Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Set Your Mind on Things Above

Last night I got to get together with Laura, Amy, and Bethany to spend some time in the Word.

It has been wonderful to get together with these girls (and other girls as well) every week to study God's Word. How blessed I am to have friends that I can study the Bible with on a weekly basis. I definitely thank God for them.

Last night we studied Colossians 3:2,
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."
After we met I've been thinking more on this verse, so here are some of my thoughts, and some stuff that was shared last night. Firstly, what does it mean to "Set our minds"? When I hear the phrase I think of setting a table. Everything has a certain place. The forks go on the left, and everything else, well, it has its place too. (I actually don't know much about the placement of silverware). Or set like pudding. A pudding needs to set, or solidify, before it can be served. But are one of these definitions what Paul is meaning when he says to set our minds on things above?

I went to the Blue Letter Bible to see what the Greek had to say. The Greek has one word for the entire phrase "Set your mind". That word is φρονέω. It means, to have understanding, be wise. To direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for.

So what are we to be directing our minds towards? The things above. What are the things above? In verse one of Colossians 3, it says,
"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." (emphasis added.)
What or Who is above? Christ and God. Christ is seated at the right hand of God. So, when it says to set our minds on the things above, we should be setting our mind on God, on who He is and on who Jesus Christ is. These are the things that our mind should be set on not on the things of this earth.

I kind of like the definition of "set" in reference to pudding. I have made pudding from scratch several times, and personally, I much prefer the "Just add one ingredient" pudding mixes. Why? Because the pudding only has to set for five minutes. Homemade pudding on the other hand is first melted together which is a long process, and then to top it all off it has to sit until chilled and solidified which could take hours. Now bear with my poor analogy, but our minds should be like the chilled pudding that is set and solidified. It should be set and solidified on the things above. Our mind should not be like a runny pudding that continuously wants to conform to how it was originally (soupy and gross), it should not be focused on the things of this earth.

"So, how can our minds be set on the things above throughout the entire day?" This was the question that Amy asked to begin our study last night. A very good question too. I often find my mind set on things above when I'm reading the Word, or praying, but as the day goes on I often find myself thinking about things of this world. Things, that frankly, do not matter in the least bit.

To answer the question that Amy asked, we looked deeper into the passage of Colossians 3. We read Colossians 3:3-17. The passage begins by commanding us to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. It then goes on to list some of these things, and says that these should not be the way we act because that was our old self, we have a new self in Christ Jesus. We are made alive through Him. After stating that verse 12 begins with,
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved,"
We are God's people. We were chosen and as His chosen people we are to,
"clothe yourselves (or ourselves) with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
We are to forgive one another just as Christ forgave us and over all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect unity.

The beginning of verse 16 also shares how we can keep our minds set on the things above. It says,
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..."
What pops into your mind when you first hear, or in this case read, the word "richly"? For me I think of cake. (hmm, my analogies have all had something to do with food... sorry.) Have you ever had a rich chocolate cake before? I have. It was SWEET! (Yes that needed to be in all caps to get the point across.) I took one bite and oh, don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but one bite of the cake and I felt like I had eaten a thousand pieces of that cake. It was as if every single fiber of that cake was stuffed with flavour. This is how we need to be. The Word of Christ needs to dwell in us richly. Every fiber of our being should just be bursting with the word of Christ. If the word of Christ is so rich within us it will affect everything we do. We need to spend time in the Word, studying it and meditating on it.

To top off our discussion last night, we ended with verse 17,
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
"In the name of the Lord Jesus." I can't remember if I read this somewhere, or heard someone talk about this once, but no matter where it came from it has stuck with me. We were talking about using the Lord's name in vain. The audience listening (or reading) this message were all Christians and we'd never used God's name in vain. Or at least in our minds we hadn't. I was sitting there thinking, "Well, I mean, I've never spoken God's name in vain." But the speaker hit deeper, what about just acting in the Lord's name, but not acting anything like God. Wouldn't that be using His name in vain? We call ourselves Christians. People who live in Russia call themselves Russians. They live in Russia, they act like Russians, they speak Russian. They are what they call themselves. We are Christians. We follow Christ. But how often are we not living as Christians? How often are our lives using God's name in vain? When Paul says to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, He means that we are ambassadors of Christ. If we are calling ourselves Christians we need to act like Christ. And living like a Christian would mean that our minds are set on the things above.

I think it is important to note that none of this is possible without the work of the Holy Spirit. After all this passage is talking about a person who is born again. We as Christians need to ask God to help us in reading His Word and in living like this passage describes. For all of this is impossible without God. I pray that God will help us to live with our minds set on the things above, not on the fleeting desires of this world.

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