I am a very selfish person. I know some of you won’t believe that about me, but it is painfully true. Just how selfish I am has become increasingly apparent to me recently. I am able to make the happy occasions of others into miserable pity parties for myself, making a situation that is very not about me into one all about me. I am able to throw little annoyances at home completely out of proportion and grow angry that things are not just so (“just so” meaning totally my way). It is so easy to become discontent and frustrated with life when my focus is on myself. When my sole focus is my own “needs” and wants, nothing and nobody else measures up and life is just one big disappointment.
Boy, has God been giving me a perspective check lately. He has quietly been nudging me to acknowledge my selfish thoughts and behaviours and take my focus off myself, by bringing my focus back to Him. I think as Christians we often hear that we should “focus on God” and “put God first”, but what exactly does that mean?
Set Your Heart and Mind
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. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4 NIV
“Set your hearts” (or “seek” in other versions) is translated from the Greek “zēteō”, meaning to seek or strive for, or even to crave. (This and all other information on the original Greek is from www.blueletterbible.org.) We are to have such an intense desire for God that we can’t help but pursue Him. “Set your minds” is from the Greek “phroneō” and can also mean to seek or strive for. It also can mean to think or understand or be wise. But even beyond that, it means to be of the same mind. Our mind is to be solely fixed on God and to think of the same things He is thinking of. Our goals should be His goals. All of our emotions and all of our thoughts are to be directed towards God.
As Christians, our life is in Christ and our life IS Christ. God literally gives us breath, but also our spiritual life is only possible through Jesus. So it’s kind of a fair trade (if fair means we get the vastly better end of the deal) – God gives us life and we give our life to God. If our life comes from God, our life focus and purpose should be God. Our whole life is to be devoted to bringing glory to God.
Temporary vs. Eternal
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
We are daily surrounded by things that are seen. As humans, we naturally gather information through our senses, so it makes sense that much of our attention goes to those things. But none of these things last. The things we obtain, the things we accomplish, the things that happen to us – none of it lasts. Those things are only here for a little while. Even our own selves are only here for a little while. The things that truly last, that never end, are the things we cannot see, the “things above”. The only way to live a truly meaningful life is to live it for God.
Flesh vs. Spirit
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:5-6 NIV
Again, the flesh, the things we can see, are constantly in front of us. However, we can’t allow our minds and lives to be directed by those things. A life lived for the flesh is full of selfishness, discontentment and empty striving that ends in spiritual death. A mind led by the Spirit is one that is of the same mind with God. A life directed by the Spirit is full of joy, peace, and worth. True, eternal life comes from God.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8 NIV
Just like when Peter walked on water, but took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-36), we can so easily become overwhelmed in our circumstances. But when our eyes are fixed on Jesus our faith remains strong and we don’t even see our problems next to him. When Jesus is the only thing that fills our gaze, we cannot be distracted from our path, we cannot stray from our faith in him. He is a trustworthy foundation to rely on and will not let us sink if we keep our eyes fixed on Him.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33 NIV
When God is our sole focus, everything else in life falls into place as well. I’m not saying life will go perfectly and smoothly and you’ll never have another problem or worry again. But when your focus is on His provision, not your lack; on His love, not your loneliness; on His goodness, not the world’s darkness; on His peace, not your circumstances’ turmoil; life is conquerable. Seek His good and you are guaranteed to find it.
As I have been altering my gaze and fixing my eyes on Jesus, my life has more peace, I have more love for others, and my whole attitude has changed. Some of my problems aren’t even problems anymore, and the ones that still remain are easily endurable. My goals in my life, my work, and my relationships have shifted from being as comfortable and happy as possible to just living for God and bringing Him glory.
What is something that helps you keep your focus on God? Having intentional quiet time where I allow God to speak to me helps me refocus - whether it's through worship music, reading the Bible, a devotional, or prayer. Let me know what refocuses you down below!