SEEK YE FIRST
Mt. 6:1-24, Jesus is rebuking their outward display of religion. For it has no inward dwelling with faith. They’re putting on a “show” instead of truly living a God-filled mind. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mt. 15:8). They were outwardly praying (which is supposed to be a connection between man and God), being benevolent (connection between man and his fellow man), and fasting (connection within one’s self-sacrifice and meditation) in order to be recipient on what rightfully belongs to God (something personal, innocent and true). Their intentions were not pure, proper, clean, or righteous. They were actors (hypocrites), playing an act for their spectators. They wanted to be seen as something they were not. And this made them unproductive for the cause of Christ. They would not even forgive their brother when called for. Sad indeed.
You see, outwardly acting religious might store up all sorts of wealth for us, praise, and worldly comfort. If your goal in life is directed towards self, then self will compromise with the world in order to accumulate more outward appearance (i.e. bigger numbers in the assembly, a larger following, etc). But it will not generate eternal life. And the reason it will not is that it makes one worry more about what is outwardly (food, drink, clothes) instead of what is inward. Heavenly wealth. Spiritual blessings. The things that are important for our spiritual survival.
And so, Christ transitions this teaching into the following text (25-34), in which our sermon is found this day.
Is Christ saying that physical life, food, drink, and clothes are not important? Of course not!
It is a matter of priority. People of the world, those Christ was addressing as being actors. Thought that the pursuit of outward indulgence had more importance than the pursuit of inward faith utilized to please God.
The breath you have in your lungs takes precedence over the food you digest and the clothes you wear. Granted it takes food in order to keep our lungs breathing. But food is not the source of importance, it is but a tool to be used properly so as to keep the lungs breathing for Christ. If the church of Christ and doing what is right, is the source of priority, then the church of Christ and doing what is right, will make sure we eat food.
We were created in the image of God, animals were not, and so we are much more important than they, for they cannot store up heavenly wealth. And yet still they are well taken care of regarding food, drink, and covering.
Christ is not talking about, “don’t pay your bills, they’ll pay themselves.”
28 - 29 - 30
Ultimately, the big picture, can being worried about “keeping up with the Jones’s” ever extend your life on this earth? No. Some have made being physically healthy more important than being spiritually healthy.
If even what blossoms today and is mowed down the very next, can receive what it needs to have had life. Again, how much more will we, created in His image, be taken care of if we simply read, study, rightly divide, and apply/obey the Bible?
Birds, flowers, and grass. All taken care of because they know who they belong to. How much more will we be taken care of if we simply recognize who we belong to?
Our lack of recognizing this very fact displays our lack of faith. Lack of faith is the reason some Christians think the church is a social club, for social activities. And being social with the gospel somehow holds more spiritual importance than Bible studies, accurately learning the Word of God and obeying in love the instructions therein. And so the community does not identify us as the light on top of the hill, but rather just another funhouse where everyone goes to heaven one day (no matter what you really believe about anything).
We need to stop worrying about what the world thinks about us. Faithful Christians need to stop worrying about what unfaithful Christians think about us. We don’t allow the worldly among us dictate a standard contrary to the word of God. We need to stop worrying about pleasing the world and start worrying about pleasing God.
Stop worrying about what the world wants you to worry about. This verse is not speaking about worrying to make ends meets. Worrying about putting food on the table is not the idea behind this context. Gentile society and culture would make food, drink, and clothing a matter of fashion and status. The greater extravagance within the art of eating, drinking, and clothing is what drove these people into outward and useless endeavors. And because of that, they dictated the standard in which religious people should be displayed (hence the hypocrisy of those praying, being benevolent, and fasting).
We see the same today, do we not? Look at the amount of cooking shows out there. And look at the number of fashion shows out there. House shows. Keeping up with the jones. Look at how the world wants religion to look, speak, and act like. This culture, like theirs, hasn’t changed all that much. We embrace consumerism. We embrace denominationalism. We can shop at the click of a button. We can drain the credit cards in less than one minute. And this creates a massive amount of anxiety in the individual mind and home. It has been the cause of debt, divorce, unemployment, depression, idleness, and apathy in the church for decades. All sorts of negative results.
The Gentiles lavished in the riches of the world. To them, food, drink, and clothing was of the utmost importance.
You seek HIS kingdom (it belongs to christ, His church, His people. You seek the church that belongs to Christ), and HIS righteousness (His standard of right and wrong). And how do we do that? Through the instruction of HIS perfect and fulfilled word, God breathe, the sword of the Spirit.
Everyone who was following Christ regarding His teaching of the Kingdom. Were they not fed? Were they not clothed? Of course.
If the first thing you do in life each day is to search out the church of Christ, to obey its conditions of entrance, to be faithful within it, to be productive within it. The church of Christ (we here today, the assembly, the family, the body, the congregation) God will make sure none of us go without food, drink, clothing, and lodging. It’s not a free ride, it’s not to be taken advantage of. It is to sustain life in Christ so as to do His will, and to do His will pleases Him.
So we need not worry like the world worries, over outward things. We have peace in Christ when we seek His church first each day.
Seek ye first the kingdom is a verse that gives us practical insight into God’s standard of judgment. And so, to practice this verse properly we ask ourselves questions.
- Does being here this day as an outward display of a religious person make us inwardly faithful? No.
- If the 1st reason we are here today is for someone, or something other than Jesus Christ? We’re going to miss paradise. For we’ve been bought by the fluff of men, and not by the binding word of God.
- We can be the most socially active congregation on the block. Fill our calendars with all sorts of hangouts. But if we’re not in the word of God, we’ve failed to “seek ye first.”
- Does dating and marrying unbelievers, or unfaithful Christians, line up with seeking first the kingdom of God? Does it further grow the kingdom and please God when we put ourselves in compromising situations, of such magnitude as a life long union with another person?
- Does forsaking the assembly in a habitual manner, line up with seeking first the kingdom of God?
- Does hanging around bad company?
- What kind of music do you listen to? Movies do you watch?
11 for I have learned (how? educated in the word of God), in whatsoever state I am (rich or poor), therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things, I am instructed (by what? The word of God, the Bible) both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (how? Through the teachings of Christ found in the Bible).
(I don’t need to worry, when I am content, because whatever comes my way, the Word of God will instruct me to remain on course).
If we are content with what God provides, we won’t have to worry about tomorrow. Because today has enough to worry about all on its own.
When we decided to let go of our past lives. God took care of us. Why? Because we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.
If you are tired of worrying about the afterlife, and if you’re going to paradise or torment. If you, this day, seek His church and His commands. You need to repent and be immersed in water, with His authority, for the forgiveness of your sins. He will add you to His kingdom. And through His words in the Bible, He will teach you to remain faithful therein.
If you choose to be made right with God this day, please come forward as we stand and we sing.