“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”Colossians 3:2
Have you ever noticed that when you really gaze at something or someone, whatever is around that particular object loses clarity but what you have fixed your eyes on becomes perfectly focused? Our spiritual lives are like that. It really is that simple. Whatever holds our gaze become the most clear. When we focus on our problems, obstacles, trials, etc, those come jostling to the forefront. But when we fix our gaze on God, His Word (also known as Jesus), and the person of the Holy Spirit, they become clear and our problems fade into the background.
The Israelites of the Old Testament give us so many great examples of what not to do and this next story is no exception. Numbers 21:4-5 gives us two key phrases: “the people became impatient because of the journey” and “the people spoke against God and Moses.” You want to lose your perspective in a hurry? Start complaining about your circumstances (even though its more than likely you that got you in those circumstances to begin with…) and start speaking out against your leaders. In verse 6 it says, “The Lord sent fiery serpents…” When what you’ve spoken or done previously, initiates the next verse which begins with “The Lord sent fiery serpents,” you know you’ve done something really, really stupid!
To their credit, the people immediately responded by repenting of their sins. But sin sometimes creates very uncomfortable consequences that aren’t easily reversed. Moses intercedes and the Lord tells him to, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” Seems simple enough, right? But can you imagine the chaos in the camp? The panic as people were being bitten and dying? In verse 8 of Numbers 21 it says, “When he looks at it,” this implies not a quick glance. A gaze. A focusing on. A fixed eye. An intent look.
God wants our focus to be like that. But not just focused on anyone or anything. Most of us have no problem with a fixed eye on our cell phone or on our television. What God wants is a fixed gaze on Him, His Word. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” And again in Romans 8:5 Paul says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Jesus Himself said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Set your mind on the things above. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Simple things to do really, but in this day and age there are so many distractions pulling at us from every side.
What consumes your thoughts controls your life. A simple, concise statement but, oh so true. Jesus knew this. Isaiah 50:7 tells us about Jesus’ singular focus. “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” He set His face like a flint. For those who don’t know, flint is a hard gray rock that was used in ancient times to make tools and weapons. Jesus was like flint. Immoveable in His focus. He wouldn’t allow anything to shift His gaze. What was His gaze fixed on? John 5:30 tells us. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Jesus focus was solely on the will of His Father. What should our gaze be fixed on? That very same thing. It’s time for the church to stand up and be counted. It’s time for the church to quit allowing herself to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. One of my favorite old choruses goes like this: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Its time for the church to look intently, unwavering on God, His Word, His Will. To set our faces like flint toward His purposes and allow the world and its influence to fall away.