What does it mean to “set your mind on things above”?

colossians on work Nov 18, 2019

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)

The third chapter of Colossians starts with a stark reminder that as Christians, we have “died” and our “life is now hidden with Christ.”

What does this truth mean for our work? Does it mean that we are no longer to care about our work and the things that captured our attention pre-salvation? Is that what we are to assume Paul meant by his command that we “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things”?

Not at all. If that is what Paul meant, he wouldn’t have called us to “work with all your heart” just a few verses later (Colossians 3:23). Paul is not calling us to forget about work or “earthly things.” But he is calling us to completely replace our motivations for work, aligning our hearts with the heart and agenda of our Caller and working to reveal the characteristics of His Kingdom here and now.

Immediately following the passage above, Paul calls us to “put to death” the things that may have characterized our work pre-Christ, including sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying (see Colossians 3:5,8-9).

Paul says, “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived” (verse 7), but again, we Christians are called to “put to death” our sin and “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (verse 10).

Our new selves look starkly different than our old ones, clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, unity, peace, and thankfulness (see Colossians 3:12-15).

Turning our minds away from “earthly things” doesn’t mean that we turn our minds away from the work God put us on this earth to do. It means that we continually work to replace the character of our old selves with the characteristics of Christ.

As you begin your work week, I’d encourage you to spend a few minutes meditating on the characteristics listed by Paul above, allowing the Holy Spirit to show you which aspects of your old self you still need to put to death in order to become more like Christ at work.


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