Seek First

May 23, 2021 | A Better Treasure-Seek First | The Uncommon Kingdom | Matthew 6:25-34

Pastor Matt Darby
Campus and Teaching Pastor, Gilmer

Did you know that an average person’s anxiety is focused on:
• 40% – things that will never happen
• 30% – things about the past that can’t be changed
• 12% – things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
• 10% – about health, which gets worse with stress
• 8% – about real problems that will be faced

Think about just the first two. More than 80% of anxiety is centered around things that will never happen, things I can’t change, and what others think. Well, that about sums it up for me! But  Jesus wants to deal with this issue in our lives today.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34

In these verses, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious” three different times.  Now, I can only imagine how that command lands on some of you. You’re thinking, “Yea Matt, I would love to not be anxious! That sounds amazing! While I’m at it I’ll also just stop being short or left-handed!” I imagine it would feel like someone telling me, “Hey Matt, don’t be bald.” So, before we dive in, I want you to know that we recognize anxiety (like depression and other struggles) is a complex issue.

It is not simple, and it is not to be taken lightly. For some, anxiety is an issue from a combination of factors…spiritual, biological, and social. If that is you, if you battle anxiety at that deep level, hear me say Jesus sees you and loves you and wants to deliver you! And He has given good medicine for your deliverance! Spiritually: His Word & His Church. Biologically: Advanced Medicine. Socially: Christ-centered counseling, Jesus-loving friends.

When you hear Jesus say, “do not be anxious” don’t hear the Lord saying, “just go and get over it.” Hear Him saying, “I am here to help you and to equip you for the battle against anxiety and worry.” Now, having said that, I’m going to push all of us to lean in. Don’t rope yourself off thinking that your anxiety is somehow out of reach for Jesus. Don’t list all the reasons why this text doesn’t apply to you because your anxiety is unique from everyone else’s.

Let’s create some level ground here. Anxiety on some level is an issue for all of us. No one is immune. And so, for all of us, no matter where you find yourself in the battle against anxiety, the words of Jesus are absolutely relevant. But the reality for most of us, while anxiety and worry are real in our lives, it isn’t the result of a medical or biological condition…it’s the revealing of a spiritual one. I say most anxiety is a spiritual issue because at the root of anxiety when you really get beneath the surface of it, what you find is a battle for two things: believing and control.

So, what do we do? Over the next few verses, Jesus is going to reset our vision of this issue and work to help us get at the heart of most of our anxieties. So, the question I want us to answer this morning, “How do we win the war over anxiety and worry?”

• We Make Jesus Our Master. ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”  Mat. 6:25. The very first word of verse 25 is critically important. “Therefore.” That word is always a significant word in scripture. It is a transitional word that moves us from one part of truth to the next. Jesus is about to tell us what we should do and the ‘therefore’ calls us to look back at the case He has built for why we should do it.

When we look back at chapter 6, we see Jesus teaching us the priority of setting Him first. In prayer, in fasting, in giving. He tells us to put Him first in our money. He warns us about making treasures out of the things of earth. He tells us to keep our eye on Him as our source of light and life. And He says in verse 24, “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.” So, with the priority and the preeminence and the Kingship of Jesus in mind, having made Him the Master of your life and you, His servant, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”

The Kingship of Jesus, making Jesus our Master is essential in the battle against anxiety.

• We Focus on His Faithfulness. “Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span?  And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth,  yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Mt. 6:26-32 (ESV)

Do you see in these verses how Jesus is establishing for us the track record of God to care for His creation? The birds. Every meal a bird finds is not by happenstance. That bird is fed under the canopy of God’s faithfulness to His creation. The lily. The beauty that covers a lily is given beneath the canopy of God’s faithful care and love for His creation. And so, Jesus asked the question, “If God cares this much for the bird and the lily, how much more must He care you?” You who are made a little lower than the angels, crowned glory and honor (Psalm 8:5). You, who are made in God’s own image. You, with whom He has made an eternal covenant through the blood of Jesus. How much more must He care for us? But when we are anxious over these things Jesus is talking about (food, clothing, daily needs) it becomes an advertisement that we have forgotten God’s faithfulness. And Jesus says, “The Gentiles eagerly seek such things”. In other words, that’s when we begin to look like the world and we stop looking like the kingdom of God. Take a moment and remember the faithfulness of God in your life.

• We Seek His Kingdom.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mt. 6:33
The two keywords here are ‘seek’ and ‘first.’

All over this world, people are seeking something. Seeking the kingdom of God is nothing less than pursuing, seeking, the rule and reign of God in every area of my life. That is what the sermon on the mount is all about. How do I pursue God? 3 ways:

In His Word. Is the answer to simply read your Bible more? No. The answer is to earnestly pursue God in His Word. To eagerly dig into His word as though looking for hidden treasure. God’s Word is a treasure that we will never exhaust! David said, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It is light and life, it is strength and courage, it is correction and training, it is hope and endurance.

In Prayer. Is the answer, to simply be sure and pray before meals or bedtime? No. The answer is to desperately pursue God in prayer. To intentionally plan moments when we come into His presence hungering for more of Him. Unrelenting in our pursuit of Him. Having set aside everything that is worth less than Him so that we might fully know and experience Him! Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

In His Church. Is the answer to simply go to church? No. The answer is to set the Bride of Christ as the priority God intended it to be in your life. The church was not given to us to be experienced as one element of our lives among many other elements. When we approach church this way it becomes negotiable and easily sacrificed when something else comes along in the competition. But when the Bible says in Hebrews, “do not forsake gathering together…” It is saying, “Set the Bride of Christ as such a priority in your life that you would be willing to forsake virtually everything else in order to have it.” God designed us to be in communion with Him and community with one another.

God has given us these things to help us seek His kingdom. And He has promised that as we make His kingdom our treasure, He will supply every need we have. When we seek the Kingdom, we position ourselves for victory over anxiety.