Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on 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
My ability to “Set my mind on things above and not on earthly things,” has been tested this week. Really it’s been tested for the last few weeks. Full disclosure: I did not want to focus on things above today.
I’ve found it true throughout my whole life that I struggle to focus on Christ the most when my life is just regular. When it’s extraordinarily difficult or wonderful I am constantly reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness and am spurred on towards following him all the more, but when things are just normal, sometimes focusing on things above gets lost behind doing laundry and making dinner and playing restaurant for the 15th time.
I think fairly often Christians get caught up in the idea that “things above” must include day dreaming about streets of gold or high and lofty aspirations that no one can attain. And it probably does include that, but it also includes the way you interact at the grocery store, how purposeful you are in your marriage, how you react to your children, and how you choose to spend your time.
I am constantly reminded of a family friend who preaches, “Don’t waste your parenting.” I’m sorry to anyone reading this who can’t relate, but as a stay at home mom to a 1 and 3 year old it’s often hard to think about anything beyond parenting. I all too often categorize fixing snacks, reading books, waking up at 6 am or playing restaurant as “regular” things, when in actuality, the constant opportunity to model Christ in everything that I do is completely focusing on “things above.”
For example: today was a challenging day.
Following an exceptionally whiny morning I took the kids out to the car to run errands and locked the keys in the house resulting in a call to my husband, who I forgot to fix lunch for today, asking him to please come home from work. Then my children were less than exemplary and terribly defiant. Later, the bag of popcorn purchased at the store just moments before was dumped in its entirety into the garbage can and all over the floor—and on and on.
Sadly, I didn’t handle it well and found myself consumed with earthly things rather than focusing on things above.
I think there are plenty of reasons why God told us to focus on things above: it glorifies him, it’s good for us, and in my case it points my children to Jesus. For the last few weeks we’ve spent every day in our house learning and practicing the fruits of the Spirit and are now focusing on the Armor of God, but in a single moment today I made all the words I’ve been telling Aisley obsolete by choosing to set my mind on earthly things. I sought anger and frustration and meanness rather than God and rather than living in the joy of the truth that I am joined with Christ, concealed in him, and eternally secure despite what happens in my day to day, I gave into the temptation of wallowing in my own pity.
Brad spoke on Sunday about choosing to live differently in light of the fact that we will one day appear in heaven with Christ, and it could be now, or now, or now. If I look at the timeline of my life I see the progress of the Holy Spirit working in my life, but today, I did not choose to live differently.
We are not exempt from being subject to this fallen world because we have chosen to follow Christ, and setting our hearts and minds on things above is not always an easy task. But, we have not been asked to do it alone. In Matthew 11:30 Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. A few verses earlier he calls for those who are weary and heavy laden to come to him so he can give them rest. Living a life worthy of the calling we have received through Christ is impossible for us as humans, but it has been made perfectly clear through scripture that we are not expected to do it in our own strength.
Later today, as I prayed for the Spirit to gather within me the strength to put my pride aside and redeem this day, I felt this desire to overcome creep up within me. Things didn’t get easier, and I didn’t transform into a perfect representation of Christ, but I chose to set my mind on things above—and to set, is to take action. I sat down with Aisley and talked about the day, sought her forgiveness, and stressed the importance of wearing our armor. I spent some time reading and rereading Colossians 3:1-4 and felt confirmation within me that the command to set our hearts and minds on things above gives mundane earthly struggles so much more eternal significance.
I am so thankful for his grace and mercy, and that he doesn’t leave us alone.
Courtney serves on Hospitality Team, in Children’s Ministry, and is a part of the Epic Married Group. She is married to the tall drink of water that greets everyone at the front door on Sunday mornings and has two precious, exhausting children. She loves pretending to be creative, cooking, eating, and being outside.