Building God's Kingdom, Not My Own

By Kim Houck

I have battled jealousy my whole life. The specifics vary depending on my circumstances. Comparison, jealousy’s twin sister, joins the battle of my thoughts. I look at another woman’s life and wish I was a little prettier, a little funnier, a little more outgoing, or made a little more money. When I succumb to these thoughts, I begin to feel territorial or fight internally against jealousy. Or else I sink into discouragement, wondering if God could ever use me.

This battle has followed me right into dating and marriage. I am now prone to compare my husband or our marriage relationship with others. These deadly thoughts result in either criticism of my husband, discouragement in my marriage, or jealousy of other couples.

I forget that jealousy and comparison are sins... sins that lead to death. When I get wrapped up in this tangled web, I forget that God’s Word specifically warns us about the destruction of these sins. In Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers are so jealous of him that they sell him into slavery. They reap the consequences (death) of their sin for years to come as they feel haunted by what they have done to Joseph and endure their father’s continuing grief over the loss of his son.

In 1 Samuel 18, Saul’s jealousy of David caused him to hate David and attempt to kill him multiple times. In doing so, he loses a faithful warrior, a son-in-law, and a musician who could soothe his troubled soul.

And then in Acts 13:42-45, the Jews become jealous of Paul’s audience and speak against him, seeking to invalidate his message. As a result, they hindered others and themselves from hearing the eternally freeing truth that Jesus Christ saves all who believe upon him from their sin.

Why do I tolerate this sin, treating it like a prized trophy on my shelf, when it brings me death?

Seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness delivers me from this death. (Matt 6:33) When I consider Isaiah 55, I am reminded that when I come to God, I can invest in things that satisfy. I can take comfort that God’s thoughts and purposes are higher than mine. The whole book of Isaiah is full of wonderful truths about God that lure me away from self-centered thinking and towards worship of God. Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” When I am mulling over my thoughts and my own desires for glory, I am operating on the wrong plain. Meditating on God’s glory leads me to a much higher end. Redirecting my life to connect to God’s purposes that stand is where life is found.

I can be encouraged that when Jimmy and I are wrestling through challenges in our marriage, God’s purposes are higher and He is seeking to conform me to the image of Christ. (Rom 8:29) When I see another woman effortlessly submitting to her husband while I am fuming that my husband did not take my suggestion of where to get gas that morning, I can take comfort that because God has begun a good work in me (Phil 1:6), He will be faithful to carry that work to completion. He is not finished working in me.

Rather than wishing that God would build my kingdom, I can freely seek to build His. But what does that look like?

Building my kingdom involves maximum comfort and minimal sacrifice. Building God’s kingdom involves things like serving in nursery and children’s church or purposely inviting neighbors we don’t know over for dinner in hopes to share Christ rather than spending all of my social time with my closest friends.

Building my kingdom involves Jimmy fitting perfectly into my life and plans while serving me in every way I could think of. Building God’s kingdom means selflessly submitting to Jimmy and honoring him especially when his opinions and decisions differ from mine. Seeking God’s kingdom leads me to write notes of encouragement to him and to simply love and enjoy him for who he is and not what he can do for me.

Building my kingdom seeks to have the people around me desire my life, my marriage, and my ministry. Building God’s kingdom strives to encourage my friends towards Christ’s joy and contentment in their lives and could mean guarding what I say or post on Facebook so that I would not cause others to be envious of my life.

Building my kingdom leads to discontentment, shattered dreams, and discouragement. Dwelling on comparisons gives the allure of bringing me hope and satisfaction, but it never delivers the joy I long for.

Building God’s kingdom leads to life and peace. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6) Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” I do not want to gain my own world only to lose my soul when Christ returns. And God blesses obedience: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” (Psalm 111:10) I have seen God specifically meet my desires and increase my joy when I have chosen sacrifice over comfort, honor over criticism, and encouragement over boasting.

Join me in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! 

Kim has been married to her sweet husband Jimmy for a year and a half and they are expecting a baby boy in August. They enjoy taking evening strolls, travel- ing, and playing games such as Settlers of Catan,Ticket to Ride, and Carcasonne! 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 edition of By The Way.


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