A Brief Reflection on Matthew 6: 33 and the Kingdom of God
Recently, I read a devotion that used the text from Matthew 6:33, where Jesus says:
Matthew 6v33 (NIV)
3 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This made me think about that verse, and especially what it could mean.
In the Contemporary English Version (CEV), the same verse is rendered thus:
33 “But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”
My Greek New Testament renders the text using the word ‘dikaiosune’ which is the word for “justice”. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things will be given [to] you as well.”
The Message version (a “version” is just a technical word for ‘translation’) of Eugene Peterson reminds us that the word ‘but’ means it is part of something larger.
Matthew 6:33 The Message (MSG)
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers — most of which are never even seen — don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
Ultimately, God is Just. Justice is a systemic issue. Justice is how we structure things not just ‘fairly’ but equitably as well.
The problem is that God’s justice is also grace – and we don’t like that at all. Nuancing justice with grace does not generally sit well with us.
We want the sword type of justice. Chuck Norris dishing out karate kicks is how we want God to be just. Our justice is vengeful justice.
God’s justice is nuanced by grace. If there’s anything that Scripture teaches us it is that. So Jesus tells the story of a landowner who employs some workers. At 6am the guys show up. But at 11am, some more workers arrive. And again after lunch. Finally, in this parable Jesus tells, and at 16h50 – just 10 minutes before knock-off time, more guys arrive to work the field. Then at 5pm a bell rings and the land-owner begins to pay the labourers for the day’s work.
Blow me down! The guys who worked just 10 minutes get the same pay as those who were there at 6am!
Of course, an argument ensues, and the 6am and 11am workers want to block the roads and overturn the dustbins and toyi-toyi. But the land-owner answers: is the field not mine? Is the money not mine? Can I not pay whatever I like?
God’s justice is shot through with grace. It is restorative rather than vengeful justice.
And that is *not* something we Christians seem to like at all. We are pretty much the grumbling, sulking brother of the prodigal, standing wounded with folded arms in the corner, angry that the fuss is not all about us.
But how about we seek God’s kingdom. Focus on God’s kingdom with its grace-filled justice. Focus on restoration and reconciliation that is the foundation of God’s kingdom.
“Do not say, ‘here it is,’ or ‘there it is,’ for the kingdom of God is within you” Jesus says. Focus on just following Jesus daily, one step at a time. Soon, we’d find ourselves pretty close to the kingdom of God without even realising it.
Have a wonderful week!