“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33, NASB)
The “things” in this familiar Scripture are earlier enumerated as “worried about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink… your body, as to what you will put on.” (Matt. 6:25, NASB)
I admit it…sometimes my mind has created an interpretation of Scripture that isn’t accurate.
For years I have interpreted (and to some degree, been taught) that those 16 words really meant, “Work as hard as you can to meet all of God’s rules and requirements so you are pleasing to Him and as a reward He will ‘add’ to your life what you could have earned on your own…but it will in some way be better because it came from Him.”
Can anyone relate, or have I walked this bed of nails, alone? I will refer to this interpretation as the “CAF translation”…Corrupted And False.
Several weeks ago, Pastor Larry contrasted two concepts: Transactional Christianity vs. Covenant Relationship. I would like to have the light of that teaching shine onto this passage.
The Message translates Matthew 6:32-33, “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…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.”
There are two phrases in The Message wording that I find vibrantly descriptive.
First, the phrase “steep your life” is powerfully visual. It is, clearly, a tea bag-parallel. The longer you keep the teabag in that hot water, the darker (and stronger) the tea becomes. So…it’s reasonable to assume that the longer we soak our lives (minds, hearts, souls) in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provision…the more tinted we will become from His kingdom, and the stronger His flavor will be, flowing out of us.
Secondly, the phrase “not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving” speaks volumes. And it speaks of covenant, not transaction. In a transaction, there’s a bit of a checker-game aspect – I move here, He moves there; I jump that checker, He moves forward in the void. It’s like living in a constant state of maneuvering and counter maneuvering.
He calls us to rest in Him. The concept that our Abba, Father spends His time (or has the desire) to “play games” with us when we’re sincerely turning our faces towards Him and longing for more of Him to flow through us just doesn’t reflect Dad’s heart. He has chosen to be in covenant with us.
He has chosen…
We didn’t position ourselves for it…we didn’t make “the right play” to earn it. He has chosen. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, NASB)
There’s more. Because our Father has “chosen gladly” to give us the kingdom, He does not want us deceived into choosing and focusing on earthly “treasure” instead of seeking and accepting His heavenly treasure. Jesus warned, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:20-21)
The online resource www.bible.ca writes, “The treasures of earth lie in the realm of places, things, material commodities, worldly values – the tangible and temporal. The treasures of heaven lie in the realm of the spiritual – forgiveness, fellowship with God, the power of prayer, the development of character and moral excellence, the love of God and brethren…”
In Matthew 13:44, Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven “like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” In the next verse, Jesus states, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45, NASB)
Twice the phrase “sold all he had” is used. These men were passionate about acquiring the objects of great value, the objects that captured their hearts.
Passion is important. There are actually two components at work in the tea bag-parallel described by The Message. The tea bag exudes its flavor and fragrance best in hot water. Not tepid water. Not cold water.