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Kingdom Focus

Whatever controls your mind—whether it’s God or money or something else—controls you. Once we begin to follow Christ seriously, all the targets change for us. We’re walking a new road, and therefore we look for different landmarks. And as we are changed by the Holy Spirit, our goals change too.

The greatest target change of all, of course, is whom we live to please. In our human nature, we believe that life is all about self-help and self-emphasis; everything is me oriented. The choice to serve God and God alone means that we live to please him rather than ourselves. There’s no way to overstate how great a leap in perspective that is. Our flawed, sinful human nature keeps pointing us toward the self-driven life at every turn: “Look out for number one!” “You have to toot your own horn.” “You have to do what’s best for you.”

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But Christ beckons to us, saying, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

As it turns out, the way of self-absorption—attractive as it initially is—leads only to brokenness and despair, while the way of following Christ leads to deep joy and fulfillment. This is why Jesus said, in the very next verse following his statement about denying oneself, that “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24). You find yourself by giving yourself away.

I know—it takes a while to wrap your mind around that one. It’s counterintuitive. It seems like a paradox. But I’ve found it to be true—the more you try to please yourself, the less you’ll be pleased. The more you focus on Christ, the more pleasing life becomes. We need to be “givers,” not “takers.”

The natural human tendency is to take. We don’t see ourselves as selfish, or think of ourselves as takers. But our fallen human nature causes us to “look out for number one.” And when we live in a world of countless people all looking out for themselves, all competing for the same things, all wanting to take, then the world is full of conflict. It becomes an ugly place.

But what happens when people begin to see themselves as serving a common goal? What happens when we serve not ourselves, but Christ, and as a result, others? The world is transformed.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The word blessed has the connotation of happy, of being favored in life. It’s not just that God is pleased when we give; we’re pleased, too. It’s fun to be a giver. Giving pleases God, and it pleases us, too. It sets into motion principles of kingdom giving, kingdom logistics, kingdom investment, and a whole world of joy that comes out of doing exactly what God created us to do.

 

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Our Rewards in Heaven

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