It was a Sunday evening after the pastor’s sermon; I went forward to pray. I was a young teenager struggling with all the drama and angst that could besiege a young heart. The weight of the world seemed enormous, and I wondered if I would be able to survive and live a life that mattered. Pastor Watson that night did something I had never seen him do before; he opened his Bible to a particular passage and turned his Bible around, and asked me to read a verse. The verse was from Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” My memory is quite lacking as to what all my pastor said to me that evening, but I do remember him saying if you put God first and truly seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, you will experience not only God’s presence but His blessing as well.
Though I had never heard of the phrase “life-verse” back then, that is exactly what Matthew 6:33 has become for me. This promise is Jesus’ answer to the problem of worry. Several times in this part of the chapter, he speaks about anxiety and worry. The Lord uses a couple of practical illustrations: birds do not build barns; God takes care of them. Flowers don’t go clothes shopping; God dresses them in splendor. In other words, Jesus is saying there is no need to worry until you see birds building barns and flowers going shopping for new clothes. When you witness this happening, then perhaps it is time to worry.
Worry and anxiety are a part of the human experience. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” It is indeed true much of what causes us concern never takes place. Worry causes us to forget that God is in control. Worry really does not change anything. Jesus said it this way “who of you, by worrying, can add one day to your life?” Another issue with anxiety and worry is that it keeps us from living fully today! “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Matthew 6:33 speaks to our priorities. It seems it is so easy to lose perspective. Today there are so many concerns and things to give attention to that we are often tempted to give God our leftovers. Jesus promises if we put His Kingdom and His Righteousness first, everything else works out! I know what you’re thinking! Everything works out! You have to be kidding! Sure, everything does not necessarily work out the way I would like it to, but I am amazed at how God brings peace, comfort, blessing, and the realization that His ways are better!
It was nearly fifty years ago when Pastor Watson had me read Matthew 6:33 and challenged me to live it the rest of my life. I can testify today that God’s Word has the final say, and you can trust Him. Have I had worries and anxious times along the way? YES! Yet, I go back to that which has become my life verse. Today I want you to know that it works! You can trust Him! In everything, all the time and for whatever you need. He is faithful.
Remember Don’t worry—trust God! Put Him First!