Setting your mind on the things above

Our mindset plays a critical role in our spiritual growth and development. That's why the Bible spills considerable ink, talking about where we should or fix our minds. Look at what Paul says in Colossians 3:1-5: 

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 

Setting our minds on the things above closely relates to the concept of abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5). Abiding in Christ requires both acknowledging God's presence and depending on him throughout the day.  

Now some may ask, “How can I turn my attention to the things above when things like work, school, or taking care of children occupy most of my attention?” Three things come to mind.

First, setting your mind on the things above doesn't require turning your attention to God moment-by-moment. Nor does it require your attention to be actively engaged in thinking about spiritual things. Casting your thoughts heavenward means quietly acknowledging God's presence even when something else preoccupies your mind.

His love for them is as deep and real as when he calls up images of them in his mind.

Maybe an analogy might help. Consider a devoted family man who works a full-time job. He loves his wife and children. But his job requires his full attention for long stretches of time. Therefore, he doesn't have time to think of his family. Yet this in no way diminishes his love for his family. His love for them is as deep and real as when he calls up images of them in his mind. Yet, in the background he knows that they are at home and he longs to return to them. In fact, his love for them drives him to work hard at his job. In the same way, abiding in Christ doesn't always require our minds to be directly engaged in thinking about the things of God.[i]

Secondly, look for seams throughout your day, whether significant blocks of time or a few passing seconds. Seize these moments and direct your attention upward. Don't squander them, fretting that you haven’t spent enough time with God. Use these moments to express gratitude or to dwell on the new identity God has conferred upon you in Christ.         

Finally, plan ahead. Make sure to carve out time for God if you anticipate a busy day. Feeding on God’s word will sustain you. That’s why it’s important for believers to secure quiet time each day with God, reading the Bible and praying.

[i] Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ (Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2010), 53.