We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 6:25-34; Acts 9:20-43; Psalm 16, Genesis 36.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” is one of the most recognizable and oft-quoted passages in the Gospels. And many have focused on the last phrase, while virtually ignoring the first part. But as is true with all texts, we need to take the whole to avoid making the part into something it is not. If we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – what things will be added to us? His Kingdom and His righteousness. Don’t think those small or inconsequential – they are the fullness of the riches He delights to bestow on us.
Note: We do not seek righteousness generically, but rather HIS righteousness. remembering, that His kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness, one that bears none of the ravages of sin whatever. So in the first place, we seek His righteousness to justify us. Each must put their trust in the Gospel to begin with. The religion of the Bible is not one of trying to establish our own righteousness, but of always seeking to be sure we are trusting in HIS righteousness.
But in the second case – and here is an extraordinary insight into the Christian’s primary occupation – we seek His righteousness lived out in us. Victory over sin. Living in love toward the saints that they too might find victory over sin. To live as the righteous people we have been pronounced by Him to be in justification. As strange as it sounds, Jesus is calling us to a preoccupation with our sin. Not morbidly. Not anxiously. Not with any hint of condemnation – but with the courage that is engendered by knowing our status with Him as His beloved children cannot be altered by anything. We are totally and irrevocably secure in that. Because we are so secure, we have the freedom to face the depths of remaining indwelling sin and challenge it on its own ground in a continual warfare; and that, with a sort of Christian bravado. A Biblically justified “bring it on!” in challenging our sins. A warfare to live fully in concert with who and what we’ve become in Christ Jesus.
In the overall picture, it is as though Jesus is saying give yourself to me like a bride to her insanely wealthy and attentive husband – and watch what I will do for you. Know that you will never lack provision. And never lack my constant, faithful love. And be free then to explore the fullness of the riches of my kingdom.
And how do we do this in practical terms? One means is prayer. When we pray, we pray as He taught us, not ignoring our other needs, but doing so in quiet confidence that when we give ourselves to seek His Kingdom, He will give us all we need. We pray His agenda, trusting him to know and provide for ours better than we do. We pray like our hearts know full well (as they ought) that His unshakable, unbreakable love for us designs only our good in the sovereign exercise of His care for us.
We do it in study of His Word. Mining out the provisions He has stored up for us there. Searching out and gaining His wisdom, His understanding and grasping more fully the wonder of the person, plan and work of Jesus.
By consciously looking to the indwelling Spirit of Christ to work in us courage for the battle, willingness to die to our sins, new tactics for new days, comfort in failure and power to rise up again.
We do it in fellowship with God’s people, where we commiserate over our wounds, bandage each other up, learn tactics from one another, encourage one another, exhort one another, pray for one another and rejoice with one another.
We do it by sitting under the preaching and exhortation of God’s Word; by attending to the Lord’s Supper so as to feed the grace which lives in our souls; by confirming our faith in baptism, and by trusting the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and the fullness of all that is contained in those will be fully yours. And it is more than we can collectively imagine.