“Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things on the earth.”
1, 2. (a) Why was the congregation in Colossae in danger? (b) What counsel helped the brothers in Colossae to remain friends of God?
THE unity of the first-century Christian congregation in Colossae was in danger! Some brothers were saying that everyone should obey the Mosaic Law. Others were saying that it was wrong to enjoy the pleasures of life. Paul warned them about the danger of these different ideas: “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 followed human ideas, they would be rejecting the privilege of being sons of God. (Colossians 2:20-23) To help them keep their precious friendship with God, Paul told them: “Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Those Christians needed to remember their special hope of living forever in heaven.
3. (a) What hope do anointed Christians have? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
3 Anointed Christians today also keep their minds fixed on God’s Kingdom and on their hope of being “joint heirs with Christ” in heaven. (Romans 8:14-17) But what about those who hope to live on earth? How do Paul’s words apply to them? How can they keep their minds fixed on “the things above”? (John 10:16) Abraham and Moses kept their minds fixed on the things above even during difficult times. How can we imitate them?
WHAT IT MEANS TO FIX OUR MINDS ON THE THINGS ABOVE
4. How can Christians who hope to live on earth keep their minds fixed on the things above?
4 Those who hope to live on earth must keep their minds fixed on the things above. They do this when they put Jehovah and his Kingdom first in their lives. (Luke 10:25-27) This is what Christ did, and this is what we need to do too. (1 Peter 2:21) The first-century Christians were surrounded by false reasonings, worldly philosophies, and materialism. We find these same things today in Satan’s system. (Read 2 Corinthians 10:5.) We need to imitate Jesus and guard against anything that can damage our relationship with Jehovah.
Have we allowed the world’s view of money and possessions to affect us?
5. What can we ask ourselves about our view of money and possessions?
5 Have we allowed the world’s view of money and possessions to affect us? We show what we really love by what we think about and what we do. Jesus explained this when he said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) We need to ask ourselves what is most important to us. Do we spend a lot of time worrying about money, thinking about getting a better job, or trying to have a more comfortable way of life? Or do we try to live a simple life and focus on our relationship with Jehovah? (Matthew 6:22) Jesus said that if we focus on storing up “treasures on the earth,” we may lose our relationship with Jehovah.
We can win the fight against our imperfect tendencies only if we keep our minds fixed on the things above
6. How can we win the fight against our own imperfect tendencies?
6 We are imperfect, so it is easy for us to do things that are wrong. (Read Romans 7:21-25.) If we do not rely on God’s holy spirit, we might become involved in “wild parties and drunkenness,” immorality, or even “brazen conduct,” having no respect for God’s laws. (Romans 13:12, 13) We are constantly fighting our imperfect tendencies. We can win this fight only if we keep our minds fixed on the things above. This requires effort, which is why Paul said: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) We too need to be strict with ourselves. Let us discuss the examples of two faithful men who did their best to please God.
ABRAHAM “PUT FAITH IN JEHOVAH”
7, 8. (a) What problems did Abraham and Sarah have? (b) What did Abraham think about constantly?
7 When Jehovah asked Abraham to move with his family to the land of Canaan, Abraham willingly obeyed. Jehovah rewarded Abraham for his faith and obedience by making a covenant with him. Jehovah told him: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you.” (Genesis 12:2) Many years went by, and Abraham and Sarah still did not have any children. Did Abraham wonder if Jehovah had forgotten his promise? At this time, life was not easy for Abraham. He had left behind his comfortable life in the wealthy city of Ur and had traveled more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the land of Canaan. He and his family lived in tents, did not always have enough to eat, and at times were in danger from thieves. (Genesis 12:5, 10; 13:18; 14:10-16) Yet, Abraham and his family did not want to go back to the comforts of Ur.
8 Abraham “put faith in Jehovah” and did not focus on “the things on the earth.” (Genesis 15:6) He thought constantly about God’s promises to him. Jehovah saw Abraham’s faith and said to him: “‘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.’” (Genesis 15:5) When Abraham heard this, he knew that Jehovah had not forgotten him. Every time he looked up at the stars, he would remember Jehovah’s promise to give him many descendants. And when Jehovah’s time came, Abraham did have a son, just as Jehovah had promised.
9. How can we imitate Abraham?
9 Like Abraham, we too are waiting for Jehovah’s promises to come true. (2 Peter 3:13) If we do not keep our minds fixed on the things above, we might feel that these promises are delayed and we may not be as zealous for Jehovah as we used to be. Maybe in the past you made sacrifices for Jehovah so that you could be a pioneer or serve in some other special way. But what are you doing now? Are you like Abraham, who did as much as he could for Jehovah and looked ahead to future blessings? (Hebrews 11:10) Abraham “put faith in Jehovah” and was counted as God’s friend.
MOSES SAW “THE ONE WHO IS INVISIBLE”
10. How was Moses raised?
10 Moses was another man who kept his mind fixed on the things above. He was raised as part of the royal family of Egypt at the time when Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world. The Bible says that he was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” This higher education made Moses “powerful in his words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22) Because of his background, Moses had many opportunities to be an important man in Egypt. But there was another kind of education that was more important to Moses.
11, 12. What education was most important to Moses? How do we know this?
11 When Moses was a child, his mother, Jochebed, taught him about the God of the Hebrews. This knowledge of Jehovah was more important to Moses than anything else. He gladly gave up the opportunity for riches and power so that he could do God’s will. (Read Hebrews 11:24-27.) Moses’ early training and his faith in Jehovah helped him to fix his mind on the things above.
Moses gladly gave up the opportunity for riches and power so that he could do God’s will
12 Although Moses received the best education available in Egypt, he did not use it to become a powerful, famous, or rich man. In fact, the Bible says that he “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.” Much later, Moses used his knowledge of Jehovah to lead His people.
13, 14. (a) Before Moses could free Jehovah’s people, what did he need to learn? (b) What do we too need to learn?
13 Moses loved Jehovah and His people, who were slaves in Egypt at that time. When Moses was 40 years old, he felt that he was ready to free them. (Acts 7:23-25) But Jehovah knew that Moses was not ready to do this yet. He still needed to learn humility, patience, mildness, and self-control. (Proverbs 15:33) Moses needed training that would prepare him for the serious problems that were ahead. The 40 years Moses spent as a shepherd helped him to develop these qualities.
14 Did this practical training help Moses? Yes, the Bible says that he became “the meekest of all the men on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) Because he had learned to be humble, he was able to be patient with different kinds of people and their problems. (Exodus 18:26) We too need qualities that will help us to survive “the great tribulation” and enter God’s new world. (Revelation 7:14) Do we get along with people, including those who we think get easily upset or hurt? The apostle Peter’s words can help us: “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 must we keep our minds fixed on the right things? (b) Why do Christians need to maintain good conduct?
15 We live in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) That is why we must keep our minds fixed on the right things in order to stay close to God. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9) Let us see three ways we can do this.
16 Our conduct: Peter explained that good conduct is very important when he said: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations.” He added that those who do not know Jehovah may notice how we behave and may, “as a result, glorify God.” (1 Peter 2:12) We must do everything we can to glorify Jehovah through our conduct, whether we are at home, at work, at school, at play, or in the preaching work. Of course, we all are imperfect and we all make mistakes. (Romans 3:23) But we should not be discouraged. With Jehovah’s help, we can “fight the fine fight of the faith.”
If we think like Christ, we will be humble and zealous in our ministry
17. How can we imitate Jesus’ mental attitude? (See opening picture.)
17 Our mental attitude: To maintain good conduct, we need to have the right attitude. The apostle Paul said: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) What attitude did Jesus have? He was humble, and this made him want to give his best to Jehovah. Preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom was always on his mind. (Mark 1:38; 13:10) For Jesus, God’s Word was the most important guide. (John 7:16; 8:28) He carefully studied the Holy Scriptures so that he could quote them, defend them, and explain them. If we think like Christ, we too will be humble, zealous in our ministry, and diligent in our Bible study.
18. In what important ways can we support Jehovah’s work?
18 Our support: It is God’s purpose that “those in heaven and those on earth” submit to Jesus. (Philippians 2:9-11) Even though Jesus has a very important position, he humbly submits to his Father. We should do the same. (1 Corinthians 15:28) We share in Jehovah’s work when we “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19) We also “work what is good toward all” when we do good things for our neighbors and for our brothers.
19. What should we be determined to do?
19 We are so grateful that Jehovah tells us to keep our minds fixed on the things above! We need to “run with endurance” and stay focused on the right things. (Hebrews 12:1) Let us be determined to work “whole-souled as for Jehovah,” knowing that our heavenly Father will bless us richly.