“Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things on the earth.”
1, 2. (a) What shows that the first-century congregation in Colossae was under attack? (b) What counsel was provided to help the brothers in Colossae remain steadfast?
THE first-century Christian congregation in Colossae was under attack! Some within the congregation were creating divisions by promoting adherence to the Mosaic Law. Others were advocating the pagan philosophy of asceticism, which involved extreme self-denial. In counteracting these false teachings, the apostle Paul wrote an encouraging letter, cautioning the Colossians: “Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception according to human tradition, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”
2 If those anointed Christians focused their minds on “the elementary things of the world,” they would be turning their backs on Jehovah’s provision for salvation. (Col. 2:20-23) In order to help them safeguard their precious relationship with God, Paul admonished them: “Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2) Yes, Christ’s brothers were to keep in mind their hope of receiving the incorruptible inheritance that was ‘reserved for them in the heavens.’
3. (a) What hope do anointed Christians keep in mind? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
3 Today, anointed Christians likewise keep their minds fixed on God’s heavenly Kingdom and on their hope of being “joint heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:14-17) But what about those who have an earthly hope? How do Paul’s words apply to them? In what way can the “other sheep” keep in mind “the things above”? (John 10:16) And how can all of us benefit by considering the examples of such faithful men of old as Abraham and Moses who despite personal hardships kept their minds fixed on the things above?
WHAT IT MEANS TO FIX OUR MINDS ON THE THINGS ABOVE
4. How can the other sheep keep their minds fixed on the things above?
4 Although the other sheep do not have a heavenly hope, they too can keep in mind the things above. How? By putting Jehovah God and Kingdom interests first in their lives. (Luke 10:25-27) To that end, we look to Christ as our model. (1 Pet. 2:21) Like our first-century brothers, we encounter false reasonings, worldly philosophies, and materialistic attitudes in Satan’s system of things. (Read 2 Corinthians 10:5.) As imitators of Jesus, we need to be vigilant in guarding against such attacks on our spirituality.
5. How can we examine our thinking about materialistic pursuits?
5 Has the world’s view of material pursuits made inroads into our lives? The things we love are usually evident by our thoughts and actions. Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) To determine where our heart is leading us, it is good to examine ourselves from time to time. Ask yourself: ‘How much time do I spend thinking about money matters? Do concerns over business prospects, investments, or reaching out for a more comfortable lifestyle occupy large blocks of my time? Or do I strive to maintain an eye that is focused on spiritual matters?’ (Matt. 6:22) Jesus indicated that those who place primary emphasis on ‘storing up treasures on the earth’ put themselves in grave spiritual danger.
6. How do we win the battle against fleshly tendencies?
6 Our imperfect flesh inclines us toward indulging in things that are pleasing to our senses. (Read Romans 7:21-25.) Without God’s holy spirit operating in our lives, we may give in to “the works belonging to darkness.” This could include such acts as “wild parties and drunkenness . . . immoral intercourse and brazen conduct.” (Rom. 13:12, 13) To win the battle against “the things on the earth”
ABRAHAM “PUT FAITH IN JEHOVAH”
7, 8. (a) What problems did Abraham and Sarah face? (b) On what did Abraham focus his mind?
7 When Jehovah directed Abraham to move his household to the land of Canaan, he willingly complied. Because of Abraham’s faith and obedience, Jehovah established a covenant with him, saying: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you.” (Gen. 12:2) Years later, however, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were still childless. Had Jehovah forgotten the promise that he had made to Abraham? Moreover, life in Canaan was not easy. Abraham and his household had left behind their home and relatives in Ur, a prosperous city in Mesopotamia. They traveled over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to reach Canaan, where they lived in tents, endured famine, and faced marauders. (Gen. 12:5, 10; 13:18; 14:10-16) Yet, they had no desire to return to the comforts in Ur!
8 Rather than focus on “the things on the earth,” Abraham “put faith in Jehovah.” (Gen. 15:6) Yes, he fixed his mind on the things above in that he concentrated on God’s promises. As a result, Abraham’s faith was rewarded when the Most High God appeared to him and said: “‘Look up, please, to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to do so.’ Then he said to him: ‘So your offspring will become.’” (Gen. 15:5) How reassuring that must have been! Every time Abraham gazed up at the starry heavens, he would be reminded of Jehovah’s promise to multiply his offspring. And in God’s due time, Abraham did produce an heir, just as was promised.
9. How will following Abraham’s example encourage us to keep busy in God’s service?
9 Like Abraham, we too are awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promises. (2 Pet. 3:13) If we do not keep our minds fixed on the things above, the fulfillment of these promises could appear to be delayed and we might slow down in our spiritual activities. For example, did you make sacrifices in the past in order to engage in the pioneer ministry or in some other form of expanded service? If so, you are to be commended. What about now? Remember, Abraham kept in mind “the city having real foundations.” (Heb. 11:10) He “put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
MOSES SAW “THE ONE WHO IS INVISIBLE”
10. What kind of life did Moses have as a youth?
10 Another man who kept his mind fixed on the things above was Moses. As a youth, he was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” This was no ordinary education. Not only was Egypt the preeminent power at the time but Moses was living in Pharaoh’s household. Little wonder that with this advanced education, Moses became “powerful in his words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22) Imagine the possibilities this would have opened up for him! Yet, Moses had his mind set on more lofty matters
11, 12. What education did Moses highly esteem, and how do we know?
11 Early in his life, Moses’ own mother, Jochebed, had surely taught him about the God of the Hebrews. Moses highly esteemed the knowledge of Jehovah and considered it to be of greater value than any other riches. He thereby forfeited the privileges and opportunities that would likely have come to him because he lived in Pharaoh’s household. (Read Hebrews 11:24-27.) Indeed, Moses’ spiritual education and his faith in Jehovah moved him to fix his mind on the things above.
12 Moses was given the best secular education that was available in his day, but did he use it to advance his career in Egypt, make a name for himself, or acquire material possessions? No. Had he done so, he would not have “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” Clearly, Moses used his spiritual education to advance Jehovah’s purpose.
13, 14. (a) What helped Moses to qualify for the assignment that Jehovah would give him? (b) Like Moses, what may we need to do?
13 Moses was keenly interested in Jehovah and His people. At 40 years of age, Moses thought that he was ready to help liberate God’s people from Egyptian bondage. (Acts 7:23-25) However, before Jehovah could give him that assignment, Moses needed something more. He needed to cultivate such qualities as humility, patience, mildness, and self-control. (Prov. 15:33) Moses needed training that would prepare him to endure the trials and hardships that lay ahead. A few decades as a shepherd would provide the training he needed to cultivate these godly qualities.
14 Did Moses learn from the practical training he received as a shepherd? Indeed he did! God’s Word says that Moses became “by far the meekest of all the men on the face of the earth.” (Num. 12:3) He had cultivated humility, which helped him to deal patiently with a variety of people and their difficult problems. (Ex. 18:26) Likewise, we may need to cultivate spiritual qualities that will help us to pass through “the great tribulation” into God’s righteous new world. (Rev. 7:14) Are we able to get along with people, including those whom we consider to be temperamental or overly sensitive? We do well to heed the words of the apostle Peter, who urged fellow believers: “Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers.”
KEEPING OUR MINDS FIXED ON THE THINGS ABOVE
15, 16. (a) Why is it vital that we keep our minds fixed on the right things? (b) Why is it important for Christians to maintain good conduct?
15 We live in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Tim. 3:1) So in order to remain spiritually alert, we must keep our minds fixed on the right things. (1 Thess. 5:6-9) Consider how we can do so in three aspects of our lives.
16 Our conduct: Peter recognized the importance of good conduct. He said: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, so that . . . they may be eyewitnesses of your fine works and, as a result, glorify God.” (1 Pet. 2:12) Whether we are at home, at work, at school, at play, or in the ministry, we make every effort to bring glory to Jehovah through our fine conduct. True, as imperfect humans, we all make mistakes. (Rom. 3:23) But by continuing to “fight the fine fight of the faith,” we can successfully win the battle against our imperfect flesh.
17. How can we imitate the mental attitude that Christ Jesus had? (See opening image.)
17 Our attitude: Closely associated with maintaining fine conduct is having the right attitude. The apostle Paul said: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) What sort of disposition did Jesus have? He was humble. Humility moved him to be self-sacrificing in his ministry. Preaching to others about the good news of God’s Kingdom was foremost in his mind. (Mark 1:38; 13:10) Jesus viewed God’s Word as the final authority. (John 7:16; 8:28) He diligently studied the Holy Scriptures so that he could quote them, defend them, and explain them. By being humble and zealous in our ministry and personal Bible study, we will be more Christlike in our thinking.
18. In what important way can we support Jehovah’s work?
18 Our support: Jehovah has purposed that “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend
19. What should we be determined to do?
19 How grateful we are that Jehovah reminds us to keep our minds fixed on the things above! To that end, we need to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1) May all of us work “whole-souled as for Jehovah,” and our heavenly Father will reward our earnest efforts.