|Vol. 13 No. 8 August 2011||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Jesus said, “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness …” (Matthew 6:33), but what is the practical application today of seeking first the kingdom of God? Our Lord instructed, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38), but is there anything or anyone who today God may permit to temper that primary allegiance to Him? Does it sound like Jesus was vague about the child of God’s first commitment to Deity: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37)? Yet, even Christians often falter in their loyalty to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, although they seldom admit it or maybe are even aware of this serious shortcoming.
The Christian’s loyalty to God ought not to be infringed by his or her patriotic sympathies for the nation of which he or she is a citizen, and yet sometimes, for instance, American Christians may often unwittingly proclaim an Americanized, democratic Gospel in foreign lands. Neither our culture nor our form of government is part or parcel of the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we are obligated to obey the law of the land in which we live (Romans 13:1-7), as long as we do not have to break God’s law to obey man’s law (Acts 5:29); we must obey God’s law first, before obeying man’s law, to which we also owe our obedience. Seek first the kingdom of God before seeking nation or culture.
Further, from Matthew 10:37 we learn that God comes first before husband, wife, children or other family members. However, though nearly all of us will readily admit this academically, frequently even Christians put family before God. Do Christians put family first when family members live out of harmony with the Gospel? Do we put family ahead of worshipping God if relatives visit on assembly days and they are not faithful Christians? Seek first the kingdom of God before seeking family.
There are so many areas in life where even Christians demonstrate in their lives that they hedge on seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Does fidelity to a particular political party come before loyalty to Jesus Christ? Does racial or ethnic preference supersede commitment to our Savior? Does getting ahead in this world financially take precedence over placing God first in our lives (Matthew 16:26)? Are sporting events, recreation and entertainment deserving of our chief attention over serving Christ? Seek first the kingdom of God before favoring politics, racial or ethnic identity, financial or material success, sports, recreation and entertainment.
Matthew 6:33 is not nearly as difficult to comprehend as it is difficult to implement in the Christian life. The word “first” here means, “firstly (in time, place, order, or importance)” (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s). Sequentially, nothing ought to come before seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness! Further, nothing is more significant that seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness!
This means that as authentic Christians we seek our Lord before we seek favor of or for our nation or culture! This means that as genuine Christians we seek Jesus Christ ahead of our allegiance to a political party – Democratic, Republican or otherwise! This means that before I think of myself as white, black, Hispanic or some other race, I think of myself as a child of God seeking the way of the Lord. Furthermore, before a spouse, a parent, a child or other family member, I am first a Christian with a preferential dedication to Almighty God. Sports, recreation, entertainment, vocations, hobbies or anything earthly has no place interceding between the Christian and the Godhead. Friends and brethren, we have not begun to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness as long as any of these things intervene between God and us.
Are you truly seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, or are you merely pretending? Pretending will get us nowhere we want to be eternally (Matthew 7:21-23). May you and I both honestly and earnestly seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness from this day forward, and we will spend eternity together in heaven with saints from every age in the very presence of our God.
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2006.