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First Things First

Where is your focus? What is the most important thing in your life?

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In Matthew 6:33, Jesus Christ exhorts us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This principle has far reaching implications for EVERY Christian in ALL ASPECTS of our lives. It has a way of reordering our priorities and helping us put things in proper perspective. We need to think in terms of what is of the highest importance. In other words, put first things first. If we actually DO this, if we actually seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—following this admonition daily—good things will start to happen in the Work, in the Church, and in our individual lives.

What is the Kingdom of God like? Jesus explains, “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it” (Luke 13:19). When you plant one of those little seeds in fertile ground, it’s amazing how quickly it grows, how big it gets and how far out it reaches! The Kingdom of God starts very small but it’s going to grow bigger and bigger until it completely encompasses the whole earth.

Are we seeking?

“And again he said…‘It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened’” (vv 20-21). This is a small church—the Kingdom of God in embryo—but eventually the time is coming when it will begin to spread until the Kingdom of God completely leavens everything. Everywhere on earth, everybody will be a part of the Church of God and the Kingdom of God. What a different way of life!

Seek means to search, pursue, look for, hunt. Are we truly seeking the Kingdom of God, FIRST? Are we truly seeking the Kingdom of God, FIRST? God has given us knowledge to understand many things, but we have to go ahead and follow what we know. When you are seeking something, you’re focused on it. You’re interested in it, talking about it. It has your attention. It is a big part of your life.

What happens when you lose your keys? You start searching and seeking. You start longing for those keys. Is the Kingdom of God something you are longing for? Is it something that you are seeking? Does it come first? We need to be tying all that we do in with seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

In Matthew 13:44 Jesus Christ likens the Kingdom of God to “treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” It is so valuable and important that this man will do whatever he needs to do to buy that field.

And in verses 45 and 46: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” He put all of his eggs in one basket. He was convinced this was the pearl of great price. This was ALL he needed. Whatever was required to have this one pearl, that’s what he was going to do. Paul said, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” because he knew that would give him entrance into the Kingdom of God (Phil. 3:11). That is the treasure, the pearl of great price, that we must be willing to do anything for. And everything we do, say and think ties in with making it into the Kingdom—or not making it into the Kingdom.

When we start to fully engage in seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness with every fiber of our being, in a balanced way, things that we tend to worry about diminish in importance. Why waste time carrying a grudge? Or being jealous? Or scratching and clawing for a little more power or position? What does that have to do with seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? God will take care of all that. We look past those things and concentrate on the future.

Make it real

Helping other people is a part of seeking the Kingdom. Doing the Work is a part of seeking the Kingdom. Overcoming and growing—anything that God says we are to do—ties in with seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness, directly or indirectly.

When trouble really comes, it is going to be easy, humanly, to back off and ease up. But we must keep moving forward (Luke 9:62). We know that “we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). This requires inner conviction and faith. We must meditate on and anticipate God’s Kingdom, like our spiritual forefathers who “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off,Why waste time carrying a grudge? and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).

Obadiah verses 17–18 speak of this literal kingdom: “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” And verse 21, “Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”

It’s hard to really grasp but the more we pray about and study it, the more it begins to be REAL to us. This IS going to happen. Everybody who has died in Jesus Christ is going to be raised, and those who endure until the end are going to be there, too. In Luke 8:1 the gospel of the Kingdom of God is referred to as “glad tidings.” It is good news! We should never get tired of hearing and talking about it. It’s not the only thing but it’s one of the most important things. Jesus Christ did say, “First.”

Perfect leadership in the future

The most important aspect of the kingdom is the King. As we seek the kingdom of God, we will find ourselves getting closer to the King, Jesus Christ (Zech 14:9). Imagine a world where the leadership is one hundred percent just and righteous! For the first time, it will be done right.

When you really consider the tremendous future out there in front of us, in the Kingdom of God, how important are the things that are bothering you right now? If we begin to balance our concerns and our responsibilities with seeking the Kingdom of God first, it’s amazing what happens. We’ll have peace, relaxation, balance and encouragement. With God’s help, we become even more determined.

We must not neglect developing righteousness. We have to seek that as well, understanding “that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9). A good definition of righteousness is found in Psalm 119:172. David says, “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” Righteousness is defined in the Ten Commandments. As we live by that law, we’re going to be developing the proper kind of righteous, Godly character.

Keep our focus

We all had problems that we had to repent of, and we had to have those blotted out through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. We still have problems, but now we’re overcoming them by the power of God’s Spirit. Spending time thinking about the commandments of God—about how they apply in both the spirit and in the letter will keep us on track. Of course we can not keep any commandment without God’s help, but with God’s help we can and must.

Jesus Christ says we are to abide in Him as He abides in us and we will bear fruit. But without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:4–5). In our prayers, we should talk to God about this and ask Him to help us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and emulate Him. In order to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we have to be firmly attached to Jesus Christ.

Without Him, we can do nothing, no matter how hard we try. But with Christ, we can do ALL things (Phil. 4:13). We can grow in doing the work. We can withstand persecution and endure until the end. We will be able to return good for evil and pray for those who persecute us. We can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens us, including seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, day in and day out, and getting better and better at it.

Christ tells us not to worry about physical things (Matt. 6:25–31). Of course we have to think about responsibilities, but we ought not be worrying about them. We’ve got to internalize this right down to our core character. With God’s help it has to be done. It will revolutionize everything if we do it. Here’s the big mistake we human beings often make—we seek first all these things, and hope the Kingdom of God and His righteousness will be added unto us. It doesn’t work like that!

The God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). It’s worth giving up anything to move toward that kingdom, and every day, we should cry out to God, “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2). Revelation 11:15 outlines the time we are all looking forward to: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God (and His righteousness)—which is a soon–coming, glorious time in the future when He shall reign forever and ever.