Seek Ye First
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
This has become a favorite memory verse for millions and has even been set to music by a number of artists. Indeed, its truth is of foundational importance. Let us look with care at what it says.
First, notice that the tense of the verb “seek” in Greek implies a command to establish an ongoing habit or lifestyle of “seeking” the things of the kingdom. We are commanded to put first things first on a continual basis and watch Him take care of the items of secondary interest.
We should strive to make His priorities our priorities—to so mold our thinking by the Word of God that we think as He does on every issue. Our lives should exhibit the purity and righteousness that He exhibited when on Earth. While it is true that we will never fully achieve such perfection this side of heaven, we should be striving, i.e., “seeking,” to do so by the power of His Spirit living in us.
The chapter surrounding today’s verse is permeated by the concept of proper priorities in relation to pride (vv. 5-8, 16-18), treasures on Earth (vv. 19-21), singleness of purpose (vv. 22-23), serving two masters (v. 24), or anxious thoughts about the future (vv. 25-32, 34). Remember, “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (v. 32).
If we reverse the proper order, not only will we not attain kingdom priorities and His righteousness, but we will probably miss the secondary “things” as well. The word “added,” a mathematical word, implies the prior existence of something to which other things can be added.
Surely in our “seeking” we should also adopt the prayer Jesus taught His disciples: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (v. 10). JDM