Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.
How many of you have read this verse before? If you’re like me, you’ll have been taught a certain interpretation of this principle. To “set my mind on things above” was most simply explained as “think about God all the time”. Even the translation and word selection in the English language implies a “think about heaven and not earth” application. This interpretation is not necessarily wrong (I’ll let you decide for yourself), but it is certainly lacking in more ways than one. In an effort to have things make sense in the moment or in accordance with our lives, we often establish hastily and incompletely the ways of Adonai. I believe this verse is one of those severely miscommunicated and misapplied instances. Let us begin with a few small studies.
The above verse is in Colossians 3, and if you look carefully, Paul explains our position, our source, and our purpose within the first three verses. You may read verses 1-3 of chapter three and meditate on it now if you’d like. And if it helps, I would encourage you to find a comfortable chair and relax into it as a way to remind yourself how comfortable and “right” it feels to be seated with Christ in heavenly places. We have eternal rest and peace in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are not doing jumping jacks in heavenly places; we are seated.
According to Strong’s, the summarized definition for the Greek word for “set your mind”, phroneo, is to: have understanding, be wise, to feel, to think, to have an opinion of one’s self, to be of the same mind, to be harmonious with. And if you look in the text, there is not even a word for “mind” there. The direct translation would be “set yourself”. This would be a great study to do sometime, but since you’re reading the Hebrew Corner, let’s jump to the equivalent Hebrew word and look at it from that perspective. In 1 Chronicles 22:19 it says, “Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God”. The word is nathan, נָתַן, which is more often translated as “to give”. What a world of difference if we simply change one word; give yourself to the things above, and not to the things that are on the earth.
If we are then seated with Christ, in Christ, and by Christ in heavenly places, giving ourselves to that place would merely be acknowledging what is already the reality. This is exactly what Paul says in verse one, that we are raised up with him to where He is at the right hand of the Father. How could we give ourselves to, even “set our minds on”, a place we have never been or have no real connection to? This is the key: we are already there with Him. Submitting our minds to this truth is what Paul is talking about, and it is made clear in the next verse, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. Our entire being, our life, is hidden in Him. As we’ve talked about in previous articles, “hidden” does not mean that it is made to remain that way, but rather sought after and revealed.
I have a question for you: What if your acknowledgement of heaven could determine its manifestation in your life? Is this not the same concept that we apply to the process of salvation? Our acknowledgement and receiving of His grace activates it inside our lives. This is the gospel. A life on earth lived in heaven, infused with the things above, is not as far off as we have been told. I will say it once more; how can we bring heaven to earth as the Word says, if we have no real experience of heaven?
The most freeing and best news of the day is that we never have to try to be with Him. The trying, seeking, pushing, and pursuing are all a means of laboring to enter His rest (Hebrews 4:11). We are already with Him in heaven and within our very bodies, but we labor to acknowledge the complete rest and perfection we have in Him.
Today, if you would hear His voice and not harden your heart, enter into His rest.