In reading the writings of early Christians from the second and third centuries, we find them to be dedicated to living the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Typically, they chose to remain poor as far as earthly possessions. They were willing to serve as martyrs and be thrown into prison or be burned at the stake or be thrown to the lions or even be crucified rather than deny their faith in Jesus. They demonstrated the attitude that this earthly life is short and temporary and not to be held onto. The apostle Paul had this attitude when it was prophesied that bad things were going to happen to him. Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul also wrote in Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
I ask you to do a self-examination. Are you seeking those things that are above or the things of this earth? Have you set your mind on things above or on things on the earth? Philippians 3:18-21 “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” When you fully appreciate that your citizenship is in heaven and not here, it should cause you to set your mind on things above.
Jesus taught the same principle. Matthew 6:31-34 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” He requires you to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” He will reward you if you diligently seek him. Romans 2:7 God will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.”
After describing those who lived in faith, the writer states in Hebrews 11:13-16 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Do you see yourself as a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth and do you truly seek the holy city? Or do you love the world? 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The Apostle Paul was critical of the actions of some. He wrote in Philippians 2:21 “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”
We have an example of the contrast between seeking the things of God and seeking the things of this earth that occurred at the end of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus began to describe how he was going to suffer and be killed and rise the third day. Matthew 16:22-23 “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’” Peter wanted Jesus to play it safe and stay around so that he could be with Him. If Jesus had done that, He would not have died for you and me. Continuing in Matthew 16:24-27 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’” If you want to be a true Christian, you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him.
I encourage you to live your life in such a way that you seek those things which are above, and that you set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.