How to Set Your Mind on Things Above

How to Set Your Mind on Things Above

In Colossians 3:1-4 the apostle Paul instructs the believers “to seek the things that are above where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God; to set their minds on things above, not on earthly things.” But what exactly does it mean to set your mind on things above and why?

In almost every discipline of life people are discovering the power of the mind. It has been shown that a person’s mindset plays a very significant role in his success or failure. In the world of sports, the best athletes are those who are focused and determined. In medicine, it has been discovered that a patient’s mental attitude makes a difference in the speed and likelihood of their recovery.

In law, a person’s mental disposition is a factor in the seriousness of their offense. When a person sets out to hurt somebody else, he is said to have committed a “premeditated” crime. It means that right from the start, he had the intent to hurt or kill another person.

The Power of the Mind

What is a mindset? The Free Dictionary defines mindset as “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretation of situations.” In other words, it is our way of thinking that dictates how we look at things and how we react or respond to every situation.

It’s no wonder then that when the apostle Paul takes turns from the theological to the practical, he focuses first on the mind. If we continue reading chapter 3 of Colossians, Paul instructs the believers to live “Christ-like lives,” and stay away from carnality.

A Mind that is Set towards Heaven

The word “seek” in Colossians 3:1 marks aspiration, desire and passion, it has something to do with what the heart wants. If we read the verse in the NIV it says, “… set your hearts on things above …” (Colossians 3:1 NIV). In the Bible “heart” stands for our affections and “mind” stands for our understanding.

The apostle Paul is appealing to us to build our life and draw our emotions from a heavenly perspective; he is saying that the believer’s mind should be consumed with heavenly things. To have a heavenly mindset is to think heavenly thoughts.

As new creatures in Christ we are to stop thinking about earthly things and focus our thoughts on heavenly things. Please don’t get me wrong! We should concentrate on what we’re doing here and now. We must concentrate on our jobs, our ministry, etc. But we must do all these from a heavenly perspective because “the best Christian living comes from minds that are fixed on heaven.”

It is expected of every born again believer to have his/her focus changed from “earthly things” into “heavenly things.” But what things are considered heavenly and how exactly do we think about them?

Going back to the verse, heavenly things are those that are above. When Paul says that we must seek the things that are above and set our mind on things above, he’s referring to God and His Kingdom! To set our minds on things above is to seek the will of God, to seek His passion and to live in accordance to His will. Earthly things on the other hand include everything that is in the world.

Earthly Things

A. Earthly things include treasures, money, wealth and possessions. Most people seem to think that having all the riches in the world will make them happy as it solves all their problems.

This is not to say that it’s a bad thing to become prosperous. God wants to bless us in every aspect of our lives and He wants us to live a comfortable life. After all God is the source of everything, including wealth and riches.

Man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions

But as believers in Christ we must resist the notion that true happiness can be found in anything this world has to offer. It’s not in the new house, brand new car, new gadgets or fat bank account. True happiness and real treasures are only found in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).

If our greatest desire is for the things of this earth, that’s where our heart is. If our greatest desire is for the things of heaven, that’s where our heart will be, because our heart follows what we treasure (Matthew 6:21).

B. Another thing that seems to take the place of God in our lives is our relationships (family and friends). Our marriage most especially, has been taking first priority over our relationship with God. We need to understand that marriage is an earthly institution and that’s why Paul says, “A woman is bound by law to her husband for as long as he is alive” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Also in Jesus’ conversation with the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection, He told them that “At the resurrection people neither marry nor are given in marriage for they will be like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:23-30).

A more in-depth explanation of what it means to prioritize God and the things of God is found in Luke 14:25-33 and Matthew 10:37-39 where Jesus speaks of what it really means to follow Him and the sacrifices each believer has to make for the sake of the Kingdom.

Why Should We Set Our hearts and Minds on Heavenly Things?

1. Because we have died in Christ and our lives are now hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:1, 3).

These statements of Paul stem from Colossians 2:12 where it says, “We are buried with Christ through baptism and raised with Him through faith.” Paul is speaking to the baptized believers who made a public declaration of their faith and relationship with Christ.

Paul is challenging every believer who claims to have died to his “old self” and has been made new through his faith in Christ, to live for Christ and not for himself any longer. (Galatians 2:20)

2. Because we are not of this world.

As Christians, we are not citizens of planet earth; our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We maybe in this world but we are not of this world. Heaven is our final destination, we’re just pilgrims passing through a foreign country (1 Peter 2:11). We can’t help but get distracted by what this world can offer but for us not to get lost along the way; we need to remember where we are going.

3. So when Christ appears, we will also appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4).

The promise of the return of Jesus is not only that we will see His glory, but so that we also will appear with Him in glory. This is the revealing of the sons of God mentioned in Romans 8:19. On that day when Christ appears visibly, every eye will not only see His glory but they will also see the sons of God, the believers in Christ, for what they really are, not merely as they appear to this world. Believers will share in the glory of Jesus Christ which the whole world will see.

How to Set Your Mind on Things Above

1. By rejecting everything that is not from God.

Setting our mind on heavenly things sounds like a challenge, so in order to do that, we must first turn away from earthly things. In order to think heavenly thoughts, we must get rid or keep away from things that would draw us away from God.

Worldly things look enticing but we are warned not to love the world because everything that is in it are not from God and will all pass away (1 John 2:15-17). We should not love the world and get attached to it because friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).

If what we watch, read or listen to are drawing us away from God then we might as well stay away from them. If we are hanging out with certain people who are pulling us away from God we must be cautious and start keeping our distance. This does not mean we should not care for the unsaved but we should exercise caution not to get sucked into the system of this world.

2. By developing a life of continual discipline.

Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2 (NIV) gives the interpretation that members of the Roman church were already being conformed. Paul was saying, “You must stop conforming, stop being molded into the world.” 

The world’s influence is undeniable, especially the entertainment industry. The world will control how you think, how you dress and how you act. The world dictates what the “norm” is so it takes a lot of discipline not to go with the flow which can be done only when our mind is focused on heavenly things.

3. By fostering healthy fellowship.

Our thinking is often affected and influenced by our friends and the people we are in company with, that is why it is important that we develop friendships with godly people who will help us seek spiritual things.

When you are in the company of people who love to cuss and swear, soon you’ll find yourself doing exactly the same thing. The saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” is true. The kind of people you are with have a great influence on you because bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).

4. By developing a consistent prayer life (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer is the backbone of every believer and a healthy quiet time is an indicator of a Christian’s spiritual life. What is a quiet time? It is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God.

Conclusion

Never underestimate the power of the mind. It is very important to have the right mindset; the kind of thinking that is set on heavenly things, because it’s what dictates how we live our lives and how we deal with certain situations. The mind is very powerful and the enemy knows that very well.

It is for this reason that Satan is always attacking the believer’s mind with doubts, fears and worldly thoughts. He wants to keep them from focusing on what really matters, and that is, God and His kingdom. Satan cannot make us do things and he cannot read our thoughts but he can play with our minds.

Setting our mind on heavenly things will enable us to see all and do all with the perspective of eternity. Believers ought to “fix their eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).


Recommended Resource: A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home
By Dr. Robert Jeffress

As Christians, we know someday we’ll leave Earth behind and be united with God. Yet most of us know very little about what to expect! Opening Scripture to unpack 10 surprising truths about heaven, Dr. Jeffress explains who we will see there, how we can prepare for our journey, what we will do, and more.

 

14 Replies to “How to Set Your Mind on Things Above”

    1. Hello Richard, thank you for chiming in.

      You’re right! If we continue to verse 5, it mentions the earthly things that a believer in Jesus needs to rid themselves of. I often quote from the New King James Version but the English Standard Version gives us a better rendition.

      Here is what Colossians 3:5 (ESV) says:

      “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

      Other than the ones I mentioned which we are more familiar with, these are earthly things which are not only temporary but more importantly, they are sinful acts.

      Thanks for pointing it out. God bless you!

  1. My name is Channabasapp Bhardwad from India. I am an evangelist and distributor of gospel tracts. And while I am keen at setting my mind on the things of God and I do really want to serve Him with all my heart, at present I have some debts and a court case. Can you please pray for me? Thank you.

    1. Dear Channabasapp,

      I know it can be hard sometimes to focus on the Lord’s work when facing trials; in your case, your debts and a court case. However, you must not let these matters distract you. Just keep on doing the Father’s business and let God take care of your problems. Always remember that God is bigger than any problem that comes our way.

      I would like to share the testimony of our senior pastor who used to be a businessman before God called him to work full time in the ministry. He owed one rural bank a rather huge amount of money and didn’t know how he could possibly pay for it. He was deeply troubled and that was when God had a grip on him and he willingly obeyed. After some time, he learned that the bank who was running after him got bankrupt and closed down.

      What am I trying to say? I do not know how God will work in your situation but I am confident that He will come through for you just in time. So I would like to encourage you to keep your focus on God and the heavenly things. You may experience difficult times like most children of God do, but take heart, God is faithful.

      Praying for you,
      Alice

  2. Okay, I’ve trashed all my earthly entertainment and friends, and I’m a Christian in the SF Bay Area, where it’s chock full of unbelievers and lukewarms. I’m lonely as heck in summer break and I’m wondering how to set my mind on things above or follow the Holy Spirit.

    1. Hello Michelle,

      Please know that I understand completely where you’re coming from. When I gave my life to Christ more than 17 years ago and started attending church services, I had very high expectations. I expected everything in my life to be great, or perfect and everyone in the church to be nice, kind and friendly. But I was wrong! As a matter of fact, one of the sisters in the music ministry treated me badly and even called me “stupid.” Needless to say, I was shocked.

      But did that incident cause me to re-think my decision to follow Christ? No. Because as you may have heard (or read), the Church is a place for sinners, not for perfect people. If you go to church only to observe people, you will be disappointed. But if you fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2 NIV), you will be strengthened and encouraged.

      When I said that believers must set their minds on the things that are above, I did not mean for them to stay away (totally) from their friends who do not know Christ. We must keep our friendship with them so we can share to them the love of Christ.

      However, as one that has been redeemed, we must become a light and a source of inspiration to those who are still in darkness. Matthew 5:13-16 talks about believers being the salt and light in this world.

      If you are feeling lonely, why not come to Jesus in total surrender. Tell Him how you feel, all your concerns, pour out your heart to Him completely and I am sure He will embrace you and will tell you that everything’s gonna be alright. God loves you so much; He sees your heart, He sees your situation. He’s just waiting for you to cry out to Him.

      You said that you’re attending a church, why don’t you commit to a ministry where you can serve and be used by God? If you have a gift in music, commit to the music ministry. If you love kids, ask your leaders to include you in the children’s ministry.

      By using your God-given skills and talents to serve in your church, you will not only be helping people, but more importantly, you will grow and mature as a Christian.

      Never lose sight of the promises of God to those whose minds are set on heavenly things. Everything on earth is temporal but heavenly things are eternal.

      God bless you Michelle.

  3. I have indeed been blessed by this heavenly inspiring article.

    The Mind is so powerful that it has the potential to determine where one ends in this journey of life. No wonder the scripture says “whatever things are true,…honest, …just, …pure, …lovely, …are of good report, … THINK OF THESE THINGS ONLY” – Phil 4:8 [emphasis, mine].

    The Mind is a very powerful tool that really needs to be cultivated through and by the Word of God. All the points listed are really the things needed to set one’s mind on things above.

    Thank you for sharing this to the public.

    Best of success!
    WealthyBen!

    1. Indeed Ben, the mind is very powerful and that is why it is important to set it in accordance to the word of God. The mind can be set and re-set but the apostle Paul exhorts us to set our minds on things above because when we do, we will have a perspective that will allow us to live life to the fullest.

      Jesus came so that we will have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10) but we will only able to enjoy that abundant life if we see things from a heavenly perspective which is only possible when our minds are set on heavenly things.

      After all, the earth is not our permanent residency but heaven, so it is only fitting that we think beyond what this world has to offer.

      God bless!

  4. Hi Alice,

    I love your post and it’s so apt after winding down from the crazy Christmas season.

    It’s a great reminder going into the new year how powerful our mind is and how we are to set our mind on things above. I love how you didn’t just tell us but you have also provided practical ways to do so.

    I will be bookmarking this page as a reminder throughout the year on this important principle. Thanks again!

    1. Hi SJ, thanks for taking some time to leave a comment and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family.

      Often times we get get side-tracked by the many things that are going on around us here in this world, the celebrations and all the fun, that we tend to forget this is not our permanent residence. Although I believe there’s really nothing wrong with having a good time during the holidays, especially during the Christmas season, it’s very important for believers to keep their focus on the things of God.

      So to have our minds set on things above will guard our thoughts and hearts from the distractions and all forms of deceptions from the enemy. The things I mentioned above are just few of the things we can do to set our hearts and minds on heavenly things.

      Shalom and may you have a blessed new year ahead!

  5. Hello Alice,

    You are so right when you say the world controls how we think, dress or act. We see it all around us. I think when we truly love God that it comes naturally to seek heavenly things. I think it’s a longing that we have as Christians to be closer to God. 

    If we surround ourselves with things that are not of God it will draw you to be part of it. I look at this as temptation and through Christ, we can overcome. He provides us with the strength or will find a way out for us. And yes, the power of prayer is amazing. I find people sometimes get turned off with prayer. They think prayer is a repeated process done on knees but it’s not. Prayer is communication with God and for myself, I constantly need to communicate with God. 

    I also think when we don’t have the right mindset that we tie God’s hands and therefore He is not able to do what He wants to do for us or through us.

    Great article and thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Angie, thanks for stopping by!

      You made a really great point when you said that if we truly love God, seeking heavenly things comes naturally. Just like in the natural, if we are so in love with somebody, we will always be thinking about them and would want to be always with them. We become drawn towards the things that he/she loves and cares about.

      It’s the same thing with God; loving Him means desiring to please Him and always longing to be in close fellowship with Him. Our focus will also change and we start to see things from a heavenly perspective.

      There has been a lot of misconceptions with regards to the true meaning and essence of prayer. Some think of it as vain repetition of words but actually it’s not. Prayer is how we communicate with God, which keeps us closer to Him because communication is relation, it’s a two-way conversation between two parties, which in this case are God and the Christian.

      Thanks again and may God bless you more!

  6. Hi Alice,  

    The mind really is a powerful force that controls how we see things and how we respond to certain situations, that is why it is important to have our minds set on the things of God. We are living in a world that is controlled by the prince of darkness so there’s a tendency for us believers in Christ to be drawn towards the things of this world and be drawn away from God.

    I guess even during the times of the apostles, the Church had been in close relationship with the world that’s why we find several warnings from the apostle Paul and the other disciples to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. It has always been Satan’s strategy to keep the believers’ focus off the kingdom of God. 

    Having a well-developed and consistent prayer life is very important because when we are in a close, intimate relationship with God, the enemy will have a hard time distracting us. I’m also glad you mentioned having a relationship with the right people because our friends really do have a great influence in our lives.

    By the way, I say that without a doubt your Christian website is truly amazing.The theme is magnificent, your posts are so filled with rich wisdom and knowledge, I am truly amazed. The free bible study courses truly honor God. I hope the best for you, God bless!

    1. Hello Jack,

      Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment and a positive feedback. I really hope to continue sharing biblically based articles through this platform.

      Today, many who call themselves Christians are so drawn into this world that they don’t notice anymore how far they have distanced themselves from God. The world is greatly influencing many believers that they have become carnal which is the very thing that the apostle Paul warned the church about in Colossians 3.

      Having a mind that is set on the things above is key to overcoming the world’s influence because when we are conformed to the patterns of this world, we will soon start to reject the things of God. It’s very important to always keep in mind that heaven is our final destination, that way, we will not be lost while we are passing through this earth.

      Let’s keep our focus on heavenly things and not on the things this world has to offer.

      Shalom and God bless!

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