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“Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom”

June 28, 2023

Daily Scripture

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Today’s verses may feel extreme, against all common sense. But Jesus, using exaggeration to make a point (e.g., “That bag weighs a ton”), warned against worry, not planning. Jesus’ first hearers had reason to worry. “Jesus’ audience would have been ordinary peasant people who had to worry about their next meal all the time, yet Jesus tells them not to worry about anything. He asks them to view the world with new eyes, in order to see all around them evidence of God’s care and provision.” *

  • Jesus didn’t condemn planning. He did say we need to have our values straight as we plan. How easy or hard do you find it to live out Jesus’ wisdom to “desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness”? What wishes or dreams matter so much to you that (if you’re honest) you might want them more than God’s kingdom and righteousness? What choices have you made (or do you want to make) to keep those wishes and dreams in proper perspective?
  • Jesus seemed to anticipate modern research, saying, “Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” (verse 27) In fact, worry shortens our life! What inner arguments, if any, do you make about why it “makes sense” to worry, or why it would be “irresponsible” not to worry? How can you distinguish needs from wants, and make plans without distorting them with worry?

Lord Jesus, you modeled a life of peace and trust. Help me to keep learning how to live a life in which my energy can focus on your purposes rather than my fears. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Gabby Delpleash

Gabby Delpleash

Gabby Delpleash serves Resurrection as a summer intern within the Worship Experience ministry, where her spiritual gifts are used to organize resources for the work of Christ. Gabby will be attending Creighton University this fall to pursue a double major in Biochemistry and Journalism.

Right before I sat down to write this Insight, I got off a FaceTime call with my college roommate. I was doing my best to counsel her on handling the over 600-mile gap between herself and her boyfriend come the start of fall semester. Her fear of the two of them growing apart while maintaining a long-distance relationship was making her greet Move-In Day with sorrow rather than the excitement we both shared weeks ago.

We talked and she, a nondenominational Christian, finally said, “Sometimes leaning into God is all I can do to remember that this will be okay. Almost like He’s holding my hand until I’m ready to walk on my own.”

It has been said that “Fear not” is the most repeated command in the Bible, spoken in a variation over 350 times. God said it to Jeremiah when calling on him to be a prophet for the nations (Jeremiah 1:8). God said it to Joshua before he led the Israelites to conquer Canaan (Joshua 1:9). Jesus said it to Mary Magdalene at his Resurrection (Matthew 28:10).

These are just three examples of a litany within the Bible describing how Christ’s followers require a steadfast relationship with God to overcome worry. Note that Mary, Joshua and Jeremiah were commanded, not requested or suggested, to desire God’s kingdom by faith.

At times, it’s too easy for our faith to become wavering or “messy.” Straying from God’s path sooner appears more desirable the messier our faith grows. When we focus on God’s providential care for us, we overcome what entangles fear with faith. We focus harder on becoming what God wants us to be rather than what we want ourselves to be.

When I started seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist at seven years old, my anxiety was becoming uncontrollable. I continually lived in fear over things out of my control–fear of failure, fear of exclusion, fear of embarrassment. John says, “Perfect love drives out fear,” (1 John 4:18). I required this kind of perfect love from my outstanding support system of family and friends and my therapist in the same way I require God’s perfect love for his daily provision.

You might be asking, “Isn’t some form of worry healthy?” Certainly. It is healthy to be concerned for our spiritual lives, the welfare of others and many other things that remind us we are living this life to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Concern enhances our spirit to become earnest and wise. However, it’s important to differentiate concern from worry. Matthew admonishes Christians against worry, a feeling rooted in our lack of trust in God.

Our creator gave us a life filled with complexity and ambiguity at each turn to remind us that a continuous desire for God’s kingdom is what we need in order to overcome worry and live out a life that honors Him. Just as He’s done with my roommate, God will never leave or forsake us but, instead, always remain by our sides to tell us “Do not be afraid.”

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 6:25-34 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 17 NT.