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

Seek Kingdom first_2
What does “first” mean in Matthew 6:33?

So how do we explain the word “first” in Matthew 6, if there is no “second” as we argued in part 1? I am not a Greek scholar, and therefore I do not master the order of words in Greek sentences. Nevertheless, in light of the evidences already brought forth, I will postulate that Matthew 6:33 should have been translated:

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

Instead of “seek ye first” as found in just about all biblical translations, I believe we should understand “first seek ye”. There is a difference, and it is a significant one. When one says “seek ye first” the word “first” refers to the object to be sought (in Matthew 6, it is the kingdom of God and His righteousness). And we can ask…Seek ye first what? Answer: the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And because of that, logic dictates that what must come after should be “seek ye second this” (or something similar), which could also be followed by “seek ye third that”. “First”, “second” and “third” all refer to what needs to be sought after, the actual objects.

In stark contrast, when one says “first seek ye”, the word “first” refers to the action of seeking, not to the object to be sought after. And we can ask…First, do what? Answer: seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And therefore, in this case, what must come after needs not being another action of seeking (as in “seek ye second”). What comes second could be the outcome of performing the action seeking, or anything else for that matter. I believe this is precisely the meaning of Matthew 6:33: “First, seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you”. There is one and only one thing to seek (God’s kingdom and His righteousness), and there is one resulting outcome for seeking that “one” thing (everything else will added to us).

So why does this matter?

I believe to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness is so much easier to do when we realize that it is the only thing we are supposed to be doing. And yes, to be honest, this could be quite an unsettling statement.

Seek Kingdom first_4

But it is only the case because we have become deeply hardwired into being concerned about our own needs (ourselves, our families, our loved ones). Yet, God’s children should not be afraid by Matthew 6:33, at least if our interpretation is correct. Quite the contrary, to follow Jesus’ commandment of Matthew 6:33 is the best way to test and increase our reliance on God. This is how we fulfill our part of our relationship with our Father.

If King Solomon’s story is any indication, the promise that everything will be added to us as we focus on nothing but God is an absolute certainty: Our needs in all categories will be met. These needs we have are legitimate, and Jesus Himself acknowledges them in Matthew 6. But when we believe that Jesus has given us permission to seek them as long as we seek God first, that is when everything gets very complicated. Everything gets complicated because 1) we are left wrestling with the question on how to put God first in our lives (which is the reason why everyone has a different opinion on it) and 2) we are now confronted with Jesus’ rebuke (in the same chapter mind you) that it is impossible to serve two masters (Matthew 6: 24, 25) because we will eventually despise one of them. And if life has taught us anything, it is typically God we end up despising. So, “See ye first” or “First seek ye”? What is your take?

Advertisements

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

  1. What you share here makes a lot of sense. If we ” first seek ye” the kingdom of God then as stated in the verse, our reward would be “everything else will be added unto you”. But if we go with “seek ye first “, then of course what is second, and in that case what reward do we get for the second or third we are seeking?the word doesn’t mention a recompense or reward for seeking second and third….. So really what would be the purpose of even seeking second and third ?!! None! Because “first seek ….” The kingdom of God and we really do not need anything else.
    Very good way of understanding this verse , thank you.

  2. I’m no Greek scholar either, but for some reason, neither version “seek ye first” or “first seek ye” alter in my opinion the sense of the verse in light of the context; furthermore “First” regardless where placed may refer to the sequence of events rather than the enumeration of objects, no?

    • But precisely, my opinion is that if it is referring to the sequence of events, then this verse is telling us that the second event is that “all those things will be added”. So for me, I see no basis for understanding this verse as permitting us to “seek” other things.

  3. Very interesting post. Although it is a very simple concept – the action of seeking God’s kingdom first, life can cloud our perspective and cause us to seek God’s kingdom after we’ve hit the PANIC button lol. This post is a wonderful reminder of things to do…and in what order. Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for part 1 and 2 of this article. This view of focusing on God’s kingdom [solely] is life changing for me. My spirit accepts this and feels at peace when I imagine myself actually living this way; however, my soul wants to run. I am so accustomed to thinking about myself first-my wants, my needs, my life- that it almost seems impossible for me to change. But, I know that the Holy Spirit has the will and power to change someone like me.

    Thank you so much for this post. It is leading me into a higher level of spiritual maturity.

  5. My spirit is filled with joy as I read your comment Charmaine. The Lord knows those who are His, and like you said, the Holy Spirit is here, with us, and in us, precisely to help us live a life that is according to God’s standard. We cannot do it on our own, but trust in Him, humble yourself before to obey His voice, and then just watch the transformation take place. He has the Will and the Power to change us.

    May our Lord bless Charmaine!

  6. So in other words to Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness would mean to put God first ,and to put God first i take it you mean to put God first is to speak to God (prayer) listen which actually is quite hard, but to hear God, we would read the word,though God speaks in many ways through creation,other people,the media etc. Just trying to clarify, as at the mo i feel God is saying to me seek my kingdom and my righteousness, and I’m thinking I’m trying to but what does it really mean..in a nutshell i guess (Put God first) ,to put God first is to trust Him ,really rely on Him, to do that you go to God in prayer, wait on Him and hold on tight.

  7. Hello Jean, I apologize the late response. May the Lord bless you for your comment. Yes, to put God first is really to rely on Him, and to rely on Him for everything. Prayer is crucial in the process. A practical action is to continuously offer yourself to Him in prayer (God, may your will be done in me. Father, give me a heart to recognize and submit to your will. Give a hear to recognize your voice, and obey it…). God will not be silent to such a prayer, when that prayer is genuine. It may be unsettling at first to pray as such, because frankly we do not know what plan God has for us, and we would prefer that the plan does not involve trials and difficulties. But continue in that prayer, and you will see how He respond.

    He said…3 John 4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth…

    So can He ignore the prayer of the humble who asks Him to show him how to walk in truth?

    God bless Jean! And may the Lord be with you in your spiritual journey…it may seems hard, but stay faithful in that prayer, and you will see yourself transformed, and realize that He is the One who is really carrying the load.

  8. I felt more at peace reading this than some other articles I’ve read on this subject. It is quite relieving to know that we can just focus only on what is needful (first seeking God and His righteousness) . My only question relates to the place of our secular jobs and other things we engage while here on earth. We can’t spend every day a week and every month of the year praying and studying the bible I guess? So how do our jobs and businesses (as the case may be) come in? A helpful answer will be appreciated.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      May God be praised for the peace He has filled you heart with through this article. Your question is an excellent one. Myself, I hold a secular job full time and I believe that if one was to do nothing more than studying the bible, that person would not be seeking the Kingdom of God. This is because God is in the business of being “in the midst” of society, interacting with the people and working with them. This is exactly what Jesus-Christ did. It is the only way others will have the opportunity to see the “other”, “better” life that those who serve Jesus-Christ live and offer. And therefore, what you do is actually “bringing” to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness where it is most needed…the world.

      The key is to make a conscious effort to dedicate yourself to God daily, by what you say in your prayers. You offer yourself to Him, asking Him to do His work in you, always, and to use you as He sees fit for His own glory! How, can He refuse such request?

      If your primary focus is on Him (not on your job promotion or else), you will see that He will open opportunities for you – wherever you are (be it your job, your business) – to experience His Kingdom, by helping you overcome all sort of trials, and by becoming a light in your environment, a light which your customers and coworkers will never be able to ignore, but will get to witness every time they come around you.

      Yes, Jennifer…you can bring the Kingdom where you are! I hope this answer was helpful :). Blessings!!

  9. Wow this is awesome I never looked at this scripture the way you broke it down,I know in my Spirit that this is the way, we are to totally depend on God and all the stress any anxiety vanishes, when we totally receive this word in our hearts knowing that he is Lord over our lives

    • Dear Kathy,

      Amen to your words! And may the Lord be with you. I pray that the Lord continue to work in all of us who love Him. He is faithful and He is our Lord…how can He demand anything else than our full commitment to Him. And how can He not reward with peace and abundant living those who do strive to obey His voice?

      May the Lord continue to bless us and may we in return pray for others, that we may all grow in the unity of the Spirit, in the perfect bond of peace.

      In His name dear Kathy! In His name! Amen.

  10. I have been feeling like hitting many invisible walls in my life and I’ve searched many biblical formulas to attain the miraculous undefeated victorious life I’ve been dreaming. And I always feel confounded, shocked, when I see these formulas fail, like I’ve been using wrong formula to solve a difficult math problem. I hope this will be the ultimate formula to solve this difficult thing I’ve been trying to figure out. And may God direct me specifically what to do solely seeking His Kingdom in my daily life.

      • Dear Candra;

        Please pardon the length of my response. Oh did I feel something in my heart when reading your comment, perhaps God allowing me to experience just a portion of your burden.

        Yes, I have been praying for you since reading your comments, because I know how faithful God is toward the prayers of His saints.

        I am not sure about the formulas you have tried to apply in the past, or how they were taught to you. But one thing I know:

        “God’s children do not have the ability on their own to perform what they desire.”

        This is the case because the desires of those who love God are given by God Himself. And whatever desire or work God gives us can only be accomplished by His Holy Spirit in us. We on the other hand, simply do not have what it takes to accomplish those.

        Look at this verse:

        Zechariah 4:6 – Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

        Now consider what the Apostle Paul says here:

        1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the “grace” of God that was with me.

        See how I highlighted the last section? Not only does God give you the desires to serve Him (as I can clearly see from your posts), but He actually performs the work “through” you as well. Paul would have never been able on His own to perform the desires God placed in Him. And the desire God placed in Him was so big that He was actually ready to die for God.

        So the formula is this: Pray my dear friend. Do not worry, but pray daily that He transforms you. Pray that His will be done in you. Pray for His wisdom. Prays for hears to listen to Him and knowledge to understand His will. Pray to love like He loves. And pray that He teaches you to pray.

        …then watch…simply watch How His Grace will start to work in you and through you…just like it did with Paul (Remember, He is the God that does not change). That is the only formula: He is the One who both places the desires to please Him, and work those desires out of you. Your role, pray, and offer yourself to Him daily in prayer. He will place you in situation where you will have no choice but to act, He will set things up where you will have no choice but to extend kindness. he will arrange things such that you will just want to publicly glorify Him. He, and He alone will do the work in you…and you will become His trusted partner, His co-laborer in this process.

        He loves you Candra…just pray daily, offer yourself daily…and He will reveal Himself to you and through you. That is the formula.

        Love you much in the Lord Candra;

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s