1 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. (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV)
This admonition from the Apostle Paul is for those who are “in” Christ Jesus. It’s not intended for those who go to church simply out of habit, or for those who were baptized when they were in VBS because all of the other kids did as well, or for those who call themselves “Christians” but rarely give God the time of day. This is a verse for those who are “in” Christ, those who are walking with the Savior, those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and those who are seeking to be a light that shines in the darkness. It is a word of instruction for those who know that God has delivered them from darkness to light, raised them from death to life, and are fully aware that they are saved by God’s grace alone.
Now, that we’re clear about who this instruction is intended for we can move on. For those who are “in” Christ, we are instructed to set our hearts and our minds on the things above. Pretty straightforward isn’t it? Yet, so few of those who call themselves followers of Jesus actually commit to doing this in their everyday lives. Why is this? The answer is really quite simple and it all hangs on one word found in Colossians 3:1. It’s the word, “?????” (zeteo) and it means, “to seek in order to find, to seek after, or to crave.” This Greek verb is an “imperative,” it’s a “must do,” non-negotiable, and it is in the “present active” tense. It’s not a one-and-done exercise; it’s a constant, persistent, “setting,” a fixating of the mind on the things of God. It takes work and we don’t like to sweat! It is not something that comes naturally to us, it takes tenacity, effort, and sacrifice.
Paul uses the word several times and in each instance we see the same kind of effort that is required. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul writes, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24 NIV) Even the most optimistic knows that seeking the good of others before they seek to benefit themselves doesn’t come naturally to any of us. It’s just not the way we are wired. It takes the renewal of our minds, the help of the Holy Spirit, and the commitment of the believer to live out God’s call to seek the “good of others.”
To set our hearts and minds on the things above, on the things of God, doesn’t come naturally to any of us anymore than seeking to bless others before we provide for ourselves comes naturally to us. The same ingredients are necessary: The renewal of our minds made possible through salvation by Jesus’ death and resurrection, the constant help of the Holy Spirit, and our commitment, effort, and diligence to live out the call of God.
The world throws a tidal wave of distractions our way. The things “below,” the things of everyday life seem so attractive, so alluring, and it is easy to lower our gaze and fixate on the stuff of earth. Yet, God calls us to set our hearts, our emotions, the affections of our heart and soul, as well as our minds, our cognitive thought processes on the things of God. There’s no better way to do this than to give ourselves daily to the reading, prayerful reading, and application of God’s Word. As we set our eyes on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will enable us to set our hearts and minds on the things of God as we live out our daily lives.