The First Duty

The First Duty

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“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33, NIV).

Men are constantly inverting the divine order, seeking wealth and pleasure and the things pertaining to this life first, with the purpose of seeking their eternal salvation and the kingdom of God afterward. But he who begins wrong cannot hope to end right unless he retraces his steps.

Why we should seek the Kingdom first

Because God commands it.

In His command are His wisdom and love; obedience brings blessing and prosperity. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land” (Isaiah 1: 19, NIV). “Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good” (Jeremiah 5: 25, NIV). No one can disobey God without getting into trouble.

Because these things are of the greatest importance.

It is only reasonable that we devote our first thought to those things of most consequence. It is folly for men to be engaged with trifles while there are questions of eternal destiny – life and death and heaven and hell – that remain unattended to. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16: 26, NIV)

Because the success of life is conditioned upon this.

“All these things (temporal necessities) shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6: 33, KJV). No matter what the seeming success, the person who does not first seek the kingdom of God makes a miserable failure of life, and exposes himself to the eternal wrath of God; all will be an utter loss both for this world and the world to come.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1: 8, NIV). “…Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4: 8, NIV).

The kingdom of God – what is it?

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14: 17, NIV). It does not consist in the observance of outward rites and ceremonies, but is that heart condition where “righteousness, peace and joy” dominate the life by the power of the Holy [Spirit]. According to this analysis, one-third of religion is joy. It is a spiritual kingdom, with Christ enthroned in the heart, and every energy and power of the being subject to divine law.

And His Righteousness

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 33, NIV)

Righteousness here evidently signifies holiness, or the full salvation of God. “Righteousness-a full restoration to the image of God.” –Adam Clarke. The conjunction “and” in the text clearly indicates that there are two things to seek. Just as certainly as it is the sinner’s duty to seek the “kingdom of God,” just so certainly it is the duty of the Christian to seek “His righteousness,” which means deliverance from inbred sins, and “a full restoration to the image of God.”

How to Seek

To seek implies that some effort is necessary on our part. We should seek definitely, diligently, persistently, in humble submission and faith. “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7: 7, NIV). “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29: 13, NIV). “…anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11: 6, NIV).

Excerpt from The Nazarene Messenger, Oct. 9th, 1902

Edited by Rev. C. W. Ruth

Used with permission from Nazarene Archives for Coffee Break with Holiness Today