1“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
Dear Church Family,
Have you ever heard of Hilary Hinton Ziglar? Some of you might know him better by his nickname, “Zig.” Zig Ziglar became a salesman early in his life, and he carved out a career as a motivational speaker, trumpeting the power of positivity. Oh, and he was a Baptist.
The phrase, “power of positive thinking,” usually associated with Norman Vincent Peale, has become a hallmark of motivational speakers. There are elements of truth in this approach; I’m certainly not in favor of “negative thinking.” Still, what the Bible says about our mindset is not identical to popular motivational speakers like Tony Robbins.
First and foremost, the Bible does not advocate thinking positively just so you can attain “your” goals. Too often, secular motivational speakers offer “positivity” as a way to attain whatever you might happen to want. In Colossians 3, however, Paul isn’t talking about achieving your goal for money or fame. What he says is actually very similar to something Jesus said: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).
To think “positively” in the Bible is to think about the things that God cares about. The world’s kind of “positive thinking” may help you get rich, but those riches (1) will not last forever, and (2) may actually turn your heart away from God (see Matthew 6:19-21).
Verse 3 of our passage above brings out another point: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” The reason we should set our minds on things above is because that is where our hope ultimately lies. From there we draw our true identity. I’ve mentioned several times in sermons that our salvation is not simply a matter of having our sins forgiven. I don’t mean to diminish the greatness of that truth, but to be “saved” is more than God hitting the heavenly “delete” key and erasing the record of our sins. Our salvation involves a complete change of identity. Second Corinthians 5:17 states, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (ESV). Repeatedly, Paul refers to believers as being “in Christ.”
This truth gives a hopeful aspect to our identity. Sure, we are “saved” in the here and now, but there is a future to our salvation; we wait for Christ to come again, to “appear.” When that happens, we will experience a new glorification with him. Rather than focus on earthly things like possessions and prestige, Paul challenges us to focus on our eternal hope to be glorified with Christ. Set you minds on this hope as you live for God today. That’s a positive mindset!