Seeking First the Kingdom (1844)
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.”
AFTER our Lord, in the previous verses, had been pointing His disciples to “the fowls of the air” and “the lilies of the field,” in order that they should be without carefulness about the necessaries of life, He adds:
“Therefore take no thought [literally, “be not anxious”], saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Mat 6:31-32).
Observe here particularly that we, the children of God, should be different from the nations of the earth, from those who have no Father in heaven, and who therefore make it their great business, their first anxious concern, what they shall eat, what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed. We, the children of God, should, as in every other respect so in this particular also, be different from the world, and prove to the world that we believe that we have a Father in heaven Who knoweth that we have need of all these things. The fact that our almighty Father—Who is full of infinite love to us His children, and Who has proved to us His love in the gift of His only begotten Son and His almighty power in raising Him from the dead—knows that we have need of these things, should remove all anxiety from our minds.
There is, however, one thing which we ought to attend to with reference to our temporal necessities. It is mentioned in our verse: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The great business which the disciple of the Lord Jesus has to be concerned about (for this word was spoken to disciples, to professed believers) is to seek the kingdom of God, i.e., to seek, as I view it, after the external and internal prosperity of the Church of God. If, according to our ability and according to the opportunity which the Lord gives us, we seek to win souls for the Lord Jesus, that appears to me to be seeking the external prosperity of the kingdom of God; and if we, as members of the body of Christ, seek to benefit our fellow members in the body, helping them on in grace and truth, or caring for them in any way to their edification, that would be seeking the internal prosperity of the kingdom of God. But in connection with this we have also to “seek His righteousness,” which means (as it was spoken to disciples, to those who have a Father in heaven, and not to those who were without), to seek to be more and more like God, to seek to be inwardly conformed to the mind of God. If these two things are attended to (and they imply also that we are not slothful in business), then do we come under that precious promise: “And all these things [that is food, raiment, or anything else that is needful for this present life] shall be added unto you.” It is not for attending to these two things that we obtain the blessing, but in attending to them.
I now ask you, my dear reader, a few questions in all love, because I do seek your welfare. I do not wish to put these questions to you without putting them first to my own heart. Do you make it your primary business, your first great concern, to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Are the things of God—the honor of His name, the welfare of His Church, the conversion of sinners, and the profit of your own soul— your chief aim? Or does your business, your family, or your own temporal concerns, in some shape or other, primarily occupy your attention?
I never knew a child of God who acted according to the above passage, in whose experience the Lord did not fulfill His word of promise, “All these things shall be added unto you.”