22 May 2014

Matthew 6:19-34

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (v. 33)


This passage is found within the section of Matthew's Gospel on the Sermon on the Mount, and it is within this context that its meaning is shaped. In a world when many face a daily struggle for existence, the exhortations not to worry about food and clothes may seem rather naive and idealistic or even offensive. Yet the word "worry" (v. 25) in this context does not relate to the real concern for survival, but rather the kind of anxiety that can be debilitating and run contrary to a trust in God. The exhortation not to worry about our life cannot be interpreted without reference to the concluding saying of verse 33: "But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well". Instead of focussing time and attention on acquiring things or allowing such concerns to be all-consuming, the hearers are to devote their energy to the kingdom of God.

The reader is challenged to look at their life and recognise those anxieties that can distract and overwhelm and that have little to do with the kingdom of God. Our true priorities are revealed by how we use our time and by where our energy goes. So much needless energy is spent in attempts to quell fears for the future.

Instead, a greater faith and trust in God is urged. The passage reminds us how valuable each person is to God. If God lavishes such care on the birds and the lilies and the grass, then how much more is give to humanity.  

To Ponder

  • What anxieties distort your relationship with God?
  • If you look at where your energies are focused, what does it tell you about your priorities at the moment?
  • What helps you to have confidence and trust in God's promises?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt

Nicola Price-Tebbutt is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has previously served in circuit in Sheffield and as a tutor at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester.