Seek God First
by Tom Stewart
January 3, 2002
Jesus taught us, "Seek
ye first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness" (Matthew
6:33), demonstrating that our true necessities go beyond food,
clothing, and shelter; but, He promises that even those needs "shall be added unto you" (6:33), if we seek God first. From "The
Beginning" (Genesis 1:1), it has
never been a mystery that God must be the Primary Focus of our existence, and that
any confusion to this First Truth must be actively introduced and entertained by
man with the assistance of Satan. "For
the invisible things of [God] from
The Creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made, even His Eternal Power and Godhead; so that [we] are without excuse" (Romans
1:20). The rebellion fomented by the Serpent in the Garden through
our first parents has so fogged human understanding, that though the majority acknowledge
the existence of God, it has become common to disregard the necessity to live "by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of
God" (Matthew 4:4). Because man
has been created with the moral capability of choosing or denying God, multiple interpretations
of the Scriptures have caused many to conclude that anything or nothing may be proved
by Scripture. But, "what saith the Scripture?"
(Romans 4:3). There is a unity of True Faith that can be seen
in all of genuine Christianity. "4 There is one body, and one Spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One LORD, one faith, one baptism, 6
One God and Father of all, Who is above all,
and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). For this reason, a call to seek God first, can rightly be declared as
a Universal Truth, that is not to be privately interpreted. "20 Knowing
this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the Prophecy came not in old
time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost" (2Peter 1:20-21).
When an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic Law tempted Jesus, saying, "Master, which is the great Commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36), he was hoping to catch the Master in a dispute over some oral tradition, which the Jews used, in lawyerly fashion, to keep themselves from obeying plain Commandments from God. For instance, it was the custom in Christ's day for one to disavow responsibility for the care of their elderly parents, as the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue requires to "honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12), by declaring, "It is Corban," i.e., a gift offered to the sacred treasury [Greek, korbanas], whether actually given or not. "11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye" (Mark 7:11-13). But, what this Pharisee received, was a restatement of what every true son of Abraham already knew-- to seek God first. The lawyer was privileged, as we are, to receive a clarion call to seek God first, from none other than the Son of God Himself. "37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the First and Great Commandment. 39 And the Second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).
The concept that we ought to seek God first is the Primal Demand of our existence, as can be seen by Christ's affirmation of the inspired teaching of Moses. "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in ALL His Ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with ALL thy heart and with ALL thy soul" (Deuteronomy 10:12). That we have so changed in the past few thousand years that we no longer need to seek God first, is only a convenient deception. Notice in the following passage that Christ outlines the fine points of True Religion, which obligates us always to seek God first. It is only our sinful departure from it, which necessitates our Salvation "24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [i.e., material wealth]. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought 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 meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God 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? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:24-34).
Throughout the New Testament, the consistent Truth is our necessity to seek God first in ALL things. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do ALL to the glory of God" (1Corinthians 10:31). If life is to be transacted at all, it is to be done with a single eye of True Devotion toward God. "17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do ALL in the Name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him... 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the LORD, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:17, 23). The Mystery of the Godhead reveals the consistency of seeking God first through the exaltation of Jesus Christ. "And without controversy great is the Mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1Timothy 3:16). Anything less than a wholehearted seeking of God first is not True Religion. "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of Righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13). Unless we can honestly justify our lives as devoted to God, then God cannot justify Himself in receiving us as those who seek Him first. "7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the LORD; and whether we die, we die unto the LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the LORD's" (14:7-8). [Read a lecture by Charles G. Finney ---New Window on "Devotion" ---New Window (1839) to see how this 19th century evangelist portrayed the concept of seeking God first, devotion to God, and consecration to God, e.g., "Simple faith in the character of God, as revealed in the Bible, naturally and necessarily begets a spirit of consecration to God."]
The substance of Evangelical Christianity emphasizes the office of Saviour for the Son of God. "30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:30-32). Humanity needs Salvation, in the first place, because it has already refused first allegiance to God. "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8). It can always be seen, whether we are truly seeking God first, if we are following the steps of the Saviour, i.e., "What would Jesus do?" [Read Charles M. Sheldon's "In His Steps" ---New Window, for a story about church members who choose to live by the maxim, "What would Jesus do?"] Once we have received Jesus as our Saviour from the sin of rejecting His Sovereignty over us, then Jesus must be introduced to us in His office of Sanctifier, Who keeps us seeking Him first. "And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27). [Read Charles G. Finney's "The Relations of Christ to the Believer" ---New Window, for a thoughtful treatment of this vital topic of the sanctified walk of those who seek God first.] Though we do not seek and serve God first for any selfish end, we have been promised by the LORD Jesus Himself, "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour" (John 12:26).
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