“If you cannot embrace the pain of learning but must have instant gratification, you forfeit the greatest rewards of life.”
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
So here’s the questions I’ve been thinking about: What’s the difference between “setting your heart on things above” and “setting your mind on things above”? And then, how do you set your heart and mind on things above in practice?
Setting your heart, I believe, has to do with desire. But how do you fuel desire for something? How do you develop desire? How can I increase my desire for God and the things of God. I think the answer, at least in part, has to do with “setting your mind on things above.” In other words I set my heart on things above BY setting my mind on things above. Why do I think this?
I love my wife. I have desire for my wife. But if I were to intentionally set my mind on other women, and think about them then I have no doubt that desire for my wife would decrease and desire for women not my wife would increase. This is why porn is so destructive to a marriage. If I want to fuel desire for God then I need to think often about God. If I think often about ungodly things then my desire for them will increase and my desire for God will decrease.
Additionally, if I want to fuel desire for God then I need to participate in God experiences. Worship! Service! Missions! The more I experience God the more I will desire Him. Just as the more experiences Linda and I share together the more our desire for one another grows. If I were to neglect her and live my life without any regard for her – then any desire we share would soon fade away.
Now why would I even want to be so intentional about making sure that my heart and my mind are set on things above. Because…
1) according to verse 3, I belong to God. I have died to my old way of life. If I find that I am not interested in doing this then maybe I need to seriously consider whether I really do belong to God and really have died to sin and my old way of life.
2) According to verse 4, one day I will appear before God and I want to be able to do that without feeling ashamed or full of regret for the way that I defiled my heart and mind.
So all this to say that this is why this pondering thing is so necessary and so beneficial for me – and hopefully for you. And why Scripture memory is such a great discipline to be in the habit of doing. Both of these help me to set my heart on things above and to set my mind on things above – thus fueling my desire for God and drawing me into closer relationship with Him.
“Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.”
“If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”
Paul is concerned that believers are willingly relinquishing their freedom in Christ and allowing themselves to be bound by the “hollow and deceptive” philosophies of this world. It is a concern that he would still have for the church 2000 years later. There is a plethora of bad philosophies that are running amok in our Christian culture. Just to name a few…
- “Just follow your heart”
- “God just wants me to be happy.”
- “If you believe it then you can achieve it.”
Here are a few thoughts that might keep us from being taken captive:
- Ground yourself in the Word of God
- Be careful who you listen to
- Be careful what you read
- Be careful what you watch
- Ground yourself in the Word of God
- Think critically
- Talk things through with godly friends
- Don’t buy what the world is selling
- Ground yourself in the Word of God
10. Ground yourself in the Word of God
“Father, would You capture our minds attention and our heart’s affection and guard us from being captured by the hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world.”
These verses remind me of one of my favorite words in the Newer Testament…”abide”. The word picture that John gives us in John 15, where Jesus talks about abiding, is that of a branch connected to a tree. Here Paul plays off the same metaphor.
“So walk in Him” – or as the NIV puts it “continue in Him”. In other words, stay connected. Don’t try to live this life apart from Him or you will find that you dry up, wither, and die.
“rooted and built up in Him” – We are to find our nourishment for a Spirit-fueled life in Him as we send out roots that soak up the nutrients we need – nutrients that He provides that will enable us to thrive and live healthy spiritual lives. It is when we try to be nourished by what the world provides that we find ourselves living anemic and wasted lives.
“established in the faith” – The idea of being established has to do with having a strong enough foundation so that we can withstand that which would seek to destroy us. As believers we need a strong and sturdy theological base to give us the support we need to stand throughout the storms of life. We need to thoroughly understand biblical themes such as God’s sovereignty, atonement and redemption, incarnation, grace, eschatology, sin, etc. so that we are not devoured by the falsities of the world and the schemes of the evil one.
“abounding in thanksgiving” – I think there is a very good reason why Paul includes this phrase among the others even though it doesn’t really fit with the metaphor. Gratitude is the primary way that we display to God that our sufficiency is in Him and not in ourselves. It is so easy to think that we are deserving of salvation because of our goodness. By “abounding in thanksgiving” we are expressing our neediness before God as well as demonstrating an attitude of humility – both of which combat the sinful tendency that we have towards pride and selfishness.
May the Father remind us often, in whatever ways are necessary, that it is only IN HIM that we find life and hope and joy.
“(Jesus) did not come primarily to be a good example. And I am glad He didn’t. Do you know why? He’s too good! He’s so perfect that as an example He just crushes you into the ground. Anyone who really, seriously, seeks to make Him a life model, who pays attention to the details of his character and practice, will despair. He is infinitely beyond us, and comparing yourself to him will only grind your genuine aspirations to moral excellence into hopelessness. But we see here that He didn’t come to tell us how to save ourselves but to save us Himself.” (from Encounters with Jesus)
25 I have become (a servant of the church) by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The Older Testament was full of clues that if correctly deciphered would lead to solving the mystery of the Messiah. The Newer Testament is the revealing of how all these clues were pointing to Jesus. Paul is saying that his job as a servant of the Lord is to help people understand that Jesus is indeed the One they are looking for, the One they are longing for, the One that can fulfill all their hopes, the One that can satisfy their deepest needs, the One that can fuel them with strength for each day, and the One that can excite them about the possibilities of tomorrow.
This is also my job. And I dare say that this is also your job as a servant of the gospel and a disciple of Christ. Listen to what Paul says his purpose is. Perhaps we can purpose together to do the same thing as we seek together to make disciples…
2 My purpose is that (believers) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
May the Lord use us together to build a church that knows in it’s fulness what the mystery of Christ is really all about.