“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33, ESV)
In yesterday’s sermon I talked about three reasons (arguments) we should not worry: theological, logical and philosophical. There is never enough time to finish a sermon, to cover every point. God’s word is like a rich, multi-layered dessert–full of flavor and nuances that cannot be described in a thirty-minute reflection or proclamation. The point of this blog post is to zero-in on a word that appears twice in English translations as almost the same word–one can easily miss the nuanced way Jesus uses this word.
Jesus says the Gentiles (unbelievers) seek after basic things like food, drink and clothes. He also instructs us to seek first. The root word seek is defined as an unceasing quest. We are to engage in an unceasing quest for God and the things of God.
We are to never seek after even the basic necessities of life. To seek after is a combination of the root word seek and the prefix epi–meaning over and above. To seek after is to have an inordinate desire for. When you seek after food you become a glutton. When you seek after clothes, you become a shopaholic.
In Jesus’ brilliant sermon, he draws a fine line between seeking and seeking after.
Whatever we seek after will seek after us.
Whatever consumes our thinking will consume our lives. Jesus places a clear priority on seeking (an unceasing quest) first God and his kingdom. Because he says seek first, clearly we are to then seek food, water and clothes. Eat well. Drink plenty of water. Wear warm clothes. When we seek first God and his kingdom, we will not seek after (obsess over) other things.
Perhaps this pandemic has revealed obsessions that consume you, addictions that control you, desires that drive you. Confess this to God. Seek Him first. Then he will add whatever you need.