God constructed us to be strivers, not shrinkers.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…
In this passage, Paul is reminding believers who they are. He starts with “Since you have been raised with Christ…set your minds on things above…”. This is a great reminder that we are different people since we have been raised by Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore, as children of God, we are to act accordingly. Paul tells us to “put to death what belongs to our earthly nature”. Wow, easier said than done! Actually, there are ways to do that; but we can only do that with reliance upon the Holy Spirit, placed in us when we commit our lives to Christ.
I am reminded of an old Native American saying here. When a younger member of the tribe was asking an elder how to curb the evil intentions of his heart, the young brave described his struggle like there were two competing wolves within him – one evil, and one good. The elder told the young brave, “To keep at bay the evil wolf who would destroy you, simply feed the good wolf. The other will wither and die.”
I love this analogy because it gives hope for looking toward the good, not just avoiding the evil. “Feed the good wolf” is a good metaphor. We are much more inclined to move toward a good goal than to simply avoid the ugly and painful parts of life. God constructed us to be strivers, not shrinkers.
In Colossians 3:12 Paul says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” In doing this, we are naturally going toward the healthy lifestyle which will starve out the evil inclinations we have.
The holiness rules which are prescribed in this passage are not to be simply taken as a list of forbidden actions, in my estimation. We are to strive toward those actions which will uplift us and others around us. In so doing, we will slowly strangle those evil desires so present within us.
By John Jung
From the book Reflections: a Look at God Working in Us