What's On Your Mind?

    “Set your mind on things above and not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2 NKJV). Thus said Paul in his letter to the church at Colosse. Like all of Paul’s letters Colossians has a doctrinal section followed by a practical section. In the doctrinal section of this book the apostle wrote of faith, love, and hope (1:3-5), of the preeminence of Christ (1:9-15), of reconciliation in Christ (1:19-23), working for Christ (1:24-29), of walking in the teachings of Christ (2:1-23) and then in chapter 3:1-17 being the “new man” in Christ.

     The final verse of the first section of the letter contains the overall principle for living the Christian life: “And whatsoever you do in word of deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (3:17). What follows in the letter are thoughts related to the practical application of this principle. There is a section on relationships including those in the home (3:18-4:1). There is a section on what we might call the Christian personality (4:2-6). The letter concludes with notes of encouragement and greetings to his friends (4:7-18).

Let’s think a little more about the power, extent and consequence bound up in Colossians 3:2. He said first of all “Set” your mind. This is powerful because we have been told over and over again that a person cannot help what they think. But Paul, inspired of God, says otherwise.

     In Proverbs 23:7 there is the picture of a young man in the presence of a miser. The miser says “eat and drink” but is heart is not in the invitation. A man really is what he thinks in his heart, not what he says. Just so here in Colossians. If they were to be successful Christians they had to be careful about where they set their minds. The natural and powerful implication of these words is that a person has the ability to control what and how he or she thinks.

     Our desire to be successful as children of God today begins in the mind, which is what the Bible often refers to as the heart. We have the ability to determine the direction of our thoughts. We are to look up spiritually, not down.

     Note also the extension of this commandment. The words demand that we be discerning in all of what we think about. If I allow my mind to contemplate a sinful earthly activity or attitude I will come closer to doing that thing or manifesting that attitude. I may still falter if I work hard to keep my mind right, but I am surely more at risk if I allow my mind to dwell in the devil’s domain.

     Consider a passage from another of Paul’s letters: “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy---meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). It is challenging to apply this passage but it can be done. Like any practice of faith the good work of thinking on things right and good will have to be repeated. Our minds do not go into neutral. We have to be on guard. The extension of the principle contained in our passage is all encompassing.

     What is the consequence of Colossians 3:2? Look down in the passage to 3:4: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.” We know that there are what we can call “short-term” benefits of the Christian life. People wrapped up in sin always have more trouble that people who are doing their best to live godly lives (Galatians 2:20). The devil’s lie that sinners have more fun is just that: a lie. But the ultimate consequence of being a Christian is that heavenly home. This world is not our home. Let’s set our minds on those things above.