First Things First

Instead of focusing on bodily needs, Jesus commands us to set our hearts and minds on the kingdom and righteousness of God above all. He had earlier told them to pray, “Your kingdom come” (6:10). The kingdom of God is His reign and rule over the universe, and especially over men and women. Our heart’s desire should be for God to have His way in our lives and in the lives of others. That includes, of course, “Your will be done,” as Jesus cried in the Garden of Gethsemane (26:42). More than anything else, we must long for God to exercise His sovereign sway. His “righteousness” has been variously interpreted. Some think Jesus refers to the justice for all which God will bring on the last day, and for which we must work even now. Others believe that it means that righteousness which God confers by grace to all who trust in Christ for salvation. These are both true, of course. Probably, however, the main meaning here is that personal righteousness – holiness, virtue – which Jesus had told His disciples must surpass even that of the Pharisees, as a requirement for entrance into God’s kingdom (5:20). In any case, the Lord requires that we hunger and thirst for righteousness (5:6), even to the point of being willing to suffer for it (5:10). Nothing – not even an eye or a limb -must come before our pursuit of moral likeness to God Himself, who alone is fully righteous (5:29-30). Like Jesus Himself, we must be willing to forsake all to follow God’s way, even if it leads to Golgotha (10:37-39). After all, that is what Jesus meant when He said to the first disciples, “Follow Me” (4:19). He had Himself submitted to baptism by John in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (3:15), and He had refused to let Satan deflect Him from the path of obedience to God the Father (4:1-10). As the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews said, Jesus preferred to suffer rather than give in to temptation (Hebrews 2:18). How about you? What is your main goal in life? To feed and fulfill yourself, or to follow in the steps of Him who sought, first and foremost, the kingdom of God and His righteousness?