Seek First the Kingdom of God

Reflection: Matthew 6:19 – 34; Luke 6:17 – 49.

The Sermon on the Mount or a Discourse on Discipleship encompasses chapters 5 to 7 of the Gospel of Matthew (with its shorter parallel in Luke), is possibly a compilation of the teachings of Jesus. The section that interests us touches on moral aphorisms: beginning with a piece on gathering treasures and continues with a very concise bit on vision. Next comes a mention on serving two masters, followed by an expanded homily on worrying.

Firstly, Jesus charges us not store up treasures here on earth because wherever our treasure is, there the desires of our heart will be also (vv. 19-21). He then takes us one step further, be single-minded so that your spiritual health is not jeopardized, as we cannot serve God and money (vv. 22-24). Finally, he expounds about worry – do not worry about everyday life as God cares for us and already knows all our needs (vv. 25-32). What is the purpose for these interrelated unambiguous instructions? Quite apart from the cares of this world, He is not unconversant that the fears and preoccupations arising out of our focus on monetary issues will sidetrack us from our resolve to live under God’s kingship and righteousness (vv. 33-34).

Jesus went for our jugular and addresses our anxieties on the issue of money and banking. He is not demeaning money nor discouraging us to save, but to excessively focus on it, is to unmistakably worship it; as our Lord then in the next verse equated himself with a personification of wealth (as Mammon is the name of a fallen angel). Strong language, but it’s an indication how invisible the line is, and the primacy of our value system! The kingship of God inevitably conflicts with the principle of materialism, and consequently, to seek first his kingdom in the hustle and bustle of this life remains a challenging task!

There is a subtle tendency for us to infer that we can discover what our hearts value most by observing what makes us most gratified. Perhaps closer to the truth is that our underlying fears often govern what our heart values most, as we fear loosing those treasures, thereby affecting the choices we make (v. 21). As believers, we are part of a radically new Christian counter-culture, coming under God’s direction and control and inverting the normal worldly-wise trends of life’s priorities. Hence, ‘storing treasures in heaven,’ an otherworldly focus, is the only viable alternative our Lord specified (v. 20). What are these eternal treasures that are a priority to the kingdom of heaven? Perhaps the answer to that is found in answering what was Christ’s ministry all about? It does not cease with salvation! ‘Go and make disciples of all nations …..’ (Matt 28:19-20). Let us particularize it and consider the spiritual inheritance of our children. When we bring up our children in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord, which encompasses years of training-cum-discipling, it is unlikely that they will leave the kingdom life when they are older (Eph 6:4; Prov 22:6). We are therefore storing treasures in eternity and capitalizing in that which cannot be lost as opposed to what we cannot hope to keep.

What are the other kingdom issues that are of inestimable value and significant to God for you?