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Thread: Matthew 6:33 and implications

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    Matthew 6:33 and implications

    I'm sort of embarrassed to be posting one of those "Bible problem" questions but I'm not sure what to make of Matthew 6:33. Everybody knows it: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous, and all these things shall be added unto you. It's the last part. The meaning seems clear enough. Craig Keener http://www.craigkeener.com/tag/all-t...dded-unto-you/ explains that it means that if you seek God's righteousness, then your basic needs like shelter and food will be taken care of. However, how do we interpret this when it comes to the issue of homelessness and people struggling to make ends meet? There are homeless Christians out there. Does this mean that they failed to trust God? Or does this mean that Jesus's statements should not be taken as a literal promise? I remember reading a news story about a trucker who got stranded in a snowstorm. His body was found with diary entries about how he was certain God would provide. It would seem like he followed the instructions given in this verse to a T.
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

    All cruelty springs from weakness. - Seneca the Younger

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    I have never known anyone who could seek the kingdom of God with all heart. That certainly does not include me, try though I may.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    I have never known anyone who could seek the kingdom of God with all heart. That certainly does not include me, try though I may.
    True. But the verse in question does not demand wholehearted seeking. It "only" requires that we give the Kingdom first priority (as opposed to exclusive priority).
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

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    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I'm sort of embarrassed to be posting one of those "Bible problem" questions but I'm not sure what to make of Matthew 6:33. Everybody knows it: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous, and all these things shall be added unto you. It's the last part. The meaning seems clear enough. Craig Keener http://www.craigkeener.com/tag/all-t...dded-unto-you/ explains that it means that if you seek God's righteousness, then your basic needs like shelter and food will be taken care of. However, how do we interpret this when it comes to the issue of homelessness and people struggling to make ends meet? There are homeless Christians out there. Does this mean that they failed to trust God? Or does this mean that Jesus's statements should not be taken as a literal promise? I remember reading a news story about a trucker who got stranded in a snowstorm. His body was found with diary entries about how he was certain God would provide. It would seem like he followed the instructions given in this verse to a T.
    First, one could take Keener's article as a whole to suggest that the promise applies mainly to those who are actively and sacrificially engaged in the work of the Kingdom.

    Second, the passage as a whole is speaking in generalities, contrasting genuine believers with both hypocrites and unbelievers. So, much as I dislike the idea, we probably should not take 6:33 as an absolute promise. Similar uncomfortable cases can be found in the "prayer promises" of such places as John 14, 15, and 16. We are told to ask for "anything," whatever we "wish," and we will receive it. Of course we can find ways to qualify those promises by appealing to the whole section instead of individual verses, or by bringing in verses from other places. That does not change the wording of THOSE verses. They are absolute, and yet reality tells us they don't really mean what they say. :-(
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

    Beige Nationalist.

    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

  5. Amen Obsidian amen'd this post.
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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    True. But the verse in question does not demand wholehearted seeking. It "only" requires that we give the Kingdom first priority (as opposed to exclusive priority).
    Differing interpretations.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Cor 1:20)

    Now I can't speak to every situation, to say what may or may not be happening, but I do believe that if we seek God's kingdom and his righteousness, we will have food and clothing.


    "The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
    In times of disaster they will not wither;
    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." (Ps 37:18–19)

    I was laid off about a year ago, and it seems people aren't hiring 60-year-olds! So I went a year without a job, and just as I ran out of money Social Security kicked in. I have set myself to seek the Lord, his kingdom and his righteousness, and he has provided.

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  8. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Darth Executor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I'm sort of embarrassed to be posting one of those "Bible problem" questions but I'm not sure what to make of Matthew 6:33. Everybody knows it: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous, and all these things shall be added unto you. It's the last part. The meaning seems clear enough. Craig Keener http://www.craigkeener.com/tag/all-t...dded-unto-you/ explains that it means that if you seek God's righteousness, then your basic needs like shelter and food will be taken care of. However, how do we interpret this when it comes to the issue of homelessness and people struggling to make ends meet? There are homeless Christians out there. Does this mean that they failed to trust God? Or does this mean that Jesus's statements should not be taken as a literal promise? I remember reading a news story about a trucker who got stranded in a snowstorm. His body was found with diary entries about how he was certain God would provide. It would seem like he followed the instructions given in this verse to a T.
    Maybe God did provide.
    "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

    There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I'm sort of embarrassed to be posting one of those "Bible problem" questions but I'm not sure what to make of Matthew 6:33. Everybody knows it: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous, and all these things shall be added unto you. It's the last part. The meaning seems clear enough. Craig Keener http://www.craigkeener.com/tag/all-t...dded-unto-you/ explains that it means that if you seek God's righteousness, then your basic needs like shelter and food will be taken care of. However, how do we interpret this when it comes to the issue of homelessness and people struggling to make ends meet? There are homeless Christians out there. Does this mean that they failed to trust God? Or does this mean that Jesus's statements should not be taken as a literal promise? I remember reading a news story about a trucker who got stranded in a snowstorm. His body was found with diary entries about how he was certain God would provide. It would seem like he followed the instructions given in this verse to a T.
    You seem to be all over the map here. Let's look at the surrounding verses to get a better idea of what's going on:

    “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money. 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. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

    Jesus is clearly admonishing his disciples not to worry. Don't fret about this life like it's the only one you've got and preoccupy yourself with the accumulation of possessions. Don't let money enslave you. What about homeless Christian's? It appears their basic needs are met, which is why they are surviving. What about the tragic story of the guy stranded in the snow storm? He died, but it appears his basic needs were likewise met before he died.

  11. Amen Magenta, The Remonstrant amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    This verse has a history of creative interpretation, for a couple of reasons:
    * There are plenty of faithful Christians who don’t have basic needs taken care of
    * Looking at Jesus’ ministry as a whole, it doesn’t seem that he called most of his listeners to quit their jobs, nor to give up their wealth, though in a few cases he did.

    If you want to qualify it, the obvious way to do so is to assume that this was directed specifically at his disciples. They had in fact given up everything. Indeed Luke 12:21 says “he said to his disciples,” though of course that term can have broad meanings.

    Through much of church history, the passage has been understood as dealing with anxiety, but not as an actual promise of wealth to those who look only to the Kingdom of God.

    I would advise not weakening it in these ways. Like several other passages, this one stands as a challenge to reconsider how we live, even if it’s completely impractical. It’s one of the things that I think we’re meant to wrestle with, without necessarily finding a real resolution.

    The Hermeneia commentary on Matthew (by Luz) has the following interesting comment:

    Hardly anyone has understood that better than Søren Kierkegaard, for whom Matt 6:25–34* was a favorite text. In “The Instant, No. VII” he tells a story that senses how much the text demands as well as how far one’s own situation is removed from the text. It is the story of the ministerial candidate Ludvig From, who “first” (cf. Matt 6:33*) seeks a royal appointment as a pastor, therefore “first” must pass his exams, then “first” complete the church’s exams and graduate from seminary, then “first” get engaged, and finally, after “first” he “had” to negotiate his salary, he stands in the pulpit and preaches his first sermon on the text “Seek ‘first’ the kingdom of God.” The bishop is impressed by the “sound, unadulterated doctrine” proclaimed here, especially by “*‘the way he stressed this word first.’ ‘But does it not seem to your Lordship that in this instance a correspondence between speech and life would be desirable?’*”
    Last edited by hedrick; 03-09-2018 at 06:35 AM.

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Source: J. C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots, 296–297


    The floods of care and tribulation may be mighty, but Jesus sits upon the waterfloods, and is mightier than the waves of the sea. (Psalm 93:4.) The winds of trouble may howl fiercely round you, but Jesus holds them in His hand, and can stay them when He lists. Oh, if any reader of this paper is broken-hearted, and care-worn, and sorrowful, let him go to Jesus Christ, and cry to Him, and he shall be refreshed. “Come unto Me,” He says, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.)

    I invite all who profess to call themselves Christians, to take large views of Christ’s power. Doubt anything else if you will, but never doubt Christ’s power. Whether you do not secretly love sin, may be doubtful. Whether you are not privately clinging to the world, may be doubtful. Whether the pride of your nature is not rising against the idea of being saved as a poor sinner by grace, may be doubtful. But one thing is not doubtful, and that is, that Christ is “able to save to the uttermost,” and will save you, if you will let Him. (Heb. 7:25.)

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    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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