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 the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
The actual logic of Paul’s argumentation here would suggest that this passage begin with “SINCE you have been raised…”
Nonetheless, there is a sequential conditional element present here that must be considered: We died, we were raised, act like it.
I am still trying to learn what it means to “seek the things which are above;” to “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:33)
How do I “set my mind on things above” without coming across as a flake, or ‘super-spiritual?’ I have not been able to straddle the middle road that keeps me from being “so heavenly-minded that I am no earthly good.”
After years of trying–and discovering to my chagrin that I had become so earthly-minded that I was no heavenly good–I am about ready to give up trying. The only way I can be of any good to this realm is by way of the heavenly.
I see a world crushed under the weight of its current problems–economic, health, mental, social, and spiritual–and I see a Church poorly equipped to speak to these problems. I am a part of that Church.
My mind is on the things of the earth–poverty, sickness, disease, corruption, wickedness in every place. I see the devastation in Haiti, and am ashamed of the untimely and insensitive remarks of some of our church leaders.
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22)
I have failed in this. Maybe it is because I have not learned what it means to “put off…put on”, as Paul admonishes us in this chapter. I am to put off the deeds of the flesh, the things that I had no problem doing before I knew the Lord (or rather was known by Him). Thought I had done that. And then some ugly thing rears its head to let me know how far from His perfection I am.
I am to put on a compassionate heart, kindness and humility, meekness and patience (v.12). Thought I had done that. And then I find myself entertaining some judgmental thought toward someone when I have no idea the burdens they might be bearing, and I realize how far from His perfection I am.
The only reality I am left with is that “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” When that fully penetrates my mind, maybe I will become a little more earthly good.
NOTE: This is the third in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter three of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.
5 thoughts on “No Earthly Good”
I love the KJV translation of this verse much better – “set your affection on things above.” It’s actually one of the many many scripture songs I learned years ago and still sing in my spirit on a regular basis.
At any rate, when I looked “affection” up in Strong’s, I found something very interesting. It led me to also examine the word “mind” and how both are used throughout the NT. I can’t help but come to the conclusion that “affection” is a better translation.
Possibly that would help a bit. It certainly has been a big influence in my life these past 35 years (from when I learned the scripture via song) and does give me a different take on this passage in a subtle way.
“The only reality I am left with is that “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” When that fully penetrates my mind, maybe I will become a little more earthly good.”
Seems to me that “I have died..” is the reality we should start with. I know that is easier said than done, especially when we are focused on what we should do and what we should not do. And, our religious teachings are quick to assist us in condeming ourselves for falling short.
I noticed that this series started in Col 1:28-29, passing the foundation Paul sets for his instructions later in the letter.
“As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.” Col 1:11-20
I’d “bet the farm” that the teachings from the pulpit, on any given preaching day, throughout the land are preaching the “word” as what our responsibilities are, instead of preaching “The Word” – who He is, and who we are in Him!
You know, Dale, Jesus was the most heavenly minded person. And yet, He did the most earthly good.
I don’t think one necessarily cancels out the other.
“His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Right now I don’t feel earthly or heavenly helpful to my brother. I’ve talked to him over and over and prayed constantly to JESUS about helping him. I give him earthly advice he refuse that. I give him scriptures he plays with that. What should I do when he seems like he does’nt want help? He says he pray and read the WORD but he still curse at people who honestly try to help him. He has burned every bridge and can’t get a job. He’s talented in home care and lawns and just won’t go and put that to use but, will get angry at us for not giving him money everytime he ask. So I’ve just put him in the hands of JESUS. Or, should we just be door mats and follow 7 years with the lying and wrap sheets you name it. Help!
Sorry I was say… or should we just follow Pauls teachings about being compassionate or just be door mats?