What does it mean to seek God’s kingdom first? Can we really battle worry and anxiety by shifting our focus and thoughts on him and ignoring worry as it swirls around us? Let’s talk about 3 things I’ve learned while seeking the kingdom of God first in the middle of anxious times.
Do Not Worry
I’m a worrier. I’ve spent much of my life battling anxiety and fear that has left me paralyzed, or at the very least, nauseous and uninterested in food. Things have been especially hard lately, and I’ve found myself crying out more often and more anxiously. “God, I need you to come through. I need you to provide because I really don’t know how I’m going to get through the month.”
In response, God has brought me back to this passage in Matthew I’ve read more times than I can count.
It’s a section from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where He addresses the issue of worry. He says simply, “Do not worry” because our heavenly Father knows well what we need.
To help emphasize His point, Jesus uses the birds and the lilies as examples of God’s care for His creation. The birds don’t store up food, yet they are provided for. The lilies of the field don’t toil or spin their own clothes, yet they are beautifully clothed.
For years, in the midst of so much anxiety, this passage, and God’s care for the birds, has given me comfort.
In this season, though, God has drawn my focus away from the birds to a verse tucked in near the end.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33 CSB).
What Does it Mean to Seek God’s Kingdom First
Even when the Bible isn’t open in front of me, that verse has been playing on repeat in my mind. I memorized it years ago in Sunday school, but now I’m actually wondering what it means for me right now.
What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?
Jesus spends a whole lot of time addressing worry and provides a few object lessons through the birds and flowers, but I think the beginning of this passage is a set up for Him to talk about the kingdom.
The cure to anxiety isn’t found in not worrying. I’ve tried not worrying and it only generates more worry. No, the cure to anxiety is found when we look up from our anxiety and seek God’s kingdom first.
And it’s here where you’re probably circling back to the same question I’ve been asking: What does it mean to seek God’s kingdom?
Here are a few things I’ve come to understand about what it means to seek God’s kingdom in the midst of anxiety:
- Seeking God’s kingdom means trusting that He will take care of your needs, despite how things look. We start here because Jesus starts here. When He is teaching the crowd about how to combat anxiety, He acknowledges the people’s needs and His Father’s ability to provide for those needs. The birds and flowers are taken care of, so we can trust that God will take care of us—His children—too. We don’t need to strive or rush or wring our hands together, wondering how we’re going to make this work. We simply need to trust that He will come through because He said He would. We will have enough. We will have what we need.
- Seeking God’s kingdom means worshiping Him in the middle places. Anxiety stems out of concern for the future, for those places we’ve yet to reach. It’s a form of control that says we have to have all the answers in order to feel safe. Knowing what lies ahead is a false sense of security, though. True security lies in the middle place, before we see God come through, before we see the provision. In that place, as shaky as it might feel, we can worship God right where we’re at because the truth of who He is never changes. Worshiping before we see the answer is challenging and down-right hard, but if we approach God believing His promises and acknowledging no matter what, He is God and we want to see His kingdom come to earth, we can worship. Even in imperfect faith, we can worship.
- Seeking God’s kingdom means noticing the work God is doing in and around you and partnering with Him. Want a quick cure for anxiety? Turn your attention outward. Stop focusing on your needs and fears that God won’t provide—Jesus already assured us He will, so you can take your eyes off that need. Instead, look up and look around. Notice where God is at work in your family, your community, and your heart. Ask Him how you can partner with Him in that work. Ask Him how you can be an agent of helping those around you experience God’s kingdom. To seek God’s kingdom first we need to cultivate a heart that says we not only want to experience God in our own lives, but we want our world to experience Him too.
It’s so easy to let anxiety rule in our hearts and get all twisted up with so many concerns about how our needs are going to be met. Jesus tells us not to worry, and for good reason. The Father knows our needs and has promised to take care of us. Our job is to lay all our anxiety and worry and fear at the Father’s feet and seek His kingdom, trusting that He will take care of us just like He promised.