by Jeff Dominguez
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.”
This is a very well-known verse in the Bible and is a favorite among many Christians. And why not? this verse is one of the most comforting words of Jesus. It is a promise that He will give us everything that we will need in this life.
But just recently, despite being familiar with this verse for a long time now, I noticed something that I haven’t noticed before: IS MATTHEW 6:33 A QUID PRO QUO?
But first, what is a Quid Pro Quo?
A Quid Pro Quo is a Latin phrase that means “a favor for a favor.” In another way of saying it, it is an exchange of favors. You do this for me, I do this for you. And like I’ve said, I just noticed that Matthew 6:33 appears to be a quid pro quo. If we will look carefully, there is the element of the exchange of favors. The favor that Jesus is asking us to do is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” And in return, the favor that He will do for us is “all these things will be added to you.” So yeah right? It does indeed appear to be a quid pro quo. But is it? let’s explore further.
It must be noted that this is not the first time that God made a “deal” with mankind. In the Old Testament, we have the so-called covenants. A covenant is a promise made between two or more parties. I promise to do this, you promise to do this. But take note, this is not a quid pro quo. A quid pro quo is an exchange of favors. A covenant, on the other hand, is an exchange of promises. And a promise may not necessarily be a favor.
In addition, there are two kinds of covenants in the Bible: unconditional and conditional. The unconditional covenants are the promises that God will do without any condition on the other party. The examples are the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:8-17), the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3), and the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
On the other hand, the conditional covenants are the promises that God will do if the other party will fulfill its promise. The best example is the Mosaic Covenant. It is a covenant between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24). But the details of this covenant are best expressed in Deuteronomy 28.
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
– Deuteronomy 28:1-2
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all His commandments and His statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.”
– Deuteronomy 28:15
The point of the Mosaic Covenant is actually very simple: you obey God, you will be blessed. You disobey God, you will be cursed.
But like I’ve said, this is not a quid pro quo. Obeying God is not a favor we do for Him. It is a commandment. Therefore, the more accurate nature of the Mosaic Covenant is cause and effect. Obedience to God will naturally bring blessings but disobedience will naturally bring curses. After all, the purpose of God’s commandments is for our good.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”
– Deuteronomy 10:12-13
But the whole point of why I discussed the covenants is to show that God frequently makes deals with mankind. So going back to the main topic, is Matthew 6:33 another deal that God is offering us?
To answer this question, we must explore the context of Matthew 6:33. The context begins with verse 25 and ends with verse 34.
“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.”
At first look, it is easy to conclude that the point of this passage is about not worrying about our everyday needs. But if we will look at the bigger picture, the true point of this passage is prioritizing God. Jesus’ real message in this passage is for us to seek God first. And to convince us, He assured us that He will take care of our needs.
And now, we are ready to answer our main question: Is Matthew 6:33 a quid pro quo?
The answer is NO.
It only appears like a quid pro quo but it is not. Allow me to explain.
The reason why I answered that it is not a quid pro quo is that the primary nature of a quid pro quo is that it is conditional. Remember, it’s a favor for a favor. I will only do this for you if you will do this for me. So if we will apply this to Matthew 6:33, the deal will state that if we seek God first, then He will give us everything we need. But if we don’t seek God first, then He will not do His part. We will have to worry about our daily food, what we will wear, and everything that we need. But let’s look around, is that what’s happening? No!
Like I said earlier, Matthew 6:33 is one of the favorites of many Christians not just because it sounds nice, but because they know it to be true because they’ve experienced it in their lives. I too can testify to how God provided for my needs many, many times. But here’s the catch: Let’s look at ourselves, do we always prioritize God?
I know that we can all admit that in many instances, we failed to make God our top priority. The best proof is our spiritual disciplines. Just compare the time you spend on social media to the time you spend praying and reading the Bible. Which one takes longer? Many of us can’t even invest an hour to read the Bible. Another is our church services. Did you notice? when the Pastor’s preaching exceeds an hour, we already complain that it is too long? But when it comes to watching a 2-3 hour movie, we hardly complain. So again, do we really prioritize God in our lives?
Now here’s the lovely thing: Have you noticed that despite that, none of us have begged for food? Have you noticed that even if you are so lazy to read the Bible or go to church, you still receive food on your table, a house to sleep in at night, and even air to breathe? If Matthew 6:33 is a quid pro quo, then why does God still provide for our needs even when we don’t prioritize Him? Well, that’s the grace and faithfulness of God for you!!
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful— for He cannot deny Himself.”
– 2 Timothy 2:13
This is my reasoning why Matthew 6:33 is not a quid pro quo. It is not a favor for a favor. Remember, serving God is not a favor that we do for Him. As hard as it may sound, God doesn’t need us to accomplish His plans. He is the all-powerful God. He was able to create the whole universe on His own. He surely won’t need our help in anything else. Instead, serving Him is a privilege. Despite being able to do it all on His own, He was generous enough to share the work with us and even reward us in the end (1 Cor. 3:12-15). Can’t you see how good He is?
Therefore, Matthew 6:33 is not a quid pro quo, it is a treat. God could have let us on our own. He could have let us live our own lives and worry about our everyday needs. But because He is good, generous, and loving, He stepped in and offered us to serve Him instead. In addition, He also promised to provide for our needs and give us rewards in return. Is there a more beautiful job offer than this?!
As I end, I am praying that this simple analysis of Matthew 6:33 has convicted you to examine your priorities. After all, that is the point of Jesus. Are you seeking the kingdom of God first or are you still living for yourself?
In case you are having a hard time surrendering your life to Him, don’t think about it. Just let go. Trust God. Believe in His promises. Surrender your life and pursue the interests of God’s kingdom. As a servant of God, I can assure you that you will never regret it. And as for the desires of your heart, as Jesus promised, if you seek Him first, everything else will be added to you.
God Bless!! 🙂