All These Things Matthew 6:33

But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33

1. The possession of the Kingdom carries with it every needful thing. All values are included in the Divine. Within the Kingdom is absolute beauty, "the altogether lovely," and if you seek for that the beautiful must come to you. Within the Kingdom is absolute truth, and if you seek for that the true will come to you in the process. And if you do with all your might whatsoever your hands find to do, and do it for the highest end, those necessaries of life which money can buy will also come to you. Good workers who live for the Kingdom never lack bread. It is true that often the very best of them get nothing but bread, or "bread and salt," whilst those who care nothing for the Kingdom get bread and many things besides. But as Lewis Morris puts it, "Strong souls need little more than bread and truth and beauty."

Strong souls within the present live;
The future veiled, - the past forgot;
Grasping what is, with thews of steel,
They bend what shall be, to their will;
And blind alike to doubt and dread,
The End, for which they are, fulfil.
And it was to make strong souls that Jesus came.

There is a story in the "Arabian Nights" of a prince who brought to the king, his father, a fairy tent folded into the confines of a walnut shell. When it was spread in the council chamber it sheltered the king and his counsellors. When taken out and spread in the courtyard, it provided shade for all the household. When taken out on the great plain, where the army were encamped, it grew until all the hosts were beneath its canopy. It had flexibility and expansiveness which were indefinite. That gives us a fair symbol of the expansive, co-ordinating, all-inclusive capacity of the Kingdom of God, which gathers into its confines all the needs and all the treasures of men.1 [Note: W. MacMullen.]

2. There are many things which we get by aiming beyond them. Philosophers of the world tell us that we should aim at what is near and tangible, and should not concern ourselves with what is shadowy and remote; that to talk of and aim at such things as God's love and God's righteousness and a high and chivalrous rule of duty is wasting our time on things not within our reach. Now, that these high and far things are indefinite and misty to us at times is granted. If you get into argument with some philosopher of the lower school he can easily show you that his aims are more practical, as he calls it, that the things he aims at are more clearly in his view. But how if the Divine law holds good in spite of his practical philosophy; how, if by aiming at what we admit is remote and dim, we make sure of getting all that is really worth having in these everyday things? When we have aimed at getting reputation we have missed it; when we have aimed at doing duty and helping man the reputation has come. Have we never found this law holding good even in the struggles of our inner life? When we fought with a number of small faults we made little progress. When we aimed at some high, self-devoted goal beyond, they disappeared. The other things were added. When men fire the rocket of the life-saving apparatus out to a ship, they aim, not at the deck, but considerably above it.

A woodsman wielding his axe swings it upward to lop off the heavy branch, but finds it hard work. His skyward strokes are feeble, for the law of gravitation operates against him and to a certain extent neutralizes the power of his arm. He next swings it downward, and every stroke makes the hills resound. He works with and not against the law of gravitation; and the power of this central law of creation being added to the power of his muscles, he prosecutes his work with energy and success. Every stroke has a double power - the power of the arm and the power of gravitation. Thus man in pursuit of evil proceeds in the teeth of the most potent laws of the Divine Government - the odds are all against him, his strokes are all upwards; and sooner or later he must be made to feel the weariness of wrongdoing. But the good man places himself in harmony with the moral law of God, and thus the strength of the law becomes his panoply. His goodness is so far an advantage to him and not an impediment. And in prophecy the reign of goodness is always associated with the reign of plenty; when the knowledge of God will cover the earth, then and not before will a harvest of wheat be reaped upon the tops of the mountains. Evil and famine on the one hand, goodness and abundance on the other, always go together.1 [Note: J. C. Jones.]

A man gifted with powers and capacities for the calling desires to become an artist. He will aim high. He tells himself that he will not be content with mediocrity, nor allow himself to sink to the lower level of other men. Of him it shall not be true:

That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it, and does it.
Rather will he be one who, if he fail, can cry:
Better have failed in the high aim, as I,
Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed,
As, God be thanked, I do not.

But how shall he become such a one? Only when he has stood before the great masterpieces of all time, and felt the spirit of their creators breathe upon his own. He must enter into their mind; he must feel the nobility of their conceptions touch his own faculty of imagination; he must see the vision of the lesson they sought to write upon their canvas; he must catch the loftiness and grandeur of the spirit that animated them. And what follows? In proportion as these things enter into his soul, possess his faculties, transfuse their own powers into his, will success and greatness meet him. Had he sought success and greatness for themselves alone he would have failed; but, seeking first the spirit of a Master's mind, "all these things have been added unto him."2 [Note: G. Nickson.]

3. It is only when our hearts are on the chief thing that secondary things yield pleasure. It is possible to have a thing, and yet not to have the good of it. There it is in our hands, the very thing we wanted apparently, and yet it does not seem to be the thing we wanted. It is not the thing, but the aroma of pleasure that is in the thing that we really wish; just as we wish a rose for its smell. Now, pleasure is a very delicate article. Men miss pleasure by the ways they take to get it. If they snatch impatiently at it, it escapes them. Except those in actual destitution, professional pleasure-seekers are the most miserable of men. People who spend their life in pursuit of pleasure never get it. One who knew about these things very well said, "Pleasures are like poppies spread; you seize the flower; its bloom is shed." We go to some of the most beautiful objects in nature. If we happen to take them in a wrong light, on a bad day, at a false angle, they lose all their beauty. Or if we are trying to experience some pleasant sensation, the least thing wrong with our health, the least thing amiss with the experiment we make, spoils all. The poise of our mind is everything. Pleasure comes when we are seeking something else, when we are rejoicing in hard work, when we are resting after long exertion, when we have won some worthy object of ambition. The true flower of satisfaction is thrown into our lap by an invisible hand when we are thinking little or nothing of it.

One of the first and most clearly recognized rules to be observed is that happiness is most likely to be attained when it is not the direct object of pursuit. Both the greatest pleasures and the keenest pains of life lie much more in those humbler spheres which are accessible to all than on the rare pinnacles to which only the most gifted or the most fortunate can attain. It would probably be found upon examination that most men who have devoted their lives successfully to great labours and ambitions, and who have received the most splendid gifts from Fortune, have nevertheless found their chief pleasure in things unconnected with their main pursuits and generally within the reach of common men. Domestic pleasures, pleasures of scenery, pleasures of reading, pleasures of travel or of sport, have been the highest enjoyment of men of great ambition, intellect, wealth, and position.1 [Note: W. E. H. Leckie, The Map of Life, 19.]

Oh righteous doom, that they who make
Pleasure their only end,
Ordering the whole life for its sake,
Miss that whereto they tend.2 [Note: R. C. Trench.]

4. The things we wish to have are not really in our hands at all. Suppose that when we grasped the thing we could make certain that the pleasure for the sake of which we grasped it would not evaporate in the process, how could we make sure of grasping it? It might be taken from us when we were within a few inches of it. The things for which men toil and suffer are often taken from them in this way. The things the Gentiles seek can never be in our hands. They remain in God's hands. They are always His, and not ours at all. They are like old illuminated manuscripts or curiosities which you see on the table of a museum or library. We may examine them, and read them, but we cannot take them away. We cannot acquire freehold rights on God's great estate. We are only tenants at will, and therefore what we should first do is to gain the goodwill of the Proprietor, especially as it is a great deal more than His goodwill which He offers us. He offers us His love and Himself, and it stands to reason that "all these things" will be thrown into the bargain.

It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by caring very much about our own narrow pleasures. We can only have the highest happiness by having wide thoughts, and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves; and this sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it, that we can only tell it from pain by its being what we would choose before everything else, because our souls see it is good. There are so many things wrong and difficult in the world, that no man can be great - he can hardly keep himself from wickedness - unless he gives up thinking much about pleasure or rewards, and gets strength to endure what is hard and painful. And so, if you mean to act nobly and seek to know the best things God has put within reach of men, you must learn to fix your mind on that end, and not on what will happen to you because of it. And remember, if you were to choose something lower, and make it the rule of your life to seek your own pleasure and escape from what is disagreeable, calamity might come just the same; and it would be calamity falling on a base mind, which is the one form of sorrow that has no balm in it, and that may well make a man say, - "It would have been better for me if I had never been born."1 [Note: George Eliot, Epilogue to Romola.]

This is the sovereign remedy: to believe utterly in the Heavenly Father's love and wisdom and make His Kingdom and His righteousness the supreme concerns, leaving all lesser interests in His hands. "Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Here is the secret of a quiet heart. "Nothing," says St. Chrysostom, "makes men light-hearted like deliverance from care and anxiety, especially when they may be delivered therefrom without suffering any disadvantage, forasmuch as God is with them and stands them in lieu of all."2 [Note: David Smith, The Days of His Flesh, 295.]

Oh, if we draw a circle premature,
Heedless of far gain,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
Bad is our bargain!
Was it not great? did not he throw on God,
(He loves the burthen) -
God's task to make the heavenly period
Perfect the earthen?
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear
Just what it all meant?
He would not discount life, as fools do here,
Paid by instalment!
He ventured neck or nothing - Heaven's success
Found, or earth's failure:
"Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes
Hence with life's pale lure!"1 [Note: Browning, A Grammarian's Funeral.]