I recently shared on Facebook a story about my kids. One night as we were getting ready for bed, my son wanted to give my daughter a stuffed animal to sleep with. But my daughter refused to take it. My son quickly became upset and despite my attempts to reason with him, I could not convince him that his response was unwarranted.
As I thought about my son’s reaction, I was reminded of how often we too can become upset and grieved over things that won’t matter in the long run. We cry and fuss over events that are insignificant; we worry over things upon which we have no control. Just like I knew that the stuffed animal would be forgotten by the next day, God must wonder why we concern ourselves with things that will have such little significance in the long run.
In the moment, however, it can be hard to realize that we are focused on the wrong things. This is why it is so important that we diligently focus our thoughts and minds on things of eternal worth. That way when the temporal grievances occur, we will be so mindful of heavenly things, we won’t have time to be concerned about inconsequential ones.
How do we do this though? How do we intentionally and deliberating think on things above? Here are four commitments we can make:
Dedicate Time to God’s Word
It sounds simple but it is so often overlooked. Christians frequently state that they want to hear from God, but many are forsaking regular ingestion of His Word. If we want to have God’s perspective on things, we need to listen to what He has to say, and the Bible is His revelation for us. I have been regularly reading the Bible for years and I still learn something new each time (or remember something that I didn’t learn as well as I should have the time before!) If we want to have the right perspective on what is happening in our lives or in the world around us, we should be daily dedicating time to the Scriptures. And we should be careful not to just regularly come back to our favorite passages. God has given us the whole Bible because every part of it tells us something about Him. If we want to keep our focus on Him, we need to know Him, and partaking of the whole of His Word allows us to do that.
Expend Effort on Behalf of God’s People
A lot of time when we think about gaining the right perspective, we think about what is going on inside us. However, one of the surest ways that I have found to focus on heavenly things is to think outside of ourselves – specifically to serve God’s people. God loves His kids, and He loves when His kids serve one another. Reaching out to part of the body that is in need should quickly remind you that this world is not your home, and will hopefully encourage you, and them, to rest your mind on your eternal destination. Also, when you are busy being the hands and feet of God, you have little time to worry about the things that won’t matter tomorrow. Your focus is on God’s children, and when you are thinking of others more, you are likely to think of yourself less.
Concentrate on Godly Things
This may sound simple enough, but doing it is often another story. If we are going to not be swayed by the little things of life, we need to concentrate on Godly things. In a world that is antagonistic to the things of God we are surrounded by ideas that simply aren’t pleasing to Him. Therefore we need to intentionally set our mind on things that bring God glory. It is hard to get aggravated about the minor inconveniences of life if you are thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable.” A child of God is unlikely to fear the future if they are thinking about “whatever is just, whatever is pure.” If we are focusing on whatever is “lovely,” “commendable” and “excellence,” we are more likely to be thinking of our eternal destination rather than our temporal abode. When our thoughts reflect God’s character, our focus is more likely to as well.
Pray with the Priorities of Jesus
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He spent relatively little time on the concerns of today, and a lot more time on Who God is and the work that He is doing in the world. One of the reasons that we may be so concerned about the trivialities of life is because we spend a considerable amount of our prayer time focused on them. This isn’t to imply that God doesn’t care about the “small” things in our life – if He keeps track of the number of hairs on our head (Mt. 10:30), He certainly cares about what causes us heartache. Yet, I wonder if we would be less prone to aching hearts if our hearts were more closely aligned with Jesus’. If they were, and our prayers reflected that, I have a feeling that we wouldn’t be so concerned about the small things that happen to us, and we would be more focus on the big things God is doing in the lives of those He came to save.
All of this may sound good, and you may even have your own commitments to add to the list, but be forewarned, it will be a battle. The Enemy of God’s people would love to distract them from Heavenly pursuits by making them more concerned with inconsequential things. However, this fight should not intimidate us. If we are God’s children, “He who is in [us] is greater than he who is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4). God desires for our hearts to be fixed on Him, and as we purposefully pursue this, He will work to accomplish that. And if our heart is fixed on Him, it will not be swayed or consumed by the things of this world.