Sunday, May 20, 2012

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6:33, KJV)

THIS IS A LONG ARTICLE. Take your time to read. It is worthwhile, for there are very few good expositions on this.

First thing first, this verse is speaking to believers, and NOT, “it is NOT speaking to believers”. In other words, you, as a believer, cannot say, “Since I am a believer, on my entry into salvation, I have been made fully righteous, and so, it cannot be that I still need to seek His righteousness”; and agreeing incorrectly, with those who insist that the verse must be talking to non-believers.

Where is it stated, it was speaking to believers? The answer is in the reading of the preceding verses to verse 33. You can backtrack a few verses, to verse 30, if you like, and begin there, or you can even just backtrack one verse, to verse 32. Even from verse 32, we can tell it was addressed to the believers. Verse 32 reads as follows:

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matt 6:32)

First, we are to understand that this is part of the “Sermon on the Mount”, in which Jesus addressed the “crowd”. Who was the crowd? Of course, anybody could be in a crowd. But we do know from the overall counsel of the New Testament, Jesus primarily was wanting to speak to the children of God, the Jews. Would there be Gentiles or pagans in that crowd, of course there would be. Pagans were non-children of God; and non-children are equivalent to non-believers, in today’s term; and so, the “pagans” were the non-believers. For the manner it was written, “you” as in “you need them” are NOT pagans, meaning “you” are NOT non-believers; “You” are believers; how do we know? It is because “your heavenly Father” would be used only on the children of God, or in today’s equivalent, believers.

Exposition proper
Next, in turns, we will look at the followings, concerning the verse:

1. But;
2. Seek ye first;
3. Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and
4. All these things;

The “But”
When we see a “but”, it means before this, certain things were said, which now the verse, v33, is saying things, contrary to those earlier said things.

So, what were the “certain things” said in the earlier verses, relevant to verse 33. As have been said, this verse 33, was part of the Sermon on the Mount which started at Matt 5; but if we go there, that would be a long, long way back; it is NOT necessary, for much of Matt 5 and early part of Matt 6, were already self-addressed; in other words, Jesus raised “objectionable practices or observations” and he then already prescribed “the ways”. A reasonable place to start is verse 24, and so, I will give below, the text from verse 24 onwards:

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:24-34)

These are the things, the “but” was addressing:

1. Jesus observed people serving Money (v24);

2. Jesus implied, and correctly implied, that people serve Money because they worry about their lives, what they would eat or drink; or about their body, what they would wear (v25a).

3. Jesus said, that was NOT wise; people were NOT focusing on the more valuable thing, life itself (v25b).

4. Jesus explained the foolishness in the worry of the people (v26-v31).

5. Jesus then explained that our Father God knows our needs (v32).

Jesus then, in anticipation of question from the people, of what then should they do (instead of serving Money, and instead of worrying), prescribed “the way” (v33);

So, the “but” were meaning to say, “instead of serving Money, and instead of worrying”, subscribe to “the way”; and that way is to “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness”. Jesus said, when we have done that, what we need, they would be given us as well.

When “the way” is so, Jesus said that we do NOT need to worry about tomorrow. Jesus was telling us NOT to run ahead of God; we do our part each day; we just need to be seeking His kingdom and His righteousness each day, and we can expect God to see to our needs.

The “seek ye first”
I know some people noted that I am long-winded in my blog articles, and that I should have cut down on the “obvious”, but I do find, the “obvious” are often no longer obvious to many people, because they have been poisoned from erroneous teachings. And so, I will still be stating the obvious.

There are 3 parts here, as there are 3 words: seek, ye, and first.

Seek –

“Being conscious” or “I know that” often don’t cut it, as seek; let me illustrate with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable can be found in Luke 10:25-37. Here, the expert of the Law asked Jesus what he must DO to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered him back with a question of what was it, the Law said. And the expert answered Jesus with the absolutely right answer – the twin pillars of love (they are NOT new, in the way many think! Their origins are in Lev 19:18 and Deu 6:5, and the expert was NOT wrong to have quoted them as from the Law). What did Jesus answer, to the correct answer? DO it and you will live.

Now, did or did NOT, the expert know what was required? Was or was NOT, he conscious of what was required, as the ways of God? The answer to both questions is affirmative; he knew that, and he was conscious. But what did Jesus tell him, the expert? DO it.

Do you think the expert had been doing it? No. How do we know that? Scripture said, the expert tried to justify himself. Justify himself of what? Of NOT doing it.

How did he justify himself? He asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Do you think that expert did NOT know who his neighbor was? He knew alright; how do we know? Jesus told him the simple story of the Good Samaritan, and posed him the question, of who the neighbor of the injured man was; and he answered correctly! What did Jesus again, say to him? Go and DO likewise.

With this Parable thrown in, I believe the Lord wants to speak to 2 categories of people:

1) the children, the believers, who are conscious and know, but do NOT DO it; and so, how must we seek? DO it; and

2) the ones like the expert, like the teachers of the Word; how do you teach or instruct? Do you exhort like Jesus did? Do you tell the children of God to DO it, or do you encourage them to be like the expert in the Parable, conscious and knowing, but NOT doing any of it? Do you explain the Word so that the children or believers understand the specifics to be done, and so, they are without excuse for NOT doing it? The Lord’s desire is that they do it and live!

Seek is NOT simply “Be conscious” or “I know that”. It is “you go and do it”. Yes, actions, man! Your actions or lack thereof, tell on your real heart-condition.

Ye –

In other words, you. Who is it, who has to seek? Is it the pastor? Is it God? No, it is you, and me; it is your life, you seek; it is my life, I have to seek.

Talking about this, I always like to borrow this saying from a teacher of the faith, “What’s wrong with you. God gave you the food, you still expect God to eat it for you!” Faith has always been taught with an element of “we have a part to play”, and we do our part, and we look to God to do His part, until “grace baskers” start telling the children of God, the means and the end of our faith is to just bask in grace. No, it was and is clear, YOU do it and YOU will live” (see Luke 10:28); NOT you just fold your arms, and just sit there in your beach chair.

First –

Seek ye first, means you are to give top priority to the seeking, NOT half-hearted seeking, or when it is convenient to seek, you seek, and NOT when you have the time, you seek, or when you think it is time to seek, you seek, meanwhile, you do what you like. Often times, believers or children of God lament how God does NOT seem to be giving any priority to their issues. To be honest, we have to ask ourselves what kind of priority we accord to our seeking of His Kingdom and His righteousness, before we “point our finger at God”.

I am NOT saying, we have to merit or earn the grace coming from God’s love and faithfulness; but God’s grace flows out to us, is NOT necessarily, from just one head; it can be from several heads, including the head of righteousness of God. The subject of heads of grace is of itself, a major one; I will NOT elaborate here; but you can look forward to it being put up in time to come.

We do need to give priority to seeking of God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and NOT be merely, conscious, and knowing, and it is we are personally responsible for this; no one can do it for you and I; it is our life, afterall. It is His kingdom, NOT yours or mine, and it is we have to align to His righteousness and justice; and talking of “pointing finger at God”, if we are out of line, can we still have the audacity to accuse the King?

It is daily, “we have to seek first, ……” It is daily, we have to get in line. Talking about needs, which we will talk more, further down the article, many of us might be sub-consciously subscribing to this:

“These things that are said to be needs, I am ok, and so, it is alright I slack; when I get myself into a desperate situation, like unable to continue to service a loan, then, for that need (and that indeed has become a need for you), I get in line.”

It is NOT for you to be doing it, that way; neither is it the correct attitude to slacken again, once your need is being met. It is NOT “we seek first, ….”, only when we have an unmet need. It is “we still seek first, ……”, when we have no needs unmet. When we have no unmet needs, all the more we should seek His kingdom and His righteousness, because when get in line, we would be a blessing to others; for when we act in accordance with His righteousness, we are doing good works, we are producing fruit; and that is what we are made for - Eph 2:10.

The “Kingdom of God and His righteousness”
I will try to keep this short, as for this heading, one can write a whole book on it!

Scripture spoke about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. A kingdom implied there is a ruler or king; and so, the kingdom of God has God as the king on the throne; and he reigns and rules His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

Who then is the king CURRENTLY of the kingdom of the world? Scripture led us to understand that Satan is in the moment the king of the world; maybe we prefer to say, Satan is the defeated king but NOT yet defunct king, of the world.

Now, the understanding that I have, concerning where the kingdom of God is, is this: When we enter into salvation, we enter the kingdom of God. As a place, the base of the kingdom of God is Heaven; spatially, the home base is in Heaven.

If you like, you can adopt the terminology I use; the kingdom of God has invaded the kingdom of the world. When you and I enter into salvation, we join the rank of soldiers of the army of God. In the Spiritual side of things, our Commander, Jesus, has won the victory already, over Satan; and we are to enforce that victory in both the physical and spiritual realms. When we enter into salvation, we enter into the earthly phase of the kingdom of God. Jesus when He preached in His earthly ministry, He said the kingdom of God was near or was on hand or within reach. The kingdom of God is within reach of a non-believer, and he can enter into it, just as we have entered into it.

So what does it mean to seek His Kingdom? Go, get ourselves killed, in the hope that we enter into Heaven, the home base of the Kingdom? Obviously NOT!

What about this; the kingdom of God is in us? Yes, Scripture does give us, in John 14:20-21, a picture of the kingdom is in us, but does that mean, we already got it, absolutely? No, if it were so, why the call by Jesus to believers, to seek first, the kingdom? So, what did Jesus mean?

He meant we have to subscribe to, and practise the ways of the Kingdom, and have the ways of God “rule” the place (remember the terminology, the world is being invaded); and it all starts with us, individually. Jesus has always been consistent with this. We just have to look at the prayer He taught the disciples - The Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus said, “Thy will be done”; “Thy Kingdom come”; and “Thy will be done, on earth as it is done in Heaven”. We have said a kingdom has a king, and He sits on the throne; the foundation of His throne is the foundation of His reign and rule; meaning the ways of the land got to be the ways of the King, as prescribed by the King as the foundation of His throne or rule.

A kingdom is fully come, when the foundation of the throne of the king is established firmly in the land; and the will of the King is fully done when the ways of the kingdom is fully established in the land. The believers, start with the kingdom in their heart, are to invade the land, establishing the ways and the foundation of the God’s rule in the land, with themselves, firstly, practising those ways, secondly, spreading them, and thirdly, countering the enemy of God; and through it all, working with the King (God, and His Spirit).

You will realize that a kingdom is firstly NOT a place, even though eventually a place is part of the kingdom. Believers have to understand that they are already in the kingdom of God, although the place is NOT yet fully “kingdomised”. Because you and I are already part of the kingdom, we have to be subscribing and practising the ways of the kingdom, and the kingdom of God is invading earth, and we are here, in this time and season; we are to advance the kingdom in our generation, until such time that we are called home.

We are NOT home yet, we are sojourning, and this journey is NOT without things we have to put up with; but God promises in that Matt 6:33, that when we prioritize to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness - getting His Kingdom fully established here, starting with us, He will help us to deal with the things we have to put up with. What do we have to put up with? We need to eat, drink, and be clothed and have a shelter over our head.

What then is His righteousness? I flip-flopped in deciding if I should put “His righteousness” as a separate heading. The reason being that, it is so very important, and so, it may be discussed separately, yet because invariably, as the righteousness talked about, pertains to the mighty one, the king, it too, must be linked to His kingdom. There is none like Him, and He is the Almighty, His kingdom must be reflective of Him, and so, His Kingdom invariably is tied to His righteousness; and so, the statement, “His Kingdom and His righteousness”.

I am a Singaporean of a certain “righteousness”, but the “Singapore Kingdom” is so very remote from it being connected to how I view thing, because I am NOT the In-Charge, and I am just one of several millions of people, living here. But the kingdom of God is different, the kingdom reflects Him; or we can say, “The Kingdom is He, or He is the Kingdom”. In other words, when we see the kingdom, we see Him; along the same line like that which Jesus said, “You see me, you see the Father”. So, when we see the kingdom fully come, it means we see the fullness of Him, God, at work. What is that? That is His righteousness. I said it again, the fullness of Him at work, is His righteousness.

Can we come down a little bit, and speak more pragmatically, what is meant by God’s righteousness?

Firstly, explanation of righteousness for the verse, v33, in this manner does NOT help: God’s righteousness is equated as the righteousness we get, when we enter into salvation; or commonly called, the imputed righteousness of Christ. So, you have it and I have it, and the kingdom of God is in us, and because the Kingdom is reflective of Him, His righteousness is in us; to seek His righteousness is therefore, to be conscious of our righteousness in Him.

Such an explanation belongs to what, in my varsity days’ lingo, called, “smoke” – appeared to have been intelligently expounded, but actually said nothing.

What is wrong with the above manner of explaining His righteousness that we are called to seek? It is like you are conscious you have an apple seedling in your backyard; but you are told, you only need to be aware of that; in other words, tending to it, like watering it or NOT, you are NOT command to. They tell you, “you got to get an apple seeding into your yard”, and so, you went and got yourself an apple seedling, and all you have been told to do, is to keep telling yourself, you already have an apple seeding in your yard.

Is that how we tell people how to grow an apple tree? Is that how we tell people to seek God’s righteousness? You have an apple seedling; you did NOT get a fully grown apple tree! You have imputed righteousness of Christ, you did NOT get your heart and your mind removed and replaced with Christ’s heart and mind! In other words, whether it is the apple tree or the full mind of Christ, it has NOT “fully come”.

Just as you have to grow the apple tree, you have to grow the mind of Christ in you; the full mind of Christ in NOT in you; it is in the Holy Spirit! Yes, the Holy Spirit is in you, the kingdom of God is in you, but the kingdom has NOT fully come, it is you who have to align yourself to have it fully come.

When does the kingdom of God fully come, first, in you and then, in the world? When the fullness of Him is at work in you, and out, into the world. The fullness of Him at work, we have said, is His righteousness. When His righteousness is in, and flows out, of you, into the world, that is when the kingdom of God is fully come, at least for the case of you, and in the moment you are aligned to His Spirit.

Did I say anything different? Yes, you have to grow the mind of Christ or God in you. It is NOT you automatically have the full mind of Christ or God. It is NOT sufficient to be conscious of the righteous God is living in you; you need to be aligning to it, and you do that by yielding to the Spirit of God in you. What is yielding; it is NOT “I know that” or “I am conscious, merely; it is I agree and I obey, and when I obey, it means I do it.

Some people say, “I don’t know about apple tree, but I have had papaya seedling in my backyard, and guess what I did nothing whatsoever, no watering, no pruning, no adding of fertilizer, absolutely nothing, and it grew into a fine papaya tree, and what do you know, the fruit was so sweet!” I have only this thing to say: The Christian faith is NOT about experience solely, and the truths and theology of the faith is NOT formed from experience, even as the Faith is experiential, meaning it can be experienced.

The Christian faith is based 100% on the truths in the Word. Mind you, it is your life, NOT a papaya or apple that we are actually talking about (metaphors!). You know what, that you still get sweet papaya, that is grace; but please don’t be a cockroach, the gate to Heaven is already narrow, don’t try the cracks in the walls, use the narrow gate; that one cockroach gets through that way (through a crack), by grace, does NOT mean everyone will get through. When God prescribes a way, use it.

Still perhaps, some is waiting for a more practical definition of what is meant by the righteousness of God! The simple definition is this: What God wants done and at the time He wants done, that is righteousness of God. So, very simply when we say a person is righteous with God, it means he gets it right as to what God wants done and the time He wants done. Therefore, seeking His righteousness is you getting your mind grown to have the mind of Christ or God. So, your pursuit is to get more and more able to know what God’s will is, for a situation, and when you can do that, you have reached a certain level of righteousness with God. It is NOT automatic, NOT even being conscious, can one attain active or volitional righteousness with God. Verse 33 of Matt 6 is NOT referring to the imputed righteousness of God, but rather the agreement with God; although if you are NOT yet a believer, you have to become one, before we can talk about level of righteousness with God.

Yes, it may be NOT quite appropriate to say, righteousness with God, as a “degree of rightness”, as such, as one is either right or wrong. But it is NOT wrong to say, one is at a certain level of righteousness with God, going by how frequent he is in agreement with God.

The overwhelming pointing of Scripture is that, a believer needs to align himself to the righteousness of God, and the way to do that, is to obey the Word of God, and to yield to His Spirit.

In other words, the righteousness of God is given in His Word, and in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that indwelled us. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come in place of Him, for He was going back to the Father, in Heaven; and the Holy Spirit would remind the believers of what Jesus had taught, and to teach them all truths. Together with scriptures which talked about the laws of the faith, would be inscribed on the hearts of believers; we are to understand that it is the Holy Spirit who would be bringing the laws alive to the hearts and consciences of believers. So, it is right to say NOT just that the righteousness of God is in His Word, it is also with the Holy Spirit. To be right with God (and that’s righteousness with God), is therefore, to do as the Word and Spirit dictate.

Being just conscious of the righteousness of God, is just the beginning, the infant mindset; don’t listen to people who tell you to stay there; you don’t grow up that way. Being just conscious only, won’t get your mind renewed, at least that is NOT the prescribed way, and if you do get renewed, that is grace of God, and when it is grace, and NOT the prescribed way, it can work for one, it is not necessary to work for another, for it is grace (it is entirely up to God).

The picture given by Scripture is that, you and I, got to will it, and NOT merely conscious or “I know that”; in other words, you and I, have to, volitionally want the righteousness of God, meaning, we want to get it right, meaning, you and I, want to get it right, as to what God wants done and when he wants done.

To will the will of God, to me, is work; although so many people want to put a 10 feet pole between themselves and the word, on concern that other people may accuse them of preaching works or more precisely, salvation by works! To go against the current, is work-what. To go against the ways of the world is work. Please-lah, a spade is a spade, and we should call a spade, a spade! To yield to the Holy Spirit is work, as it is going against the trend we used to go, to yield to the flesh. The Apostle Paul never minced his words, he painted to us, the picture of a “tug-of-war” going on, in the believer; if it is NOT work, what is work! You know, what is NOT work? Just stay basking yourself in the sunshine (or grace!); that is NOT work.

If it is NOT yet obvious to you, that His righteousness, meaning what He wants done and when He wants done, and His justice are the foundation of His rule, meaning you and I, cannot have it any other way, under His rule, it is stated in Scripture for us. Ps 89:14a reads as

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;”

The same is also said in Ps 97:2. In other words, if you and I want to be well in His Kingdom, we have to subscribe to His righteousness and justice, there is just no other way. God is Holiness and He is Wisdom, out of the interplay of these 2 fundamental nature attributes of God, comes forth, all His ways; we have said, the fullness of Him at work is His righteousness.

What about His love and faithfulness? Yes, it is also stated in the very important key to the understanding of the Kingdom of God, Ps 89:14. The entire verse of Ps 89:14 reads:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

As foundation, it is still His righteousness and justice, NOT His love and faithfulness. But as given, even as God demands His kingdom be operating according to His righteousness and justice, He administers with love and faithfulness. In Hebrew, there is a word to describe this aspect of God’s love, and it is called `ahab love – the love of God for man is love unto righteousness. In other words, God’s love for us, men, is subject to His own righteousness. It may come as a shock to some of us, God cannot anyhow love us! God does NOT love us anyhow, but only in righteousness.

Jesus died that cruel death, because God’s love must satisfy the demand of Holiness (of God Himself). The play-out of the Holiness and Wisdom of God resulted in the righteousness that must be met, that which was met, by the sacrifice of the sinless life of Jesus.

To summarise, the kingdom of God is come, but NOT fully come. The fullness of Him at work, His righteousness, is with the Holy Spirit indwelled in us (and also in His written Word), but we have NOT yet been fully transformed to be with the full mind of Christ; and it is that we have to align to have the Kingdom to fully come, in and through us, for the world; and that alignment requires a part from us, to want to yield to the Spirit of God, to allow Him to progressively transform us, so that more and more, we are able to be in agreement with God, and so, be righteous with God. Seeking that Kingdom of God and His righteousness, is NOT merely to be conscious of the will and desires of God, the substance of His righteousness, or to be “I know that” of the same, but to be doing them.

It is by the constant doing of the will and desires of God, that one can come to know what is good in God’s eyes, and what is evil (Heb 5:14); in other words, be in agreement with God, or to be having the righteousness of God. Having the righteousness of God is NOT referring to the passive, imputed righteousness of Christ; it is having the fullness of Him at work in and through us; it is God working in and through us, with us un-hindering in anyway. Having the righteousness of God is having Jesus living once again, out of us. Think about it, Jesus did NOT live a life of doing nothing (just basking); He did NOT live His life paying lip-service to the Father God; He worked, served, and He loved. To be seeking the kingdom and His righteousness is to adopt the mindset of “It is NOT only I who live, but Christ who lives in and through me. It is NOT only I who act, but God who acts through me; and it is NOT only I who love, but God who loves through me.”

The “All these things”
What are the “all these things”? When you have read from verse 24 downwards, you know that they were referring to food, shelter and clothing; in other words, our needs. We all have needs, living on earth. Verse 32 stated plainly to us, that our God knows we need them.

They are specifically referring to our needs, NOT our luxuries or frivolous desires (although, at times, it can be something outside of the strict class of base food, clothing and shelter). If you get more than your needs, thank God for them, you got them by grace. I have always said, if it is by grace, it means it is entirely up to God to give or NOT to give, to grant to one, and NOT to another, unless He has promised specifically; in which case, He cannot dishonor Himself by dishonoring His promise to you.

What exactly did God promise here? Very simply, God promises conditionally that He will let you have your needs met. What is the condition? The condition is that you and I, must seek first, His kingdom and His righteousness.

People do NOT understand that things come from God to us, in 2 ways: One, it comes to us because it is promised by God; and two, it comes to us, because God gives it out of His grace. In other words, things can come to us from God, from 2 heads, head of promise, and the head of grace.

If the promise is unconditional, you just get it. There are very few unconditional promises in the Word. Even passage of time can be a condition. But if passage of time is the only condition, then when the time comes, you get what is promised you. Now, if there are other conditions attached to a promise, it is NOT unreasonable of God to expect the fulfillment of those conditions, before He gives whatever He has promised. If you and I ignore the conditions, then we cannot blame Him for us NOT getting what is promised. If He does waive one or more condition for a chap, it is His prerogative from His sovereignty; you and I have to accept that, too.

Things we get from grace solely, it is entirely up to Him; and grace can flow out to us, from several heads of grace, and NOT one (commonly understood as from love and faithfulness of God). No, the grace of God flows out to us, from other heads, too, like from the head of righteousness and justice of God, from the head of sovereignty of God, and even from the head of glory of God. The more predictable of them all, is the grace from the head of righteousness and justice of God, the very foundation of His throne. If you ignore this head, you are depriving yourself of a lot of goodness that can come, for situations where His righteousness and justice are practised or lived out.

What about when we work and we earn our wages, and we then are able to get our needs met; is there no God element or it is also with God element, since I mentioned we are getting things from God in only 2 ways? Working and earning wages are ways within the righteousness of God. In fact, Scripture does warn against idleness.

Generally, a lot of things we received flow from the grace, flowing from the head of righteousness and justice of God, and it includes our work. When we work, we put our hands to the plough, NOT being lazy, and idle, and that is a righteous thing to do; God is for you, and grace is likely to be extended to you. How much you get, or we say “the increase”, it is up to God, according to the measure of His grace He would like to extend to you. The promise of Matt 6:33 is also working for you.

So, so long I am NOT idle, whatever I do, God’s grace is poured out to me, correct or NOT? No, it depends on what you do; you can be working on evil and get paid; what you get is NOT a blessing from God; it is NOT a grace from God, it does NOT matter if you want to say it to be, it is NOT. And Matt 6:33 you cannot claim, too.

It is important that Christians should only want their wellness to be coming from the grace and blessing of God and/or His promises, and NOT from any other. If your wellness does NOT come from the grace and blessing of God and/or His promises, that wellness may have come with a great price against you. Ultimately, one cannot go against the foundation of God’s throne, which is His righteousness and justice. Scripture said God cannot be mocked; and that means His righteousness and justice, the very foundation of His rule, cannot be mocked. At times, we might think that people get away with it, in actual fact, we can expect that they did NOT, and it is that time will tell. Then, we must also understand that God allows for repentance. If you have done wrong, or sinned, turn back; repent and ask for forgiveness, and get back on track.

“Good, since you said that, we, working for our needs, without engaging in evil, are righteous, I don’t need to be bothered with this verse, so long as I work, right?” I am saying, to work per se, is righteous; I am NOT saying anyhow you work, is also righteous. For example, if God revealed that His desire is for you to be engaging a certain work, but you don’t want to do that, instead, you want to do what you want to do; a work which is of itself NOT evil or anything like that, but is nevertheless NOT the thing God would like you to do, you are still acting UNrighteously.

Now, even if you are doing what God would like you to do, but you want to do it, your way, instead of being led by His Spirit, doing in His way, you are NOT being righteous, too. The demand here includes requiring you to be NOT working so very hard, as to be chasing after money, with no time for God, for God’s work, and for your loved ones, or even for yourself!

“Then, aren’t you talking about obedience?” I am talking about righteousness, and yes, obedience is inevitable; for it is about His righteousness, NOT yours. Well, there will NOT be obedience when and only when, His righteousness has become your righteousness, or His ways, your ways; in other words, when you come to a case of, while you are doing what He wants done, you are doing what you want done – there is no more obedience there, much like the picture the Apostle Paul painted to us, when he said, a matter was no sacrifice (to him). Paul has grown to be so aligned to God, that he could say, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”. In other words, whatever God found it desirous, he, Paul, was glad to go along. When you have your mind and your ways so aligned to that of God, like the case of Paul, you then can say like what Paul said, “I don’t even judge myself” (1 Cor 4:3), for that would be judging the Spirit! But please, don’t go round saying Paul taught that we do NOT need to “judge” (self-examine) ourselves. No, Paul taught that we are to examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5).

I am NOT Paul yet, and so, to me, I just tell people, “I obey”, “I sacrifice”, and “I work”. I don’t pretend I am already there, and really there is NO need to pretend; God accepts, we are trying to get there, but I don’t think He is pleased with us pretending we have arrived (And, please, please, don’t mislead children of God, encouraging them to think like they have arrived). God looks at the heart and God looks at the man’s ways. It is both, although more commonly we hear people saying the former. But I tell you, watch your ways; they (the ways) tell on your heart. Tell you a “secret”, God applies “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”!

Does God ever delight in a man’s way? When is that? When your ways are His ways. So, what is the right attitude to have, concerning our needs of life? Do what is required of us in Matt 6:33, and rest in that promise contained therein, that God will meet our needs. If you need another passage, saying much the same, which you can steadfastly hold onto (but you also must note, the same righteousness condition), is this, Ps 37:23-25:

23 If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;
24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

But I really find it hard to do that!
Hard to, NOT worry; hard to, NOT work terribly hard; hard NOT to amass money, despite I have much; hard to stop for God, and for others.

That is because you have NOT known your God enough. Too many of us do NOT spend enough time and effort to know more ABOUT Him. Then, we also do NOT experience Him; and we do NOT experience Him, because we lack the “doing part”; we only stay at the “I am conscious or I know that” stage, and NOT go further to obey, by action.

Why do we need to experience Him? Many preachers tell us to just believe the Word and NOT to go by sight-what! While it is true, what we are dealing with is faith, NOT facts, faith needs to be applied, and it is in the application that we experience God. You and I need to experience Him because that is the prime way to get to KNOW Him. How do you know another person (NOT talking about, knowing ABOUT that person)? Yes, you need to interact with the person to know him. It is the same, we need to interact with God, or in my words here, experience Him.

Take step to walk with Him, today. You can only walk with Him, when you walk where He walks. He is NOT in the evil, so don’t go there. He is in His righteousness; walk there; there you will find Him; there you will experience Him; there you will get to know more about Him, testifying to what the Word said about Him, your God. It is NOT always, with “thunder and lightning”, it can be “bit by bit”, it can be trying, too; but His grace is sufficient for you, said the Word.

Anthony Chia, high.expressionsPs 37:5-6 - Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. I say, “Why would it NOT be so, for then, your righteousness and your justice are His!” Amen.

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