“There’s No Way I Can Do That!”
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
Have you ever looked at a verse from the Bible and thought to yourself, Ha! There’s no way I can do that!
Today’s key verse is one I’ve wrestled with over the years: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
At first glance, this one verse seems utterly out of touch with those of us who have to pay attention to everyday things on earth. Things like chasing curious toddlers, returning phone calls, adjusting quarterly budgets, watching the pot on the stove and shifting lanes while driving. How are we supposed to set our minds on things that are above when the things on earth are so urgent and necessary?
One reason I’ve struggled with understanding this verse is it’s too easy to take one Bible verse at a time and give it a cursory glance. When I read Scripture with that approach, I’ll seldom arrive at any conclusions the Author intended. I’ve learned to best understand the meaning of a passage, it’s important to understand its context.
The context for Colossians 3:2 is the rest of the argument, the rest of the letter, the rest of the New Testament and the rest of the Bible. In other words, because this verse is in the Bible, it is not utterly out of touch, but rather it is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. (See 2 Timothy 3:16.)
So let’s expand the context of that verse a bit. There’s a whole grand story behind Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:2, and we need to know that story in order to interpret the passage properly.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians, he often reminded his readers of the big picture. The first few sentences in Colossians 3 are a brilliant example of this big picture reminder.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is 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, ESV).
When Paul reminds us of what Christ has done in the past, is doing today and will do tomorrow, it makes exhortations like “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” resound with joy-filled simplicity and reliable sensibility. Remembering that we have died and risen with Christ, our lives are hidden with Him, and He’s coming back for us, will make it so much easier to fill our minds with thoughts of Him!
Understanding Scripture in context makes a difference. Even in the midst of our urgent, earth-based tasks, our minds can be preoccupied with Jesus--the beauty of His character, the astonishing mercy of what He’s done for us, His patient work in the world today and the mind-boggling reality of what He has promised to do in the future.
There are no more sweeter thoughts to entertain as we go about our everyday ministry of motherhood than thoughts of Jesus and the reality that is now in play because of Him.
Lord, there is no denying that motherhood is difficult at times and that the comforts the world offers us are useless and empty. We need You, Jesus, to help us see the big picture! And what a joy it is to see You’ve designed us to not only need You for our mothering work, but also as we labor to make disciples. Help us, Lord, to labor for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 6:8, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (ESV)
Colossians 3:3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (ESV