As Christians, we are torn between two worlds. We must live on this physical world and everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and enjoy is at our disposal. Our bodies are physical, created from the earth. This is what we know and relate to. So why is it that we are instructed to “set our minds on things above”?
Welcome to the fourth part of our series on conforming to the world (read the first post “Do not be conformed to this world: 5 strongholds we need to let go of”) and what that means for children of God. So far we have covered the following topics and if you like this one, be sure to go back and read the rest of the series!
What Does it Mean to Set My Mind on Things Above?
So, I am throwing two phrases around here. “conforming to this world” and “set your minds on things above”. Let’s read the verses these come from so you have a full picture.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2 NKJV)
Setting our minds on things above can only be done by refusing to conform to this world as in the following verse.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
We try to live in both places, but it is hard. It leaves you feeling overwhelmed, burdened, afraid, and discontent. It’s time to let go of this world, to embrace the one God has given us and while the fulness is not here on earth, it is given to us in a small portion, we need only let go of what we desperately cling to and grab onto His outstretched hand.
What is Materialism
I originally began this post focusing primarily on materialism, but then I realized that materialism is more of a mindset and all the ways our hearts connect to it need to be addressed.
So what is is materialism anyway? By definition:
“a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.”
Now, I don’t think Jesus intended for us to be poor, without a home, job, or vehicle. Materialism is something that takes place in our heart and isn’t always reflected in the things you own.
Let me explain. I know people who have been financially wise and have a great deal of money. Do they have nice things? Yes. Are they focused on those things? No. They are focused on their families, friends, church, community, and God.
I also know people who struggle financially. They worry constantly about not being able to pay the bills. Is their struggle real? Yes. Are they focusing on their struggle? Yes. Are they focusing on God? No.
A third type of person is the one deeply in debt because he truly does love buying things and is only thinking of what he wants right now. That is probably the best fit for the definition given.
Let’s discuss one more scenario and that is the person who can’t let go of the items she has. We see this in Mark.
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”
And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
It was not the fact that the man had great possessions that was the sin. It was that he couldn’t let go of those possessions.
Do you see how materialism is a sin of the heart and has less to do with what you actually have?
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matthew 5:40-42)
When reading Matthew 5, I tend to quickly read over these verses. I don’t really like to share and I definitely don’t want to share something I need. But God supplies all of our needs, does He not?
Our earthly possessions should be something we give to others willingly without a thought.
How can I Focus my Mind on God?
Do you recognize yourself in the examples above? Maybe a little? Let’s change our mindset. How can I focus my mind on God and not on the materials of this world?
I am sure there are many more ways than the 4 I’m listing, but here is a start!
- Be content with what you have
- Focus on prayer
- Stay in the word
- Believe that God is taking care of you
Be Content with what You Have
Learning to be content with what you have (or even recognizing all the ways God is taking care of you) is a great place to strt when learning to set your mind on things above.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
During quarantine when there were food shortages (and tp shortages) and a bit of panic everywhere, I could hear God speaking to me “and having food and clothing be content”.
I didn’t need to worry, God would provide. Would he provide in abundance? I didn’t know, but I did know that He would provide for our needs.
That is a huge lesson when discussing contentment. The difference between wants and needs. God promises to provide for our needs, but never for our wants. If this is something you struggle with, take some time to write down what your needs are and what your wants are. Seeing them in black and white can shift your thoughts.
Along with contentment is gratitude. Always be thankful for what you have, not matter how small or insignificant it seems. Hop over to my shop and check out my 20 days of gratitude journal to help you focus on the goodness of God.
Focus on Prayer
This might be a no brainer, but you can’t focus on God if you are not communicating with Him. In my opinion, prayer is the best way to set your minds on things above.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I love how God sandwiches prayer between rejoice and give thanks. It is the peanut butter and jelly between two slices of bread. When you slack in your prayer life, you stop rejoicing and giving thanks becomes more difficult.
When Paul says to pray without ceasing, he means regularly throughout the day. If you have a time set aside to pray every day, that is awesome, but don’t stop there. Pray while you are in the car, shower, rocking your baby, or making your kids lunch.
Communication works both ways. The more you pray, the more God will speak to you. And when He speaks to you, He brings you peace, contentment, and joy.
Hope Joy in Christ has wonderful prayer resources. Definitely check her out for more depth on this topic.
Stay in the Word
If you are like, “come on Heather, stop stating the obvious” pause for a second and think about how right I am to focus on these things. We tend to get all caught up in our lives and end up dry and barren.
Why are we in this state? Because we let the basics slip.
You can’t remove materialism from your heart if all you see is what is on this earth. You cannot change your mindset while focusing only on what you can see. You must focus on what you cannot see.
I always think of these verses from Hebrews 11 when I am struggling with the reality of living in a fallen world. Paul pauses in the middle of a list of faithful people from the Old Testament.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Friends, this is not our home! Let’s set our minds on things above!
Believe that God is Taking Care of You
And the last step in setting our minds on things above is to believe God is taking care of you. When we are in prayer, in the word, learning to be content, we can believe God is taking care of us.
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (Luke 12:22-31)
These verses are beautiful, am I right? God will provide for our needs, it may not look like what we are expecting or hoping for, but He does provide.
Are You Ready to Set Your Minds on Things Above?
So, are you ready? The time is now to set your minds on things above. What changes do you need to make? What strategies do you have to prevent falling into materialism? How do you handle the pull of the world?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Check out my free faith resources page! You are sure to find something to encourage your walk with God.