Seek first His kingdom - Enter through the narrow gate
Matthew 6:25-7:14 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Today’s text contains an exhortation that even those in the world will frequently quote and hold believers to. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” In part this goes back to what Jesus previously shared about God’s standard being higher than the standard of the world, because God judges not only the actions and deeds of people, but He judges the heart. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28) That is what it means to be held to the same standard of measure.
What the world selectively does not quote regarding judgment is the rest of what Jesus says. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So it is not that we are not to point out and help those who are in sin. It is that we are to be certain that we, having submitted our own hearts to the Lord, having repented of the evil of our own hearts, see clearly through the eyes of Christ rather than the eyes of judgment. To see others clearly we must view them through the finished work of the cross. We must see their sin covered as our own, by the words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Then, through the grace of the cross we should help them to remove even the speck of sin which might be in their life.
Jesus follows this exhortation with another that is also frequently excluded because it doesn’t fit many people’s idea of love and grace. He says: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Proverbs 26:11 says: Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Jesus says we should not give what is holy to those who will repeat their own folly. He says we should not give the kingdom of heaven to those who will trample it under foot. When Jesus first sent out the twelve disciples in Matthew 10:7-15, He said: “Preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give… As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” While we should not judge others, we are supposed to help them see clearly and if they choose to continue in sin rather than receive the gospel, we should not persist in giving them the treasure only for them to trample it under foot. We should continue on bringing the good news of the kingdom of heaven to others. Perhaps the seeds we have sown will eventually bear fruit. In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” As disciples of Christ, we are those workers He has sent out and we must be faithful to harvest what is ripe.
Jesus ends today’s text with another exhortation which many choose to overlook or ignore. He says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” It goes against what many want to believe to say that there would be many who go the way of destruction. It goes against what Jesus says in John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It goes against what it says in 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. If God desires that none would perish, why do many enter through the gate that leads to destruction? God gives us all a free will; an ability to choose the path we will take. In today’s text Jesus says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So the narrow way which leads to life does include righteousness. When Jesus first began His ministry, His message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) So to seek the kingdom of heaven also requires repentance. It is not our own righteousness that will lead to life, but rather the righteousness of Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Many will say it is narrow- minded to believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. As for me, I will choose the narrow way. I will believe in Christ, the Son of God, My Lord and Savior. I will seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and I will, with His help, help others to see clearly.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word. Thank You for all that You call and exhort us to be and to do. Most of all thank You that You, so loved the world, that You gave Your only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. I believe. Amen.