An encouraging sermon by Father Michael Ducette, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Woodstock, Illinois.
But seek ye first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
In [this passage], Jesus is trying to tell us how we should regard the things of this world; where our priorities should be. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
Now we all from time to time have been anxious about something and have been prone to worry about whatever might be bothering us. “Will I have enough money for this or for that, will it rain, will it be hot, will my children have a good life, will I trip and fall, will I be able to come up with a decent sermon?” — the point is, we have all worried about something: it’s human nature. We often worry about some important things and we also worry about some silly things, but in the end we hopefully discover that worrying never accomplishes anything — but makes us anxious.
And that is one of the lessons that Jesus is trying to get across to us. He doesn’t want us to waste the mental energy on worrying about things that, compared to our relationship with God, are really not very important at all. In reality, the things of this world don’t really amount to a hill of dung.
God wants us to get our priorities straight. He wants us to focus on Him. He will take care of the rest. He wants us, in effect, to turn the things that concern and worry us over to Him. He is more than willing to take care of all of our needs. As Jesus asks the disciples,
Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye of much more value than they?
The answer is, of course, yes. God has given man dominion over all things in the world. All Jesus is asking us to do is to have enough faith and trust in Him to take care of all our needs that we keep our priorities straight; and that priority is to focus on our relationship with Him.
Jesus is encouraging us to turn our worries, cares, and concerns over to Him. For some of us this is not really a very easy thing to do. Many of us have been taught to be self-reliant, to be tough, to be responsible for all that we do and are and to secure our future ourselves.
Many people think that money will take care of all their problems and concerns. “If I only had enough money to do this or buy that, then I would feel secure and happy.” “A new car or a better house or some other thing would make me happy and give me joy.” Not likely.
I have known some very wealthy people in my life, and some of those same people are the unhappiest people that I have ever met. That is not to say that I have never met some very wealthy people that were fulfilled and happy because I have; but those people were ones that had their priorities straight - those were the people that, although they had great worldly wealth, they also had great spiritual wealth; they had their priorities straight and they put God first in their lives. Worldly wealth was not their god; they had things in the proper order.
Those people who put God first, though they be rich in worldly terms, are the example that Jesus wants us to follow. God is willing to give us what we need; to give us the desires of our hearts. God is willing to fill our cup to overflowing, if we keep things in their proper perspective. If we recognize that He should be number one in our lives; not money, not power, not our comfort, and not even our families; but God and our relationship to Him as the number one most important thing in our lives.
God wants us to keep things in perspective by coming to the realization that God is where the focus should be and our relationship to Him should be first above all worldly concerns. We should concern ourselves more with pursuing an understanding relationship with God first, rather than pursuing wealth, power, or comfort or anything that we put before God. Those things get in the way and put distance between Him and us. But if we put God first in our lives, all the other things will fall into place, and we will have nothing to be anxious or to worry about. He will fulfill his promise to us - He will give us all the desires of our hearts; he will give us true happiness if we put God first and come to the realization that it’s all His to give to begin with, and that He wants us to be fulfilled and have happy lives.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
God wants our hearts set on Him. He is a jealous God and wants us to worship Him in love and thanksgiving. God wants to be the provider of all things, especially our happiness, but we have to let Him. Not always an easy thing to do, to have faith in a God we cannot see - as we can a nice house or a new car or cash in the bank - but God wants to demonstrate His love for us, not only spiritually, but in gifts that we have not even imagined. Our cup will be filled to overflowing if we have faith and let Him be the source of all our needs. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33,
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
In other words, don’t worry; and don’t be anxious about tomorrow; it is in God’s hands anyway. He is in control, and if you have your priorities straight and put Him first, He will grant you the desires of your hearts. He will give you what is truly important - and that is the love a Father has for His children.