How Do I Seek “First” the Kingdom of God? (Part 1 of 2)

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Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us have wrestled at least at some point with the question: How do I seek God first? Or How do I put God first in my life? For some, the answer is to make sure that the first action they take in the morning when they wake up is to pray, meditate, read the Bible or something of that nature…in other words, putting God first is putting Him first in the day (after all, Jesus Himself did that). For others, it means that before taking any decision, they lift the situation to God first (most likely in prayer). They are then peaceful in taking their decision simply because they “consulted” with God first, even though they may have not gotten an answer from Him (I am certainly guilty of that). Yet for others, it means never missing Church on Sunday, no matter what.
The reality is that if you ask 10,000 Christians what it means to seek God first, you will get 10,000 answers. And this fact is most certainly a clear indication of a serious problem. I will argue that how Matthew 6:33 is typically interpreted is the very source of much of the troubles those who want to serve God face in life. I will argue that Matthew 6:33 is not saying that God’s kingdom and His righteousness is the “first” thing we should seek, but that instead it is “the only thing” we should seek. And there is a “BIG” difference between these two interpretations.

The answer lies in Matthew 6:33 itself

Seek Kingdom first_3By stating that we should seek “first” the kingdom of God and his righteousness, it seems that Jesus is permitting us to seek other things as well, as long as the first thing we seek is God’s kingdom and righteousness. Indeed, if there is something to be sought “first”, then logic demands that, at least, there must be something to be sought “second”. And this understanding is arguably the most prevalent for most of us Christians. But isn’t this understanding flawed?
Look again at this verse. What is the result of seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first? “All these things will absolutely (that is what “shall” means) be added unto us”. What things? The things listed throughout Matthew 6, which are everything us, human beings, typically seek in life: “what we shall eat, what we shall drink, what we shall put on”. So the obvious question is this: If “every” imaginable natural need we seek to satisfy in life will be “given” to us, what else is there to seek? Obviously nothing! Because something that is given does not need to be sought after…it is given. We see therefore that although Matthew 6:33 states “Seek ye first”, it actually gives no room for something else to be sought after.

The example of King Solomon: King Solomon became the wisest and richest man to ever live, and 2 Chronicles 1: 7-12 records how this came to be.

2 Chronicles 1: 7-12 – In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. 8 And Solomon said unto God, …10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? 11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12 Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Note that God was very pleased with King Solomon for two specific reasons: 1) he did not ask for any riches, etc. for himself and 2) his “sole” focus was on God’s business, His people! We shall see that most likely this is the very same thing Jesus is requiring of us in Matthew, that we forget ourselves and that instead we focus on God’s business. Now we know King Solomon indeed became “very” rich. But did he do anything in particular to become rich? Of course not! Wealth was “given” to Him by God. That does not mean that he did not sign treaties or negotiated whenever the opportunities presented themselves. But those opportunities should be understood as the fulfillment of the promise of God. Solomon had nothing to do with them per say! He became rich because God had promised that He will make him rich. I believe in Matthew, we are exhorted, commanded to have the same kind of “undivided” focus toward God’s business. After all, isn’t that the first commandment?

Mark 12:30 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

The parallel record of Luke 12:31: It is interesting to note that Luke 12:31, which conveys essentially the same message as Matthew 6:33, does not include the word “first”.

Luke 12:31 – But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Compared to Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31 has two notable omissions: the word “first” and the word “righteousness”. Why “righteousness” is not mentioned here is, I am sure, an entirely different topic, which is well beyond the scope of this article. However, that the word “first” is not mentioned here is particularly noteworthy for this study. In Luke, Jesus tells us simply to “seek the kingdom of God”. And from this record, it is rather evident that the kingdom of God is the only thing to be sought, since just as in Matthew, “everything” else will be added to us as we do so.

Some words of Wisdom: This is what King Solomon has to say, the man to whom God gave wisdom like to no other.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the “whole” duty of man.

To fear (or respect with reverence) God and to keep His commandments is the “whole” duty of man. There is nothing else that man is supposed to be doing other than respecting God and do His commandments. There clearly is perfect harmony between what King Solomon is saying and the position we are proposing here that the “only” thing man is to seek is the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

So there are really two questions that come to mind: The first is how should we understand the word “first” in Matthew 6:33, since there is no indication that this word was added by bible translators as it is sometimes the case. The second is what are the implications of what we argued in this article? We address these in part 2.

 

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27 Comments

  1. Interesting post and take, there is certainly a need for clarification on this subject. I am not sure however that I share the thinking that the usage of first necessarily implies the need for a second…at least not based on this verse.

  2. Regis, as I grow older I have noticed that when a human stops seeking God and asking questions, the education stops also. As I continue with what was happening to me in this life little did I realize that I was given a very special gift from God. Each chapter from this book is a timeline to the supernatural events that where taking place. Each and everyone was happening for a reason, What I found to be the most fascinating rediscovery of them all is what I was doing was just like the Bible said happens. But why me?

  3. True.. sometimes, it’s hard for some people to understand what it means to seek GOD’s kingdom first. JESUS SET THE EXAMPLE. He successfully fulfilled HIS mission because HE seek the Fathers will every morning.

    He knew the people who will be fulfilled!
    He knew where to find those demon possessed!
    He knew what MESSAGE to share!

    All we need is to pray, listen and meditate HIS Word so that we may see clearly the direction we are heading.

    1. Amen Joseph! I could have not said it better! His understood His mission, and each morning, his prayer with God was setting the stage for the rest of the day. He was seeking NOTHING else but doing the will of the Father.

      I see the great work you are at Instant Devotion.com. Keep up the Good work, for you are gathering for yourself treasures in Heaven and your serving the bread of life to many!

    1. Hello Calvin;

      May the Lord bless you richly for reading this article and looking for an answer to what I believe is the most important quest in our life: To seek the Kingdom of God.

      I believe I understand why you feel this way after reading this article (and perhaps the next too, if you have). The main point here is that seeking the kingdom of God should be what defines us. And that means continuously offering ourselves to God for His service. Yes, that can certainly include prayer in the morning. But it is much more than that. I can pray every day but not seeking His Kingdom. For example, I can pray every day for me to do well on my job, to get promoted etc. Although I am praying, nothing in my prayer indicates that I want God to use me for HIS glory. Hence, I am actually not seeking His Kingdom. But when my prayer is about God transforming me as a person, to be more like Jesus, and to be more useful for HIS glory, then I am actually seeking the Kingdom.

      And this should be my priority in life (not in the morning, etc., but in life). And when that is the case, God promises that everything we need to live in this life will be given unto us, because our priority is to please HIM, not ourselves. This 2-part articles attempted to demonstrate that by showing that the Kingdom of God is the ONLY thing we should be seeking, not merely, the “first”.

      I hope this was helpful. Blessings to you dear brother, and you continue to search the scriptures. May our Father give you the answers that you are looking for.

    1. May God be praised Albert! The Kingdom of God is the only thing worth seeking. Pray always and the Lord will continue to guide you in seeking His Kingdom and righteousness.

      Blessings to you!

  4. Society and the educational system teaches us to do x y & z
    to achieve our goals, dreams and aspirations.
    On the occasion that this worked for me, I remained unfulfilled.

    After a wonderful Spiritual experience some years back, I began to apply myself to seeking the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and these things continue to be added to me freely.

    1. Dear Phil. This testimony says it all. What we are taught by our society and the educational system is the exact opposite of what God would like us to do. Your statement was particularly powerful:
      “On the occasion that this worked for me, I remained unfilled”.

      Our aim should be the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. May the Lord give all of us whatever is necessary to believe that promise and unlearn what society has taught us.

      Blessings to you Phil!

    1. Amen Rene! Rene…Que el Señor te bendiga abundantemente!

      Translation from Rene’s answer…if Google is correct: To seek the kingdom and its justice is to seek our identity as righteous in the spirit.

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