What does “Seek first the kingdom of God” mean? Many Christians have heard the verse, but do we know its true meaning?
In my Bible, these words are printed in red, which means Jesus spoke them. It also indicates importance. We’re wise to pay attention when our Savior speaks, as He offers much wisdom. So how can Christians seek first the kingdom of God? Let’s find out.
What Does “Seek First the Kingdom of God" Mean in Matthew 6:33?
The phrase sounds easy enough — seek first the kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:33 (ESV) it says: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” But what if we read the verse in context? This allows us to better understand Christ’s intended meaning. In this case, that requires studying Matthew 6:25-34.
Jesus states more than a simple command that pinpoints the worries of this world. And don’t miss that God wraps up this passage with a promise: When we seek Him first, He gives us exactly what we need. We can trust Him.
According to the Matthew J. Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, this passage centers on worldly concerns like worry or anxiety, temptations most of us face. Jesus warned His disciples about worldly concerns often, and we counter them by seeking God and His righteousness.
The Almighty calls us to seek first the kingdom of God instead of worrying about what we’ll eat, how we’ll dress — temporal or superficial concerns. Our Father, who is love and far more trustworthy than man, encourages us through Matthew 6:33 and other Bible verses to keep an eternal perspective even as we cross each day off of our calendars. You and I are called to refuse worry and anxiety. Instead, we seek first the kingdom of God.
Here’s a listing of Bible verses concerning anxiety and worry to help us.
What Does it Mean to Seek God’s Kingdom?
Children love playing hide and seek — a game in which all but one participant hides with the intent of being the last one found. But it wouldn’t amount to much if one person didn’t seek the others, would it? Consider us the “it” seeking God’s Kingdom with all we have, looking in every nook and cranny until our search results in us finding Him.
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon defines “seek first” by seeking in order to find, to aim at or strive after. It also means to look for, go after, to search for.
God remains available and ready for us to find Him, to look for and worship Him in those anxiety-riddled situations. Do we run to worship, searching for God the way we easily lean and rely on worry? To seek God’s kingdom means we’ve made a conscience decision to turn toward God versus anxiety or worry.
7 Ways to Seek First God’s Kingdom
There are various ways to seek first God’s kingdom. Seven tips are listed below:
Jesus spoke to the Father often, relaying that importance. He prayed with many people and in groups, but He also spent time alone with God. And during those solitary moments with His Father, we note an intimate communion between the two of them such as in Matthew 26, verses 39, 42, and 44. That opportunity for intimacy through prayer exists for us, too.
2. Bible Reading
It’s easy enough to rely on our pastor or other spiritual leaders to feed us God’s Word, as many of them have wonderful insight. But our Father wants to meet with us personally, and He often does that through Scripture. Why rely solely on man when something much more personal remains available?
God gave us His word so that we can keep our way pure, according to Psalm 119:9. It’s a light unto our path and lamp for our feet according to Psalm 119:105. When we’ve read and know the Bible and the promises of God, we’re strengthened to stand firm against sin. Because we’ve spent time with Him through His Word, our relationship deepens. This is a means of seeking first God’s kingdom.
Have you ever worshiped in your living room, outside, or among the church pews? This time of intimacy, simply recognizing God as the Almighty and honoring Him for who He is, ushers us into His presence. If at a loss for words, try reading and praying a Psalm (or several) to God. These Bible verses are full of worship. Consider a hymn or other worship song as well.
Have you ever seen signs dotting the roadsides with the message Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near? John the Baptist preached that message in the book of Matthew. Some folks continue proclaiming it today. Or, if you have watched a sports game on television, you might have noticed a sign proclaiming John 3:16. These messages relate to repentance — a necessary heart attitude for salvation (eternity in heaven) and keeping with the righteousness of God.
All of us sin. Still, God loves us — every person on earth. He desires that all come to Him, turning from those sins — whether it’s for the initial repentance leading to salvation or a daily heart check after salvation. We’re wise to seek first God’s kingdom by leaning on and trusting instead in the grace of Jesus Christ, repenting as God prompts us.
5. Bible Verse Memorization
One way to combat the temptation to worry or grow anxious is to know God’s Word. The Bible helps us understand what is right in God’s eyes. It’s His love letter to us and is our only offensive weapon listed in our spiritual weapons in Ephesians 6.
In Psalm 119:11, the writer proclaims that he hid the Word of God in his heart (memorized it, internalized it, understood it) so that he wouldn’t sin against God. When we take time to seek and memorize Bible verses, we’re prepared at a moment’s notice to cast off temptation with the truth, strength, and righteousness of God. We know what’s best because of those verses; we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
People like praise. Can you imagine how much more God does?
Psalm 100:4 indicates that we enter His courts with praise. We draw into His presence this way. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. Often, we are convicted or stirred to action during praise. It remains important and right in the Christian walk.
Psalm 100:4 also indicates we enter His gates with thanksgiving in our heart. Thanksgiving plays a role in God’s kingdom, and with wisdom, we offer it. Power ignites when we offer thanks in times of good and bad, trial or otherwise smooth situations.
What Does it Mean to Seek God above All Else?
Ever had a sweet tooth craving? Did you open cabinet doors or dresser drawers in search of something that would satisfy it? God desires we search for Him — but even more so than cravings for sweets. Seeking Him above all else indicates trust in our God when it could easily be misplaced elsewhere.
Our God is love. He is good. Everything about Him rings with goodness, faithfulness, grace, and mercy. And our Father desires that we draw close to Him, for He longs to pour this goodness out on us — for today and especially eternity. He promises to draw close to us in James 4:8, to never forsake us. And simply, He encourages you and I to seek Him above all else. Because He knows that nothing compares to Him — not cars, money, other gods, addictions, or people.
When times are tough, when they’re good, and especially when we’re tempted to worry or grow anxious, remember Matthew 6:33. Run to the Father. He’s trustworthy. Seek God above all else. His love is right. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and don’t forget the promise in the verse’s final portion: and all these things shall be added unto you. God is good.
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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker but mostly a Jesus girl. She writes weekly and offers faith-building tools for a deeper walk with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes regularly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various print and online publications. Kristi, her handsome, retired-from-the-Navy husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have set roots in Oklahoma--where she keeps close watch for tornadoes and good chocolate. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.