“…seek those things which are above “ (v.1); “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (v.2)
At salvation our minds were opened to the virtues and values of the spiritual dimension. Prior to our resurrection we were focused upon “life under the sun” (Ecclesiastes1:3). At our spiritual awakening we discovered “spiritual blessings in heavenly places is Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:3) Our Savior is above; our eternal home is above; our treasures are laid up above. Therefore, it only stands to reason that if our hope is in Christ, we will set our sights on things above! Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
What Paul is instructing us to do in vs.1 and 2 is to mind our minds! With the impartation of the new nature at our new birth, we have a new mind. A wise person once said, “As we think, so are we” (Proverbs 23:7). Our lives are governed by our thoughts and we will ultimately pursue that about which we are thinking.
Note that we are instructed to “seek” and to “set” – to focus and fasten our minds upon Jesus Christ with whom we died and with whom we were raised.
A. “Seek” – Focus Our Minds Upon The Higher Virtues - “Seek those things which are above” (v.1)
The Living Bible puts it this way: “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set
your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2).
When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. Focusing on the things above creates a sense of security, because no matter what happens in this world, we know that we have a better home above.
Paul challenged the believers in Philippi to focus their minds upon that which was elevating saying, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Some Christians spend their time seeking things that do not matter in the light of eternity. They tend to focus on how bad things are, on things that we cannot change, things that are temporal and not eternal. In doing so they end up with negative attitudes and unfulfilled dreams and visions. We need to seek the things of God—heavenly things with eternal significance.
B. “Set” – Fasten Our Minds Upon The Higher Values - “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (v.2)
Seek the “above things” and, having discovered them, fasten your mind permanently upon the “above things.” The present tense in the original indicates continuous action. This, of course, does not mean withdrawal from all the activities of this world to engage only in contemplation of eternity and heaven. The verses that follow make it quite clear that Paul expected Christians to maintain normal relationships in this world.
William Barclay explains, "But there will be this difference—from now on the Christian will see
everything in the light and against the background of eternity. He will no longer live as if this world was all that mattered; he will see this world against the background of the large world of eternity." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)
To be preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One Who reigns there, His purposes and plans. We must remember who we are in Christ, and those things that we think about should reflect our new relationship and new nature. We must focus and fasten our minds on the things of God with emancipated souls and enlightened minds.