"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. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:31-33)
I found this passage difficult to understand, because wasn't I supposed to take care of myself, wash myself, etc?
It's only in the last five years that I have learned what we are men are without Jesus: Dead.
He is our life (Colossians 3:4), and He has called us to receive His Life (John 10:10; 14:6)
Righteousness produces life in us!
"In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death." (Proverbs 12:28)
"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)
We do not just receive life, but we reign in life!
How about that?!
Furthermore, Jesus relies on key examples to show how our Loving Father takes care of the birds and the flowers:
"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? 26Behold 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?" (Matthew 6:25-26)
The birds of the air are fed by our Daddy God. He cares for us far more than He cares for the birds. WHY? Because He gave His Son for us!
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)
Notice that God our Father not only set His Son for us, but wanted us to live through Him!
Paul affirms this wonderful revelation, which is still so missing, so lacking in churches today:?
"20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:20-21)
Notice how Paul compares righteousness by faith versus righteousness by the law--which cannot be, since Jesus had to die on the Cross for us to receive righteousness.
Now, at one point in my life, I noticed that I was receiving manifold blessings.
Yet when I came across this passage in Matthew 6:33, I was worried: "How do I seek His righteousness?"
The answer would come to be about three years after that, when I learned what righteousness is all about.
First, Paul explains how we become justified:
"38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)
We cannot be justified through ourselves, but rather we are justified because of Jesus.
Then there's Romans 5:17, which talks about how we receive--keep receiving the gift of righteousness. OK, then why does it say in the Gospels "seek" and in the Letter to the Romans "receive."
In fact, we are made the righteousness of God in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:21) We are not seeking righteousness, but we have been made the righteousness of God.
We are as righteous as Jesus Christ Himself!
"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement, because as He is, so are we in this world!" (1 John 4:17)
There has been a change, church!
Jesus died on the Cross, fulfilling the Old Covenant and enacting a New Covenant, which He accomplished through His blood:
"Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:20)
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12:24)
What was the one thing that had kept me in bondage, then, in those earlier years?
I kept thinking that God's presence in my life would come and go depending on how I felt, or what I was thinking. I was not thinking the right thoughts or feeling the right way, if I did not ensure that my mind was on him at all times, then He would go away and I would have to struggle to bring Him back.
That is outrageous! I cannot be condemned for anything. His peace will never depart from me!
"9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
"10For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee."
God will never be angry with me again!
Why? Because He has granted me His righteousness!
"14In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
"17No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD."
"Their righteousness is of me!"
So, I no longer fear for the future, because I know that He is already there, having declared the end from the beginning. I also recognize that my righteousness is not dependent on me. No matter how I feel, no matter what I am thinking, no matter how I may fail or do wrong, He has me in His hand:
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isaiah 41:10)
Notice that fear is dispelled because of His righteousness!
This was so new to me.
He is my life. He lives in me and around me. I never have to worry about Him being there for me, because He has promised to never leave me or forsake me.
"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
"11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
"12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
I never have to worry about failing, because righteousness is a gift from HIM--and He invites me to keep receiving it!
So, now we can come back to Jesus' promise to us from the Sermon on the Mount:
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
Every day, I learn more about this gift of righteousness. So much wrong thing which I used to subscribe to, and now it's all being washed away! Even when I fail, I am still righteous. Even when I sin (verb), I am still righteous (adjective), because I receive His righteousness (noun).
Thank you, Jesus!