This past weekend our church had an outreach at our state fair to hand out water bottles and gospel tracts. It reminded my heart how often it lacks focus on the things above. I can be more earthly minded instead of heavenly minded. So, I'm reading and pondering what it means to have minds and hearts set on things above.
It was interesting how many people were a bit surprised the water was free and how easily they accepted a tract along with the water bottles. The water was a temporary fix to their thirst as the day was a warm one, but Jesus' words to the woman at the well rang as a reminder to all of us sharing the good news with others that day:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~ John 4:13-14
As the faces passed me by and there was an opportunity to engage in conversations or just simply hand a tract I thought how hard it is to tell who the Christians are among the crowd. We're all just ordinary looking people; we don't stand out in a crowd just because we're Christians. There were believers in the crowd, but until we chatted with one another about Jesus, they would've been just another face passing by.
I know salvation is of the Lord, but it reminded me how thankful I am for those in my past who shared the good news with me even when my heart wasn't ready to receive it. At the time I may have been annoyed by them or rolled my eyes saying inside, “here they go again with that Jesus stuff.” But, seeds were being planted and watered over the many years of my life. God used each of those that was faithful in sharing the gospel with me to bring me to salvation at His appointed time.
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ~Romans 10:15-17
I'm thankful for the times the Lord gives us to step out and be reminded there is a lost world around us and it shows us how we can get preoccupied with earthly things. My focus has been more on the things of this earth than one that is on things that are above. I can get caught up in things like my desires, dreams, failures, my agenda, belongings, etc.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. ~ Colossians 3:1-2
We've all heard the quote that “He is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good,” but I've never met anyone too heavenly minded.
I needed to step away from the world, my little world, to truly see the world. I needed the reminder that this world is temporal, but His world is eternal.I needed to step away from the world, my little world, to truly see the world. I needed the reminder that this world is temporal, but His world is eternal.
So what does it mean to set our minds on things above?
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4
If we're in Christ, we have died to sin, and we're now alive in Christ (Romans 7, Galatians 2:20). We have also been raised with Christ. We're enabled by the Holy Spirit to set our minds on things above. We've been given new hearts in Christ that now desire Heaven.
This doesn't mean we walk around acting super spiritual or chanting or in some kind of trance. It doesn't mean that we just quote scripture at people all day or just sit and read our Bibles from morning to night. It doesn't mean we become monks and never leave our homes or interact with the world around us.
Being heavenly minded doesn't take away the reality that we have been given tasks to take care of on this earth. We have families to love and care for. Church family and friends to meet the needs of and the reminder that we are to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us. To do that we need to be out and about in the world.Being heavenly minded will guide our earthly responses to any situations and relationships the Lord has put in our paths.
Being heavenly minded will guide our earthly responses to any situations and relationships the Lord has put in our paths.
“We will worship what we set our minds on…what we behold. So it makes sense for the apostle Paul to remind us in various ways through his letters to the churches: Set your minds on things above.”
~ Ruth Chou Simons, Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
God has given us new hearts with new desires. Our lives are hidden with Christ. Ponder this my dear sisters who are in Christ: When God looks at Jesus He sees you and when God looks at you, He sees Jesus.Ponder this my dear sisters who are in Christ: When God looks at Jesus He sees you and when God looks at you, He sees Jesus.
This truth alone should keep a smile on my face no matter the circumstances of my life. In Christ, I have been given God's wisdom and power and knowledge. It is always available to me. This is a reason for loving gratitude and obedience towards my Savior. This is the reason to desire to set my heart and affections on things that are above. This is the reason for telling others about Jesus.
The word “seek” in Colossians 3:1 is in the present tense that means we should be continuously seeking.
What does this look like in our day to day lives? How do we seek the things that are above? We need to continually set our hearts and minds on the truths of scripture. We need to set our affections on Christ with loving gratitude for what His death on the Cross has accomplished for us.
To be more like Jesus, we have to spend time with Jesus.
When our minds are preoccupied with Him, they won't be preoccupied with the things of this earth.
“The best Christian living comes from minds that are fixed on heaven.”
~ David Guzik
“Setting our minds on things that are above” is something we must choose to do as it's in the imperative, so it is a command. The world, the flesh, and the devil want to control our minds, but God wants to transform our minds (Romans 12:2). How does God transform our minds? By the Work of the Holy Spirit within us and God's Word.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2
The word transformed in Romans 12:2 is in the passive voice so it's something being done to us and it's in the present tense so it is a continual process. “Be transformed” is also in the imperative mood (command) so we are given some responsibility in the work. What would that be? Having obedient, tender hearts that are submissive to the Spirit's work in us.
The Scriptures were not given for our information, but for our transformation.
~ D. L. Moody
The renewal of our minds is now possible as believers. Our new mind in Christ gives us the potential to see life how God sees it. God now takes our self-centered, selfish, normal way of seeing life and gives us a point of view we would never have been able to see without the work of His Spirit within us.
This transforming and renewing of our minds comes about from intake of the living and active Word of God. God's Word is not just given to us to inform but to transform. He's not looking for smarter saints but saints who are growing more in Christlikeness by allowing the Spirit to work in their lives as they read and meditate on the Word.
Our world needs Christians to be what they are—heavenly people. We have true hope to share with a world that is hurting and without hope. John MacArthur described it so simply:
“Your inside lives in heaven and your outside lives here.”
Those moments when I'm sharing the gospel with others my heart is focused on Christ. Self quickly fades away from the picture. I depend on the Holy Spirit to give me the words I need as I listen to them and pray before I speak. It's in those times when the focus is off self and on Christ and others that I'm seeking the things that are above. I'm not worried about my agenda. I'm not worried about the fear of man. I'm not worried about what time it is.
My heart is steadfast on the Lord as I pray for Him to open the eyes of the lost to Christ. My heart is focused on prayer and my dependence on the Holy Spirit. I'm reminded of what the Lord has saved me from as I share the gospel. Sharing the gospel with someone else reminds my heart of the great sacrifice Christ made on my behalf. My joy is renewed. My heart is focused on truth, and there is great freedom in self-forgetfulness.
When our lives are hidden in Christ with God, then our desires will be in submission to Christ. We become invisible so Christ can become visible. Self-focused turns to Christ-focused.
What areas of our lives are we not submitting to Him or promoting our own identity or agenda? Where are we serving with minds and hearts that are not set on things above?
As unbelievers, we had our thoughts on things of this earth. It was all we knew. As believers, we can still get trapped in this thinking and more focused on earthly things over heavenly things. We need these reminders in these verses in Colossians 3:1-4.
I pray as we go about serving our families and others, even as we go about our mundane tasks of the day that our minds will be set supremely upon Jesus and we would have a focus to further His eternal kingdom over our temporary one.
Do we see the needs of the lost and hurting world around us and see them with the heart of Jesus? Do we respond to our husband and children with the love and grace we've been offered? Are our hearts others focused and not self-focused?
Jesus is everything, and I hope He is the center of our universe. I pray He will help us to set our minds above and one way we can do this is by being in the Word daily. It's in the Word where the Lord can fill our minds and thoughts on things above.
“Do you like this phrase, when Christ, who is our life? Fabulous. He is our life. I've often said that Christ, doesn't give life, he is life. He gives himself. When he appears at his second coming, we will be manifest with him in glory.”
~ John MacArthur, Living the Risen Life
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8
“Lord enable us to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) so that obedience, worship, and praise might overflow from eyes, minds, and hearts set on You.”
~ Ruth Chou Simons, Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart by Ruth Chou Simons
Way of the Master Student Edition by Ray Comfort (Don't let student edition deter you, this is a great resource for all ages)