Coming back from sabbatical I knew that I would need to process all that God was teaching me during that time, so I wrote two posts that you can read here and here.
In those posts I wrote 10 lessons that God taught me during that time. I gave a brief summary of each lesson, but wanted to take some time to explore each concept with more depth.
The first lesson was what it meant to “seek first the kingdom”. Jesus commands us in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
What Does It Mean to Seek the Kingdom God & His Righteousness?
I love the way legendary bible commentator Matthew Henry describes it. Seeking first the kingdom of God, or minding religion, must be our great and principle concern. We must seek, desire, pursue and aim at these things. “We must mind heaven as our end, and holiness as our way”. Ultimately, what Henry is saying is that we must care more about God’s priorities than our own and we must walk in godliness.
Have you ever really sought for something? Have you ever lost your phone or your keys? That’ll really get you seeking (don’t lie you iPhone addicts…you go seeking!). It’s amazing the lazer focus that happens when we are really seeking after something. Most recently, my pregnant wife had a craving for a gluten-free doughnut. Did it matter that it was 11pm or that we were in New York at the time…no..of course not. Don’t be silly. You better believe I was out of that door seeking for those doughnuts faster than I could say “yes, dear”. Don’t worry I found some at Trader Joe’s.
To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness we must tenaciously pursue God in relationship, put to death sin in our life, and live an others focused life.
5 Ways to Seek the Kingdom
- Spiritual Disciplines – how are we to know what God’s priorities are or what the kingdom entails if we don’t ever read what he told us they were? God lays out life in the kingdom with the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:2-11), teaches us how to pray (Matt. 6:5-13), and tells us how to fast (6:16-18) all in one stretch of Scripture. To know God and his kingdom we must seek him through the disciplines.
- Treasuring God More Than Money (or anything else) – Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures for ourselves and that we cannot serve God and money (Matt. 6:19-24). Why? Dr. Timothy Keller in his incredible book Counterfeit Gods wrote, “If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.” At the end of the day, all of creation, if it isn’t used to point us back to God, will direct us to an idol that will fail us. God is the source, end and means to our happiness. Everything else will fall short.
- Choosing Faith Over Anxiety – The opposite of anxiety is not a stress free life, it’s faith. Jesus commands us not to be anxious (Matt. 6:25-34) because we can trust in a heavenly Father who cares for us and provides for us what we need. Catch that last word “need”. He doesn’t give us everything we want necessarily, but he gives us everything that we need and above all things, we need Him.
- Confession – Confession is the only way I know how to fight sin effectively. If we are going to seek His righteousness we must confess. First, we must confess our need for Jesus, so that we can receive his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Second, we must drag our sin into the light and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from our sin (1 John 1:7). Lastly, with confession comes healing (James 5:16). When you finally stop hiding your sin and live bravely transparent with people you can trust, the chains will begin to break and your soul will begin to heal.
- Serving – the kingdom of God is about reflecting our king and our king came to serve, not be served (Mark 10:45). We must give our lives away, consider others more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), do justice (Micah 6:8), plead the case of the fatherless (Isa. 1:17) and care for the least of these (Matt. 25:40).
What Kingdom Are You Seeking?
What kingdom are you seeking? Whose kingdom are you building? Your kingdom or God’s? These are important questions that we must ask ourselves. One way is the narrow path that leads to life and the other is the broad path that leads to death.
Choose the narrow path. Seek first the kingdom. Make heaven your end and holiness your means. Then, all things will be added unto you aka God will take care of the rest. 3