St. Matthew 6:24-34
September 8, 2013 A+D
This sentence, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” really is a summary statement of all of Christianity.
1. The first problem is that the verb in Greek is a continuous, ongoing tense. We translate it as a present but that is not quite right. We should translate it like this: “Keep on seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
2. The next problem is the word “kingdom.” The word here doesn’t mean the borders of a kingdom, the land. It means the reign, the ruling. We are to keep on seeking to have God rule us.
3. First doesn’t mean that this is what we do as the first priority. First we love God, then we love our families, then we love our countries, etc. That is a very rational hierarchy but it is not Biblical. In this same sermon Jesus said: “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” First really means always and comes close to meaning only.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God means “Keep on, always, seeking to be ruled by God and His Law and not by your own passions and conveniences.”
When we start to get that part straight the last bit falls into place. We are to keep on seeking not our righteousness, which is not so righteous, but His righteousness.
4. That is what is all about in the end, that is the goal, the point of Christianity: God bestows His righteousness, for free, upon sinners who don’t deserve it. Keep on seeking that.
A. Ongoing seeking of being ruled by God, living within His law and being ordered by His Gospel.
We are to be continually repentant, continually seeking to live within God’s Law, to keep His commandments. Not just because there is a threat of punishment but also because we recognize and confess that God’s Law is good.
We’re not very good at keeping the Law. We sin. A lot. Some people think that makes us hypocrites. Because we say that we should keep the Law, that we want to keep the Law, and then we don’t. But they are wrong. What we say is that we should keep the Law but we don’t, that we want to but that we don’t. We say that we are sinners and we wish we weren’t and we keep on striving to be better, to stop sinning, to curb our baser desires, to control our tongues. And we say we are sinners because we aren’t very good at keeping the Law no matter how hard we try. That is why we keep repenting, keep practicing, and keep seeking wisdom.
We aren’t hypocrites for sinning. We would be worse than hypocrites, however, we’d be out and out delusional liars if we said that we had no sin, that we were not sinners.
But there is another danger here. Because we aren’t very good at seeking to be ruled by God’s Law, to live under Him, and because He is so quick to forgive, we are sometimes tempted to think that there is not much point in seeking. Why seek to be perfect when we know that we will fail and when we know that God will forgive us anyway?
Repent. There is no love of God apart from love of His Law. His Law is His will. When we hate the Law, we hate God. When we mock or despise or neglect the Law, we do the same to God. So even though we are imperfect, even though we aren’t very good saints, we keep seeking, we keep striving, we keep repenting – because we know that God and His holy Law are good and by His Holy Spirit we want to be free of sin and even worthy of Him even though, in ourselves, we never will be.
B. That brings us to the real point. We keep on seeking His righteousness not just because we suck at the first part but also because He wants us to have His righteousness.
We don’t seek our righteousness. Even in seeking to be ruled by His Law, to live under Him in His Kingdom, we aren’t seeking our righteousness. We are seeking, always, His righteousness, to be declared His saints, to gain the credit and benefit of His holy suffering and death, to be washed and Named as His own children. His righteousness is enough to overcome our sinful flesh, to shut the devil’s mouth, and to open heaven’s gates. His righteousness is sufficient for our failures or our quitting or our rebellions.
That seeking doesn’t stop either. We keep on seeking it. We keep on seeking it until the good work begun in us has been brought to completion, until it is full and our bodies and souls are perfected, reunited, and free at last of all sin. We keep on seeking His righteousness by hearing His Word, by being absolved, and by partaking of His Body and Blood.
And all these things will be added unto you. What things? The things the Gentiles seek: food, drink, and clothing, a glory greater than that of Solomon or lilies: a new heaven and a new earth, fellowship with God and His saints in a restored paradise.