When is the last time you thought of heaven? What comes to your mind when you think of heaven? How does heaven look like? Where is heaven? In the world we live in, it is increasingly becoming difficult to think about spiritual things as each day passes by (let alone heaven). The cares of life have swallowed us or me, if I were to speak for myself. Many are the times I have let myself be worried by the things of this earth. Mind you, I’m not necessarily talking about ungodly things but the lawful things of life: family, education, money, and friends. The countless times I have thought of what the future holds for me, especially when it comes to my career and whether I’ll make it in life.
Today, I would like to share on being spiritual minded. I’m going to cover this in a series of two posts. I am going to share on what spiritual mindedness is and how we can know whether we are spiritual minded or not. Being anxious and worried over life issues is a sign of being earthly minded rather than being spiritual minded.
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS
This week as I was studying my Bible in the book of Matthew 6:25-34, verse 34 really caught my attention. I felt like there was a lightbulb on top of my head telling me: this is it Timothy!! This is what you need to experience peace in your life. It says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (ESV)
I know that most of us have heard this verse before but still, the cares of life have a way of dominating most of our thoughts- mostly without our knowledge. We find ourselves worried about so many things as if God does not already know about them. Our God is all-knowing. There is nothing that He does not know about our future- even those difficult moments. The truth is, He knows every mistake we will make and every time we hit rock bottom, His grace is sufficient.
Matthew 6:27-33 says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, what shall we eat? ‘Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)
God has been teaching me (and is still teaching me) to live one day at a time. In Luke 11:2-4, Jesus Christ taught His disciples how to pray: “And he said to them, when you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”(Emphasis my own) (ESV).
He gives us what we need for today and not tomorrow or next week. That is why it is important to study your Bible each and every day so that God may feed you what you need for that day. The book of Exodus 16 talks about the Israelites when they were on their way to the Promised Land. They spent forty years in the desert. God provided food in form of manna which rained from heaven. The interesting thing is that they were told to pick only what they needed for that day. Even more interesting is that if they picked more than they needed, the food became rotten.
It is therefore the same for us- God wants us to live one day at a time. When we are anxious, our mind is set on earthly things- which will pass away (die) as opposed to setting our minds on heavenly reality-prayer, word, evangelism, Christ, God -which will last forever and give us life and peace.
Romans 8:6-8: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
From the verses above, it is clearly evident that being carnal minded does not please God. To be carnal minded is to be earthly minded. We see that life, peace and death have been used together in the above scripture passage. Let us compare life and peace with death. Who would not choose life and peace? However, the Bible says that being earthly minded leads to death. It does not necessarily mean physical death but spiritual death. Being in the flesh can either mean that you have not given your life to Christ or your love of earthly things dominates most of your thoughts.
Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (ESV)
As Believers, we are often aware of the continual battles between the two; flesh and Spirit. There is a constant battle in our minds between the flesh and the Spirit; between our love for worldly pleasures and our love for God. I can honestly confess that most times I want to think of what is right but I find my thoughts deviating to things that are not pleasing before God. This can be really discouraging for a believer. Thus, this shows how on our own we cannot think of spiritual things. We need God’ help, through the Holy Spirit, in order to think in a godly way.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy strongholds and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”(ESV)
The only way to think of heaven constantly is to be spiritual minded. When one gives their life to Christ, a new spiritual life is produced in the believer by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6). The new spiritual life causes the believer to think about and delight in spiritual things; which was never a habit before conversion.
Unbelievers love only the things of the earth, but believers give higher priority to loving the things of God. Spiritual mindedness is the chief distinguishing mark of a believer and it alone leads to life and peace. Then how vital it must be!
1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass way, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)
To appreciate better the value of spiritual mindedness, let’s briefly look at what it means to be earthly minded. When one is earthly minded, the love of earthly things dominates their mind. There is no love for spiritual things or maybe it is overshadowed by the love of earthly things.
Even true believers can sometimes love the things of this world too much. The consequence of this is that they will not experience the peace that a healthy spiritual life brings. As a believer, you may have a spiritual life but lack peace. So what is and what is not spiritual mindedness?
WHAT SPIRITUAL MINDEDNESS IS NOT
The kind of thoughts we have may tell us if we are spiritual minded or not. As a person thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). As we go about our daily activities, we usually have many thoughts. These thoughts produce fruit-good or bad. Having spiritual thoughts from time to time may not necessarily be an indication of spiritual mindedness. Most believers (and even unbelievers) have spiritual thoughts.
For instance, if something good happens, they may momentarily think of God and thank Him for the good fortune. The flip side of the coin is also true: when faced with a difficult situation or tragedy suddenly happens and they turn to God because of their calamity. In the two scenarios, the spiritual thoughts are temporary; short-lived. As soon as the trouble is over, they forget their resolve to seek God. This only reveals the lack of true spiritual mindedness.
Occasional spiritual thoughts prove nothing. There can be no greater evidence for spiritual mindedness than a complete change in the continuing streams of our thoughts. Before we find out what true spiritual mindedness consists of, it would be helpful to briefly look at what spiritual mindedness is not:
- Spiritual mindedness is not necessarily enjoying listening to preaching or spiritual things like gospel music. Even in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-22, they are those who heard the word but immediately after that forgot what they heard.
- Spiritual mindedness is not simply being a believer. As we have seen, it is possible to be a believer yet have a love for the things of the world.
- Spiritual mindedness is not occasional thoughts about spiritual things. Spiritual thoughts may be caused by the occurrence of something good or bad that makes us turn to God, either to thank Him or for help. However, if these thoughts are not constant, that is not true spiritual mindedness.
- Spiritual mindedness is not being fluent in prayer. People have natural gifts of speech, but such gifts do not prove that they are spiritual. Such gifts are not the indisputable marks of spiritual mindedness, but they can greatly assist a spiritual mind to express itself.
WHAT IS TRUE SPIRITUAL MINDEDNESS?
We are now going to look at what spiritual mindedness consists of. We can define spiritual mindedness as consisting of the following: the mind always actively directing thoughts to spiritual things; a growing love for spiritual things; a real sense of satisfaction experienced by the believer which is produced by spiritual things.
Let us not deceive ourselves- unless we abound in holy thoughts, all else that we will do will fail to help us in the day of trial. Spiritual mindedness means that our thoughts are wholly given to God. That means that our thoughts should be pleasing before God at all times and not just at times. Spiritual mindedness is heavenly mindedness.
“If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Colossians 3:1, ESV.
True spiritual mindedness involves thinking in a spiritual way about all the affairs of life. It arises from a godly attitude of soul. We need to avoid occupying our minds with anything that is trivial and unspiritual. We need to deliberately press after spiritual matters. It is indeed possible for believers to become increasingly spiritually minded. Great diligence must be exercised properly to enjoy this kind of spiritual mindedness for it is difficult but not impossible to cultivate.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.”
ARE YOU SPIRITUAL MINDED?
Now that we know what spiritual mindedness is, it would only be fair to find out if you (and me) are cultivating spiritual mindedness. We have also seen that spiritual thoughts are not always the evidence of spiritual mindedness. The question to be answered is whether our minds are filled with such thoughts.
Once again, occasional spiritual thoughts mean nothing. The sense of peace which is a result of spiritual mindedness as mentioned in Romans 6:8 depends on the degree to which our minds are filled with spiritual thoughts. This is therefore the defining moment, finding out where you and I stand- whether we are spiritual minded or not. The following questions can help us to examine ourselves:
- What proportion of all our thoughts are of spiritual things?
- Do spiritual thoughts flow during those times when we are quiet and free from our usual activities?
- Do we deliberately give more time to the spiritual?
- Do we grieve over times when we could have been occupied with spiritual thoughts but for some reason did not do so?
- What amount of time do you spend thinking about Christ each day?
From these questions we can establish that one of the marks of spiritual mindedness is when spiritual thoughts flow naturally and plentifully in the mind, and at all times. When this happens, we have reason to believe that their source is a healthy spiritual mind.
In closing, I urge you to ponder over each of the questions and find out whether you are cultivating spiritual mindedness or not. Spiritual mindedness is more of a journey rather than a destination. In the next post, I’m going to share on how to cultivate a spiritual mind and the benefits of being spiritual minded.