How to Better Focus on Things Above
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that caused you to really think and consider your own values?
I had a conversation one time with an old friend about something I was struggling with. In response, he said that you have to think about yourself first and everyone else last. That you couldn’t rely on other people to NOT stab you in the back.
I walked away from this conversation confused and saddened. This man had identified himself as a Christian but obviously hadn’t adopted Jesus’ attitudes. Jesus’ life was all about thinking of others (our freedom, our salvation, you and I) above Himself. He thought about us before His own comfort. He treated Judas with love despite knowing that Judas would be the one to “stab Him in the back.” I was saddened because I knew beyond any doubt that he was missing out on the beauty and blessings that come with thinking of others first.
Do you ever think about how stark the contrast is between our old life and the new life that we’re stepping into? If you need further explanation, look at a comment section on a controversial news article. It won’t take long until you find yourself baffled by people’s comments, saddened by the familiar “crucify him!” from the crowd, and honestly, it doesn’t take long to be worried about humanity’s future. You won’t find a whole lot of compassionate hearts in that comment section. You won’t find genuine kindness or humility as people fight to be heard while tearing others down. You won’t find patience or words of forgiveness, but rather death threats and other ill threats over the silliest arguments. You definitely won’t find love, peace, or gratitude.
Related Read: Adopted- Representatives of God's Family
See what I mean by a stark difference? The life we’re called to is vastly different than the life we’re used to living.
Now look at that same comment section and compare it with Jesus. Would you rather have the crowd or Jesus? Would you rather live a life that grieves Jesus or one that pleases Him? Because if we’re truly following Jesus, we should be seeking to please Him, not to anger and grieve Him. Let’s look at how we can do that.
New focuses for our thoughts and actions.
Remember who we are: chosen, loved, and set apart. I am a child of God. I’m a member of God’s family. When I consider my actions, reactions, and thoughts, I should also be considering if God would be pleased by them. Am I being loving towards my neighbor? Am I compassionate towards those in need? Am I truly behaving in a way that sets me apart and marks me as a child of God? If there’s any question on how I should behave, then let’s take a look at Jesus. When I read the Bible, I need to be taking note of who Jesus is and how He responds in various situations. I also need to be seeking God and asking Him to point out any areas that don’t measure up to the standard Jesus sets.
Remember how Jesus treated us and that we need to treat others in the same way. That’s a challenge, isn’t it? Remember that comment section we were talking about earlier? Do you think the subject of many of those comments reflect Jesus? Would those comments point you to Jesus or away from Him? When we’re complaining about our husbands or our children, are we behaving in a way that Jesus would? When we’ve treated our cashier or server poorly, are we behaving in a way that Jesus would? Jesus challenges us to a different standard and one that reflects the standards of God and His family.
Related Read: Adopted- Loved by the Father
Remember the new condition of our heart as a new creation: peaceful and with gratitude. Letting the “peace of Christ rule our hearts.” I think about that scene where Peter was out on the water and He is overwhelmed and overcome by the storm. For a moment, he seemed to be at complete peace, before he took note of the storm. I think about how so many times a chaotic storm rages around us and yet the peace of Christ rules our heart. We behave in a way that is contrary to what is around us because of what Jesus is doing in us. I think about the gratitude that flows from that place. How can we do anything but praise Him and give Him thanks? When the battle rages around us and we still find ourselves on a firm foundation, do you praise God? Do you praise Him for the overwhelming and complete peace He offers in our chaos?
When we focus on something with our heart, our minds are fully in the process, and our mouth releases the overflow. What are you filling your heart with? Are you filling it with Jesus? Are you seeking to fill your heart with attitudes and behaviors that reflect Him and your decision to make Him the ruler of your heart? Look at the list in Colossians 3:12-15. Ask God to fill your heart and mind with those attitudes. Ask Him to transform your thinking so that it moves away from our old selves to our new selves.
Ready to live like royalty?
For thirty-five days, we will explore what it means to live like royalty.
We will look at five different areas of our lives that require change in order to live like royalty.