In this week’s message, Jesus brings up priorities. If you would follow his advice, your life would have less worry and stress and more stability and purpose.
There is a connection between this portion of the Sermon on the Mount and its immediate context (6:1–18). In the preceding section, Jesus contrasted the earthly reward of men’s attention with the heavenly reward from the Father. Now, beginning in 6:19, he contrasted the transience of earthly wealth with the permanence of heavenly wealth. Even the teachings on anxiety (6:25–34) climaxes with the exhortation to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (6:33) in the assurance that the fulfillment of our earthly needs will naturally follow. All of Matthew 6 seems to be saying, “Look up!” when our natural tendency is to look at the world around us (see Col. 3:1–2). 6:19–21. Verses 19 and 20 are almost exact parallels, designed for easy understanding and easy memorization. This is a critical passage. Here the king drew an ultimate contrast between on earth and in heaven. He urged his followers to forget earth and think of heaven. We must not waste our time trying to get ahead in this world. It is the same idea he expounded in 16:24–27. What does it profit a person “if he gains the whole world”? Jesus was demanding that his disciples look up and ahead—“for the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory … and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27). – Holman
Verse 33 brings this paragraph to its climax. When priorities regarding treasures in heaven and on earth are right, God will provide for fundamental human needs. Seeking first the righteousness of the kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the thesis of 5:20 continues to be advanced. Of course, the major problem with the promise “all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you” is the contrary experience of many Christians throughout history who have suffered deprivation and even starvation. One possible solution to this problem is to reserve all guarantees for the age to come. “Will be given” does not specify when God will provide. To be sure, the fullness of the kingdom will eradicate all suffering for God’s people, but it is hard to see why Jesus would rule out worry in the present age if his promise applies only to a distant future. And if God’s kingdom has already been inaugurated, then believers should expect to receive in this age the firstfruits of its material blessings. Hence, v. 33b is probably to be interpreted in light of Luke 12:33 and Mark 10:30a, which presuppose the sharing of goods within the Christian community. When God’s people corporately seek first his priorities, they will by definition take care of the needy in their fellowships. When one considers that over 50 percent of all believers now live in the Two-Thirds World and that a substantial majority of those believers live below what we would consider the poverty line, a huge challenge to First-World Christianity emerges. Without a doubt, most individual and church budgets need drastic realignment in terms of what Christians spend on themselves versus what they spend on others (cf. 2 Cor 8:13–15). In v. 34 Jesus returns full circle to the beginning of his discussion (v. 25), encouraging daily dependence on God (cf. also v. 11). As if to underscore that v. 33 will never be implemented absolutely in this age, he reminds his audience of the daily evil (a more literal rendering than NIV “trouble”) that persists. But there are enough non-Christian sources of evil for believers (most notably the persecutions predicted in 5:10–11) that Christian self-centeredness ought never compound the problems of fellow believers who live in poverty.
Let us consider a biblical philosophy of wealth. First, the creation principle says God gave us this world as a gift to enjoy, so it is not wrong to enjoy financial blessings he has bestowed. Yet that is the lesser principle. Mainly, when God bestows the world’s riches on any person, he is giving such people a ministry of helps. He wants them to use their largesse to lift up the fallen, to alleviate the burdens of the downtrodden. There is no choice; God expects us to share with the needy, and the more we have, the more we must share (Luke 16:9–13; Acts 2:44–45; 4:32–35; Rom 12:8, 13; 2 Cor 9:5–13; Eph 4:28; 1 Tim 6:17–19). –Osborn
Throughout the whole of this discourse, Christ reproves that excessive anxiety, with which men torment themselves, about food and clothing, and, at the same time, applies a remedy for curing this disease. When he forbids them to be anxious, this is not to be taken literally, as if he intended to take away from his people all care. We know that men are born on the condition of having some care; and, indeed, this is not the least portion of the miseries, which the Lord has laid upon us as a punishment, in order to humble us. But immoderate care is condemned for two reasons: either because in so doing men teaze and vex themselves to no purpose, by carrying their anxiety farther than is proper or than their calling demands; or because they claim more for themselves than they have a right to do, and place such a reliance on their own industry, that they neglect to call upon God. We ought to remember this promise: though unbelievers shall “rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows,” yet believers will obtain, through the kindness of God, rest and sleep, (Psalm 127:2.) Though the children of God are not free from toil and anxiety, yet, properly speaking, we do not say that they are anxious about life: because, through their reliance on the providence of God, they enjoy calm repose.
– John Calvin