The other night I was reading Matthew 16:21-23, which I have read before, but God has a way of making verses stick out to us in a timely manner dependent on what we’re dealing with in our current season.
In this verse, Jesus was telling His disciples what was about to take place in the future. He explained that He must go to Jerusalem, endure suffering, and ultimately be killed, but that He would be risen from death three nights and three days later. I could imagine how difficult it was for the disciples to hear this news; perhaps even confusing or scary, so one of the disciples, Peter, pulls Jesus aside. When I think about Peter’s character, I picture him as having this rebellious type of spirit, I mean, after all he did cut a guy’s ear off. However, I also picture him as someone who cares deeply and has good intentions at heart, but just doesn’t execute well. Peter begins to rebuke Jesus and said, “Far be it from you, Lord. This shall never happen to you!” (ESV). Imagine rebuking the King of Kings, oh Peter. Now we get to the part that caused me to read this verse repeatedly, igniting something in me.
Jesus responded to Peter, “Get behind me Satan. You are a hinderance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Personally, I can’t imagine how that affected Peter. You would most definitely catch me in the corner bawling my eyes out if Jesus said that to me.
Then I thought about it and realized He has been saying that to me the past couple months and I wasn’t listening. It is very simple to allow our flesh to get in the way and hinder God’s desires or plan’s. When we choose the flesh over a kingdom mindset, it can produce fear, it can lead to a lack of faith and trust, it could lead to disappointment, anxiety, depression, and it can really prevent us from walking into where God is leading us and calling us into. My heart hurts at the idea of inhibiting what God may be trying to do both for me and through me for His kingdom.
We should be and I want to be a people who carries a kingdom mindset in every circumstance, every day, in every action, in every thought, and in every move, because that is how we partner with God. That is how we set our mind on the things of God and not on man. That is how we get ourselves out of the way, making room for God to move. That is how we show our faith through action and works. That is how we prevent the enemy from hindering Jesus’ mission for our own lives and His kingdom. If we don’t access and exercise this kingdom mindset then we are simply moving in our own works. We’re hindering ourselves and God. We are giving the enemy access to affect our circumstances.
Going back to Peter, God revealed to me that we can have good intentions, pure hearts, and clean hands, which are necessary, yet our actions can still lead to hinderance if our mindset is not in the correct place.
After Jesus and Peter’s conversation, He tells the disciples that if anyone is coming after Him, they must take up their cross, deny themself, and then follow Him. He goes onto say, what profits a man if he gained the world and forfeits his soul, and explains that whoever saves his life loses it.
Now we know two things: we need to have a kingdom mindset and not set our mind on things of man because that is what Satan does and anything he does we do not want to follow. Second, we know that to follow Jesus, we must first pick up our daily cross, which allows us to then die to ourselves, and only then are we able to follow Jesus. This idea of carrying our own cross and dying to ourselves is the kingdom mindset itself. I wanted to provide some practical steps that I decided to follow in my life, and I believe you will also be able to witness the powerful effects that will come from it in your own life.
My first step that you may like to try was this prayer: for God to take as much flesh away in me as possible and replace it with more of Him, His glory, His anointing, His spiritual giftings, His heart, His characteristics, and more of His Holy Spirit. This turned out to be one of the best prayers I’ve ever prayed because over the span of a couple weeks I noticed that He was taking me at my word. I started being placed in multiple situations that I didn’t enjoy, but I felt like I was being tested so I paid close attention.
Long story short, a friend hurt me deeply, which led to others doing the same, and that led to losing many, many friends. I’m grateful it happened now, but before I was still incredibly hurt; one night God revealed something to me, which led to Him asking me to apologize to the friend. I was like “What God? Are you aware of the situation here?” He certainly was serious and the individual’s response was frustrating and insensitive, but at the end of the day I didn’t do it to get something in return.
If God asked me to do that before my prayer of stripping my flesh away, I believe my response would have been “absolutely not I did nothing wrong, she should apologize to me.” In my obedience in this instance, I realized that He stripped away some of my flesh and replaced it with His ability to forgive, be gracious, and show mercy to those who deserve the opposite. This is what a kingdom mindset looks like. If I told God no, then that would have been setting my mind on things of man (because man thinks we should seek revenge and show no mercy), but God says otherwise. If I told God no, that would have hindered what He wanted to do in my heart. This action of apologizing in a situation I shouldn’t have had to, allowed me to heal, it changed my heart, took away my bitterness, and it only gave me greater reward in Heaven.
Do you see how God truly began taking my flesh away and filling me with more of Him? Now that He was changing my heart and removing things in me that wasn’t pleasing to Him, He was then able to start revealing to me what the kingdom mindset looks like. I finally learned that it meant I had to take up my cross, die to my pride in this moment of forgiveness, and then I was able to follow Jesus better, by accessing this kingdom mindset.
This mindset changed my life because in moments like the one above I was thanking God and crying because of how thankful I was that He removed all my best friends from my life. That sounds like I’m being sarcastic or strange because usually no one would be happy about that, but that’s what setting your mind on God does. In place of the loss of all those friends, I gained so much more.
My second step for you to practice is making it a decision the moment you wake up, every day, to take up your daily cross, whatever that may look like to you. Perhaps you hate fasting breakfast because it is your favorite meal. Fast that meal over the next three days and give that time of eating breakfast to God and just sit, worship, and listen to what He is saying to you. Everyday do something that you don't want to that you know is pleasing to the Lord.
Kingdom mindsets prevent hinderance because you no longer fear man or focus on the pain you’re feeling, instead you focus on why God allowed your situation and what you’re going to learn from it. With this mindset you start looking a lot more like Jesus and a lot less like the world.