No matter our maturity as Christians, we still struggle with worry and anxiety. We all know that we are supposed to cast our cares into our Father’s lap, but earthly matters tend to dog our minds, keeping us sleepless.
Jesus’ remedy against worry (which also serves as an explicit command to refrain from worrying – Just stop it!!) seems simplistic on the surface.
- Matt 6:33 (don’t worry about the ordinary but necessary stuff of life, like non-Christians) But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things will be added to you.
What struck me the other day were the first 3 letters of the command SEEK. We’re to SEE, to LOOK UP from our immediate and pressing concern. And what is the object we are to seek out? God’s Kingdom.
Now what in the world does THAT mean? First things first, let’s hearken back to where we might have heard this phrase. One obvious place is in the Gospel of Mark, that quick-paced eyewitness account of Jesus’ ministry. Right from the get-go, Jesus travelled around proclaiming the startling news that because HE was HERE in their midst as the incarnate God on earth, that the Kingdom of God had arrived.
I think that by intentionally SEEing this fact, the new government and what that implies, we can reboot. That means we exhale our distracting thoughts and breathe in life-giving truths, like:
- If Jesus has inaugurated His kingdom, then He is also ruling it
- that He loves me (how do I know that? – if I am trusting Him as my righteousness, then I have already accepted the fact that He died for me on purpose. That’s pretty strong evidence of love, wouldn’t you say?)
- that I have an inheritance awaiting me in the near future and hundreds of grace-filled promises at my disposal RIGHT NOW in the midst of all these troublesome situations
So at the break of the new day, in every circumstance, whether segueing to a new task or initiating a difficult conversation or fulfilling an obligation, we are to stop and look up and SEE reality, which is this: “King Jesus is alive and well and at God’s right hand praying for us and talking to His and our GOOD Father”
Well, what about the 2nd part – the exhortation to SEEk His righteousness?
The term ‘righteousness’ is an example of ‘METONYMY’, that is – a shorthand term representing a concept. For example ‘Hollywood’ is a metonymy that stands for the US film industry. Or calling a white-collar managerial-level employee a ‘suit’, or the top generals in the army are referred to as the ‘brass’.
When Jesus calls us to stop being anxious like the pagans and SEE (consider, observe, remember, center back on, enjoy the fact of) evidence of His Kingdom, He also is reminding us to SEE Him. The righteousness that goes along with the Kingdom IS Jesus. Jesus is Jehovah-Tsedek, the LORD-Our Righteousness.
Again when we look up and center on Jesus, we lose the craziness. The needs are still there, but we don’t have to panic or distract and fracture ourselves by all the pieces and layers of concerns. Jesus has PROMISED to provide; He is trustworthy; we can therefore trust Him.
For those of you who are interested, here are Strong’s definitions of the two Greek verbs. Do you see how close in meaning they are?
The Greek word for SEEK is 2212 or ZETEO – to search, look for, inquire, demand,
The Greek word for SEE is 3708 or HORAO – to notice, perceive, recognize (and understand)
By the way, I heard a pastor mention that the most common command in the entire Bible IS the verb to SEE or LOOK (1100 times). We even use this verb in everyday parlance when we’re trying to make a point. Did you ever hear anyone say: “Lookit!” to strengthen his case?
It DOES matter what we focus on, whether we use our physical eyes or the eyes of our hearts.
And if Paul is correct, that we become more like Jesus by looking at Him, then why not really take Him at His word and shift our gaze from our very present and real worries to the very present, real and powerful Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ who ALWAYS acts righteously.