But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The end of this teaching forms one of the more famous passages in all of Scripture. Seek first God’s kingdom. When we do that, all that we need will be added to us.
Let us cease our worrying about the future. We cannot change the past and we don’t know the future. We have enough to worry about for today.
What does it practically mean to seek the Kingdom of God? How can we follow Jesus’ commands? The following list may help. This list is not exhaustive but can be a guide to help us.
Seek God’s Kingdom through prayer
Seek to be obedient to God’s Word
Be a part of a local church
Seek God’s Kingdom through prayer
Learn to serve others through the church and in your daily life
Be aware of God’s work in your life through the day as He guides, provides, and protects
Worry saps our spiritual strength and keeps us from having power with God. May we choose the alternative and live by trusting that God will meet our needs by His power.
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Prayer is an important emphasis in the Kingdom of Heaven. Living as Kingdom citizens allows us the privilege of prayer. We can converse and commune with God.
The Lord’s message in v. 5 is “do not be a hypocrite when we pray.” Don’t pray publicly one way when you are a different person in private. God has a real problem with us pretending to be something we are not.
Simply put, we are not to pray for the audience around us. We are to pray to God and to God alone.
Those who pray for the ears of others have their reward. They are well-thought of in the moment, but, that’s it. No reward exists for hypocritical praying.
By contrast, our prayers are to be authentic and the same whether we pray privately or publicly. We are rewarded by the father when we seek Him sincerely each day. The Father is pleased with this type of praying.
Remember, Jesus is not condemning public prayer per se. He is condemning hypocritical public prayers that do not glorify God but glorify the one who prays.
Glorify Jesus in your prayer life, child of God. He is worthy!
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
One thing we learn from this Scripture is this—the standard of love is high in the Kingdom. Christ compels us to go further than worldly norms. This is born out in two ways.
First, we are to love our neighbors and love our enemies. Loving those who love you in return is not enough. We are commanded to love our enemies. We are called to love those who don’t like us, disagree with us, and even persecute us. Once again, Christ is our example as He died for us even when we were still in our sin (Romans 5:8) and enemies with God. (James 4:4)
Also, we are told to pray for our enemies. Do not curse them, but, pray for them. Jesus asks, in v. 46-47, if we only treat those who love us well, what good is it? Instead, we are to go above and beyond in showing love for others by praying for their good and that they would come to know Christ as Savior and Lord.
This teaching is not easy to hear and obey. But kingdom living requires it. The Holy Spirit lives within us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and will enable us to do all that Jesus has commanded. Let us all commit ourselves to do what Christ has clearly instructed in this passage of Scripture. Be perfect (complete) as your heavenly Father is perfect!
Living as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven is not always easy. Kingdom living requires us to embrace the paradoxical teachings of King Jesus. What exactly am I writing about today? Consider these examples of upside down thinking that characterizes living in the Kingdom of God.
Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:35-37
The first shall be “last of all”. Success in the Kingdom of Heaven arrives by putting oneself last, not first. This thought is counter-cultural and even offensive to our generation which embraces a selfish view of life and self. Yet, the call to put others first is strong and unavoidable.
In the Kingdom, the greatest shall be the “servant of all.” Greatness in God’s economy does not flow to us by chasing after earthly power, earthly plaudits, or earthly treasure. Rather, we rise in the Kingdom by serving others. Jesus is the perfect example of this as He came not to be served, but, to serve and give His life for us. (Matthew 20:28)
Christians are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom. The standard of conduct for the Christian is much different than the worldly system. May we, as God’s people, embrace the challenge of living in this way as it honors God and shows forth His love.