Perhaps one of the most quoted scriptures in the bible is Matthew 6:33 – “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” Ironically, the verse is often mentioned in situations where the main focus is the very thing we wish to possess. Thus, seeking the kingdom becomes a mere precondition for acquiring those things, whether things refer to literal things or the answers to the questions or circumstances in one’s life. However, seeking first the kingdom of God is a weighty spiritual matter that goes beyond such natural thinking.
Firstly, one should only seek something with the intention to find it. To seek something with the motive to find something else is ludicrous. But that is what we have been taught through principles and sermons in the church system. Humanism has so penetrated our belief system that we rarely recognize it, to the point where God is presented to us as a means to our end. And ‘I’ takes a predominant role. As a result, there are some in the church who seek God because they believe God will do them good, because they have blessings in store, and because they’ll be better equipped to pursue their dreams, capitalize on their talents, and carve their way. I tell you, God is not a means to man’s end.
Secondly, God is not looking for the act of seeking, He desires the nature of one who seeks. The kingdom seeker is that one who continually draws near and constantly abides in the presence of the Lord. That’s why the Lord says: “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Additionally, seeking the kingdom of God earnestly will lead you to a place of forsaking your life (soul) and everything you feel entitled to as a Christian. The word ‘kingdom’ means king’s domain. It is the dominion, rule and supremacy of the King. So to seek the kingdom is to seek the King’s dominion over your life. The domain of the King is in you because “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). When the King comes in all His glory within us, He usurps one who occupies the throne of our heart – self. This is what we seek when we seek the kingdom.
Along these lines, there are two people that are mentioned in the gospels that I want to refer to. The first is the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments which the rich young ruler had done. Jesus’ follow-up response was: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21).
What did this man go to seek? He went seeking the kingdom of God. Notice the life he asked about is the Greek ‘Zoe’ – the God life, the absolute fullness of divine life.
But to enter and inherit this life there was a cost – all his possessions. In other words, the rich young ruler was asked to remove self from the throne and allow God to rule. Every believer who is genuinely seeking the kingdom of God is bound to be confronted with this demand. Jesus is saying even today: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life (soul) for My sake will find it” (Matt.16:24-25). So if you are seeking the kingdom because you are looking for the things to be added to you or to preserve your life or capitalize on the kingdom, it simply won’t do.
The accounts of the second person is relayed in Matthew 13:44 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Like the rich young ruler, this man was also seeking the kingdom. He didn’t just stumble upon the treasure because we read that the treasure was hidden in a field. The difference was that, this man, having sought the kingdom found it and was confronted with all the majesty and glory and riches of the kingdom. He found it to be incomparable to anything he has ever possessed and for joy over it, he sold all that he had.
The kingdom will cost us all. The kingdom requires that we surrender our dreams and ambitions, all our comforts, our plans, our future, our career, our finances. Everything that has ‘my’ before it and every former religious order and experience we’ve come into, and the nature from which the ‘I’ emanates must all be laid before Him in surrender.
Selling all that you have doesn’t mean you have to empty your house. We’re talking here about our heart and nature. Listen, if God rules your heart, He has everything. And if one day He says “get up and go,” you will do it without hesitation for you no longer have plans that are your own. This quality of divine life in the kingdom demands this of every believer.
Only by the Spirit in seeing and entering the kingdom are we enabled to sell all that we have. In this state, Christ begins to reign supreme over self. Paul declares: “I no longer live but Christ” (Gal. 2:20). This, in a nutshell, is the putting down of the natural carnal man by the Spirit of God to follow on to seek, enter, inherit and possess the kingdom. This is a spiritual progression that demands that we sell all that we have for joy over the kingdom.