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 your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4
What rich advice on how we are to live the Christian life. If you don’t think so, please go back and read these verses again, this time a little more prayerfully.
When I read this passage recently during my quiet time, one phrase in particular jumped out at me:
When Christ, who is your life . . .
Wow! Isn’t this the primary ingredient to living the Christian life? Think about it with me for a minute. If Christ truly is our life, would not everything else fall into its proper place? Yet how often are we guilty of trying to work up within ourselves those virtues (love, patience, kindness, self-control, mercy, compassion, etc . . .) we believe are to be evident in the life of someone who calls themselves a Christian?
So let me ask you: What would our lives look like if Christ truly was our life?
What difference would others see in us if Christ was our reason to get up in the morning, if He was our reason for living?
In Colossians 3:2 the Apostle Paul told the believers at Colossae: Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. If someone were to poll those who know you best, would they say you are more heavenly or worldly minded? If you wanted to answer this question personally, it should be rather easy. Simply ask yourself: What are those things that most often occupy my time and thoughts? Are they centered on God and His kingdom purposes, or on the things of this world?
“But I live in the world,” you might say. “I can’t help being preoccupied with earthly things.”
Jesus has a response for this kind of thinking:Do not worry then, saying “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
Are you seeking first God’s Kingdom? Above all else in life, are His purposes your hearts desire? Are your greatest treasures those things that will last for eternity?
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 7:19-21
What do you treasure most in this life? Are your most valued treasures tied to this world? Are they fleeting accomplishments or pleasures, destructible possessions, worldly entertainment? And when I say worldly, I don’t necessarily mean evil or immoral, I simply mean are you filling your hours with pleasures and entertainment that have no eternal value?
I’m not implying we can’t enjoy some of the things (entertainment, possessions) of this world (as long as they are not immoral), but we need to be careful they don’t consume our time and energy to the point we have little or no time for God. If we were to weigh those things that have eternal value against those that don’t, the scales need to be heavily weighted on the side representing the things of God.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s works. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. I Corinthians 3:9-15
Return with me for a minute to our original scripture passage, and let’s zero in on the following: For you have died and you’re life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3) Reminds me of something the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Have you died to self? Is your life now hidden in Christ? Or are you still living more often than not in the flesh, feeding your own selfish wants and desires? Do you live as if the world revolves around you; Or is your world Christ-centered? Let’s go back to that poll for a few seconds of people who know you best. How would they answer that question about you?
As you read the following two verses, listen for what Jesus says will be the evidence that someone truly loves Him. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15) You are My friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14)
In other words, if Jesus is your life, if you love Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), you WILL obey His commands; you WILL obey what His word says you are to do. Does that mean we’ll live perfect lives? No. We’re still human, and from time to time we’ll mess up, we’ll miss the mark. But if Jesus is our life, our greatest heart’s desire will be to walk in obedience to His word.
And finally, when I read the words, Christ, who is your life, I thought of Mary of Bethany. Remember her? Lazarus and Martha’s sister? Come with me as we peek in on an evening when she had the opportunity to spend time with Jesus. Let’s watch to see what she did and learn from her example.
Now as they were traveling along, He (Jesus) entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
How about it? Are you like Martha, worried and bothered by so many things, or are you like Mary? Are you sitting at His feet, hungry to hear everything He has to say. Are you leaning closer and closer each day, so as not to miss anything? There are many in the world today, even some Christians, who would call Mary’s actions fanatical, taking this Jesus things a little too far. But Jesus said she’d chosen the best part, the part that would matter for eternity. So whose voice are you going to listen to, Jesus’ or the world’s?
Years ago I felt God laid on my heart a question I needed to ask myself whenever I was struggling to determine whether what I was thinking about doing was worth my time and effort, and in closing I’d like to share that question with you.
Will what I’m getting ready to do or say matter for eternity? In other words, when I stand before the Lord one day, will it have mattered; will it have been gold, silver, or precious stones, or will it have been wood, hay or straw. I don’t know about you, but when what I’ve said and done is tested by fire, I want it to remain for eternity as opposed to being burned up.
And I believe the foundation upon which we can build that kind of assurance begins when we are able to say, Christ, who is my life!
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I hope you’ll stop by my bungalow retreat, where I depict country living, bungalow style through words and pictures. This week’s theme: Heavenly Declarations.