“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:32-34).

No passage better summarizes the Sermon on the Mount and the essence of His Kingdom than these three verses. Jesus now speaks to what it means to be a true follower of the King and His Kingdom (and not  a pagan – there are only two options). He clearly communicates what we as His followers and servants are to aspire to and the life-transforming ramifications of selling out to the pursuit of His Kingdom and His righteousness. Herein is the basis of Kingdom living – not desiring to live like unbelievers, seeking after the things of Jesus, and living faithfully in the present with a hopeful eye on our glorious future. This causes us to seriously consider; what are our ambitions and aspirations? The things of this life and world, like the unregenerate, or the things of God and His spiritual Kingdom? The answers define our relationship to our King.

The Kingdom that we are to purse is primarily the one that has been placed within us (Luke 17:21). To seek first His kingdom means that we seek after His dominion and rule in our lives. This yielding to His invasion of our hearts impacts every aspect of who we are in our relationships, leisure, vocation, and church. For He is taking up residence and enthroning Himself as the Lord of every aspect of our lives. We become willfully and joyfully submissive to His reign in and over us. “Seeking first His Kingdom” means that our pursuit of His honor and glory dissects all of our attitudes, actions, and activities. This is the kind of surrender that our King requires and it differentiates us from a lost and spiritually dead world. And  this pursuit of surrender to Him is the foundation for God’s use of us to expand and enhance His Kingdom.

Seeking after His Kingdom includes our hunger and thirst for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and being persecuted for it (Matthew 5:10) as we have seen earlier in the Sermon on the Mount. This is logical, since His Kingdom is one permeated by His righteousness, but seeking it first and foremost challenges our flesh. And this is because all righteousness and any pursuit of it can only be found in Him, His sacrificial provision, and His empowerment in our labors to model holy living. How often have we (or anyone that we know) claimed that our ultimate endeavor is to demonstrate His Kingdom and pursue the righteousness of Christ? Yet Jesus declares that is what differentiates us from the pagan world. Jesus is not calling us to a balanced life (as we have often been taught is a healthy life) but one completely imbalanced and weighted on Him.

And what are we given in return?  “All of these things”. These things certainly refer to the previous passage concerning God’s provision of the necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter (Matthew 6:25-31). But also, I believe, they refer all the way back to the Beatitudes at the beginning of the sermon (Matthew 5). There we find that His earnest followers are blessed (contented) by these unfathomable gifts – the Kingdom of Heaven within us (v.3), divine comfort (v.4), spiritual possession of the earth (v.5), divine satisfaction (v.6), God’s incomprehensible mercy (v.7), the ability to see and know God (v. 8)  and the privilege of being one of God’s children (v. 9). And what could be greater than “these things”? Nothing in this life can touch the immeasurable value of these gifts of grace.

And how do we begin to experience all of these things in the here and now? We stay in the present as we moment by moment seek to abide in Christ and saturate ourselves in Him. This magnifies and exalts His Kingdom rule in us. This is only done by forgetting the past, not being anxious about our future (which is already sealed for all of eternity), and being fixated on the Kingdom calling that is right in front of us. Our task is not to worry about the things of this life but to obsessively pursue heavenly things and store up for ourselves eternal treasure by living in and through Him while being faithful to His Kingdom in the present. Paul reiterates this principle when he tells the Colossian church, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

So, what do we pursue when we seek the Kingdom and His righteousness? Jesus himself and all of His “unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 3:8). Why? Because we have been raised with Him and our life is hidden in His. He is our power, hope, and purpose. When we seek His Kingdom we receive the greatest of all treasures – relationship with Him now and all of eternity in His presence. For He is our life – in Christ we have “all of these things” now and forevermore.