“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
How Do We Seek the Kingdom of God?
It takes a coup d’état
My high school French is rusty but “coup d’état” is pretty common language. A coup is when one government is quickly overthrown by another. Famous coups include Absalom taking over David’s kingdom; Julius Caesar being murdered by Brutus; and Napoleon taking over France. Typically, a military leader leverages the army against the political leader and then sets up a new government.
Spiritually, the same is true in our hearts. King Satan and his vice kings of money, security, health, fear, pride, and self-love are firmly enthroned in our hearts. They will not leave without a fight.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:19–24 ESV)
What is Jesus Warning Against?
What Jesus is warning against is the motivation for money; the allegiance. Citizens of the kingdom of God have been freed from that old way of thinking and valuing, where everything is monetized. Everything is valued by what enhances my sense of self-worth. So it’s not what I have but why I have it and why I do with it what I do. That’s the key. What we do with it is merely the revealer of what motivates my life. Nobody is saved by what they do with their money. We are saved by faith in Christ and him alone.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 ESV)
So we know what blessed means. But what about poor in spirit? We could take this as materially poor. The problem is that it doesn’t say “poor in money” or “poor in wallet.” It says, “poor in spirit.” So it doesn’t matter your status, financial or otherwise; this is possible.
Poor in what way? Lacking in spirit? Impoverished in emotional resource? The promise is that the poor in spirit have the kingdom of God. Notice “is.” For theirs “is” the kingdom of God. That’s present tense. So there is a connection between poor in spirit and a present obtaining of the kingdom of God. That is why this one is so important. It is the foundation for all the others, and in some ways, the entire Sermon on the Mount. Here is the foundation of it all.
Test #2 – Immediate Glory Without Suffering
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5-6 ESV)
The temple described here is known as Herod’s temple in Jerusalem. It was a large complex. It was very tall by the standards of the day. What better way to quickly unveil your true identity than to jump from where everyone could see you and as you hurtle to the ground suddenly be caught by angels and gently set down in the temple courtyard for all to see? Talk about a stunt! Do that without a parachute. Without wires. No tricks. Just gravity, speed, and angelic deliverance. What would the Pharisees say then? He would be crowned King of Israel on the spot. What better way to fast track the kingdom of God than a public miracle and immediate coronation? Satan accurately quotes the verse in Psalms. There’s no problem with translation. Where’s the problem? Application.
“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matthew 4:23 ESV)
What is the Kingdom of God/Heaven?
Matthew most often uses “kingdom of heaven.” There is debate about any nuance difference between “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” but most scholars say they are synonymous. So what is the kingdom of God?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)
Forever is much longer than simply tomorrow. Forever is all our tomorrows; all the future of eternity. Here is where immutability (the unchanging nature of God) is most helpful to us. The fact that he never changes means ultimately that he is dependable. Trustworthy. Our trust in him is based on who he was in the past and because he never changes, I can rest on the fact that he will be my Savior, Lord, and friend forever.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)
What does he say? Here is the sum. Here is the bottom line and final conclusion. What should we do? Two things: fear God and obey his commands.