The Main Thing
When Leonardo da Vinci was forty-three years old, the Duke Ludovinco of Milan asked him to paint the dramatic scene of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples: Working slowly and giving meticulous care to details, he spent three years on the assignment. He grouped the disciples into threes, two groups on either side of the central figure of Christ. Christ’s arms are outstretched. In his right hand, He holds a cup, painted beautifully with marvelous realism. When the masterpiece was finished, the artist said to a friend, “Observe it and give me your opinion of it!” “It’s wonderful!” exclaimed the friend. “The cup is so real I cannot divert my eyes from it!” Immediately Leonardo took a brush and drew it across the sparkling cup! He exclaimed as he did so: “Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!”
As life goes faster and things happen it is easy for anyone to get to focused on the shiny cup and ignore Jesus. Which is why it is so important for us as the body of Christ to refocus on the main thing which is our savior Jesus Christ. Even if that means giving up things that derail us from that or as Divinci put a blemish on the cup.
As we continue our discussion on the Main Thing, I pray we refocus our our hearts to live out the equation, I seek Christ + seek his kingdom = provision taught to us by Jesus in Matthew 6 :33. “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
But when we break that down, there is a a very big stipulation. Yes God will provide all things for us, but first we must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. But what exactly does that mean and what exactly does true righteousness even look like? Today, we are going to focus on the main thing of that text in Jesus Sermon on the Mount and discuss how seeking the kingdom of Christ and his righteousness will lead to a truly fulfilled life.
To dive into this we must first Consider the context of Matthew 6. Matthew 5–7 is considered the Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 5 contains the well-known Beatitudes which recounts the blessings of many different groups of people. Christ, knowing his audience, speaks to where they are at in their life. There would have been many mini kingdoms, and people would have been very uptight about who was on whose side. He confronts them and doesn’t mince any words. He concludes a series of powerful thoughts with verse 33 which we discussed last week in chapter 6. It says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” Christ’s kingdom and Christ’s righteousness was to be sought above all other kingdoms and all other “righteousness.”
So the first thing we must determine and understand is the difference between God’s Righteousness and Kingdom and Man’s. Because Above all else we should put his kingdom and his righteousness. For example even more important than being an American, you are a Christian. More important than being a legacy of you family name, you are a legacy to Jesus Christ. Priorities are important, and Jesus is telling in the sermon on the mount the importance of placing God and his kingdom and following what he says is true righteousness above all else.
It reminds me of a story I heard about a famous football coach. Bill McCartney retired as the head coach of the Colorado football team several years ago. His reason for retirement was not because he was unsuccessful as a coach. His teams had won the national championship. They had been in the top 10 many times. McCartney said that he was retiring because he wanted to reevaluate his priorities. He said, “I’m leaving coaching, & I’m going to take a whole year to re-evaluate my priorities. Is God first? Is my family second? Is my work third?” And when that year was over, Bill McCartney had dedicated his life & talents to Christ, & threw his efforts into founding the great men’s renewal gatherings that we know today as “Promise Keepers.”
In short he realized that while he believed the word of God, he didn’t feel he was living it out because his priorities were not seeking God’s Kingdom first. So he reevaluated and adjusted his life. In the same way church the first step and question we must answer is do we need to reevaluate how we are living our lives and our priorities. Do they match up with what Jesus taught in his sermon on the mount? If they aren’t, why not?
I believe the first few verses of Matthew 6 talks about some of the reasons many of us struggle with the building of Christs righteousness.
6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus didn’t hold back. Matthew 6:1–7 deals with the righteousness of self and thus building your own name and kingdom by appearing to be more spiritual. The Christian life isn’t about us or our name; the Christian life is about lifting up the name of Christ. The example of giving in verses 1–4 and prayer in verses 5–7 is in opposition to true righteousness. As a matter of fact, Christ calls it hypocrisy.
As Christ was speaking these words, those in the crowd would have been able to identify with what he was saying because they’d seen it. Some of them were guilty. Can’t we be guilty of doing the same? We boast of our spirituality in subtle ways when Christ is the one who has made us spiritual. Boasting in ourselves in any way is not seeking after righteousness or the kingdom of God, but rather, it is seeking after our own righteousness and after our own kingdom.
Even Paul had to teach against this to church of Corinth as we see in 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
People in the church tried to boast about who they followed, rather than understanding that they were all united as followers of Christ. Today we can also see this as we boast about our religion or legalistic views that divide rather than unite. Isn’t Jesus Christ the only one we follow and isn’t it his righteousness that we should be seeking? Then why is there so much division amongst followers of Christ?
Imagine a child going to school boasting of his great house and his nice car and his luxurious vacations, leading his friends to believe that it’s all because of him. That would be silly. The only thing that child contributes is laughter and perhaps a few chores. It would be ludicrous for any child to boast and take credit for the riches of his parents. The same is true with us. We have no righteousness of our own. Isaiah 64:6 says it plainly, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” We have nothing to offer God. In order to receive the righteousness of God, we have to submit and confess that we are nothing and have nothing to offer a righteous God. We can brag on what Christ has done, but we can never take credit for it—to do so is hypocrisy. The reward of human recognition is merely temporal, but it should not be equated with true righteousness.
- So first we must seek God’s kingdom and righteousness by putting his teachings and his kingdom above all else.
- Second, we must not forget that it is his righteousness and not our own. Don’t allow the enemy to deceive you into thinking that you your poop don’t stink. Our boasting should be that God has chosen to use us as vessels to further his kingdom through his grace. Amen
- My third and final point is that we should seek and go where Jesus is? Where ever Jesus is, is where his kingdom will be. Think about that for a second?
What is the kingdom that we’re supposed to be seeking after? While there are many views and interpretations of what exactly the kingdom is, it is safe to say that it is wherever Christ is King. If we went to a monarchy today, we’d find that there is only a kingdom because there is a king (or queen). If there is no king, there is no kingdom. Could we agree that the kingdom of Christ is wherever Christ is King? We are to seek Christ and make him King of our life. He sets the rules. He sets the standards. He sets the righteousness. If we seek after this, we would certainly live differently.
Let me close this discussion with one more story. There were 128 runners in the field for the cross country race at the 1993 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships. As they set out on the 6.2 mile run, they were following a course that had been marked for them by the race officials. Toward the end of the course, one of the runners in the middle of the group realized something was wrong. Mike Delcavo of Western State College in Colorado saw that the main pack had missed the turn. “I was waving for them to follow me and yelling ‘This is the right way,’” he told an interviewer after the race.
Delcavo was right—but only four other runners followed him. The rest continued on the shortcut, which allowed them to run a shorter distance and finish the race sooner. In a widely-criticized decision, race officials allowed the abbreviated route to stand as the “official course” and Delcavo officially finished 123rd.The world does not always reward staying on track—literally or figuratively. But the path we follow is important to God. One day, those of us who have already trusted Christ for our salvation will appear before the Lord for an evaluation of our service. Our entrance to Heaven is sure—that was settled when we received Christ. But rewards—or the loss of them—for how we spent our lives are not so sure. When we stand before the Lord, no shortcuts will be recognized, and only those who have run the race by His guidebook will be honored.
The question I leave you with today is what path will you take? Will you seek the path few take that seeks God’s Righteousness and Kingdom first or will take the path forged by man? While the road may seemed less traveled, the reward from keeping Jesus the Main thing is well worth it.
Adapted from the Series the Main Thing