First Things First
Old Testament Reading- Jeremiah 29:11
New Testament Reading- Matthew 6:25-34
By Henry J. Rafferty CP -August 22, 2021
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) What a beautiful statement by Jesus spoken so long ago, and just as relevant today. There is so much in this little sentence though, so simple, yet so difficult for us to achieve. First what are all these things that will be added to us that Jesus is talking about?
Treasures, riches, material things, life, food, drink, clothing, a place to live, the list could go on and on. Really it is about all the things that we often worry about from items of daily living to more important things like a home and our life itself. Jesus goes on to tell us that we should not worry about these things, because God knows that we need them and we have no real power to change some of them. God created us, He knows that we need food and drink as well as clothing and shelter. Jesus uses birds for an example, God created them and knows what they need, and He provides for them in every way. He also illustrates with flowers, that they do nothing to look the way they do, yet God created them to be adorned in beautiful arrays of color. Jesus explains that God does all these things for birds and flowers that are in no way comparable to us. What more would He do for you and me?
As for humans, God provides richly for us, but we often miss it because it is not what we expect or what we desire most. The answer lies in Jesus’ words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Seek… search out, look intently, do something more than just a short look. When we seek for God, we should be searching like our lives depend on it, in fact, they do. This is not a statement by Jesus to ‘take a look when we get a chance.’ He is saying to us, this is important, seek it out, work for it, pray for it, ask for it to be revealed to you.
"When we seek for God, we should be searching like our lives depend on it, in fact, they do." ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty (PHR)
Jesus tells us to seek the kingdom of God. What does this mean exactly? First, what do you expect of a king? If you know anything about the fictional King Arthur, his faults aside, Arthur was pure of heart and good to his knights and subjects. He didn’t rule with an iron fist and was loved by all in his kingdom of Camelot. A king rules his kingdom the way he
sees fit, it is his to rule, there is no form of government like ours that gives many people their say, in a kingdom the king is it. If the king is a good king, the kingdom is good and his subjects thrive and are happy, if the king is bad, the whole kingdom is bad, and the people are unhappy.
SO, WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD? The place where God reigns supreme and I am not talking about just heaven, although heaven certainly is a part of the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of God is much more than that. God’s kingdom, where He reigns supreme is all around us and within us if we allow it. Remember, God is not an earthly king, He does not wish to rule over you or lord over you in the sense of the word that we are accustomed. God is not interested in forced love and subjugation; He is interested in real love and trust. God wants us to want Him and to trust Him to guide our lives. His kingdom is anywhere that God reigns supreme, not vying with anything or anyone, including yourself, for God’s will to be done. Complete trust, this means that you don’t always know what will happen, but you trust that God’s will be done, to you and through you. This is the life that we saw Jesus live, we are to do likewise.
Second, not only are we to seek God’s kingdom, but also His righteousness. Our righteousness? No, God’s righteousness. How do we define righteousness? By what, WE deem as right? I hope not, but often this is what happens, and it has been getting us into trouble since the dawn of time. If we continue in our personal lives and as a society to continue to look to ourselves as the gauge for all that is right or good or moral, we will fail. Jesus said, “There is none good but one, that is, God.” We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory, how then can we put aside God’s way for our own? This doesn’t mean that we all start running around stoning sinners to death, quite the contrary, when they brought the prostitute before Jesus to see if He would follow the law, He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Mercy, not judgment! God’s righteousness, not ours. Let God do the judging, He is the only competent judge there is. We must seek out then how and where God reigns supreme and how we may be more like Him, full of love, mercy, grace, and truth, His righteousness.
"If we continue in our personal lives and as a society to continue to look to ourselves as the gauge for all that is right or good or moral, we will fail," ~ PHR
“So”, you may ask, “if I do all that, then God will give me anything I wish?” Not exactly, He’s not a genie in a lamp and you’re missing the point if you think this is just a do right and get a reward exercise. Jesus is trying to get through our thick skulls that if we would only seek out God and trust in Him and love Him enough to let Him take control and guide our lives that we will become something new, something we haven’t been before, a new creation, born of the Spirit not of the flesh. We begin to see the way God intends us to see, less about ourselves and more about others. We begin to live differently, not losing who we are completely, as God made us and created us uniquely. We cease to be less like our old selves and more like what God intended us to be like. We find that we become a newer, better version of ourselves as our faith matures. We learn that all the things that we wanted and needed before are not nearly as important as they once were and that we are content beyond any measure that we could imagine before.
All these things will be added to you, now has a different meaning than it did before. Everyone is different and God’s will is different for each of us. We are all given gifts, but they are not all the same, and each is used together to help achieve God’s will. When God’s kingdom is within us and His Spirit is guiding our lives, we become more content with our gift and worry less about how our gift may seem less than someone else’s. Gifts come in many fashions, they are not always a talent or an ability to do some occupation or task, sometimes they are monetary. Some are gifted an ability to make more money than others and with this comes a great responsibility to not let their money become greater than God, but to use it wisely to help others and like any other gift, to help further God’s will.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) Now you see more clearly. If you search for God and His ways, like your life depended on it, because it does, and you allow God to reign supreme in your life and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you; all that you need and some things that you may not have thought about will be given to you.
I love what C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
"First things First though, don’t worry, for God has it all in hand. After you have found His kingdom, listen for His voice and it will guide you on straight paths," ~ PHR
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) God is not an earthly king, He is much, much more, He only wants the very best for you and from you. You are part of His plan, but it is your choice whether you will be a servant in God’s plan or a stumbling block. He wants you to be a servant, but to understand that you are also His child and heir that He loves so much. Just as it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him.” Trust in God, won’t you? Accept the sacrifice of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to begin to live the life God intended. First things First though, don’t worry, for God has it all in hand. After you have found His kingdom, listen for His voice and it will guide you on straight paths. If God is for you, who can be against you? Thanks be to Almighty God our King! Amen.