The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

The first and foremost thing (PDF) PDF version

The first and foremost thing

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

After his fall and removal from the Garden of Eden, man, with increased the feeling of self-preservation, pursued to subdue the earth that was now under the curse of God (Genesis 3:17-19 and 23-24). In those early years, all his thoughts and acts was towards his survival in a now hostile land. Till this day, men, despite the progress and the culture development, are still moving in the same direction. For all, the first and foremost seems to be the perseverance of life and its adornment with the glory and the riches of this world.

However, the apostle Paul addressing those who were called to come out of the spirit of this world to do the will of God, wrote:

"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" (Romans 12:2)

When the apostle wrote these things, he certainly had in mind the great and difficult work that the genuine followers of Christ would have to accomplish; a selfless work based on a will fully subjected to the will of God. The Lord promises that if this is done, the reward of the one that sows in the spirit will be much greater than the reward of the one that sows in the flesh and which of course is death.

A basic requirement

In Mark 14 we find the record of Jesus speaking with a rich young man, who was interested in inheriting the eternal life. After they discussed about the Mosaic law, and it became evident the positive response of the young man, the Lord told him of something additional that was required for eternal life. Mark 10:21 tells us:

"Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." (Mark 10:21)

In this way, our Lord presented the principle of a perfect and unreserved devotion, as a basic requirement for obtaining the prize of life that this young man was seeking. Seeing the great obstacle that was hidden in his circumstances, the Lord asked him to give away his earthly property, abandon the way of life to which he was accustomed, and take up his cross and follow Him. In other words, He showed him to dedicate his life in the service of the Lord, the truth and the brethren and in fact to do it without any pressure, with his own will and with gladness.

Actually, this is what He requires of those who follow His steps, during this time of calling and choosing of His church: to put everything on the great altar of God!!! Though it is justifiable that a believer is also occupied in the covering of the needs of the present life, it is however necessary that his heart and disposition be coordinated in a way so that first and foremost in his heart is the Lord and His work.

The failure of many

The Lord also spoke about the obstacles that cause many to fail putting themselves fully into His service. As He said:

"Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:23-25)

The disciples were surprised. To such a mind as the one they had before Pentecost, the terms of discipline and devotion seemed to be hard and nearly unachievable. That’s why they asked him:

"Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:26-27)

And truly, the devoted believer is made able to fulfill the terms of discipline, not by his own power and determination, but through the power of God that works in his heart and mind through His Holy Spirit.

Peter that, together with the other disciples, had left their jobs, properties and houses to follow the Lord, questioned what could be the result of such a life with sacrifices. The Lord rushed to answer him and said:

"Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)

The thought is that the people of God will at the end receive an incomparable prize of spiritual glory and life for their faithfulness and the keeping of the foremost thing in the first and foremost position. Thus, let us "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all ...shall be added to (us)" (Matthew 6:33)

George Vlantis

(from the "Light" (Greek) magazine)