What are our minds set on? If we had to be perfectly honest, what consumes most of our thinking? What permanent or established way of thinking is what drives us, motivates us, and inspires us to do what we do?
I know we have jobs we have to do, people to take care of, chores, laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and the list goes on of all the things that occupy our everyday lives. And, so our minds, by necessity, must be focused on these tasks, when required.
But, what about the rest of the time? Or, even while we are doing these things, and our minds are not otherwise occupied, what are we thinking about, planning, stewing over, contemplating or taking pleasure in?
The Lord Jesus led me to read Colossians 3 (Select vv. ESV).
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. Vv. 1-4
If we are followers of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, through faith in him, our minds should be set (fixed) on Jesus Christ, on his Word, and on his eternal kingdom. All else should flow from that.
Our minds (thinking, believing, attitudes) should always be available to the Lord, willing to hear our Lord speak to us at any moment of the day, and for us to respond to him in obedience. I believe this is what it means to pray without ceasing, i.e. to have a continuous connection with the Lord to where we can talk with him, hear from him, and respond to him throughout the day, every day.
For, as we think, so we often do. Sin, for instance, is first birthed in the mind, and then the actions often follow. A belief that we are worthless will often result in behavior and attitudes which reflect that belief. And, from an attitude of superiority will often flow lack of compassion for those who are hurting or for those trapped by sin’s deceitfulness (Ex: The Pharisees).
So, if our minds are fixed on the things of this world, and not on Christ, our attitudes and behaviors will also follow suit. Our lifestyles will reflect where our mind is focused. If on Christ, we will be living godly lives, holy and pleasing to him. If on this world, we will be living worldly lives, living to please ourselves and living to satisfy our sinful cravings and desires.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Vv. 5-11
So, in order to have our minds fixed on Jesus Christ and on his eternal kingdom, we need to put to death what is earthly in us. We do this by the Spirit who lives within us. And, this begins in the mind. So, first of all we must look at the kinds of things we are taking into our minds on a daily basis, because what we feed into our minds will affect what we think and what we believe, and what we think will affect our attitudes and behaviors.
You have probably heard the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” That is absolutely the truth! If what we are feeding our minds via TV shows, commercials, movies, TV news, Facebook, Twitter, the internet in general, video games, music, etc. is earthly (worldly), then we are going to think worldly and sinful thoughts which will be reflected in our attitudes and behaviors. For, we will take on the world’s way of thinking and believing, and we will end up adopting many of their attitudes, values, philosophies and morals, etc., too, and they will become ours.
So, we need to clean out our inputs to make certain that our inputs are what is pure, lovely, true, of good report, honorable, decent, etc. But, that does not immediately remove all the past garbage from our minds, so we have to daily put those thoughts to death and fill our minds with what is holy and decent and honorable, instead, which includes time in prayer and in the study of God’s Word, meditating on what he teaches us, and then obeying what his Word says. Then, our behaviors should follow suit.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Vv. 12-15
Are you trapped in sinful addiction? Do you want healing and deliverance? Then, you must yield your life to Jesus Christ, as a living sacrifice on his altar, holy and pleasing to him. No longer should you be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but you must be transformed in the renewing of your mind so that, by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1-2).
In yielding to the Lord, you put off what is unholy and you put on what is holy. You put off lying, and you tell the truth. You put off stealing, and you work with your hands, and then you give to the poor. You put off meanness, and put on kindness; put off frustration, and put on patience; put off pride, and put on humility; put off bitterness, and put on forgiveness; and you put off hatred and contempt, and you put on God-like love, one for the other.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Vv. 16-17
It goes without saying that to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, with our minds fixed on Jesus and on his eternal kingdom, that we have to be bathing our minds in the Word of God. But, this is not for intellectual exercise or theological debate that we do this. This is about changing the way we think and believe, and it is about changing our attitudes and behaviors, to bring them into conformity to Christ and to his kingdom.
But, not only must we be taking in the Word of God, but we must also be giving it out. And, not just to be preachy or to get into an argument with other people. We must share what God is teaching us through his Word, in spoken word or in song or in our praise to God for all he has done for us. And, we must do this for the salvation of the lost, and for the instruction, encouragement, edification, and building up of the body of Christ, so that we might all walk in holiness and reach maturity in our faith in Christ Jesus.
Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Sunday, December 24, 2017, 4:36 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we take these words to heart and put them into practice in our daily lives. Amen!