I think many of us want to live a life that glorifies God. It is our desire to know each day that our Father is pleased with us. We long to hear from our King "Well done good and faithful servant". The only real question is, how do we do it?
It's not as hard or complicated as we make it seem.
There are many lists in the Bible, a number of does and don'ts, a few things that look like we can put them into practical use. You have even probably tried to follow a few of these as most of us have, and failed in doing it, as all of us have. This is the thing to keep in mind: Jesus came to free us from a law we could not live, not to set up another one to replace it.
Jesus took the law and fulfilled it because we couldn't. Then he had the Holy Spirit take the law and write it on our hearts, empowering us through the Spirit to live the law in our new life, not from a list but from our heart. The law is in us, but in a friendly, practical way. As Jesus said it is summed up in two things: Love God with your entire being and love others. If we live this then we will fulfil the law and every list we find in the Bible.
But that brings us back to the "how" question. How do I live this "law"?
Without a doubt we have a part to play in this but the biggest part is God's as he shapes us into the character of Jesus. Our part is to let him to do it and we do this by making sure that Jesus comes first. Well, let's go beyond that. We do this by making sure Jesus is our everything. The only way he becomes our everything is when we make our life and everything in it about him. Let's go beyond that: he becomes everything when we recognize that our life and everything in it is from him and for him.
In Colossians 3 Apostle Paul gives us a few lists concerning holy living. They are important lists but not ones that were intended for us to live up to. That is how the world would perceive them. They are not a list of things for us to do but instead to allow the Holy Spirit to do in us. He is able to do this when we allow him to do it and we allow him when your heart and mind are possessed by Jesus as they must be. Paul starts this section off by the single most important thing we must do (our part) every day. Let's break it into two sections. The first:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)
The heart is a deceiving thing. Our emotions trip us up every day. From the heart comes jealousy, anger, hatred and many negative things. If we keep our heart focused on how things effect us, how peoples actions harm us, and make everything about us, our emotions will continue to trip us up. But we are instructed here to not make it about us. We are told to set our heart on things above and as we do this the Holy Spirit is able to do his thing in us; the love of God flows through; all the incredible things of God are let loose, and we find ourselves forgiving, having compassion, being tender, understanding other people's actions. The more we set our heart on things above the more capacity we have to love God and others
The second thing:
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (v. 2)
It's not just emotions, perspective matters as well. During Paul's day the heart was the symbol of everything that made us human, including intelligence. The mind was seen as the place where we perceive things. In this case if we set our mind on things above then we will have the right perspective. As long as we are only perceiving in the natural the Spirit will not have the freedom to show us what God is doing. When we get our mind set on Jesus, everything in this world looks different. We can see the ugliness and why the world needs Jesus. As long as we are perceiving with our mind with the perspective of the world we will never fully understand the importance of Jesus to this world or God's will in our life. We will not be able to love God and others, at least not as God defines love.
Paul also reminds us why our heart and mind should be set on thingss above:
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears,then you also will appear with him in glory. (vv. 3-4)
Our life is no longer made up of things of this world but instead we are hidden with Jesus. We died. We keep forgetting that. When we accepted Jesus we died to what we were, how we felt and what we perceived, to our opinions. That is how it must be but often today it is more like Jesus just becomes part of our life instead of BEING our life. That's what Paul is saying here: "When Christ, who is your life ..." You died and the only way you can live is in and through Jesus just as he lives in and through us. This is the only way to live a life that glorifies God.
Tomorrow we will look at how this translates in our daily living.