrong master. DO NOT BE CAREFUL ABOUT YOUR LIFE, and this includes any care that one may have: family, children, finances, career, health and generally any care of this life, small or big, daily or just of the moment, is included in this category. Of course, the fact that we should not be careful about our life, does not mean that life does not have cares. However, it is not we that we should care for them. As I Peter 5:6-7 says:

I Peter 5:6-7
"Casting all your care upon Him, for HE CARES FOR YOU"

It is GOD who cares for us, and the One to whom we should cast all our cares. This is not just an exhortation. Returning to "because of this I say to you" of the Lord, this shows that the service to the one true Lord goes hand by hand with the carriage of every care from ourselves to God. Or to say it differently, one can serve the Lord only to the degree that he has carried his cares from himself to God.

Regarding the topic of cares and the consequences they may have when they are not cast upon the Lord, Jesus warns:

Luke 21:34
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly."

and again: Luke 8:14
"Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity."

and II Timothy 2:3-4
"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of thislife, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."

The result that cares have when they stay on a man of God is to make him fruitless. It is not of question whether cares are something real. What is really of question is what we do with them. Do we keep them on us, making our hearts heavy, cumbersome, and thus inappropriate for fruit or we cast them upon God that, as He tells us, CARES FOR US? As far as the Word of God is concerned, it is once more very clear:

Philippians 4:6-7
"Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"

3. Matthew 6:31-32

Turning again to Matthew 6 and the words of our Lord:

Matthew 6:31-32
"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" "For after all these things the Gentiles seek."

It may be reasonable to care, as it is also reasonable to love only those who love you, to resist evil by defending yourself and so on. What the world does may be reasonable but IT IS NOT CHRISTIAN. The fact that we walk with reason does not necessarily mean that we walk with the spirit of the Word. In contrast, I would say that we may be walking with the spirit of the world, the spirit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and it is exactly this spirit the Lord tells us not to yoke together:

II Corinthians 6:14-18
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty."

The yoke for which God’s Word speaks about in this passage, is not a physical one but a spiritual one. The Lord loves every single man of this world and for every single man He gave His Son Jesus Christ, so that "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). That’s why He also set us in this world to be its lights (Matthew 5:14). It is not therefore the people themselves with whom the Lord has a problem, but the system of the world and the spirit, the ruler, that governs the world. The phrase "do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" does not mean to forsake for example our jobs and be physically isolated. Instead, what it means is the forsaking of the mixture, of the yoking together with the spirit of the world. We are yoked together with the unbelievers when we subject ourselves to the spirit they are subjected to. That’s why Romans tells us:

Romans 12:1-2
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God"

There is the conformation but there is also the transformation. At any moment, each of us does one of the two: he is either conformed with the world or transformed with the renewing of his mind. He either lives for himself or presents his body a living sacrifice to the Lord.

Returning to Matthew 6 and the verse from which we started:

Matthew 6:31-34
"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

The existence of cares is indisputable. However, let us not conform with the spirit of this world, caring for them, for God tells us that He knows what we need. In contrast, let us "be transformed by the renewing of our mind", turning our heart to God and His kingdom and righteousness. It is He our top priority, and the One that will cover more than abundantly all we need. It is only His treasure that is a genuine one, never perishing but stored up for us in heaven.

Anastasios Kioulachoglou