But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
The Sermon on the Mount contains much significant instruction for our Christian walk. Chapter five deals chiefly with interpersonal relationships. The first part of chapter six stresses some fundamentals of our relationship with God, while the last part of chapter six describes the proper relationships we should have toward material things. In regard to wealth, it is to be used to advance the Kingdom. In regard to the necessary material things of this life, there is to be no anxiety. Our Lord underscores this directive as He states to us what we are to seek, namely His Kingdom and His Righteousness, knowing that we can rest assured that He will supply that which is needful for our lives.
To seek His Kingdom implies initially that we must be in His Kingdom, (John 3:5) and that we are praying for the coming of His Kingdom. (Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”) N.T. Wright summarizes this prayer with the following comments. “Thy kingdom come, we pray, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. God’s space and ours are finally married, integrated at last. That is what we pray for, when we pray ‘thy kingdom come.‘ We are praying, as Jesus was praying and acting, for the redemption of the world; for the radical defeat and uprooting of evil; and for heaven and earth to be married at last, for God to be all in all. And if we pray this way, we must of course be prepared to live this way. We can only pray this prayer for the church if we are prepared to mean and make us Kingdom-bearers! Make us a community of healed healers; make us a retuned orchestra to play the Kingdom-music until the world takes up the song. Make us in turn, Servants of the Lord, the few with the message for the many.” (The Lord and His Prayer, Eerdmans Publishing Company 1996 pg 13,19)
How do we seek His Righteousness? II Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We also read in I Corinthians 1:30 that “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Romans 1:17 says that this is “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” As we, by faith, spend time with Him in His word and in prayer, His life is being increasingly manifest in and through our lives. This is what is stated in II Corinthians 3:18 (KJV). “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Increasingly, then, as we seek Him, His Righteousness becomes more and more evident in our lives.
In the first year of my medical practice in Wichita, I found myself with a busy practice, a comfortable working schedule, and with successful completion of Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease medical board exams. It was then that the Lord placed into my heart a desire to become more actively involved in seeking His Kingdom and Righteousness. I adjusted my schedule to spend more time with Him and with those who were lost spiritually. I began to share Christ with others, not only in the church and neighborhood, but in the office and hospital as well. After some months went by, I was approached by two of my senior partners. They told me that I was ruining my medical practice and reputation by talking to people about Jesus. They related to me that my patient numbers would diminish by the lack of referrals from other doctors and that my medical practice would suffer as a result. I also gathered from their conversation that they were concerned about how my sharing Christ with others would affect their reputation as well. As I recall that conversation, I remember relating to them that I was convinced of the importance of the Gospel for my life and others. They seemed to accept those words, however, but again warned me that I would not have a successful business as a result.
Despite the forecast of my partners, however, I began to see an increase in the number of patients in my office and in the hospital. I continued to share the Gospel with those who had an interest in spiritual topics and the number of the patients desiring to be on my schedule were far more than I had time to see. Our partners began looking for another partner in my subspecialty of Internal Medicine to join our practice. Even with his arrival a few years later, the medical practice continued to expand. I began to limit my hours during the day to make room for additional work in patients that required immediate care. The Lord’s promise in Matthew 6:33 was abundantly fulfilled!
The Lord’s methods of achieving His promises to us are usually hidden. We are to trust Him, not His methods. Our eyes are meant to remain on Him, not on His supply to meet our needs. Occasionally, it seems, the Lord will draw back the curtain and let us have a brief glimpse of His work which is usually beyond our comprehension. Such a glimpse was permitted in my life on one occasion. Thirty-four years had gone by since I had started sharing Christ in my practice. I had left my office practice and started working in the Intensive Care units of several local hospitals. One of these was a hospital which was started by an order of Catholic sisters nearly a century earlier. After working at that location for several weeks, I was asked by one of the sisters if I still worked for Campus Crusade for Christ. I related that I never did work for them, although I had used their materials extensively in the past. She then said that in the early 1970’s, her order of sisters became aware of a young doctor in town who was telling his patients about Jesus. They heard that I had an office across the street from another hospital several miles away. She then stated that “I sent all the patients I could possibly send to your office.” Incredible! I was a stranger in town and practicing at a different hospital from the one at which she worked. She knew nothing about me except that I professed the Name of Jesus. That was enough for her! The Lord motivated her to send more than an abundant supply of patients to the office. It was amazing to realize how the Hand of God had been at work some thirty-four years earlier!
Matthew 6:33 contains a promise. It is a promise that many have claimed over the years. Mutua Mahiaini, the International President of The Navigators was a recent speaker at one of our Navigator conferences in Wichita, Kansas. In speaking about God’s promises, he related that we can take a small glass, dip it into the river of God’s promises, and then carry that promise home with us and apply it to isolated needs in our life. But he also said this. Rather than claiming God’s promises, let them claim you. Do not simply carry God’s promises with you. Jump into the river of God’s promises and let them carry you! Abandon yourself to Him and His purposes as did Isaiah when he said “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) He is worthy of our trust. He will prove faithful. His ability to provide abundantly above all measure is limitless. May the Lord so lead you into His promises so that you may rejoice, as have many others, in the abundance of His supply.
In Christ, Richard Spann