Day Nine: Thursday, June 18th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 6:19-34
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Seek first the kingdom ”
The kingdom of heaven holds a prominent place in the Gospel of Matthew. The general word “kingdom” occurs 54 times in Matthew, and there are 31 specific references to “The kingdom of heaven.” In Matthew…
- The kingdom of heaven is near or at hand (Matthew 3:2 and 4:17)
- The kingdom of heaven is present with the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness. (Matthew 5:3, 5:10)
- The kingdom of heaven is revealed in ways that capture our imagination through the parables Jesus tells in Matthew 13, including a mustard seed, hidden treasure, and a pearl of great price.
- The kingdom of heaven is especially near for the little ones, the children, and for those who humble themselves and have the heart of a servant. (Matthew 18 and 19)
- The kingdom has a place of honor prepared for those who remembered to reach out to the hungry and thirsty, to the stranger and the ones needing clothes, and who visited those who were sick or in prison. (Matthew 25:31-46)
The many references within the gospel make it difficult to nail down an exact definition of the kingdom, but in our reading today Jesus makes a powerful promise. Those who seek the kingdom of heaven first will find a wonderful benefit…God will take care of the other needs that so many people in this world spend their whole time chasing. Specific reference is made to food and clothing. We can only discover the truth of what Jesus says by trusting what Jesus says, and doing the very thing Jesus says, seeking the kingdom of heaven first.
One of the great joys I have discovered in my years as a pastor is that almost to a person, every one who has put this promise of Jesus into practice, every one who has made a wholehearted effort to seek God’s kingdom first has found that God does take care of our needs. In all honesty, sometimes God takes care of our needs by rearranging our priorities. Other times God takes care of our needs even as we learn to need a whole lot less than we might have initially thought we needed. But the truly amazing gift we are given when we seek first the kingdom of heaven is to discover an ever growing desire to experience the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, and the incredible blessing of developing a relationship with the one we call our King, Jesus Christ.
The college group we worked with years ago went by the name “Seekers”. Our guiding verse was Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” At the end of our meetings we would form a circle and sing together a chorus that was simple and sweet. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you, Allelu, Alleluia.” Twenty-five years later those college students are now Elders, Deacons, Pastors, Missionaries, Sunday school teachers, and salt of the earth servants. They have discovered that the promise of Jesus is true. They have spent their days seeking first the kingdom of heaven. And true to his word, God has faithfully provided for their needs. In seeking first the kingdom, we discover God’s most precious treasure. And “where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
“Jesus has not only warned us against the dangers of coveting…he follows that with his teaching on a clear vision as the secret to the healthy way. We need to see the world around us in the right way, in a healthy way…God’s will for us is not negative but positive: We will see the world in a generous and healthy way, not in a grasping and desperately clutching way. In the deepest sense, what Jesus does is to urge his listeners to see the world from God’s perspective so that we discover our own personal worthy from God himself; and not only that, but also the worth and meaning of every earthly treasure from God’s perspective. When this happens, we are set free from the various despairing results of the attachment of our lives to anything other than the true author of our existence—God himself.” (Earl Palmer, “The Enormous Exception”, p. 115)