Fix your thoughts on Jesus
Posted by Aaron Knight on November 5, 2008
On Sunday we studied the command in Hebrews 3:1: “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.” We learned to fight against unfaithfulness and temptation in our hearts by cherishing and treasuring Christ. When our hearts savor the Savior, we find sin’s allurements increasingly weak and hollow.
After the sermon someone asked me, “You often talk about fixing our hearts on Jesus. But practically speaking, how am I supposed to do that?” This person understood from the sermon that it doesn’t mean simply conjuring up a mental picture of Jesus. But what then does focusing on Jesus entail, and how does one go about it?
The question stuck with me. What specifically might setting our minds on Jesus look like in daily life? So on Monday I posed the same question to the church staff. They had some fantastic feedback. Below is a summary of their comments and some of my own thinking.
Asking – Let’s start with the basics: the Holy Spirit enables us to treasure Jesus. Without the Spirit’s illuminating power, our sinful souls remain blind to Jesus’ beauty. We cannot stir up fervor for him by our own power. The Holy Spirit’s primary function is to glorify the Son (John 16:14). So begin by asking the Father to show you the Son through the Spirit. Confess your love for sin and ask God to woo you to Jesus. Make Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians your own: “For this reason I kneel before the Father. . . . I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through the Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:14,16-17; see also 2 Cor 4:4-6).
Reading – Here’s another basic: the Holy Spirit works through the Holy Word. If you want the Holy Spirit to help you savor the Savior, then you need to open your Bible, which is the Spirit’s sword (Eph 6:17). And don’t read the Bible simply to get information. Read it to get more love for and attachment to Jesus. As Calvin said, “The scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them.” An SSBC member sent me an email Monday describing how in the morning he recites Bible verses he’s memorized in order to help him fix his thoughts on Jesus. I’ve also found that when I begin my day by reading the Bible, my love for Christ stays stronger throughout the day, and my love for self and sin withers. Ransack the vault of scripture each day until your heart and mind lay hold of the Treasure, Jesus Christ.
Listening – A lot of our staff use various audio technologies. Jennifer Boel said she’s been turning off talk radio in the morning and instead playing a CD of the Bible read aloud. Phil Cain told me he’s benefited greatly from listening to sermons by great gospel-centered preachers. Why not download a sermon by John Piper, RC Sproul, or Alistair Begg and listen to it during the commute? Pastor Seth has been listening to a recording of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion on his MP3 player while he takes Floyd for a walk (Also, do you notice the theme of starting the day with a Christ-focus?). Or maybe you could listen to some Christ-centered music while you drive to the store or ride the bus in the morning. Pick up an album by Fernando Ortega, Stuart Townsend or the Getty’s for starters.
Filtering – Filtering is the flip-side to listening. Eliminate distractions and fixations that effectively dampen your fire for Christ. These distractions could be anything: entertainment, relationships, shopping, exercise, addictions. These things might not be inherently wrong. But they may have taken on an idolatrous proportion in our souls that eclipses our view of Jesus. Filter out that spiritual background noise. As Paul said, “I consider everything a loss compared the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Phil 3:8). Do we consider everything a loss?
Talking – Talk about the Lord with other Christians. A church member on Sunday shared how he was on a bike ride through Wompatuck State Park the day before. He told me how the beauty of Fall made him stand in awe of God. And to think God made this world through the Son (Heb 1:2)! His words helped me focus on the Lord. Remember the “your” in “fix your thoughts on Jesus” is plural.
Reflecting – Along the same lines, stop and think about Jesus’ goodness in your daily life experiences. Sandie Spataro told me that when she finds her heart distracted by worldly concerns, she will sometimes walk around her house and focus on different things she sees: food, clothing, pictures of loved ones. And as she does she will stop and thank God for each of these things and what they signify. In the process, Christ’s goodness grows brighter.
Acting – Now the rubber meets the road. Having stoked up your ardor for Jesus by praying and reading, listening and talking, bring your growing satisfaction in him to bear on daily decisions. As you choose how to spend your time and money, how to respond to circumstances and relationships, let your re-kindled affection and appetite for the Lord guide you. Pastor Chris said he will sometimes start his day by reviewing the meetings and tasks in his calendar, and in the process he prays for God to show him how he might glorify Christ in each event and responsibility. Fixing your mind on Christ doesn’t mean just retreating to a monastery to meditate. It profoundly shapes our responses, values and choices in the daily grind of life.
”Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-2).
- Pastor Jeramie