I've never been accused of being too heavenly-minded, ...and that's a shame.
Don't get me wrong. I don't say that because I don't want to be any earthly good. It's just that I simply don't believe that it'd be a bad thing if I was more heavenly-minded, or that being more earthly-minded would make me any more relevant in this world.
Sure, being earthly-minded can help us to be better aware of the needs all around us and of how we can respond to those needs in order to help others. But there's another way of being earthly-minded that's probably more common and certainly more dangerous that can leave us paralyzed with self-analysis and crippled with guilt.
In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Colossians, Paul addressed earthly-mindedness when he referred to a performance-based "Do this! Do not do this!" approach to life (Colossians 2:21), and he warned the Colossians that it would rob them of their reward of a rich life in Christ (Col. 2:16-19). I feel continually vulnerable to this way of thinking as I regularly worry about whether I'm doing "well enough" at life. The accusations of the devil seem constant, leaving me unsatisfied with whatever I may or may not be doing at any given time and always wondering if I'm meeting some earthly standards at being any earthly good. This earthly-minded focus on myself and on my internal performance ratings inevitably robs me of the joy that God wants us to experience as we live for Him in this world. So much for earthly-mindedness being helpful!
Paul's advice? He recommended that those who want to be any "earthly good" need to be so heavenly-minded that we see ourselves as residents of heaven! Paul wanted his readers to die to the kind of earthly-mindedness that focused on the do's and don'ts of personal performance so that they could then live with a more fully heavenly perspective. Paul wrote: "Therefore, if you have died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to... the commandments and doctrines of men?" (Col. 2:20).
Paul actually writes, "...as though [you were] living in the world..." as though he thought we weren't! It's as if he doesn't believe we live on this planet, but live in heaven already. Talk about being heavenly-minded! Paul's attitude was that it's earthly-mindedness that we need to be on guard against, and that it's heavenly-mindedness that will make us useful in this world. Paul goes on to say that we need to "seek those things which are above, where Christ is" and to "set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). Only then will we be able to grow in the godly Christian character Paul goes on to describe and to be the heavenly salt and light we're called to be in this world.
When my mind is fixed on Jesus in heavenly places, and on all He has accomplished for us as the exalted King of kings -- meaning I'm spending time seeking Him in prayer and in His Word every day -- I'll be much more effective at expressing His goodness to others! And I'll be a much more cheerful person as I ignore the earth-bound, self-oriented, performance-based, guilt-ridden legalism that seeks to devour my joy and rob me of the heavenly-mindedness that God wants me sharing with everyone around me.
© 2015 by Ken Peters
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