Thinking Higher
Rachel Olsen

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 (NIV)

After becoming a believer nearly two decades ago, I’ve never been more excited about heaven than now. Honestly, I never gave it much thought before.

Perhaps I was too busy trying to figure out how to live in Christ on earth. And perhaps I was bit scared off by the oft-repeated adage that you can become “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.”

I’d heard friends, loved ones and church leaders all warn of this. A focus on heaven can sabotage my walk with God? Really?

That’s not what I’m seeing in the Bible, nor is it what I’m experiencing.

Jesus told us to seek the kingdom of heaven first and foremost (Matthew 6:33). The Bible tells us that heaven is where God and Jesus are. And a taste for it is God-placed in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). E.M. Bounds writes, “The power of the Spirit binds us to heaven because Jesus is there. We are bound to love it, think about it, and desire it, for Jesus is its center and glory.”

So thinking about, longing for, and planning for this glorious point and place in eternity where we’ll be united with our Savior is a way to worship Christ. It is a means of seeing and savoring Him. And, it fills us with hope. Hope, the Bible reveals, is the seed-starter of faith.

Hope can shore us up in the face of much heartache and trouble on earth. It can make us eternal optimists. C.S. Lewis writes, “In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it doesn’t.”

“Strongly, insistently, the Holy Spirit uses heaven and its untold, manifold good to move saints to action, awaken them from death, and to increase their zeal and love,” Bounds explains. Heaven, then, is a stimulant for us on earth – a stimulant towards action, love, and zeal for Christ. Not a distraction.

Besides, being too heavenly minded has never been my struggle. I am so much more prone to being so earthly minded that I’m of little heavenly good. I can become myopically focused on me: my wants, my needs, my troubles, my possessions, my plans. I grow obsessed with Rachel-like living. Or else, I become hyper-focused on the state of the world: the popular culture, the politics, the weather, the economy.

When the reality of eternity and heaven comes crashing through my heart and thoughts, it pulls my focus up. Way up. Much needed perspective is gained and I’m able to redirect my thoughts and actions towards Christ-like living. I begin living now, again, for this future place and goal.

I’m guessing the “too heavenly minded” saying originated to describe someone who - like the Pharisees - spent their lives becoming self-righteous through their spiritual actions. Or, perhaps someone who spent so much time in the pew that they neglected their family, friends, or serving their community. I suspect these people were hearers but not doers of the Word.

I’d also guess these people probably didn’t think much about heaven at all. Because to gain a true grasp of heaven is to have your eyes spiritually opened. It is to understand where this all is heading, and what you are truly made for.

It is to think and live higher.

Dear Lord, give me a vision and passion for heaven. May I live for that kingdom – for its King and by its rules. And help me to be of earthly good as I pass through this place, preparing for the next. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know the One who can usher you to heaven?

For more on this topic - heaven and living eternally-minded - visit Rachel’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors; Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

A Woman Who Fears the Lord: T-shirt

Application Steps:
Are your ideas about heaven and the life to come fuzzy? Begin searching the Bible for passages about it.

Do you think about heaven much? Do you believe you can think about it too much?

How do you feel when you do ponder your life to come in heaven?

How do your views on heaven influence your days here on earth?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 3:11a, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” (NIV)

2 Peter 3:13, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” (NIV)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a message God is impressing on me. I heard a sermon on the radio about this very topic yesterday and now read it in your column. Thank you for challenging me to get over myself and put my focus on things above.

Anonymous Belle said...

Last night my prayer was for God to guide me in this journey i am so blessed this morning to rec. an answer to my prayer.Lately my thoughts had been on my feelings how people i love have hurt me in different ways,the enemys purpose is to destroy us and if he cant he will distract us. I thank our Lord this morning for opening a new window in my heart. Blessing to all readers.

Blogger Community Blog said...

Thank you, Rachel! What an encouraging devotional!! I appreciate the way you shared about the struggle of often focusing our eyes on the right things. This was very encouraging, thank you again. Please continue writing on this topic of living in the world, but not of it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Amen!

Blogger Unknown said...

We put more focus on the struggles that we face in our everyday lives, that we tend to forget that we must keep our eyes on the prize and remember some day we will spend eternity with our Father. God is too awesome for us to take our eyes off of Him. Trust in God and He will take us every step of the way no matter what we are struggling with, He is just waiting for us to come to Him this is one of the things that is so pleasing to God.

Blogger T-Reese said...

Through my growth in my walk with God, I have also realized that you can never been too heavenly minded because that is what our walk is about. About reaching the end of the race and entering into the Kingdom of God. Praise God for His word and your obedience in sharing this with us.

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