BECAUSE MAN is eternally looking for better things, we have each been seeking in devious ways to find our own good; while all the time we have had right before us directions that would have led us to the very highest and best that we could imagine, to the ultimate satisfaction of every real desire. The Master told us in very plain language, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (A. V.) You will observe that He set no limit to what shall be added.
Was this merely a beautiful thought which He voiced to please His hungry listeners, or was it the terse statement of a great truth? We who are followers of Jesus should naturally accept it in the latter sense, as a definite direction for our guidance in satisfying the deep longing we feel for the things that we seem to lack; and we should obey the in-junction. But we have felt that the directions are indefinite. How to find this place and just what is meant by “his righteousness” have been moot questions ever since Jesus gave this commandment, and many interpretations have been placed upon His words.
We have been frequently told that this statement applies only to the life to come, where we shall have the good things that we have failed to find here, provided that we live good, religious lives now; but the context makes it plain that the words apply to this present existence, to the eternal now. We are instructed not to be anxious about the things that we need every day food, clothing, and so on but to find this realm, whereupon the things will come of themselves. This is the simple reading of the whole passage. If we believe that He meant what He said, we must seek this kingdom and seek it wholeheartedly.
A kingdom is a state in which a king resides and over which he reigns. If he lives in one country while ruling another, we can scarcely say that the latter is his kingdom. We may call it a colony, or a province, or even a part of the realm; but the real kingdom is the locality of his immediate presence. If you should seek him it would be to this place that you would go. We have believed that the kingdom of God is away off somewhere, and that we cannot find it while we live here. This is not the case. God is omnipresent; therefore His kingdom is every-where, just as He is in every place, although we do not see Him. He does not rule us through intermediaries of any kind. There is a definite part of this realm which intimately concerns you and your affairs. This is the place you are to seek.
When a man starts out with the purpose of finding a town or a mountain in a strange land, he looks up information concerning the roads he should travel and the general character of the country. He reads guidebooks and tries to get all possible information from someone who is at least partially acquainted with the place. If he can do so, he asks one who has been there to outline the way for him. He would expect no real help from those who know as little about the matter as he, and neither would he pay any attention to what they said; for guesswork would be of no value.
It is curious that we should accept misinformation concerning the kingdom of God as true knowledge; that we should rely on the opinions of others, when we can each get real, direct help in this matter. The fact is that we have a most remarkable guidebook which tells us all about this kingdom, and how to reach it; but only a few have grasped its true import, although this seems very plain and simple. That is because the meaning of its directions comes very slowly, and to understand them requires thought. The mass of erroneous ideas with which we have been burdened is a hindrance. The very simplicity of the idea of the kingdom bothers us, for we seem to expect something complex. We also have a true Guide, one who tells us that if we will follow Him we shall find this kingdom; and He has promised another helper who will teach us all things. With all this help, certainly we should not go wrong in our seeking.
If we turn to our guidebook and read carefully, we find that the One who was well acquainted with the kingdom of God located it in a very exact way. He said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Well, if it is within you, and within me, that certainly brings it right into the present time and narrows our field of exploration. No anatomical study has ever located this inner kingdom. Hence it must be in the invisible portion of man; that is, in the soul or true individual. God is always present there; it is impossible to get away from Him; therefore we need only realize His presence. If we look within ourselves, there He is; that is His realm. But to reap its benefits, you must feel His presence as a reality. That is the very point. You must find Him within you, in your soul, and must extend this kingdom to include your mental nature. This means that you must establish yourself in the consciousness of His presence. When you do this you will have found the kingdom, and will have become one of its citizens. For your immediate concern, then, the consciousness of the presence of God is His kingdom, and it is in this kingdom that we should live.
A consciousness of anything is a mental awareness of it, a deep feeling that it is true, or an inner sensation of contact with it. The state is entirely a mental one and does not depend upon any position of the body, or upon any ceremonies. A consciousness seldom comes suddenly; we usually arrive at it by orderly steps, after due mental preparation. A consciousness begins as an idea that is implanted in the mind just as a seed is planted in the ground. Thoughts are then directed toward this idea and concentrated upon it, thus nourishing it as the rains supply food to the growing plant. The idea draws these thoughts to itself, expanding continually until it fills the mind and becomes a mental state that governs all thinking. This is the parable of the mustard seed that grew to be a tree large enough for the birds to roost in.
Implant in your mind the idea that God is always with you; that it is He who is working through you, no matter what you may be doing. Then concentrate your thoughts upon this idea, refer to it as a fact in all that you think or do, and you will find it growing until you will feel, as a great truth, that He is actually right with you. You will then be in the full consciousness, the kingdom of God. This is the realm of all good. When you establish yourself in this consciousness you become aware that the source of all good is within you, just where the Master told us that it is. God is our supply of everything, health, happiness, abundance, and love. These are all in that inner kingdom, waiting to be brought forth. You must become conscious of God as All-Good right within you before you can demonstrate these things in the outer.
But wait. There is one more condition to be met before these things will manifest themselves. We are told also to seek “his righteousness.” This needs some explanation, for it has been interpreted in many ways. Some say that it signifies right living, and that this means living according to certain rules and regulations that they claim are laid down for us, particularly in that portion of Scripture called “the law.” But those who have followed this way have failed to demonstrate the results that should come from such efforts if this is true. The Master said that unless our righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees we should not find the kingdom, and the Pharisees prided themselves on living according to the letter of the law. Clearly His righteousness is none of these things. Careful study will show it to be something far deeper, something more vital than any outward show. His righteousness is a thing of the heart.
Now our Guidebook explains the meaning very clearly, but it has been overlooked all down the centuries. In Genesis we read that God made a certain promise to Abraham, a promise that would seem to have been absolutely impossible of fulfillment, because of the advanced ages of Abraham and of his wife. But Abraham did not for an instant doubt that the thing promised would come to pass. He had such faith in the power of God that he did not question the promise. The account says, “And he [Abraham) believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.” Paul refers to this passage in his Epistle to the Romans and also in his Epistle to the Galatians. James also refers to it. Abraham’s righteousness did not arise from his living according to the Mosaic law, for that law did not come into existence until 430 years later; rather, it was the result of faith alone. This fact has deep meaning for us.
“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; but for our sake also.” If faith in God was counted as righteousness in Abraham, it will be so counted in you and in me, just as Paul says; hence you must not only establish yourself in the consciousness of God’s presence, but put your faith in Him as the source of all good. Faith in God as omnipotence, faith that He is providing for you and guiding you now, and faith that He cannot fail, make one righteous. This gives us the meaning of “his righteousness” as faith, but l think we may make an addition.
God appeared to Solomon in a dream, and offered him his choice of gifts, making no reservation. Solomon chose wisdom, that he might rule the people well, and God added to this certain things for which the king had not asked: long life and riches. King Solomon had faith in God, and he asked for that which he felt would be of greatest use to him. We may gather from this that wisdom is a phase of righteousness. Wisdom should accompany faith and strengthen it, for understanding faith is what really accomplishes things.
We can now read this passage simply and intelligently. Establish yourself in the consciousness of the presence of God, have absolute faith in Him as the source of all good, and let His wisdom guide you in all that you do; and all things will come to you. In this condition you will become a magnet for everything that you desire. Is not this clear and plain? If you establish yourself in this consciousness of His presence, and if you trust Him, He will manifest Himself through you as all the good that you can imagine. Have such faith in Him that you feel Him working through you and helping you at all times; then you never need worry. You can refer everything to the Father within you, just as Jesus did, knowing that He is hearing you and caring for you.
Someone has said that finding the kingdom of God is discovering the realm of all power within you. This is another way of saying the same thing, for to gain a consciousness of God’s presence is to become aware of inner power to accomplish what-ever one may need to do. God is power, all power, the only power; therefore when you find Him and bring Him forward in you, you are bringing forth the power which you, His child, have the privilege of using. To fill yourself with God is to fill yourself with such power that your decree will be unfailingly established, if only you have faith in it.
Righteousness has been defined by some as the right use of things. When you find this kingdom and fulfill the other condition, you will always live and act in the right way, and you will make right use of everything. The inner righteousness will show itself in the outer, but you will need no man-made rules of conduct to guide you; for you will be led by the wise Power within you. You will live and work as the Spirit directs: and that is the best way, that is showing true righteousness, “the righteousness of faith,” as Paul puts it.
Let your consciousness of His presence expand until it includes everything. Having established it mentally, let it include the physical body. God is present everywhere; consequently He is present in every cell. Realize this, and He will manifest Himself as perfection in every part of you. There can be no sickness where God is present as health. Let this consciousness fill the body and all disease will vanish before it. The consciousness of His presence is the knowledge that strength and vitality are filling you.
Fill all your affairs with the consciousness of His presence. Let Him have full charge, knowing that He is arranging all things for the best. Do not worry. Why should you be anxious? God has every-thing, He is everything, and He is right with you every instant. Trust Him absolutely; thus you will demonstrate “his righteousness,” and He will take care of you.
“Trust in Jehovah, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness.” David gave us the thought of omnipresence in this psalm which has helped many people to find their good, for to be conscious of the presence of God is to know that supply can never fail.
Does prayer work? I ask only that you try it faithfully, when you will see for yourself. One of my closest friends is a Mohammedan, a native of Afghanistan, from whom I have learned many things. He has the most marvelous consciousness of this powerful Presence that it has been my privilege to observe. To him God is a real being, with whom he is always in close contact. He has rarely been ill in his life, and he has been in many different kinds of business, succeeding wonderfully in every one. He says that he does not do these things of himself, but that God is working through him. I asked him how he approached God, and he replied:
“When I want to know anything, or when I need anything, I talk to Him just as I am talking to you, and He always answers in some way. He has never failed me.”
When you are conscious of this wonderful Presence, you do speak to Him as to another person, knowing that He is always listening, and is always ready to help, since He is love. You feel such a certainty of good right with you that you do not hesitate to relax and pray, “Thy will be done,” for you know that His will is always good. Make the start and establish this kingdom. Take this idea, “I am always conscious of the presence of God.” Plant this idea in your mind, and direct your thoughts to it. It will grow rapidly, and your thoughts will bring back a rich return from that invisible kingdom within you.
When David wrote,
“I have been young, and now am old;
Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread,”
he must have referred to those who had found this kingdom, and who had kept their faith in God as their supply. During recent months I have met many people who have lost a great deal, and who have undergone many privations, but who have kept their faith. These people have acknowledged that in some way their needs have been met, sometimes in a most unexpected manner. One lady to whom I recommended the reading of the 37th Psalm, said of this verse: “It is true. My faith has carried me through when everything else has failed. In all my troubles I have been provided with lodging and food without fail, and I thank God for that.”
Find this kingdom, put your faith in God, and you need never be anxious, for He cannot fail. I know.
I am ever conscious of the presence of God, guiding me in all things, filling me with all good. I put my faith in the power of this Presence, and I leave myself and all my affairs to His care. His will is done.