“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33 (NRSV)
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
The above verse is presented in three different English translations because these are the primary versions I personally use when studying scripture. They each essentially say the same thing, but there is often a slight difference, as you can see, that sometimes adds clarity to certain passages. The reason I highlighted this passage is because we are in the season of lent, when we turn our attentions in a greater way towards God and the things of God in the hopes that we might develop further in our faith and relationship with “Him” through Christ Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This single verse is preceded by a sermon on worrying. Jesus is explaining that we as people worry about what we’re going to eat, what we’re going to drink, and what we will wear. By the Holy Spirit’s interpretative influence I have been resigned to the fact that Christ might have begun with these things, but they are also metaphoric for so much more that we constantly concern ourselves with. And, where there is worry and concern, divided focus develops.
One of my favorite worship songs by William McDowell is called “Withholding Nothing.” In it he says, “You can seek after things but miss God. If you seek after God, the things will come!” This was undoubtedly based on Jesus’ sermon in Matthew 6.
The reality is that when we focus, above all else, on our jobs because they are our source of income, we miss God. When we pursue financial gain, above all else, because we’ve always wanted to live a certain life, we miss God. When we seek romantic relationships, above all else, because we don’t want to be alone and need to find love, we miss the greatest love of all. When we focus our attentions, above all else, on becoming the best at something to undergird our insecurities, we miss God. And whenever, we focus, above all else, on the work of the church (what needs to be done, what more you can do, etc.), there is the potential that we miss God. To the last point, we work in vain because our focus is on the work and not who we’re working for!
The beauty of Jesus’ sermon and the reality of the gospel is that when our focus, above all else, is on God, then “He” is faithful. “He” will provide us with everything we need: food, drink, clothes, financial security, skill, confidence, wisdom, love, and so much more. There is nothing that we will miss when we seek after, pursue, and focus on the creator and sustainer of all things.
This passage brings an added layer of conviction in this Lenten season that can hopefully lead to a greater level of focus on God and the things of God. We live righteously when we pursue God above all else. What God provides because of that is icing on the cake.