Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Seeking Things Above

          This year my wife and I will celebrate our 25th Anniversary. It’s not until December, but I’m trying to get a head start on planning (thoughtful husband that I am and all). On our wedding day the pastor preached from Colossians 3:1-3 (the scripture we selected for our wedding theme). Here is what Paul writes there:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (ESV)
            Now I honestly don’t remember much from the sermon the pastor gave, but this passage has grabbed my attention afresh lately. I routinely wrestle with questions of discipleship and what the core principles and practices of discipleship involve. I think Colossians chapters 3-4 lay out a number of core principles and practices like thanksgiving, Bible Study, prayer, and evangelism to name a few. But what about setting your mind on things above rather than on things of the earth?
            Initially I was thinking a practical habit for that would be meditation on God’s word. Certainly, that wouldn’t hurt, but then I started thinking about what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21. When talking about earthly and heavenly treasure He said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” That seems like a key to understanding how I can practically apply Colossians 3:1-3 to my life and help other disciples apply it to theirs as well.
            Giving is a core practice of discipleship. As we give to the Lord’s work and those in need we focus are hearts and minds heavenward. When we give we are not thinking of ourselves primarily, but impacting others for Christ. That sets our hearts on things above, not on things of the earth.
            Paul could have easily said, “You should give to the Lord’s work,” but that would not have focused on the heart issue. Giving isn’t intended to merely be another “to do” on some kind of discipleship checklist. It’s intended to move our hearts and minds to things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
            If you have never practiced intentional giving, I encourage you to start. This is not because God needs our money, but because he wants our hearts. As you make giving a regular habit you’ll find your heart focusing more on things above rather than things of the earth. And as an added bonus God throws in a blessing to those who give, just because He’s so gracious. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

            Start the habit of giving today and be blessed in the process!

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