Things Above Us?

Colossians 3:1-2 is, in essence, the theme of this blog.

So how can a group of guys get together, entitle a blog “Things Above Us” in clear reference to scripture, then proceed to make sports one of the four pillars of categories alongside such heavenly minded topics as theology, evangelism and missions?

Let’s briefly (for word count purposes) examine Col 3:1-2. Mouse over the verse references to read them or just keep a copy of God’s Word open next to you or in another browser tab.

Riley McCullough

Brief Summary of Colossians

Colossians 1 is a glorious revelation of the beauty and power of Jesus Christ. By the time you get through chapter 1 you should have no doubt that it is Christ alone who saves (Col 1:13, Col 1:20, Col 1:22) and that we are not gnostics. That is, Jesus Christ, who is really God, really died in the flesh for us and we will not only suffer in the flesh, but what we do in the flesh matters (Col 1:24, Col 1:28, Col 1:29). [bctt tweet=”So how can a group of guys get together, entitle a blog “Things Above Us” in clear reference to scripture, then proceed to make sports one of the four pillars of categories?” username=”ThingsAboveBlog”]

Colossians 2 continues with some explanation for those who will then put too much confidence in the flesh. Our nature will be to reject the Christ as sufficient and rely on our own good works and the ceremonies and rites of religion to justify ourselves (Col 2:8, Col 2:18, Col 2:20, Col 2:23). Or maybe we are trusting Christ alone for justification but relying on human effort for our sanctification, rather than the power of Jesus Christ.

By the time you get to Colossians 3:3, it is clear that nothing we do in the flesh is pleasing to God. It is always only Christ who is righteous in our place. So we must focus on things that are above us we are told in Col 3:2.

But What Does That Look Like?

The question that we must ask at this point is “How is this applied?” In other words, what does it look like practically to set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth? And it is here that a shallow reading of Scripture, coupled with a what-does-this-mean-to-me? hermeneutic will lead many astray. I submit to you that the author of this letter explains exactly what it means, and what it looks like practically, to set your minds on things that are above. And he does this immediately following the command to do so.

In verse 5, Paul tells us to put to death that “which is earthly:

  • sexual immorality,
  • impurity,
  • passion,
  • evil desire, and
  • covetousness, which is idolatry.”

What are the earthly things which my mind ought not to be set upon, you ask? There’s a list for you.

Col 3:8-9 provide more list items: ”

  • anger,
  • wrath,
  • malice,
  • slander, and
  • obscene talk …
  • Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices”

First, Paul provides an answer to what we should not set our minds on. Earthly things which our minds ought not to be set on are not defined as even mundane parts of life that will burn up, like fixing our cars, taking our kids to sports, or celebrating a marriage anniversary. Earthly things are described as those sins of the flesh which wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11)!

What Should We Do

Then he immediately follows it with a list of things we ought to be setting our minds upon.

(Col 3:12) “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

  • compassionate hearts,
  • kindness,
  • humility,
  • meekness, and
  • patience.”

Add verses 13-15 and you can include

  • longsuffering,
  • forgiveness,
  • love,
  • the peace of Christ, and
  • gratitude.

These virtues we are to put on do not live in a vacuum. That is, they are not nebulous ideas we can possess without the virtue manifesting itself in our existence. By the time you read through verses 16-25 (which I encourage you to do), all the way through Col 4:6, you have nothing less than a dissertation on how to live out these attributes in the Christian walk…on earth.

Glenn Carstens-Peters

That’s right. We are commanded to set our minds on things that are above and not things on earth, then immediately given a list of things to do on earth in order to fulfill this duty. We exhibit that our minds are set on things above us when we dutifully submit to earthly authorities, put away filthy talk, pray with thanksgiving, work heartily, forgive one another, worship in song together, and love our children (among a whole host of other things).

[bctt tweet=”You are not setting your mind on earthly things and neglecting things above you when you fulfill earthly commitments, bestow special love on a spouse and children, serve a local church, or spend time working tirelessly for an earthly master. ” username=”ThingsAboveBlog”]

The same Paul who wrote set your minds on things above us wrote “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. “(1Ti 5:8) Seems Paul thought earthly duties matter! James admonishes readers to help one another with earthly needs (James 2:15-16). Churches and individuals (Acts 4:34) in Acts (2 Cor 8:2-3;2 Cor 9:2)were sacrificing for each others’ good in accord with what Paul wrote in Phil 2:4. John seemed to think a lack of love for a brother indicated one truly does not love God (1 John 4:20), and Jesus preached the vitality of good earthly relationships not over and above our relationship with God but as an indicator of a heart that truly is ready to worship (Matthew 5:23-24).

Be Heavenly-minded and Earthly Good

The Bible is replete with examples of how our love for God truly manifests in our interactions with God, AS WELL AS people.  We are to be heavenly-minded, yes, but true heavenly mindedness doesn’t draw one away from the world like a monk to a monastery! True love for God will exhibit itself in good stewardship over creation, affection for our fellow man, and a desire to fulfill God’s commands toward our brethren and even those outside the Church (Matthew 5:44-45).

Do not neglect your earthly duties, for it is in doing them, through the providence of God Himself, that God will sanctify you, and use you for His glory. Yes, we can all do better when it comes to prayer time, studying, evangelism, and spiritual disciplines. But God also has a plan for how you will witness to the other parents at your kid’s sporting event or while you are at the hardware store buying parts for an earthly contraption you wish would just stop breaking. You are not neglecting your Christian duty if you spend time adoring and cherishing your wife for a date night instead of proclaiming the gospel. There is a time for each.

Brethren, you are setting your mind on things that are above and not on earthly things when you fulfill earthly commitments, bestow special love on a spouse and children, serve a local church, or spend time working tirelessly for an earthly master. It is in these things that you are fulfilling the command to set your mind on things above—if you are doing them from faith and for God’s glory (Romans 14:23; 1 Cor 10:31)! Do not indulge in the deeds of the flesh and you will fulfill the law of the Spirit.

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