"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." (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV)
Everyday life has a way of capturing our attention and effort. As much as I love Jesus, there are times when I think very little of Him because, well, the garage needs to be swept out or the Cubs are on. Honoring Him is the highest priority of my life except when I'm dreaming about getting that newest iPhone and the church is taking up an offering to provide food for our mission partners at Teen Challenge.
Our hearts follow what our minds focus on. That amazing car. Our dream house. Success. The Cubs/Colts/Boilermakers. (Sorry, were those your toes I just stepped on?)
It is clearly not unimportant to pay attention to vital earthly things. The rent or mortgage payment is pretty important. Showing up for work consistently and on time, and giving our best when we are there are positive things. But the Apostle Paul is calling us to something higher, even more vital, and easily forgotten.
Set your heart on things above.
Earthly things are so tangible. Things above are often invisible, and there's a reason for the old cliche: out of sight - out of mind. This is true in big things, and sometimes we can be guilty of going most all day absorbed in whatever is in front of us, without much thought of how our lives can glorify Christ in that day. But it's also true in little things.
In the focus of making sure we get everything on the shopping list, we can miss the opportunity to make a difference for Christ in another person's life. Like those times when a shorter, older person is struggling to reach something on the top shelf as I walk by. When I'm focused on things above, I see them and I stop a moment to help them and say a kind word. When I'm focused on finding the garbanzo beans and marking them off the list, I can miss the opportunity.
Paul adds a "therefore." Set your heart on things above...therefore put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature." (Colossians 3:5) Stuff like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. Then he adds another "therefore." Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12)
Put to death what is earthly. Clothe yourself with what is Christlike. And the things Paul mentions sound suspiciously like the fruit of the Spirit he lists in Galatians 5:22-23.
I am convinced this is about more than willpower and mental focus. This is about welcoming, listening to and cooperating with the Holy Spirit. He will put to death the earthly things and fill us so full of the love of Jesus that our hearts follow our minds to things above. And that makes our common, everyday lives the garden in which God grows Christlike character and produces eternal fruit.
When we stand before Jesus, He will not care about the material stuff we filled our lives with while we were here on this earth. He won't be checking out the size of our house or the great tech in our new car. He will be looking for the lives we influenced toward grace. He will be looking for the sacrifices we made for others. Make life about things above, and everything else will take care of itself.
Now, what time is the Cubs game today...?