How can we live the risen life, according to Paul?
1.) The first thing you do, according to Paul, is to
“set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (v. 1b)
What does that mean? Well, the actual phrase, “set your hearts on things above,” could be interpreted as, “keep seeking the things above.” This language communicates to us a continuous action. It’s not something we try once and then we’re done. In other words, it needs to be a habitual pattern in our lives as followers of Christ. We should strive to look more and more like Jesus with every passing day.
Paul is basically telling us to be passionately consumed with the things of God… the things of heaven. We
need to continually pursue an eternal perspective in everything we say, do and think. We need to pursue the beliefs, values, and practices that characterize the Lord Jesus.
There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good.” It seems that some folks think about heaven so much that they sort of opt out of living here on earth. They don’t engage this life. They don’t try. They’re sort of just waiting to die so they can go to heaven.
But Paul reverses that idea. To paraphrase Paul, we should be so heavenly-minded that we can’t help but be of earthly good. Who was more earthly good than the Lord Jesus himself? He doesn’t just talk about eternal life after we die, but abundant life that begins now.
Paul follows that command with these words in verse 2…
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Now, that may sound like a contradiction of what I just said, but it’s not. Paul is not saying that we should ignore living here on earth. Instead, the “earthly things” he’s referring to are the broken, fallen, and sinful patterns of living that the world practices and embraces. It’s the values the world holds dear. That’s NOT the sort of stuff we’re to think about. Instead, Paul tells us to “set our minds on things above.” I can’t summarize what he means here any better than John MacArthur. Listen to this…
“Set your mind”… could simply be translated, ‘think,’ or more thoroughly, ‘have this inner disposition.’ …the tense indicates continuous action. … ‘You must not only seek haven, you must also think heaven.’ …The believer’s whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north.”
“Such heavenly values dominating the mind produce godly behavior.” (MacArthur, Commentary on Colossians and Philemon, p. 129)
That’s what we’re call to continuously pursue and think about. But it’s hard to live that sort of life and to think that way all the time, isn’t it?
Next time we’ll look at the differences between the Biblical Christian that Paul is describing in our text versus what’s been described as a Cultural Christian.