15th September 2023
Scott Hubbard says
Set Your Mind on Things Above How to Live Heavenly Minded
Set aside, for a moment, the day's pressing tasks. Hush, if you can, the hopes and desires that rushed upon you the moment you awoke. Step away from the morning's burdens. Forget what the hours ahead may hold.
How might today be different if we brought the hope of heaven into the stuff of earth - if thoughts of things above adorned our waking hours?
We would do well, then, to listen again to the clearest charter of heavenly mindedness in Scripture:
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. 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 3:1-4)
Your life is wonderfully, inextricably, eternally bound up with Jesus himself. And heavenly mindedness aligns us with that fact, teaching us to define our identity not by the person we see in the mirror but by the Saviour we see in Scripture.
Yet such a mindset does not nullify the life we have on earth, but rather transforms it according to the culture and norms of heaven.
How can people like us - everyday 'saints' with jobs and families and friends and neighbours and a host of earthly responsibilities - come to have it said of us, "Heaven was in him before he was in heaven"?
The first answer is familiar: give ourselves to Bible reading and prayer, to corporate worship and fellowship, each of which is a means of heavenly mindedness as much as it is a means of grace.
We can also position ourselves more intentionally to set our minds on things that are above.
We might learn the same lesson from the Lord's Prayer.
In teaching us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread, did not Jesus assume we would normally begin the day on our knees?
And significantly, before that prayer leads us to ask for daily bread, it sets our minds on things above.
If we take the Lord's Prayer as our model, then heaven will fill some of our first thoughts every morning. And when we walk into our day, we may take something of heaven with us.
The command to "set your minds on things that are above" means more than "read about things that are above." Something beyond mere reading is needed - a practice the biblical writers call meditation.
If typical Bible reading focuses on paragraphs and chapters, meditation focuses on sentences and words; if in Bible 'reading' we walk down the hallway of a passage, in meditation we open doors and explore rooms.
The meditative Bible reader may, for example, read all of Colossians 3 in four or five minutes, but then come back to spend as much time (or more) pondering the wonder of what it means to be "hidden with Christ in God".
Maybe serious meditation feels like moving mountains to you.
If so, start small, and don't lose heart. Our minds, like a muscle, grow stronger through exercise. And by God's grace, what feels impossible now may feel almost natural six months from now.
If you're at all like me, you leave your morning devotions with a sincere desire to go on thinking of things above in the spare moments of your day. But then you regularly fill every spare moment with something else.
But how often are they the reflex of a mind addicted to distraction?
And what if we resolved to spend at least some of the day's silences recalling what we read that morning, rehearsing a memorised passage, or praying to our Father in heaven?
What does this mean for our heavenly mindedness?
It means that our minds are most full of heaven when they are most full of Jesus.
Heavenly mindedness is an invitation to be with Jesus as much as we can, in preparation for the day when we will be with him always.
So begin your day with Jesus, fix your meditations upon Jesus, and retreat throughout the day to Jesus.
Because "set your minds on things that are above" means, at its core, "set your minds on him."
Un-edited version and Bible references avaiable, on request
is an editor for Desiring God, a pastor at All Peoples Church, and a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
He and his wife, Bethany, live with their two sons in Minneapolis.