“Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now 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
The world has a way of getting us down. It fills us with distractions, temptation, and entertainment, promising us happiness but never fully delivering. Perhaps you have felt weighed down when looking at the state of the world—overwhelmed by the corruption and confusion that surrounds us. Even the day-to-day responsibilities that we are given can feel burdensome. When we focus on these earthly things our eyes slip from the “things above.” We forget the blessings and promises we have through our adoption as sons and daughters of Jesus and our satisfaction in Christ slips away as well. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way!
Colossians 3 explores what it means to set your mind on things above, enabling us to experience the true joy the Father wants to lavish on us. Furthermore, when we set our eyes on Him, we are better able to serve him—and service is ultimately the duty and pleasure of every believer.
How to Set Your Mind on Things Above
When it comes to refocusing our eyes on Christ, the Bible gives us clear instructions. We are not to linger in our old habits of fear, sin and discouragement, as when we were unbelievers. Instead we are called to lay down these things that hinder us and through the power of the Holy Spirit step into our new life as Christians. The old man looks at the things of this world, but the new man in Christ looks above to his precepts, promises and spiritual power.
1. Put to Death What Is Earthly
“Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. When you lived among them, you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” – Colossians 3:5-8
Our desire to look to earthly things instead of heavenly things comes from two flaws in thinking. We either look to earthly things because we think they will serve us somehow—such as bring us comfort, identity, pleasure, etc.—or we look to earthly things because we forget who we serve. However, we are a new creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10). The first step toward setting your mind on things above is to rid yourself of your old self and the sins and habits that accompanied it.
Sin impedes a growing relationship with God and keeps your eyes on lowly things. Believer, cast them off. We cannot be fully God’s and remain part of the system of sin we have been delivered from. Imagine trying to climb a ladder toward freedom with heavy weights upon your feet. You are dragged back down with every step you attempt to take. The ways of heaven and earth are opposed to each other. You cannot achieve a heavenly mindset while persisting in your earthly actions.
2. Put on the New Self
“Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” – Colossians 3:11
Casting off sin is not enough if you do it in your own strength. If we do it in our own power, we will surely fail. Instead, we are given the power to reject sin and temptation through the empowering of his Spirit and the transforming of our minds through his Word (2 Peter 1:3). You must put on the new self. We, as believers, are to exemplify Christ. The new self refers to the justified, transformed being that looks more like Jesus than our old selves in sin and shame. Yes, we are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).
3. Let the Peace of Christ Rule in Your Hearts
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
When we focus on things of this world, our peace is stolen from us. We become wrapped up in the transient things and forget the eternal foundation and unshifting identity we have in Christ. The world may shift and quake beneath our feet, but Christ is our strong tower, our refuge, our peace (Psalm 91:2). Isaiah 26:3 states that the Lord will keep us in “perfect peace” when we focus our minds on him and trust in him. Don’t you desire this perfect peace in your hearts? Don’t you long to retire your worry and instead set your mind on Christ and on things above?
When it says we are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, it means that this peace should govern our minds. Turn your eyes from worthless things and instead rest your security, your peace, in the goodness and sovereignty of Christ. The more you look to Christ—the more you will become acquainted with our omnipotent, omnipresent God—the more you will trust his plan for your life. He is worthy of your trust, and he is more than able to keep you at peace as you seek him first.
4. Let the Word of Christ Richly Dwell
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16
One of the best ways to set your mind on things above is to cherish God’s Word. We cannot expect to have peace, joy and a Christ-centered perspective if we only consume the material of this world. If someone you love sent you a letter, would you toss it on the shelf and fail to open it? Of course not! If we love Christ, we will dedicate ourselves to reading his words to us. The Bible is an essential part in spiritual growth and helps us to set our affections on things above.
While quiet study time is critical, we also need to share what we learn! We are designed to share the good news and discuss heavenly things with others. It only makes sense that reading and discussing Christ-centered things will shift our mind from the things of this world to his truth.
5. Give Thanks to God
“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.” – Colossians 3:17
Thankfulness may not come easily in all situations in life. Yet, the believer is keenly aware that every good thing comes from God. We are all deserving of his wrath for our rebellion against him, for violating his laws and departing from what is true and right. However, through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, he made salvation possible. Giving thanks is not only a natural expression of gratitude for Christ’s great grace to us, but it fuels us to do the work he has given us. It reminds us who we are and shifts our focus from our worries to God’s power to save and provide. So set your eyes, your heart, your mind, on things above and run the race he has set before you in victory.