Matthew 6:33

Setting and Overview
Within the larger section of Matthew 6:25-34, we find a critical exhortation that brings together much of what Jesus has been instructing throughout this chapter: pursue the kingdom as most important. While that exhortation can certainly be applied to any aspect of our lives, it is important to recognize that it comes within a section that instructs us to remember that God is sovereign, knows what we need, and cares about us, and thus to not worry about material things. That section in turn follows a strong reminder that we cannot both focus on building up treasure in heaven and treasure on earth, and the former must be our priority. Jesus then gives us this summarizing exhortation in the penultimate verse to guard us against straying from those instructions.
Whenever we are instructed to “pursue” in Scripture, it should get our attention. Sometimes it comes from the Greek word for “seek” and sometimes from the word “run after,” but the two ideas are very complementary. Here we are told to “seek”, but the word also connotes a strong focus and desire, which we would then expect to also result in chasing after. In other places we are told to pursue right relationship with God (Philippians 3:12-14), hospitality (Romans 12:13), peace with everyone and holiness (Hebrews 12:14), what is good for all (I Thessalonians 5:15), and righteousness (II Timothy 2:22.) Put together, we see that God is instructing us to pursue righteousness in Him, and right relationships with others that will help them also pursue righteousness in Him. This helps us understand how we are to pursue his kingdom (God’s reign – Matthew 4:17, 5:3, 6:9-10) and righteousness (Matthew 5:6, 5:20, 6:1.) We also see those two ideas together in Romans 14:17-19, which reminds us to serve others out of an ultimate desire to please and obey God.
While this exhortation can apply to any aspect of our lives, we must not miss the specific context in which it is given – teaching about materialism and worry. We see that reflected even more explicitly in the parallel passage of Luke 12:29-34, where we are specifically told to sell our possessions and give to the poor. While this exhortation may not be only a challenge to give sacrificially, it is certainly not less than that. Furthermore, we must read the following promise, that the things that we would worry about will be given to us, not as an investment strategy but rather a reminder that God will provide us exactly what we need to do His work. It may not be the material things that the world would chase after, but it will be what He knows that we need.

Examination and Application
Too often, it is hard to distinguish how Christians view work and money from how non-Christians do, but Scripture will not excuse that. We have been told to pursue what is best for others (I Thessalonians 5:15), good relationships with others (Hebrews 12:14), for us and others to draw closer to Christ (II Timothy 2:22), and to please and glorify God (Romans 14:17-19.) If we are pursuing each of those things as strongly as we should, all aspects of our monetary priorities will be transformed. We can further look at three strong examples in the New Testament: Paul’s example in Acts 20:33-35, the example of the Macedonian churches in II Corinthians 8:1-5, and the exhortation to Christian community in Romans 12:10-16. If we aspire to fully live out the principles of each, then we can certainly trust that we would have no need to worry about earthly things.
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