What are you looking for?
Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
I can’t remember the first time I heard that phrase and am sure I didn’t know what it meant when I did. Now in my more ‘mature’ years I think I have a good idea what it means. I’ve come to an understanding because I chased so many other things before realising their futility.
The English preacher Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying “You will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything else.”
How much of your life has been spent in chasing a career, a bigger house, faster car? How did you feel when you got those things? If you’re anything like me, they generally weren’t enough. Or if they were, it was only for a short time and then there was something else on the ‘must have’ list.
So what does this simple phrase mean? The words are spoken by Jesus in his sermon on the mount when he’s teaching about worry. He tells us not to worry about those needs God promised to supply. We are told (in Philippians 4:19) that God will supply all our needs. Instead of worrying about ‘stuff’, we should be looking for the things of God.
Let’s have a look at some definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/).
Seek means, amongst other things, ‘to go in search of’, ‘to look for’, ‘to ask for’, or ‘to try to acquire or gain’.
First means ‘preceding all others in time, order, or importance’. It struck me that ‘First’ has a brief definition. It’s clear and precise. It means one thing. ‘Seek’ on the other hand, has many meanings or interpretations.
Add means –‘to join or unite so as to bring about an increase or improvement’, ‘to append’ or ‘to combine (numbers) into an equivalent simple quantity or number’. In other words, to add up. Simple maths.
I’m not going into a definition of ‘Kingdom of God’ or ‘righteousness’ so I don’t end up in theological mode. Plenty of time for that later. If we look at simple definitions of the words Jesus used, it’s clear that God must be ahead of everything else in our lives. God must ‘precede all others in time, order or importance’. If we go in search of God, the ‘stuff’ is given to us. We have ‘an increase or improvement’.
I don’t believe that means we’ll all be rich and famous. Rather, we should bear in mind that what God considers a need, may be different to what we think our need is. In my twenties, I thought I needed to be on the board of the company I worked for, but God disagreed. Of course, God was right, I needed many more lessons before I’d be ready for that.
Jesus wants us to take the focus away from the things of the world and focus on the things of God. The order of importance is God first, others second, and ourselves after that. If we take care of the business of the kingdom of God, God will take care of our business.
That means we have no need to worry, and isn’t that what Jesus was saying all along?