Jump Start # 2743
Philippians 3:18-19 “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are 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 minds on earthly things.”
Here in the midst of this joyful book, we find Paul crying. He wasn’t laughing so hard that he cried. He wasn’t so happy that he cried. These were tears of sorrow. The verse today says, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” The ESV uses the expression, “even with tears.” And, why was Paul crying? It was because some were not walking with him. Some were no longer following the pattern and example in Christ. Some had become enemies of the cross and had set their minds on earthly things.
There are different ideas as to who Paul has in mind here. Some think he is talking about the troublesome false teachers, specifically the Judaizes. I tend to think he is referring to brethren. This is why he was crying over them. They were not strong. They were not committed. The winds of adversity, and the pull of error has led these folks to return to where they once were. Our verse today describes the terrible condition they were in and the emptiness of their lives. Their god was their appetite. On the level of an animal, they were led by their impulses. Out of control and without thought to consequences, their minds were earth bound.
They set their minds on earthly things, implies a choice. This is what they wanted. No thoughts towards God. No including the eternal in their plans. All here. All now. All physical. What a terrible way to exist and what a terrible way to face each day. Yet, this was done by design, their own design. They were doing what they wanted to do.
In contrast, we remember the apostle’s words to the Colossians, “Set your mind on things above”. Earth bound or Heaven bound. Earthly thinking or Heavenly thinking. Material or spiritual. Those contrasts truly distinguish where people are today.
So what does it look like to be Heavenly thinking?
First, and always first, God and His ways are at the forefront of all that we do. The spiritually minded person is one who dwells upon God’s word, not once in a while, but all the time. There is not a time when he forgets about God. When this person buys clothes, he thinks about modesty and what others might think. Before this person shares things on Facebook, he checks to see if there is anything that would be offensive to God. This person looks at life through Sunday. How many days until the next Sunday. Sunday is the most important day of the week.
The worldly minded person would assume that the description above would paint a picture of a monk. Always serious. Always against any fun. Always frowning. But such a picture isn’t what we find from the Scriptures. Joyous. Happy. Busy. Connected. All those things, yet, righteous. The imprisoned apostle who wrote Philippians was joyful.
Second, the spiritually minded person has found a peace and calm in Christ. The things that trouble those of the world doesn’t seem to bother the spiritually minded person. Worry. Fear. Doubt. Those three plague earthly thinking people. On-line liquor sales have increased 150% since the Covid pandemic. Why? Could be people don’t want to go out to get their booze. Could be that some are trying to find solace, comfort and peace from a bottle. Simple things tend to bother those who do not have much foundation. Spiritually minded has a resource, an anchor and a hope that is greater than this life. The view of life, success and even death is so different between the worldly minded person and spiritually minded person.
Third, the spiritually minded person treats others much differently than the worldly minded person. Remembering to turn the other cheek, praying for enemies and doing good to all people, the spiritually minded person is careful and compassionate towards others. He realizes how God has been towards him. Grace, forgiveness and love help shape the spiritually minded person’s attitude and heart. The spiritually minded person is a joy to be around. He has a way of lifting spirits and finding the right thing to say.
I think Paul’s tears were shed in feeling a loss as to why some would return to the twisted way of thinking that they came from. It didn’t work before and it won’t work now. And, we must realize that if it happened then, it can certainly happen now. Worldly thinking just doesn’t think of others. Worldly thinking forgets about Biblical passages and truths. Worldly thinking gets one into all sorts of trouble.
Earthly minded or spiritually minded. This is a way of life. This is a choice. What have you chosen?