Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
— Colossians 3:2
When Denise and I attended the annual International Antique Exposition in Moscow, I was stunned by the vast amount of wealth that was on display. There were acres and acres of antique furniture, bronze and marble sculptures, marvelous gold-gilded clocks veneered in rich malachite, jewelry, paintings by world-class artists, and rare porcelain objects of all shapes and sizes. Denise and I walked down row after row and floor after floor of what seemed like an endless tour of rare treasures that were available for those with enough cash to purchase them. The brand-new, sparkling white Rolls Royce that sat at the main entry should have signaled what lay before us — but the extensive number of treasures on exhibition was simply more than we could have ever anticipated.
What was equally amazing was the number of people who seemed to have sufficient resources to take some of those treasures home with them. I stood back and watched the potential buyers in amazement. It was obvious that many of them were of the richer Russian upper class and knew what they were looking for and were obviously experts on the subject of rare art and treasures as they negotiated their purchases. It seemed like Denise and I were the only ones there just to roam as onlookers and enjoy an afternoon outing. But even though these objects were beyond our financial reach and we had no need of them, I could feel their lure reaching out to grab hold of me.
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After strolling through acres of treasures, Denise and I took a seat on a padded bench to give our feet a break from the hard surface of the exhibition hall. As we sat there, I realized that I had pondered on these material objects too long. So I began to reflect on eternal treasures instead — those things that are in Heaven and that never fade with the passing of time. Specifically, my mind went to Colossians 3:1 and 2, which says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Based on this scriptural command, I knew it was time for me to make a deliberate decision to refocus my mind on eternal things.
We finished our afternoon stroll and returned home, where I opened my Greek New Testament to look up this passage in Colossians 3. When I turned to these verses in the Greek text, I discovered that the word “seek” in verse 1 is the Greek word zeteo. This word means to earnestly seek. It doesn’t depict a casual seeker, but rather one who makes an earnest inquiry for something so intense that it causes one to put his whole effort forward in search of it. So when Paul told us to “seek” those things that are above — namely, the things where Christ is — he was urging us to put forward our most earnest efforts. This is precisely what I had chosen to do that afternoon at the exhibition! I had chosen to refocus my thoughts from those material objects and to put my mind on “things above.”
Then in verse 2, Paul wrote, “Set your affection on things above.…” The words “set your affection” are a very poor translation of the Greek text, where Paul used the word phroneo. This word is derived from the Greek word phren — a word that describes one’s mind or intellect. As Paul used this word in Colossians 3:2, it could be interpreted as to focus one’s thoughts. Thus, it could be translated, “Fix your thoughts on things above…”; “Make the decision to focus on things above…”; or “Deliberately think on things above.…” It depicts a choice or a decision made with a person’s mind that is independent of his or her emotions.
Paul then plainly told us again that we are to put our focus on “…things above, not on things on the earth.” In Greek, the words “things above” is ta ano. In this case, ta means things, as in many things, and the Greek word ano means above, as opposed to the many things that are below. What multitude of things do you and I possess that are “above”? Well, from verse 1, we know first of all that Christ Himself is above, seated at the right hand of the Father. And as we focus our thoughts on Jesus, we are putting ourselves in remembrance of all He has provided for us in Him. Of course, there is a rich inheritance of blessings He has supplied for us to enjoy in this life on the earth, but Paul says there are many things above that we are to set our attention on! Today I want us to focus on this question: What are some of the “things above” we should set our thoughts on that will be ours to enjoy once we get to Heaven?
- A reunion with our family members, friends, and acquaintances who have preceded us (see Hebrews 12:1)
- Rewards earned as a result of our obedience (see 1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12)
- No more tears, no death, no pain, no sickness, no past, no curse, no darkness, no night (see Revelation 21:4, 21:25; 22:3,5)
- Eternal life (see Romans 2:7)
There are so many eternal treasures that have been laid up for us in Jesus Christ that it is impossible to compile a complete list. Truly, piles upon piles of divine blessings and rewards “above” await us. There just isn’t enough time or space for any of us to make a list that encompasses all God has freely bestowed upon us through His Son Jesus!
That’s why “things below,” or on the earth, are low-level compared to the treasure trove of “things above” that God has provided us. When we are tempted to feel that we aren’t blessed or that we’ve suffered too much or that we lack what others possess, it’s time for us to obey Paul’s command to refocus our attention on eternal things and not on things on the earth. The word “on” in Greek is epi, which depicts something that is just sitting “on” the earth and is therefore movable and temporary, such as antiques and heirlooms that are passed from one generation to the next. No one takes these things with them when they die because they are all earth-connected.
With this in mind, Colossians 3:1,2 could be paraphrased:
“Since then you are raised together with Christ, earnestly and intensely seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Focus your mind on the many things that are above, and don’t get stuck in low-level thinking about temporary things here on the earth.”
Today I want to encourage you to refocus your thoughts — and not to depend on your emotions to do it. Your emotions aren’t needed for what I’m describing. Whether or not you feel like it, deliberately put your mind on things above — on all that God has prepared for you to share with Him in the eternity to come! If needed, go ahead and make a list. Do whatever you must do, but move your thoughts from low-level thinking to high-level thinking, and focus on those things above that really matter.
You really are the one who decides what you set your thoughts on. It’s up to you to maintain your focus on Jesus and the “things above” that He has waiting for you to enjoy. So today and every day, no matter what’s going on around you, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and your heart open to receive the victory and blessing He’s provided for you, both in this life and in the life to come!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the many blessings laid up for me in Christ to partake of here on this earth. And many more blessings and rewards are waiting for me when I reach Heaven. Please forgive me for getting stuck in low-level thinking about all the things it seems I lack right now. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have right now here on earth, please help me reset my thoughts and begin focusing on things above.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that Heaven is loaded with spiritual blessings and treasures that are waiting for me! Only that which pertains to eternal life awaits me! There will be no more tears, sickness, pain, or death. So I choose to refocus my thoughts and I declare that I will not dwell on low-level thinking about the earthly possessions I do not have. And I will receive by faith and enjoy all the blessings God has for me here on earth as well. These are all just a taste of the treasure trove of blessings that are waiting for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of some awards that await you in Heaven because of your obedience to do what God has asked you to do here on earth? Why not encourage yourself by making a list?
- You will see again one day your loved ones, who preceded you to Heaven. In what way does that thought encourage you?
- What treasures are yours as a child of God in this life? I encourage you to make a list, and then begin today to claim those treasures as yours in the Name of Jesus!