“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.“
“not on things on the earth”
“Things on the earth” is set in contrast to “things above.” These are moral things, not material things. This kind of thinking is not a gnostic contempt for material things. Paul is not pushing spiritual escapism, such as becoming a monk or hiding from everyday life. Instead, our Christianity operates within the framework of everyday life, whether in work or marriage. God created physical things for our enjoyment (Ps. 24). The body and sex are good in God’s viewpoint (1 Tim. 4:1-4). However, this negation is toward the legalism and asceticism of chapter two.
The physical body is the environment where the flesh operates (Rom. 7). If we cherish the sinful flesh, it will bring us down. The category to which we orient will become predominant in our thinking, then in our attitudes, and finally in our actions. We ultimately become what we think about (Prov. 23:7).
Philippians 3:19-20 contrasts those who “mind earthly things” with those whose citizenship is in heaven.
God does not want us to focus on the trivial and self. Satan fills the earth with propaganda because he is the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:3-4; 1 Tim. 4:1). He is out to deceive the world (Rev. 12:9). The devil is the god of this world ( 2 Cor. 4:4). This is why God calls this world the “kingdom of darkness” (John 8:12; 9:5). Since God rescued the believer from the devil’s kingdom, he must think as God thinks about this kingdom.
God does not want us to focus on the trivial but on the eternal.
What we think, we become; what we become, we are; what we are, we do. The thrust of this verse is what we believe forms our character and our character produces our actions.
Most of the things we think about are materialistic. It is not wrong to think about material things as long as they do not become of utmost importance in our hearts. We have to make a living; we must shop for groceries. God expects us to become productive members of the human race. It is necessary to educate our children and make provisions for the future.
Our problem is we think about material things almost exclusively. If we are earthbound, we will be miserable. We will have a worm’s eye view of life instead of a bird’s eye view. Materialism is so insidious that we succumb to it without realizing it. If we are honest, all of us are susceptible to it. We are forced to admit that “I do have materialistic tendencies.”
We do not need faith when we deal with material things. We taste, feel, see, and touch material things, but faith takes us into another arena. Faith takes us into a spiritual stratosphere. There we can see things we could not see from a material viewpoint. Faith is the spiritual telescope that brings the things of God far off near to our soul. We can, therefore, see things we could not otherwise see. Faith puts reality on intangible things. Eternal things are real, but they are only real to those who have faith to see them. It was written of Moses,
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27).
God calls upon us to think about eternal things. He wants us to be heavenly-minded. However, we are not to be so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good. Most of us are so earthly-minded that we are of no heavenly good.