Title: Keeping First Things First (Matthew 6:33)
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
I used to hear this verse growing up in church and Sunday School and think it was some sort of hard-to-follow, secret formula on how to get what I wanted. It always made me uncomfortable. I thought it advised that if I tried really hard to put God first, I’d end up getting that horse or that video game or whatever the current desire was at the time. It was a means to an end.
As I grew older, I knew that couldn’t be right, and started to feel guilty over thinking there was a way to “fake it” with God to get what I wanted. I wanted to please the Lord, but I also really wanted some “worldly” things. Be it a relationship or a particular job or college scholarship, I would think surely if I just “put God first,” the good things would come my way next. Isn’t that what Matthew 6:33 promised?
But that seemed strange, because there were plenty of times I successfully had my morning quiet and remembered to pray and did good works and tried really hard not to sin, and still didn’t get what I wanted. What was wrong?
I eventually realized Matthew 6:33 was a confusing verse for me because I’d only ever heard it out of its full context—and context is everything when applying Scripture!
When Jesus spoke this message, known as “The Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 6, it was in the context of handling anxiety and worry. Obviously, Jesus wasn’t giving the crowd a behind-the-scenes look on how to manipulate God the Father to get what they wanted. Rather, He was assuring them of the way things work. He was giving His first-hand knowledge of why we as believers have no reason to be anxious or worry. After all, if God clothes the lilies of the field and makes them beautiful, and cares for the birds of the air and makes sure they have food, how much more will He take care of us?
That might not always mean we’re decked out in the latest fashions, have an overflow of money in the bank account, or enjoy fine dining at every luxury restaurant. In fact, it more often does not mean that. It actually means something so much deeper. This verse is talking about peace of the heart, not scheming formulas for selfish gain. It’s referring to faith of the soul, not hope in secular desires. It’s about having a consistent joy of the spirit, rather than the fleeting happiness of worldly success or possessions. It’s true provision.
The next time you’re prone to worry or anxiety about things outside of your control, remember this verse. Remember the birds and the flowers. Remember that Jesus took time to remind the crowd that God watches out for them and cares. He’s not to be manipulated or schemed against, but trusted.
Seek first the kingdom—not for your gain, but for your good.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hero of a hubby, two total-opposite young daughters, a vast collection of coffee mugs, and an impressive stash of Pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she’s not sweating it out at Camp Gladiator or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha—no whip. Look for her latest novel with Revell, The Key To Love in bookstores everywhere. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com.
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