Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)
But, it’s kind of hard to look for something when you not exactly sure what you’re looking for! It’s like when I was a boy, my father would often tell me to go and bring him a certain tool. Now, he had already previously told me the names of the tools and what they looked like, but being an unfocused little boy, of course I had forgotten his lessons. So, when he told me to go and bring him a tool, more often than not, I would end up bringing him the wrong tool because I didn’t know what I was looking for! Most of the time I would bring two or three, hoping that one of them was the right one!
That is the way it is with many people today in regard to the instructions of Jesus to seek first the Kingdom of God! They don’t exactly know what Jesus was talking about so they just assume Jesus was saying: “Try to live right and make going to Heaven your top priority!” But is that really what Jesus said? Is that really what Jesus meant when he said: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God?” I really don’t think so!
When we look at the preaching and teaching of Jesus, one of the things that is immediately obvious is the fact that he was obsessed with the subject of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven! The Kingdom was the main focus of his preaching and teaching. The mighty works and miracles he performed were all about demonstrating the power of the Kingdom! Most of the parables and stories he told were about illustrating what the Kingdom is like! In Matthew 4:17, at the start of his public ministry, we read: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV) It interesting that in most evangelical preaching, the theme is: “Repent, so that you might go to Heaven when you die!” But that is NOT what Jesus preached! When Jesus preached and taught about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, most of the time he was not referring to a place called “Heaven!” When Jesus preached and taught about the Kingdom of God, most of the time he was referring to the present rule or reign of God in the heart and lives of people! He was talking about submitting to God’s rule and authority!
So, when he said: “But, seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” He was saying; “Seek to make the rule, authority, and word of God your first priority!” He was also telling his disciples (and those who would follow him now) to seek the Kingdom of God with the same intensity and urgency that those who don’t know God (the Gentiles) seek food, drink, and clothing! In the context of the passage, Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples to make going to Heaven their main pursuit, he was telling them to make the authority, the rule, the reign, and the authoritative word of God the main pursuit of their lives! As they did that, all the necessities needed for life would be added to them as a matter of course, and of course, they would go to Heaven when they died!
There are many “would-be-followers” of Christ today who are seeking blessings, prosperity, health and wealth! But we are never instructed to seek those things in the Bible. In fact, the Bible teaches that those things would seek us as we make seeking the Kingdom of God our top priority! (See Deuteronomy 28, Psalm 23:6, Matthew 6:31-33) However, we can’t make seeking the Kingdom of God our top priority if we don’t know what the Kingdom of God is! We will be just like I was as a little boy, trying to help my father. I can’t count the number of times he told me to bring him a pair of pliers, but I ended up bringing him a pair of wire-cutters instead!