The main focus of Colossians 3 is how important it is for us as Christians to “set our mind on things above”, enabling us to experience the true joy the Lord desires to endlessly pour out on us. Not only that but when we set our eyes on Him, we are better able to serve him—and since faithful service to Him is ultimately the duty and pleasure for all Christians, I’d say this is nothing but a win-win situation!
Now, if you’ve been serving the Lord for any length of time then I think you would agree with me in saying that though the concept of “setting our minds on things above”, or keeping our focus on Jesus, is so very simple but it is definitely not always EASY! And that is precisely why Paul and Timothy, the co-authors of the book of Colossians, outline for us what it takes for us to stay the course, stay focused, and continue to “set our minds on things above.”
First in verse 5-8 we are encouraged to put to death what is earthly, ridding yourself of your old self and the sins and habits that ruled your life. Why is this so important? Because sin slows and even at times halts growth in our relationship with God. Afterall, you cannot achieve a heavenly mindset while continuing in a life lived by your earthly actions. As Matthew 6:24 tells us:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
To which we could easily add - You cannot serve both God and possessions, or personal agendas, or self promotion. In order to live a life with eyes fixed on him you must first take your eyes off of yourself.
Second, as verse 11 instructs, we are to put on the new self. Now, this doesn’t mean putting on a Jesus costume - putting on a nice and shiny new outfit that simply covers up the mess hiding beneath. This “new self” actually refers to the justified, transformed being that looks more and more like Jesus as we walk daily with Him. As Ephesians 4:21-24 tells us, we are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Third, Colossians 3:15 tells us to:
“Let the peace of Christ RULE IN OUR HEARTS…”
And this peace can only be found when we are focused steadfastly on Jesus. For when we focus on the things of this world, our peace is stolen from us. We become wrapped up in the temporal things and quickly forget the eternal foundation and unshifting identity we have in Christ. Psalm 91:2 reminds us that though there will be difficult seasons of life and times of fear, uncertainty, sorry, and frustration, Christ is our strong tower, our refuge, and our peace. And Isaiah 26:3 tells us that the Lord will keep us in perfect peace when we focus our minds on the Lord and trust in Him.
So when we say that we are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts we aren’t saying that with Jesus you will live a life free from all worry or stress or fear. However, what we are saying is that when we turn our eyes away from the worthless things of this world and instead rest our security and peace in the goodness and sovereignty of Christ, you will find that you become more acquainted with our omnipotent and omnipresent God - allowing you to trust Him more fully, even when life is coming at you full force.
Forth, Paul and Timothy encourage us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.” (verse 16) One of the best ways to set your mind on things above is to continue to do the very thing we have been doing together as a church all throughout this Dwell series - to dwell in God’s word.
And finally, we should take time to give thanks to God. Colossians 3:17 states:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Thankfulness doesn’t always come easy but this overflow of gratitude for Christ's great love for us and grace to us re-energizes and fuels us to do the work he has given us. It reminds us of who we are and who HE is. It shifts our focus from our worries to God’s power.
So today, let’s set our eyes, our hearts, our minds, on things above and let’s run the race set before us from a place of freedom, empowerment, and victory that comes to us only from our graciously Heavenly Father.