Three Important Truths for Setting Our Minds on Heaven
Scripture reminds us often of how important it is to take hold of what we think. It's been said that our actions stem from our thoughts. And from our actions, we live with consequences. How important it is to guard what we think!
This verse from Colossians is a perfect example of where God wants our thoughts directed:
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col 3:2 NIV
But a lot is competing for the real estate between our ears.
It can be depressing. Too much information may cause us to feel overwhelmed with worry, anxiety, sadness, or a lovely cocktail that's "all of the above."
They can misrepresent what life is really like. Time on social media can cause us to wonder, "What's wrong with ME?"
Other media (Television/Movies)
We have to look hard to find uplifting entertainment.
A common thread in many relationships today is division. Folks are experiencing differences of opinion that can become antagonistic. Instead of focusing on what we have in common, we find our minds consumed by what our rebuttal will look like.
It's easy to withdraw or isolate when we don't have the tools to deal with these mental stressors. But, sometimes, that is what we're called to do. Jesus knew when it was time to retreat. He sought quiet time for prayer and reflection often.
But a retreat is not the same as a withdrawal. When we withdraw, we've given up. When we retreat, we do so with the intention of refueling, possibly re-evaluating, and always with the end goal of re-engaging.
The Message version of our verse is quite different. It reads––
"So, if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." Col 3:2 MSG
Jesus doesn't want us to bury our heads in the sand. But He does want us to see our world from His perspective. The concerning news, the argumentative friend, the toxic feed––these things and more can be dealt with in a manner that is pleasing to Christ. And since He has our best interest at heart, that is a good thing!
Scripture encourages us to "set our minds on heaven." But, full disclosure, although the directive "set" doesn't leave me with a bad taste, it does leave me with a bad smell. It reminds me of a skunk that met its fate on a highway. You weren't there for the accident, but you can smell the unhappy ending miles away.
When I think about setting my mind, I immediately second guess my ability to do it. It's as if I smell failure miles away, and I haven't even hit the road!
Fortunately, Strong's concordance says that the word "set" also means to seek. Seek is a verb for when we desire or direct.
The words "seek" and "direct" are encouraging words. They remind us that tending to our minds is a process. One which requires primarily three things:
It's important to God that what we do with our minds reflects what we desire. The King James Version of our verse says to "set our affection on things above."
If, by chance, we're struggling to find that desire or affection, we can draw on the example set by King David. He knew when He needed God to create, renew and restore his heart. (See "Confident Hope for When We Feel Too Much Or Feel Nothing At All).
The word direct can mean to "aim at something in a particular direction." Even if we miss, we know there's a bull's eye. Thankfully, aim improves with practice. Such is the case with what we set our minds on–– with practice, our aim improves.
Unfortunately, the negative input mentioned earlier can confuse and diffuse the target. And so, we go to His Word. It is the lens by which we can focus on the bullseye.
When we attempt something, we are trying. The word attempt implies failure! That's why we try over and over again. Changing the way we think requires repetition.
Matthew Henry says, "things on earth are in opposition to things above and that "heaven and earth are contrary to one another." He continues, "the prevalence of our affection to one will proportionably weaken our affection to the other."
Henry's observations no longer have me smelling skunk. Instead, I feel like I AM the skunk!
How do we long for heaven more than earth?
I've had specific conversations with God along these lines, "I don't want to leave this earth. I love my people, and I love my life.”
Thankfully, He understands that we're formed from dust. He knows how comforting the familiar is. Earth is all we have known. Even so, I find that the longer I live, the easier it gets to set my eyes on heaven.
I have more loved ones there now.
I've lived long enough to see loss and pain on earth that only heaven can heal.
I hurt more today for global issues. I know that problems of this magnitude can only be made better with a new heaven and new earth.
Over the years, I've had various recipe boxes that sat next to or in my quiet time basket. I used them to store multiple bible verses that spoke to me. The cheap plastic containers would house my lifelines, my hopes, wisdom for parenting, encouragement to receive forgiveness, and admonitions to give it. You name it. It probably ended up on a card.
Today some of those cards are crumpled from their stint in my pants pocket. Some of them have stains from spaghetti sauce as they sat on the kitchen counter.
The combination of sloppy penmanship and stained, creased cards doesn't make the words look very sacred. But they were. They still are.
Over and over, I'd repeat my sacred utterances. Uttered because I was desperate. Sacred because they were heard.
I usually end these posts with a prayer, but today instead, I'll share a few verses from my recipe cards. Perhaps they'll be a sacred utterance for you too. Regardless, may we be encouraged to know that the benefits of setting our minds on heaven are attainable!