Set your mind on things above

Colossians 3:1-2 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.

I was taught growing up that this means we weren’t supposed to desire worldly things like clothes, money, or fun things of this life, but instead always be thinking about spiritual things like preaching the gospel or studying our Bible.

However as I’m reading the book as a whole I’m starting to think that’s not what this verse is saying. For example the chapter before.

Colossians 2: 13-14, 16-17, 20-23 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross…

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ…

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

With this context it looks more like the verse is not talking about worldly pleasures. In fact, it may not be talking about our desires at all but instead about our faith and hope. It’s telling us not to put our faith and hope in obeying worldly rules and regulations for righteousness and instead trusting in the righteousness Christ provided.

Following rules about what you should eat or drink, observing special religious festivals, new moons, or sabbaths are all worldly things that will perish with time. God doesn’t want our hope to be on worldly things but instead in Christ who forgave us completely of all our sins by his death on the cross. This is setting our minds and hearts on a righteousness that is from above.

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