My Kingdom vs. God’s Kingdom: Trading One for the Other

Updated: Oct 5

Welcome to my kingdom, won’t you take a look around?

In our own kingdom, we rule with a me-first mentality. We see the world through our own eyes instead of seeking God’s vision for our lives. We say, I know best, God. I’ll ask for help when I need it.

So we take the job that offers more money without asking Him if it’s the best fit for our family.

We take extra time to relax on the couch while our spouse struggles with dinner prep and wrangling children. We didn’t sleep well last night; we deserve it.

We take expensive vacations while bills pile up and debt deepens.

Take, take, take.

Me first.

Remember the yokes we looked at in Why Am I So Tired? Jesus talks about being yoked to things other than Him in Matthew 11:28-30. The yokes that are heavy laden and cause us to labor fall into one of 3 categories:

  • Striving to please yourself

  • Striving to please others

  • Striving to please God

If you're like me, one of those (or all of them!) hit a sore spot.

Oy… okay, God, I know this area needs some attention and tending.

If you are ready to make some changes but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading…


Striving to please yourself:

When we are striving to please ourselves, we are glory-grabbers. We push our agenda at every turn, and a lot of times don’t even know we’re doing it.


If you think this is you, here are some things to look for:

  • Outrageous expectations- If you would just do what I want you to do, things would be a lot better. We think we know best.

  • Self-righteousness- I can do it myself!

  • Isolation, self-preservation- If I let myself be vulnerable with my spouse, I’m going to get hurt again. We put another brick in our wall of protection.

  • Self-love/personal comfort- I need to take care of myself first, then I can serve my spouse. We put our own needs before the needs of our spouse.

Remember:

  • Philippians 2:3-4- Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.

  • Jesus came to serve, not to be served. How about you?

  • In your pursuit of peace and balance, are you pursuing your own desires, or God’s?OR is your first objective to please others? Are you a people-pleaser?

Striving to please others:

When we are people-pleasers, we are never at rest, because, let’s face it, sinful people are darn near impossible to please!


If you think this is you, here are some things to look for:

  • Fear- What if my spouse/others won’t like this about me? I don’t want them to know that I (fill in the blank) or they might think I’m (fill in the blank). You hide parts of yourself out of fear.

  • Insecurity/Comparing self to others- She is so much better at (fill in the blank) than me. He is a much better husband than I am. You feel like you will never be good enough.

Remember:

  • Galatians 1:10- “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

  • Pleasing man will NEVER accomplish what we think it will.

  • Jesus had an audience of ONE- God His Father. Who is your audience?

  • God wants to use you to be His hands and feet to your spouse. Will you let Him?

Striving to please God:

This one is tricky. Yes, we want to please our Lord God. But we are sorely mistaken if we think we can earn favor with Him. There is nothing we can do that will win His love.

If you think this is you, here are some things to look for:

  • Performance-based mentality- If I just do this, then God will do that. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor.

  • An inability to say no to spiritual opportunities, despite not having time/margin- If I don’t join this Bible study or go to that church retreat, I won’t be as “holy.” There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor.

  • Boasting in good works- I am leading a Bible study, serving at a homeless shelter, and killing it as a spouse/parent. God, aren’t you proud? There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor.

Remember:

  • Ephesians 2:8-9- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:10- But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

  • God loves you purely out of His goodness and grace. You cannot earn it; He gives it freely. Isn’t that liberating?

We may have the best of intentions for a beautifully built kingdom, even one in which we will make others happy, but if we are not yoked with Christ, we will not have a life of rest or peace.

Our kingdom will not produce good fruit; we will toil and toil until we end up exhausted and unsatisfied; soul weary.

But do not fear. We don’t have to stay in our self-made kingdom. Put a “condemned” notice on the door and move out to a bigger and better kingdom. Move on to His kingdom.


Welcome to the upside-down kingdom, won’t you take a look around?

When we trade our kingdom for God’s, things will look very different, upside-down even.

But that is the best news ever!


Romans 12:1-2, Paul says, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In God’s kingdom, we are not conformed to cultural norms, but stand firm in scriptural truth. In God’s kingdom, we…


Die to live

Galatians says, And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (5:24). It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (2:20). Will we still have passions and desires? Of course! But God will transform our lives more and more into the likeness of Christ. He will put desires in our heart for His ways and His will.

Serve to lead

Jesus says, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves (Luke 22:26). We are called to lead by example. We cannot change others (not even our spouse!), we can only love them with a sacrificial love. We place ourselves in God’s care, trusting that He will provide everything we need.

Work to rest

God made us for work; just look at Adam. In Genesis 2:15, (before sin entered the world), God’s word says, The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Rest is not at odds with work, the two work in tandem.

Work is not the enemy; it can be an act of worship.

The Bible tells us: work to provide for yourselves, but also glorify Him and further His kingdom. It’s amazing how He can meld the two types of work together.


Vow to change: an encouraging call to action

Where do you live?

So, in whose kingdom are you living?

Are you fighting the me-first mentality, wanting to take the reins and say I can do it myself!?

Are you spinning in self-indulgence, letting your actions tell your spouse It’s my way or the highway!?

Are you trying to please everyone else, collapsing in exhaustion and disappointment when you fail? Why is what I do never good enough?!

Are you letting fear and anxiety whisper lies in your ear? I don’t know, God, are You sure You’ve got this handled?

Seek first His kingdom and find rest for your soul.


Matthew 6:33 says, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

What things? you ask. Take some time today to read Matthew 6:25-34 and find the answer. God will provide.

He always does.

When we abide in Him, we find true rest, rest for our heart and soul.

His kingdom come; His will be done (Matthew 6:10).


Take the next step and read: The Great Exchange: Have You Traded Your Yoke for God’s?




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