THEME: “THE DAYS OF HEAVEN OF EARTH” PART 1
(Mathew 6:31-33; Deut 11:21) By Ps Shan Thumbran
Jesus’s main message centered around the Kingdom of Heaven also referred to as the Kingdom of God. It is a spiritual realm where God’s reign is established on earth, as we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus’s proclamation of the Kingdom had a twofold purpose. Firstly, it invites individuals to personal transformation by turning away from sin, embracing belief in God, and having faith in His kingdom, entering into a vibrant relationship with God. Secondly, it challenges existing religious and social structures, extending beyond Christianity, by highlighting the need for a paradigm shift in understanding God’s reign and the way people relate to Him. These structures include government systems, legal frameworks, social classes, economic systems, educational institutions, and cultural norms.
Seeking the Kingdom of God
In the foundational portion of the text, Jesus says:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Operating with a Kingdom Mindset
In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus lays down the foundational principles for operating with a Kingdom mindset. It aims to shift the mindset from being needy to being needed. This principle implies something radical: God is also needy! The idea of God being needy does not imply any insufficiency or lack in the Divine Essence. Instead, it points to God’s deep longing and desire to establish a connection with humanity, yearning to share His divine presence and purpose with His creation. Fundamentally, God seeks to mend the brokenness in the world through the manifestation of His presence in us. Therefore, it is not just our own needs that matter, but also the fact that God needs us to eat, be protected, and be warm. This changes everything!
The Negative Consequences of Excessive Preoccupation
In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus reveals that the human tendency is to be excessively preoccupied with our needs, including our existence (food, clothing, and the future). When we are overly preoccupied with our needs, it not only harms us personally but also hinders our capacity to actively participate in bringing about transformative change as agents of the Kingdom. To usher in true kingdom transformation, we need to either be on the throne or in the palace, or at least in proximity to it. However, you cannot have a throne or a palace without a cross or a pit. When we are excessively preoccupied with our needs, we fail to see the opportunities at the cross or in the pit as God’s process prepares us.
Negative Consequences of Excessive Preoccupation:
1. Emotional Distress: The phrase “do not worry, anxious” appears six times in verses 25-34. Constantly worrying about our material needs steals our inner peace and compromises our quality of life. Jesus poses the question, “Which of you, by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27). This question highlights the fact that worrying does not have any physical benefits. We should take courage from Jesus’s words: “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Therefore, trust in God’s timing and wisdom.
2. Limited Perspective (continued): When our focus is solely on our own needs, it makes us self-centered, which leads to a narrowing of our spiritual perspective that disregards the well-being of others. The Bible emphasizes the importance of generosity and sharing with the poor. Proverbs 22:9 states, “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” God promises blessings and supernatural joy to those who are generous and refresh others (Proverbs 11:25). When we embrace generosity, it unlocks empathy and compassion within us, moving us to take action in alleviating the pain and suffering of those in need.
3. Lack of Connection: Excessive preoccupation with our needs can isolate us from others. God recognized that it is not good for man to be alone, not only because human beings are designed for companionship, but also because of the blessings that come from community. Community offers emotional support, prayer support, personal and spiritual growth, accountability, safety, strength, and service. Even God Himself exists as a community of three persons, highlighting the significance of companionship. The Western ideal of individualism, which has influenced the Church, needs to be confronted with the Kingdom mandate of community. Hebrews 10:24-25 urges us not to give up meeting together but to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, especially as the Day approaches.
4. Division and Competition: When our primary concern is self-preservation, it perpetuates a society marked by division and competition. The Bible does not teach the concept of competing against one another but rather focuses on completing one another. God commands us to obey His Kingdom commandments of justice, righteousness, and love. When we do this, blessings manifest, and there is more than enough for everyone. In God, our source, there is no need for competition.
5. Stagnation of Personal Growth: Focusing solely on our own needs limits our personal growth and spiritual development. By being excessively preoccupied with ourselves, we miss out on opportunities for growth, learning, and transformation. Embracing a Kingdom mindset opens doors to new experiences, challenges, and personal breakthroughs that contribute to our overall growth as individuals.
6. Diminished Sense of Purpose: Being solely focused on our own needs can leave us feeling unfulfilled and lacking a deeper sense of purpose. While we may achieve material wealth and accumulate possessions, there is a profound yearning for a purpose that extends beyond our own needs. The Bible teaches that true fulfilment and a sense of purpose come from living a life of meaning and service to others. By shifting our focus from self-centeredness to selflessness, from personal gain to the well-being of others, we tap into a higher calling that brings profound satisfaction and fulfilment to our lives.
By understanding and addressing the negative consequences of excessive preoccupation with our needs, we can embrace a Kingdom mindset that allows us to fully participate in God’s transformative work in the world. It enables us to experience the joy of generosity, the blessings of community, and fulfillmenting living a purpose-driven life.
Group Study Reflection Questions:
1. How does the excessive preoccupation with our own needs hinder our ability to actively participate in bringing about transformative change as agents of the Kingdom? (Matthew 6:31-33, Philippians 2:3-4)
– “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
– “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
2. In what ways does a Kingdom mindset challenge the societal norms of self-centeredness, division, and competition? (Proverbs 22:9, Romans 12:10)
– “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9)
– “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
3. Reflect on your own life: How has focusing solely on your own needs limited your personal growth and sense of purpose? What steps can you take to shift towards a more selfless and purpose-driven life? (Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 4:22-24)
– “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
– “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
We come before you with hearts open and ready to receive your wisdom and guidance. Thank you for revealing to us the transformative power of your Kingdom and the need for a paradigm shift in our lives. We acknowledge that we have been preoccupied with our own needs and have neglected the call to be agents of your Kingdom. Forgive us, Lord, and help us redirect our focus towards seeking your Kingdom and righteousness above all else.
As we reflect on the scriptures and questions discussed, we ask for your Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and soften our hearts. Open our eyes to the negative consequences of excessive preoccupation with our own needs and empower us to overcome self-centeredness, division, and competition. Teach us to be generous, compassionate, and selfless, following the example of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord, we confess that we have often been stagnant in our personal growth and lacking a deeper sense of purpose. Help us to break free from the chains of self-centered living and embrace a life of meaning and service to others. Renew our minds, transform our hearts, and lead us on the path of righteousness.
We declare today that we are shifting our focus from self-centeredness to selflessness, from personal gain to the well-being of others. We declare that we will actively participate in bringing about transformative change as agents of your Kingdom. May our lives reflect the values of your Kingdom, and may we be vessels of your love, grace, and compassion in the world.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Today, we declare that we are shifting our mindset and aligning ourselves with the Kingdom principles of seeking God’s Kingdom above all else. We declare that we will not be excessively preoccupied with our own needs but will trust in God’s provision and timing. We declare that we will embrace generosity, compassion, and selflessness, breaking free from self-centeredness, division, and competition.
We declare that we will actively participate in bringing about transformative change in our families, communities, and the world around us. We will be agents of your Kingdom, Lord, manifesting your presence and purpose in all that we do. We declare that our lives will be marked by personal growth, deep fulfilment, and a sense of purpose as we serve others and live according to your Word.
We declare that we are no longer bound by the limitations of self-centred living but are stepping into a life of meaning, significance, and impact. Today and every day, we declare that we are Kingdom-minded, Kingdom-hearted, and Kingdom-driven.
In the mighty name of Jesus, we make this declaration. Amen.