What do you think of when you hear someone say we need to have an "eternal perspective?" Does this verse come to mind?
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col. 3:2)
What does that mean?
What does that look like?
It doesn't mean we're to spend our time thinking about angels sitting on clouds strumming harps . . . that is NOT what Paul is talking about here. Nor is focusing on "things above" referring to some New Age mystical experience.
My attitude and perspective is formed by my thinking.
Paul is talking about becoming so God-centered in your thinking—so Word saturated—that it quite literally affects your actions.
Look at the connection Paul makes between thinking and living as he continues in verse five:
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."
What we think about influences our actions.
If I think about chocolate all day . . . (which isn't hard to do) I'm probably going to be hitting the candy bar aisle at the grocery store before the day is over!
Paul's point is that once we come to Christ, we have a new way of thinking . . . we have a new purpose, a new outlook, a redeemed perspective. Paul was challenging believers in Colossae to evaluate their thinking and make a course correction where needed.
Many of these new believers were influenced by the first wave of Gnosticism, by legalistic Judaism, and pagan mysticism. All of these belief systems had a faulty view of God and salvation. Gnostics denied the deity of Christ and claimed to have "secret knowledge." The legalists promoted a works-based self-righteousness. Pagan religious practices included temple prostitution and child sacrifice.
From the letter's contents, it sounds as though their messed-up thinking was producing pride, slander, malice, greed, immorality, and impurity (which Paul addresses). So, Paul calls them to change their thinking—to set their minds on things "above."
I'm not into pagan mysticism . . . can't say I'm guilty of legalistic Judaism . . . so what does this mean for me . . . for us?
Corrupt thinking still produces corruption, and God-centered thinking produces godliness.
That old saying about what you put into the computer determines what comes out is so true . . . "Garbage in, garbage out."
That's why Psalm 119:11 commends "hiding God's Word" in our hearts as a protection against making sinful choices.
For me, "otherworldly thinking" or "setting my mind on things above" includes:
Memorizing Scripture implants God's Word deeply, not only in my mind, but in my heart (which is where transformation happens). When I have His Word in my mind, I am thinking God's thoughts. Is that not an amazing concept? We can literally think God's thoughts . . . and the more we do that, the more we will be transformed.
When I take a daily dose from one of the gospels, it places Jesus' actions front and center. I think about Him through the day: what He did when the needy person approached, or how He reacted to silly suggestions from Peter . . . watching Jesus closely allows me to know Him more intimately.
My attitude and perspective is formed by my thinking. That's why Paul challenges us to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). We're moving into dangerous territory when we let our imagination run wild, when we entertain the enemy's lies and allow our thoughts to run amuck. Truth must be our mind's fortress in order for our emotions to be protected.
- Thinking God's thoughts—literally
- Watching Jesus closely in the gospels
- Taking control of my thoughts rather than letting wrong thinking take control of me
Setting my mind above doesn't come naturally . . . because it is a supernatural way of operating. If I want to think God's thoughts, I need to fight to fill my mind with His way of thinking.
What's on your mind today?