Set Your Heart On Things Above

Since you then have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things which are above,
where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on things on the earth. (Col. 3:1-2)

February is a month we associate with the heart. Many people use this month to express their thoughts of love and devotion to those who are important to them. Their hearts are set on earthly things.

The apostle Paul was also concerned about people's hearts. He wrote specific instructions to the church at Colossea regarding what their hearts should be focused on – and it was not earthly things!

Since you then have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)
In the previous chapter, the apostle had warned the Colossians against the dangers of false philosophy, and the doctrines of false teachers. In this chapter, he teaches them what they ought to pursue and to seek, what their hearts should be focused on. As Christians, we need to learn from these instructions, as well.

The heart is the seat of our emotions. Our love and devotion, our desires, our dearest wishes are products of the heart. So if we are to follow the instructions Paul gave to the Colossians, how do we set our hearts on heavenly things, Godly things? The second verse explains:

Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)
Our minds are the total of our thoughts, intellect, will, and decisions. It is our MINDS that will determine what our HEARTS are set on. The things we set our minds on - whether Godly or ungodly – will determine what our hearts long for and desire. The heart will desire the things we focus our minds on.

If we feed our minds ungodly thoughts, ideas, and images from things like the books and magazines we read, the movies and television shows we watch, or the websites we visit, then it follows that our hearts will desire those ungodly things we are filling our minds with. Paul went on to tell the Colossians to kill off those things that lead to sin.

Therefore put to death those things that belong to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry: Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life that you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy talk out of your mouth. Do not lie to each other other, since you have taken off your old self with it's practices, and have put on the new self, that is being renewed in knowledge in the image of it's Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
How do we kill those things that belong to our old nature? Starve them to death! Do not feed immoral thoughts, for instance, by watchings shows or reading books that glorify immoral behaviors. Don't feed your lust by viewing pornography on the computer or watching it on television. Do not feed your anger or malice by refusing to forgive someone who has hurt you. Starve these things that were once a part of your life, because they have no place in the life of a Christian who has been raised with Christ.

Instead, feed your mind on God's word. Fill up on the “Bread of Life”, which is Jesus Christ. The more you fill your mind with God's word, the more your heart will desire those things above, rather than these earthly things.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another, and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13)
Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness do not come naturally to us. These things are all based on love. They spring from the love we ourselves received from Jesus. Without them, our best efforts are in vain.

To clothe ourselves is an act of the will. It is something we deliberately choose to do. Clothing isn't going to just automatically jump onto our bodies; we have to choose to put on our clothing, piece by piece. Just as we can choose what articles of clothing we are going to put on our bodies each day, we can also choose what we are going to put on spiritually. We can choose to be compassionate and kind, or we can choose not to be. We can choose to be humble and patient, or not to be. But either way, it is a deliberate choice on our part. We can choose to fill our minds with God's word, or with earthly things.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)
The one thing that holds all these other virtues together is love. In fact, without love, the other virtues are empty and incomplete. It is hypocrisy to claim to be risen with Christ and not have love. In what is known as the “love chapter”, the apostle Paul puts it this way:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am only a resounding brass gong, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And even if I give all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

This year, as Valentine's Day rolls around, by all means, rejoice in the love of the important people in your life. But also remember the greatest love of all is the love of our Heavenly Father, and His son Jesus. Determine this month to set your heart not just on earthly things, but on things above.

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