Seek Ye First

David Brandt Berg

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The story of the crowning temptation that the Devil offered Jesus is found in Matthew 4: “Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” That’s the most riches anybody had ever been offered—the whole world. “And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” What did Jesus answer? “Get thee hence, Satan: For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:8–10). Satan says, “Fall down and worship me!” Jesus said, “Get behind Me. God says you should only worship God.”

The worship of the riches of this life is idolatry. The Lord warned us in Matthew 6:19–20 to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.” Those are exactly the things which most threaten riches: moth, rust, and thieves. If your riches happen to be wooden, the termites will eat them. If they happen to be metal, they will rust. And even if the termites and the bugs won’t eat it, and the rust won’t eat it, the thieves will.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Jesus says, “Don’t bury your heart in those treasures, because those treasures will vanish away or get stolen, rust, or rot—along with your heart. They’ll corrupt your heart!”

The 24th verse says, “No man can serve two masters: For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” It’s impossible to serve two people equally. If you’ve got more than one boss, you’re bound to like one of them better than the other. In fact, you may get to the point where you love one and hate the other.

“Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Mammon is money, pure and simple. Mammon was literally the god of wealth, the god of money. Mammon was a false god of the heathen, one of their false idols.

A lot of people think they need things that they just want. If you keep getting things and wanting things that you don’t really need, then you love those things. And look out, you may be loving them more than God! You can’t serve and labor and work for both. You’ll love one and hate the other. If you hate your job in a way, at least you don’t love it as much as you love the Lord, then you’re on the right track.

Jesus says: “I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25). Don’t worry about whether you’re going to have anything to eat or enough to wear. Now there are two things that God knows you can’t possibly do without for very long—food and clothing. Jesus said don’t even worry about the things that you really have to have, much less the things that you don’t have to have, that you just want.

He says don’t even worry about the necessities of life. “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” He says, “Listen, don’t you know that I know that your life is more valuable than your food? And your body is much more valuable than the clothes that you put on it! I know it! I made your body, I gave you life. Don’t you think I’m going to take care of it? If I went to all the trouble to make something as valuable as your body and as priceless as your life, don’t you think I’m going to give you enough of your necessary food to eat, so it will keep you alive, and some raiment, some clothes to wear to protect the body?” If God made you and your life, He’ll certainly provide food and clothing for you. He’ll certainly take care of that body and that life He gave you.

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26). They don’t have to reap and store up for the future. “Are you not much better than they?” He said, “Listen, if I can feed the birds, don’t you think I’m going to feed you?” Don’t you think that you’re important enough that God will give you what you need?

“And which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Why take ye thought for raiment?” Don’t worry about your clothes! Keep them clean, but don’t worry about whether you’re going to have any. He says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:27–29). He says, “Look at these pretty flowers: God makes them, God clothes them, and they didn’t even work for it.” So certainly God’s going to take care of you. If you serve Him, He’ll take care of you.

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30). If He’s so careful to take care of the grass, which only lasts a little while and somebody mows it down, casts it in the oven and burns it, don’t you think He’s more concerned about you? He takes care of the grass, so He’ll surely take care of you, won’t He?

“Therefore take no thought”—that means fretting, anxious thought. It doesn’t mean never to prepare. We don’t sit down at the table and say, “Okay, God, feed us.” Somebody has to take a little thought, as far as preparation is concerned. That’s not the kind of thought it’s talking about. It’s talking about worrying, being afraid that you’re not going to get what you need. Don’t worry about: “What shall we eat, or how shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles”—the unbelievers—“seek” (Matthew 6:31–32).

Many worldly people, that’s all they live for, all they work for. That’s their life—to have something to eat, drink, wear, and live in. They’re slaves of things.

I remember a friend of mine, when I was in college. One day while he was out, somebody came in and stole his camera, typewriter, and everything else. He had a better attitude about that loss than many Christians do. He acted relieved, believe it or not. He said, “I’m almost glad. I was getting to where I belonged to those things. I was a slave of those things, instead of them belonging to me and serving me.”

I wonder how many people own a car, or how many cars own people? How many people own houses, and how many houses own people? You can be a slave to your home, a slave to your car, a slave to things! They can own you instead of you owning them. You can be working for them, instead of them working for you.

“For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” God knows your needs. Don’t be a slave of those things! Let them be your slave. Let them work for you; don’t work for them.

There’s nothing wrong with having money, riches, or wealth. It all depends on whether you own money or the money owns you. It’s your attitude toward it. It all depends on how the money is used, whether the money or the wealth is using you or you’re using it.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you!” (Matthew 6:33). Put God’s kingdom first.

What is God’s kingdom? Jesus said it’s within you. What’s it composed of? What does He reign or rule over? He rules and reigns over the church. And what is the church? It is souls, people, His people! The kingdom of God is not a building or a denomination or an organization. It’s not the United States of America. It’s not Russia. It’s not this earthly ball. It’s the people who live on it who love Him. People are God’s kingdom!

Now if people are God’s kingdom, and if you’re going to seek first God’s kingdom, what are you going to seek? You’re going to seek souls for God’s kingdom. You’re going to witness—seek souls for the kingdom of God. You’re going to do that which helps the kingdom of God: Be a witness and soul winner yourself, or help others to witness and soul-win. You’re going to help the kingdom of God in some way. To help His kingdom is to help people. In helping people, you’re helping God—because He wants to help people. He helps people through you and me.

So how are you going to seek first His kingdom? Getting God’s kingdom in you to begin with, and then getting other people into His kingdom. That’s seeking first the kingdom of God: loving God first of all, and then loving your neighbor as yourself.

It says, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” There’s a greater and more important meaning of the word “first,” meaning foremost and above all, before everything else, above everything else, beyond everything else and more than anything else. That means you’re seeking God’s kingdom more than anything else on this earth. First and above all!

It means working for God and others more than for yourself, more than for money, more than for riches, more than for pleasure, more than for health, more than for government, more than for anything else. That’s seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

If you put Him and others first, He says, “All these things shall be added unto you.” If you put God first, won’t He give you all these other things—if you need them? He might not give you everything you want. He might not give you everything you’d like to have, or sometimes not even the things you think you need to have, but He will give you what He knows you actually have to have for the sake of His kingdom.

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Bible economics is utterly contrary to the economics of man. Man’s economics says: Self-preservation is the first law of nature. I’m going to preserve myself and my own first. I’m going to live for myself. First, I’m going to take care of myself. First, I’m going to get mine. Self-preservation.

What is God’s law of economics? “He that would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For he that loseth his life for My sake and the gospel’s, shall save it; but he that saveth his life”—self-preservation—“the same shall lose it” (Mark 8:34–35).

God’s economy is the diametrical opposite of man’s economy! God says, “God first, and I’ll take care of you afterward.” Man says, “Me first, and if there’s anything left over, I’ll give it to God. My time first, and if I’ve got a little left over, I’ll give it to God.” God’s economy says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

If you spend your life trying to save your life, Jesus says you’re going to lose your life. Spend your life losing your life for His kingdom and others—that’s the secret of saving it!

“Take therefore no thought”—no worrying thought—“for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Don’t worry about tomorrow! Tomorrow isn’t here yet! Why worry about it? You’ve got enough to worry about today! “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).

 
 

Copyright © The Family International

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Author: Frederick Olson

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

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