I came across a recent phenomenon called “doom scrolling”. Merriam Webster describes this as “a tendency to continue to scroll through bad news without the ability to stop or step back.” We have had our share of uncertainty from the pandemic, lock-down, job changes, political upheaval, and racial unrest. It’s natural to want the facts and look for answers and clarity to these enormous problems. A Bible verse came to mind, however, as I read the article. Is it time to set your mind on things above?
The problem with taking in bad news incessantly is that it doesn’t soothe our fears but leaves us more stressed, anxious and depressed. Excessive reading, watching, and hearing disturbing news can leave us overwhelmed, not better informed.
We want to gather useful information, discuss ideas, and bounce solutions off each other. But our normal social interactions have been sharply curtailed.
Jobs, activities, sports, and even family get-togethers are totally different now. That leaves us reading, watching, and scrolling through numerous media outlets to gather info and speak our mind. Have you noticed the angry, harsh, intolerant tone in every media outlet these days?
We need balance and some Colossians 3:2!
Think on Things Above
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 NIV.
Paul was speaking to the church in Colosse; trying to combat false teachings that had seeped into the church. He stressed that Jesus is our best and only hope and our true source of wisdom.
The Greek word for “set” in this verse meant “to seek after” or “strive for.” This is not a onetime fix, but a focused way to live each day. It’s a “work in progress.”
What Are Heavenly Things?
If we plan on living with a mindset of heavenly things, we need to know what they are. What is God’s perspective on what we are to strive for?
God, our Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit reign in heaven, our future home! Until the day we live in the place He has prepared for us, He wants a vibrant relationship with us here on earth. His words alone are our words of life and the way He communicates with us.
Knowing His Word and who He is renews our minds to become more like Him. There are scores of Bible verses about how we were “made new” when we believed in Him. This is a daily process that can’t stop just because the world seems crazy.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV.
We are not rehabilitated or reformed versions of our old selves, but completely new creations on the inside through the Holy Spirit!
And because of that, Paul says we are to “continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith… and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2: 6-7 NIV.
If we seek after Him and what He desires, we will see the world from His heavenly perspective.
How to Set Your Mind on Things Above
Paul understood the importance of our thought lives. He knew the dominant influence it has over us. The things that occupy much of our thoughts seep into our words and actions.
How have you seen this truth played out in your own life or those of others?
Paul has answers for a healthy thought life:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV.
Whatever is True
“True”- the opposite of false and sometimes oh-so-hard to determine these days. If something is true, it is valid, reliable, accurate and verifiable.
Pilate spat out the cynical statement “What is truth?” in response to Jesus at his trial. To him, truth was relative; whatever the majority believed, or whatever advanced his goals. But Jesus proclaimed, “I came into the world to testify to truth.” John 18:37b NIV.
Jesus and His Word are our standards of truth.
We need to “do our homework” these days to discover verifiable facts and not jump to conclusions. It is possible to engage with those whose opinions differ from ours in a Christ-like way. We need to do our best to live and speak His truth always.
What are Noble Things?
Noble speaks to the quality that makes people worthy of respect. We see it only four times in the New Testament. It always speaks to someone’s character- honorable, having high moral principles, reverent and dignified. If what we are taking in does not live up to this quality, refuse it entrance into your thought life.
Jesus is our standard bearer for character. We strive to live as He did, living out His character traits. We fail, sometimes miserably. But we have His Spirit within us to help and strengthen us towards this goal.
Things that are Pure
We are to think about whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Paul was speaking of moral purity, pleasing and excellent thoughts that are true in the highest standards.
Examine what your thoughts are centering on. What’s going into your minds through television, social media, conversations, etc.? Is there anything you have felt convicted to give up or curtail? (I know I have…)
It’s not a simple thing to conquer, but with God’s help, we can focus on the things that are excellent and pure.
Finding True Peace
It also comes with a big, beautiful pay off! Paul continues this teaching by asking us to put what we’ve learned from the above into practice. Then God’s true peace will be with us.
Isn’t that what we’re striving for these days? Peace. His peace goes beyond our human comprehension, and did you know it comes with a bonus? – “It will guard your hearts and minds.”
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7 NIV.
We have our own personal sentry keeping our anxiety at bay!
Related Post: God’s Peace
Guard Your Mind and Heart
What we see and hear have power over the choices we make and the thoughts we think. That’s why we need to guard our hearts with great care.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.
Fear, doubt, and anxiety are squeezed out when we fill our minds and thoughts with the wisdom of Jesus. He offers a replacement in the form of protection and a deep, lasting peace.
Having a heavenly mindset, thinking of things above as Paul describes, is not about having a Pollyanna view of life or sticking our heads in the sand. It does not mean we spend each day skipping down a primrose path without a care in the world. We shouldn’t be oblivious to what is going on around us.
It’s not healthy to pretend our problems don’t exist.
Having a heavenly mindset, then, is understanding we are “in the world, but not of the world.” We are present here, but not a part of its value system. This world is not our home or our master.
We are told to “test everything.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV. Paul was speaking to the church about teachings being in alignment with the Bible, but we can apply it to what we read and hear today. Is it in alignment with Colossians 3:2 and Philippians 4:8?
Having a heavenly mindset reminds us that Jesus set us apart to be a shining light while we are here on earth, conforming ourselves to be like Him.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2 NLT.
Set Your Eyes on Jesus
I get it, our world is in a tough spot right now. There are so many “unknowns”, scary outcomes, angry people and division. But it makes this topic even more important than ever! It won’t be easy. We must take time for some introspection.
Focus on Jesus and receive encouragement through His Word. He has given us powerful truths to stand on!
•On the days when the battles overwhelm us, remind yourself who is fighting for you.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 NIV.
“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22 NIV.
•We can be strong in any battle we face. It’s not a strength we conjure up by our own free will, but one that comes from His Spirit who lives within us.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesian 6:1 NIV.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV.
Set Your Mind and Keep it Set
We can’t escape the things happening in our world. But it is possible to be strong and faithful in these uncertain times. Satan, the deceiver, plays on our fears and uncertainties. He wants us to focus on worldly thoughts, the animosity that abounds, and breed anger, paranoia, and fear into our lives.
The last thing he wants is for us to have a heavenly mindset and the peace and hope that comes along with it.
We can rise above the fear and temptations that try to fill our minds. We have the Holy Spirit to empower us and His Word to guide us. Make the choice to live a life of faithfulness (it’s a daily struggle!)
When we are committed to live in Him, we can live free from the struggles in this world. Ask Him to lead you into a healthy thought life. Trust His leadership, His sovereignty, and His answers to the problems of this world.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you.” Isaiah 26:3 ESV.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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