The King of King's Command is to Seek His Kingdom First
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth . . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:19-33.)
"Out of this world" is current slang that pretty well describes the demands of Jesus upon all who would follow Him. He does speak to us of another and better world to come, of a present heaven and heavenly aspirations, of life that looks beyond death. He offers no encouragement to people who are satisfied with themselves and with this present evil world: both His gift of salvation. and His rewards for service are only for believers of His word.
In Matthew 6:19-33 we may read three great commands to true disciples, challenging us to spiritual affection, direction, and selection.
Spiritual Affection"Set your affection on things above, not on the things on the earth," is God's command to His people. (Colossians 3:2.) More literally, the command is to be mindful of the things above.
Now, if we are mindful of heavenly things, we will desire rather than earthly treasures the heavenly treasures that we can lay up for ourselves only by faithful obedience to the commands of our Lord.
Jesus reminds us that earthly treasures are corruptible and subject to theft, but heavenly treasures are incorruptible and cannot be stolen. More important, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21.)
Where is your heart? Will it fail with the failing of earthly possessions, or is it fixed upon a better and enduring substance? (Hebrews 10:34.)
Spiritual Direction"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light" (Matthew 6:22.)
As the eye must be turned to the light, opened to the light, and receptive to the light in order to provide illumination for the body, so must faith, the eye of the soul, be turned to Jesus, opened to His instruction, and receptive to His word in order to illuminate our souls.
"We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7), but if our faith is misdirected, misinformed, or rebellious - if the light that is in us is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Only one way can we run a good spiritual race; that is by obtaining and maintaining good spiritual direction: "looking unto Jesus." (Hebrews 12:2.)
Spiritual SelectionBy this time it is surely apparent that Jesus is calling upon His disciples to make an intelligent spiritual selection among sometimes conflicting interests, desires, and needs. Quite often, we must choose between such conflicting interests, even though we may not fully realize that we are making choices of eternal consequence.
Failure to recognize the real issue no doubt accounts for the fact that most Christians keep on halting between two opinions day after day and year after year on one question after another. They disbelieve or ignore or forget the plain teaching of Jesus on these questions, and so continue to hesitate and debate over questions already settled for them, if they would but listen to Jesus.
Among the spiritual selections that each of us must make for himself, and that we ought to settle on once for all without further argument, are the selection of one Master, the selection of our proper concern, and the selection of priority in life.
Selection of MasterMost pitiable of all slaves are slaves who are unconscious of their condition of slavery, who may even deny that they are slaves, as did the Jews of old. (John 8:33.) But disciples of the Lord Jesus have learned that they were the servants (slaves) of sin, but "have become the servants (slaves) of righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18.)
Should it not seem to any child of God that the time past of life was time enough spent in the service of sinful desires and material wealth? (I Peter 4:1-5.) Yet the sad fact is that Christians are tempted to return to the service of old masters which they renounced when they came to Christ.
Certainly no true child of God would consciously, intentionally, willfully abandon the service of God to devote himself wholly to the service of mammon (wealth). No, Satan is far too cunning to suggest such a course. All he suggests is divided allegiance. What can be wrong, after all, with getting all we can of this world's goods?
Well, Jesus' answer is simple and clear. "No man can serve two masters . . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24.)
Is there anything hard to understand about that statement? No - you may dispute it, you may disbelieve it, you may try to get around it: but with these words of Jesus in mind you have already turned your back upon Him when you turn to the service of mammon.
Half-hearted, divided obedience is not acceptable. If in the grace of God you have come to select Him as your Master, He is worthy of all your confidence, all your devotion, all your obedience. Turn not away, even for a moment, to mammon.
Selection of Concern"Take no (anxious) thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25.)
Do you, despite the words of Jesus, continually worry about comparatively trifling things, or about matters that you can no more change than you can add a foot and a half to your height by worrying about it?
If you must worry, why not make an intelligent selection of things to be concerned about? Why not be concerned with the command, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God"? (Philippians 4:6.)
Or again, you might be concerned with "casting all your care upon him; for he careth for yon." (I Peter 5:7.)
Selection of PriorityFinally, the detailed commands in this sixth chapter of Matthew may be summed up in the command to make a wise selection of priority in life:
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." (v. 33.)
Hypocrites mentioned in the first part of the chapter seek the praises of men, but we are to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
Others may accumulate treasures on earth, but we shall have treasures in heaven if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Misdirected faith may leave us in great darkness, but we shall walk in the light if we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
Double minded men are unstable in all their ways, but our decisions will stand if we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
We shall never be beguiled into the service of mammon if consistently we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
Foolish worry will never distract us from useful employment white we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
And Jesus promised that whatever else we may need, it will be added to us if we will only seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, February 28, 1969. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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