As Easter approaches, what better time to get our hearts and thoughts and minds in order. Not that we wait until Easter each year to do this! But the upcoming annual celebration of the Resurrection presents us with good grounds for clearing away the debris that has accumulated. (A bit like winter’s pile of dead leaves in my garden.)
The Bible gives us much consolation and comfort from Genesis to Revelation, but somehow or other, we can still manage to get distracted by many burdens and cares. Our flesh tends toward anxiety, worry, discontent, ingratitude, and envy. These are all worldly things, things on the earth, things below. And Paul tells the Colossians to put to death, put off, and put away the old earthly stuff (3:5-9) and put on the new man, which is being renewed and sanctified after the image of our Creator (3:10).
But we want to fuss a little bit about this. “It is so hard.” Of course it is hard. No one said it would be easy. The Christian life is compared to a race not a stroll in the park. Paul tells the Philippians (4:8) to think about certain things: things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. Why did he need to tell them that? Because he knew that the Philippians were just normal saints, given to worry (2:26-28), anxiety (4:6), conceit and rivalry (2:3), fear (1:28), grumbling and complaining (2:14), and squabbles (4:2).
Many of these troubles we have are fueled by the constant attention we give them in our minds. We are not thinking about the true, honorable, pure, and lovely. We are thinking instead about how wrong our husband was, how difficult our situation is, how sad and lonely we are, how mean our parents are, how spiteful our friend has been, how under-appreciated we are. This is how we continue to set our minds on things below, things on the earth.
Setting your mind somewhere else requires decisive action on your part. Your mind will not just drift to the lovely things, especially if there is any provocation to attract your attention elsewhere. And, the bad news is, we like to think about earthly things; we like to indulge ourselves in this way.
Resurrection living is putting off the dead, earthly stuff and putting on Christ. And with Him comes all that is true and pure and honorable. If you are down and disappointed and discouraged, identify how much you are “minding” these things below. How much time are you giving to turning these things over and over and over in your mind? Then banish these thoughts. Kick them out and tell them they are no longer welcome. That’s what it means to put them off. And then put on something else; set your thoughts on things that are above, things that are lovely and pure. This may take a whole lot of trouble and time at first, just like cleaning out your flower beds in the spring. But the result is actually spectacular. Whenever we obey God, we glorify Him. And when He is pleased, we are blessed.