First Things First: Seeking God


“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

It is easy to lose sight of the most important things in life. Even our concern for those things that we would all judge to be basic necessities—like food, clothing, and shelter—can become our chief preoccupation. They can distract us from seeing what is truly essential and most important.

Jesus once said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” addressing the problem of excessive worry or anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34). At the heart of his message was the primary importance of recognizing that God is the giver of our very lives. Jesus begins with the question, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Then he concludes that our “heavenly Father knows” that we need all these things.

Between these two statements are observations intended to appeal to our reason. “Look at the birds of the air” and “Consider the lilies of the field.” The Father takes care of these lowly beings. How much more will he care for us, who are of far “more value” because we were made in his image. The practical reality is that worry adds nothing productive to our lives.

Ultimately, what sets us apart from those who view seeking material things as their primary concern, is a worldview based on faith in God. “O you of little faith” (v. 30) is a standing rebuke of those who ought to know what is most important.

Faith in God is that which will lead us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness as our first priority. It’s what Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Matt. 6:10). Seeking—and praying for—the kingdom of God means to seek his rule in our lives. What we must seek first is the submission of our will to his. As we do so, we will also “hunger and thirst” for his righteousness, knowing that we will be filled (Matt. 5:6). Seeking his righteousness means seeking to live by his standard of right conduct in life. The result is that we will be filled. Life will be transformed for the better.

Jesus promises that “all these things will be added to you.” The point is not to dismiss the concern for basic necessities of life. It is, rather, that the way to be assured of “these things” is to quit seeking them and seek God. Seek the present, and we lose both it and eternity; seek heaven, and earth will be thrown it. Faith in God’s care for us will enable us to live for today. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6).

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God,… for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:26-27).

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 14:13).

Dan Petty