For each believer, there are certain passages of Scripture that are particularly impactful as the Lord uses them to mature us in our sanctification. Depending on your context, maybe those passages are about hope, or faith, or how the gospel should shape our thoughts. For me, one of those top-of-the-list passages is in found in Paul’s epistle to the church at Colossae. After considering the preeminence of Christ, and penning from his own struggle to equip and encourage the church, Paul provides us a reminder that we are alive in Christ and free from the debt of sin. Then in chapter three Paul starts by writing,
“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.” – Colossians 3:1-2
This is a passage that makes me shake my head every time I read it or hear it. Why would I shake my head? Because I know it to be true – I counsel others with this passage often – yet I regularly fail to keep it in view in my own life. I honestly believe that the rest of my life would look different if I would just dwell on this passage at some point each day. Reflecting on three truths in this passage should shape how I view myself, how I view God, what I invest in, and what I choose to ignore. Here are three truths for you to ponder:
1. BELIEVE. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you believe he was resurrected on the third day, you have also been raised with Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father (Rom.10:9). In other words, if by faith you have been saved by the work of God in Christ, then your eternity has been secured. Because of that truth your identity is also set and you can rest in the grace of God. Church, that should make us all take a nice deep breath. We don’t have to carry the burden of a coming judgment that our sin had earned us; the debt is paid in full. Furthermore, we have the righteousness of Jesus as we stand before our just God. Our Mediator sits at the Father’s right hand, having defended our past, giving purpose to our present, and securing our future. We don’t have to work any longer for what we couldn’t earn in the first place.
2. SEEK. In light of our position in Christ, we should seek the things above. As redeemed sinners, we are called to deal in a holy economy. Holy means set apart, different, or separate. We play by a different set of rules. We believe in a different set of values. We submit to a different authority. We should seek to please God instead of our own desires. We should put on the new self “which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col.3:10). How do we learn what this economy looks like? What things we should value? What authority we should submit to? What pleases God? This one timeless, inerrant, infallible, God-inspired source of truth is Scripture of course (Jn.17:17, 2Tim.3:16). That is the tool that the Lord has given us that we may be renewed in the knowledge of all things Holy. Church, that is the value of regular, self-evaluating, Spirit-empowered study of Scripture. Without knowing the things that God deems as “things above”, how could we expect to seek those things?
3. SLAY. We should actively & consistently slay our fleshly pull toward earthly things. However, for some reason, we continue to pursue things with no eternal value. As my brother Pastor Dave Annan recently said in a sermon, when offered a delicious hearty meal chocked full of nutritional value we often still find ourselves pursuing cotton candy – “sweet colorful nothingness”. While the cotton candy is pretty to look at, interesting to touch, and temporarily gratifying, it leaves you with nothing but an appetite for more. The same is true of earthly things. As those who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, we have the power of God at work within us so we definitely have the ability to denounce earthly things, but often we don’t have the discipline to submit to God’s ways instead.
To lure us away from eternal truth in lieu of temporal gain is also a favorite scheme of Satan. Satan even tried using that with Jesus himself. In Matthew 4 Satan offered Jesus much in the way of earthly things. Jesus answered each of the temptations by pointing to the eternal truth of God’s Word every one of the three times Satan tempted him. What a great lesson for us, church! By knowing and remembering God’s Word, we are equipped to battle Satan and remain steadfast in our pursuit of eternal things, not of things on earth.
Think about it this way; If you were looking to make an investment and your broker introduced you to an opportunity by saying “this is an absolute fail…there is a 100% chance that you’ll lose every dime that you invest here regardless of how much money you throw into it”, you would not consider that investment opportunity for another second. You would walk away and never look back. We should have the same approach toward earthly things since God has called us to the things above, where our future has already been secured by the finished work of God in Christ.
In what areas of life are you clutching desperately to earthly things? We all have them. Do you believe that the holy things of God’s eternal economy are of immeasurably more value? Do you believe that functionally? In other words, if someone were to look at your calendar, your wallet, and your smart phone, would they find evidence of an allegiance to God or the world? What changes do you need to make today to shift your pursuits from earthly things to the things of God?