How to Seek God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness: Matthew 6:24-34

If a father loves fishing, he teaches his son how to fish.  If a mother loves quilting, she teaches her daughter how to quilt.  What you love, you talk about and do.  That’s just obvious.  What you love, you pass on to your children, because you love them.  You want them to love what you love.  Again, that’s just obvious.

What you love the most, you will seek out and make the center of your life.  What you love the most, you will see as the most-precious and valuable possession you have.  So, if you love God more than any other, that will show in what you say and do.  And what you love the most, you will teach your children to love.  That simply happens by how you live your life.

That’s why God tells us in His Ten Commandments: “Do not bow down to [idols] or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a passionate God” (Exodus 20:5).  And Jesus does the same, warning us against idolatry when He tells us not to worry, for at the root of worry is idolatry.  It’s trusting something more than you trust in God.

Always, it’s a choice between the creation and the Creator.  Will we love and trust something in creation more than the Creator?  Whom or what will we love and trust more, God or mammon, God or wealth?  So, when you love and trust something that God gives you more than you love and trust God Himself, that’s when you become an idolater.

And here’s where it gets even rougher: You can’t worship the false god of creation and the true God, the Creator.  That’s incompatible, like oil and water.  You can’t serve two masters.  You will either hate the one and love the other, or serve the one and despise the other.

Why is God this intolerant?  It’s because He knows that sin clouds your fallen mind.  God knows that even the birds of the air, in many ways, have more sense than we do.  At least they don’t worry about what they can’t change!  And God also knows that when something other than He is first in your life, then you are, in truth, bowing down to Satan!

That’s why you can’t serve God and mammon.  That’s why you can’t serve God and the possessions you have here.  To do so is to serve both God and Satan, which is impossible to do.  That’s why God is intolerant.

But it goes even deeper than that.  God is intolerant because He also wants you to be like Him.  He wants you to perfect, holy, and righteous, without sin ruining everything, without sin killing you even into eternity.  That’s why God sent His Son, Jesus, to be your sin, so you could become the righteousness of God.  Can you now see how God knows what you need, even when you don’t?

So then, what’s the solution?  How can we be rescued from our worship of mammon, wealth, and money?  Jesus tells us.  He even commands us.  “First, seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  More than anything else, this needs to be first in your life: God and His righteousness.

But how do you do this?  How do you seek God?  Is Jesus saying we are to climb our way to heaven?  Is the kingdom of God something abstract and distant?  No, it’s not!  Did you notice that Jesus said, “First, seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”?  The “and” is acting as a copula.  That means the “and” joins God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness into one idea.  Where you find God’s kingdom, you find His righteousness.  Where you find God’s righteousness, you find His Kingdom.  You don’t have one without the other.

Luke 17, verses 20-21, tell us:

Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.  He replied, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable [that is, something that is naturally obvious to us].  People won’t be saying, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is among you.”

Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is among you.”  When He said that, Jesus was referring to Himself.  For Jesus was the physical reality of God’s kingdom on earth.  So then, where do you get Jesus?  That’s what Jesus is commanding you to seek.  He is commanding you to seek Him where you will find Him.  Yes, Jesus commands you to seek Him.  But why does He do this?  All so you may have His righteousness!

And how do you have His righteousness?  You get it where He comes to give it to you!  For when Jesus gives you His righteousness, He’s giving you the righteousness of God.  And Jesus gives you His righteousness in baptism.  He gives you His righteousness in the preached Word.  He gives its in Absolution.  And He gives it in His Supper.

So, where you find Jesus in baptism, in the preached Word, in Absolution, and in His Supper, You find Jesus.  That’s where the kingdom of God is on earth for you.  So, that’s what is to be first in your life.  For through these acts of God, through Word and Sacrament, you get Jesus and His righteousness!

I never stop being amazed how our sinful nature always darkens everything we think, say, and do.  In some conversations, some have told me that Jesus nowhere commands anyone to come to Church.  Of course, they are seeking a Jesus of their own making.  The real Jesus says, “First, seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  That’s where Jesus commands us to come to Church.

But the point of Jesus’ command is not to come to any church because you happen to like the service, the music, the people, or the pastor.  Jesus is telling you to be deliberate–seek a Church where you will receive Him!  You seek a Church where Jesus is the core and center of the service.  You seek a Church where you will receive Jesus in the preached Word and the Sacraments.  For if you aren’t getting that, then you aren’t getting Jesus!  And if you aren’t getting Jesus, you aren’t getting His righteousness.  That’s how you seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

And when God’s kingdom and His righteousness are the core and essence of your life, then everything else will fall into place.  It’s as Jesus says, “First, seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well.”

That’s how God creates confidence in you that He will provide for your daily needs.  He does this by bringing you to see that He has taken care of your eternal needs.  The Holy Spirit gives you confidence to know that God will provide for every need of life.  The Holy Spirit does this by bringing you into God’s kingdom, where you see God the Father working His will through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When that happens, Jesus on the cross becomes more than just a death; it becomes a life-giving act of God.  When that happens, Jesus in His Word becomes more than just information; it becomes that which creates spiritual life within you.  When that happens, Jesus in His Sacraments become more than something you’re supposed to seek out, they become channels of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

When you are in God’s kingdom, drinking in His righteousness, the Holy Spirit moves you to understand how God meets all of your eternal needs in Christ Jesus.  When that happens, then you treasure every single word of God as more precious than anything ever created.  It’s then that you are set free from the idolatry of your own sinful heart and your worship of mammon.

God has taken care of your greatest need: eternal life and salvation!  You receive that life and salvation when you receive Jesus where He comes to you.  So, if God does all that, won’t He also give you the lesser gifts, of meeting your daily, earthly needs?  Of course, He will!

Worry is rooted in doubt.  Doubt is unbelief.  It’s idolatry.  But God has a cure for such false faith.  He replaces it with true faith.  That’s why Jesus calls you to seek the righteousness of God’s kingdom that is yours by faith.  And where do you receive God’s righteousness?  Here, in the Divine Service.  That’s why you come to the Divine Service–not just when it’s convenient–but whenever you possibly can!

You need Jesus, God’s Word, in your life!  For, through Him, in the Holy Spirit, faith ever springs and lives anew.  And wherever faith breathes deeply, worry withers and recedes.  So, why worry?  There’s no point.  Your heavenly Father knows what you need and provides for you.

Don’t you know by now?  You are worth more far more than sparrows and lilies.  He loves you fully, so much that He even counts the hairs on your head.  Unlike some in your life, you never tire, frustrate, or bore Him.  He is ever faithful, true, merciful, and kind.  He is the Lord who provides.

So, to seek God’s righteousness is to be to where Jesus gives you the fruits of His innocent life, death, and resurrection.  It’s to discard all reliance on your own goodness.  It’s to put on Christ, as you first did when you were baptized.  It’s to find yourself vested in Christ’s royal robe of righteousness, with a beauty that covers all of your sin and makes you a precious saint of God!

So, come now and receive “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  Come and receive Jesus Himself, in His Supper, for the forgiveness of your sins.  Receive the true Bread of Life; be joined to Jesus, God Himself.  And that will be sufficient for the day.  Amen.