What Does "Seek Ye First His Kingdom And His Righteousness" Really Mean?
Dennis L. Reed

          We hear this passage, from the sermon on the mount, quoted regularly in bulletins, Bible classes, and in sermons, but is it possible that the real meaning of this admonition has continued to escape us?  As we consider these most serious words of Jesus, it is extremely important that we look at the context of the scripture where they are found and that we clearly recognize what the things are that "first" is to exceed.  

          Let us listen now to the context of this passage, "Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious 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 the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:25-33).

          Jesus teaches a great many valuable lessons in this passage, but it is obvious that the overall theme of His teaching has to do with the statement, "be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on."  Regarding one being anxious about these material or physical needs, Jesus adamantly said, "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."  How sad it is when the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God are sometimes being placed lower on the priority list than our physical or material needs!  The Master clearly summed it up when He said, "O ye of little faith".  When we don’t have enough faith to trust God to meet our physical needs, then it seems to be obvious that the kingdom and righteousness of God fails to be an absolute FIRST in our lives. 

         

The apostle Paul commended the Corinthians for their priorities in these words, "but first they gave their own selves to the Lord,".  (II Corinthians 8:5).  If Christ and His word is not the total priority of our affections, then we have failed in the matter of "seeking first"!  If spiritual matters do not absolutely come first in our lives, then our faith in the Lord and our confidence in His promises are not what they should be.  We can learn a truly valuable lesson from the question which Jesus asked of Simon Peter, "… lovest thou me more than these?" (John 21:15).  We need to very honestly and objectively ask ourselves if we have truly "given ourselves to the Lord"!  If so, then let us be very certain that we "Seek Ye First His Kingdom And His Righteousness"!

Just a Cup of Cold Water
by Jason Longstreth

            "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:24).

            Giving just a cup of cold water.  Have you ever really thought about that statement?  I hope you have.  We read these words here in this statement by Jesus.  We sing these words in some of the hymns we sing.  But do we live these words?  That is the important part.  That is the question we must ask ourselves.  And that is what I want you to think about today.

            But there is something else we must decide before we can even ask the question whether or not we are doing what Jesus talked about.  And that is, what did Jesus mean when He mentioned giving a cup of cold water to someone so they could drink?  Was He speaking literally or figuratively?  Was He talking about doing this for other Christians or for all people?  Did He mean that we should be going out into our community with Igloo® coolers and Dixie® cups, offering water to everyone we see?  I don’t think so.  But what did He mean?

            The idea of offering someone a cup of water or a drink is really the idea of offering some kind of comfort or relief.  It is taking care of their needs.  And, at least to some extent, it is a sign of their acceptance.  In the sixteenth chapter of Jeremiah, God used this illustration to show that He had withdrawn His peace, lovingkindness and compassion from the people.  As a result, He commanded the prophet not to enter a house of mourning or to console the people (verse 5).  In verse 7, He adds, "nor give them a cup of consolation to drink for anyone’s father or mother."  By not giving them a cup of consolation, Jeremiah was leaving them in their sorrow and showing them that they were no longer accepted by God.

            In comparison, this expression is used twice in the New Testament - in Matthew 10:24, which we have already quoted, and in Mark 9:41.  In Matthew 10, it is used in the context of ‘receiving’ a prophet or a righteous man.  In fact, it is even used in the context of receiving Christ.  This shows the approval or acceptance we were just talking about.  In Mark 9, it is used in the context of not hindering someone or causing them to stumble.  This shows a desire to help or take care of someone’s needs.  Therefore, we see that the expression has the same basic meaning in the Old Testament or in the New.

            But how does that relate to what Jesus was actually saying?  What are we supposed to do?  I believe what we are supposed to do is exactly what Jesus did.  We are supposed to bring relief and comfort to those who are looking for it.  We are supposed to be doing good and serving our fellow man.  And we are especially supposed to be doing this for our fellow Christians.  That is the context of Jesus’ saying.

            You see, in many ways the ideas associated with the giving of a cup of cold water are really the same ideas that we associate with the idea of family.  The cup of cold water showed acceptance and comfort.  It showed concern and offered relief.  Isn’t that really the same thing a family does?  Doesn’t the family offer to someone a place where they will belong, where they will be accepted?  Doesn’t the family offer people a place to go when the burdens of life seem too heavy for them to bear?  Or when they just need a shoulder to cry on?  I believe it does — or at least that is what a family should do.

            Therefore, what Jesus is really doing is simply telling us to act like a family.  And yet, that is easier said than done.  Being a part of a family is a commitment - and commitments are hard, they take time.  I’m sure we all realize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, but we don’t always act like it.  Maybe it’s time we all start handing out a few more cups of cold water.