What Are You Doing With Your Thought Life?
By Dr. Ken Stewart (Ken Stewart Ministries, Tulsa, OK, USA
Your relationship with your spouse will never be better than your relationship with Jesus.
Your relationship with your children will never be better than your relationship with Jesus.
The bottom line is this: no relationship will ever be any better than your relationship with Jesus.
AT marriage seminars, the men all come hoping that the minister will begin with "Wives, submit to your husbands," from either Colossians 3:18 or Ephesians 5:22. And the women all come hoping that the minister begins with Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her"; or the similar passage in Colossians 3:19, "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them." But that is not where God had me begin when I was asked to speak on "Fanning the Flames in Marriage" at "Faith Christian Fellowship’s" Rocky Mountain Area Meeting early in 2001. As I prayed about the topic, God kept directing me to Colossians 3, starting in verse one. I read the chapter several times, trying to figure out what the Lord was trying to tell me.
When I got to verse 18, I thought surely the Lord wanted me to start there. You know, the verse that the wives all love: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands . . . " But the Lord said, "No, I want you to start at verse one." So I reread the chapter again, and I finally got it.
Colossians 3 is all about relationships. And what is the first relationship mentioned? Your relationship with Jesus. "If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).
You see your relationship with your spouse will never be better than your relationship with Jesus. Your relationship with your children will never be better than your relationship with Jesus. The bottom line is this: no relationship will ever be any better than your relationship with Jesus. So if you want to fan the flames of your relationship with your spouse, then fan the flame of your relationship with Jesus. If you want any relationship here on earth to improve, you will have to improve your relationship with Jesus.
One of the great troubles of America (and most nations of the earth) is the loss of relationships. When God is not the centre of people’s lives, their relationships are fragile and will fail because He is the source of relationships.
Divorce wouldn’t be so rampant if husbands and wives were focused on Jesus and daily seeking Him. Children taking guns to school and killing people wouldn’t happen if those children had godly, viable relationships with their parents. We have trouble in our churches because so many in the congregation don’t have a solid relationship with the Lord.
Too many people, including Christians, think having a relationship with God is too hard, too time-consuming, etc. But the Lord told me that it is not hard to have a relationship with Him. He said to me, "All I want is for you to want Me."
WHERE’S YOUR MIND?
"If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).
If you are risen with Christ , and you are because you are saved , then a sure indication that you are risen with Him is that you "seek those things which are above." The Lord is saying, "Want Me. Care about what I care about. Be interested in what I’m interested in."
No one should have to goad a Christian to seek the Lord. That ought to the heart of every Christian.
If a Christian hasn’t found the "things which are above," I would say that he or she hasn’t been seeking; for if you seek, you find. And once you find those things, you can’t help but set your affection on them.
"Affection" is an interesting word. Strong’s Concordance says it means, "to exercise the mind, i.e., entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience)." In other words affection is a thing of the mind. So we could translate that part of the verse to read, "Set your mind on things above . . . "
If your mind (your affection) is on your work, your business, your pickup truck, then that is where your affection is. If your mind is on someone other than your spouse, then eventually you will be affectionate toward someone other than your spouse.
When I wake up in the morning, sooner or later, Jesus ought to be on my mind. The sooner the better. You might say, "Well, I wake up with a headache every morning."
I would reply, "Then the next thing on your mind ought to be, ‘Himself took my infirmities.’"
Not once in my life have I ever thought that I should set my affection on Buddha or some other god. Why? Because my mind, my affection, is on the Lord. It never crosses my mind that any of my affection should go to a woman other than my wife. Why? Because my mind, and thus my affection, is set on her.
ARE YOU DEAD OR ALIVE?
After Paul tells you to seek those things above and set your mind and your affections on things above, he says, "You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Remember, I’m talking about fanning the flame in your marriage relationship, and I started by saying that all relationships begin with your relationship with Jesus. So now, what does being dead and hidden in Christ have to do with relationships? It has everything to do with selfishness versus selflessness.
When I’m dead and my life is hid with Christ in God, I’ve got nothing to boast about. I’m not a big deal; Jesus is the big deal. You know, dead people can’t sin; they can’t lie or steal or cheat on their spouses. They can’t take offence and leave the ministry. They can’t do anything because they are dead. Well, we’re dead, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. So, it’s not about what I do; it’s about what God in me does through me.
ONE OR TWO?
Let’s look at this in terms of the marital relationship. In the very beginning when God created Eve and gave her to Adam, he said, "The two shall become one flesh." Jesus picked up on this when questioned about divorce, and He said, "They are no more two; they are one" (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8). In the marriage, two people become one.
One of our biggest problems is that we have too much of an independent spirit: "I don’t care how it hurts you. I don’t care how it affects you. I’m going to do my own thing." You cannot live in your relationship with Jesus like that. Neither can you live in your relationship with another human being like that. The two of you , Jesus and you, you and your spouse , have to mould together as one.
Peter went so far as to say you become one mind (1 Peter 3:8). That means there is a combining of two into one, not one dominating the other. In Ephesians 5:32, Paul said that this two-becoming-one was a great mystery (and still is a mystery nearly 2000 years later!). It’s a great mystery , that we become one with God, and that we become one with our spouses.
MY HANDS ARE HIS HANDS?
Jesus is the Head of the Church, and the Church is His Body. So, in a sense, we’re Jesus’ flesh and blood walking this earth. That is the reason He said that those who believe would lay hands on the sick and the sick would recover. When you and I reach out with our hands and touch sick bodies, it’s as if Jesus were touching those bodies. Why would God do that? That’s the mystery!
In Christ , we’re bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. We’re one with Him. In marriage, the partners become one. The more conscious you become of this oneness, the more you realize you cannot act independently of your spouse. The more conscious you become of your oneness with Jesus, the more you realize you cannot act independently of Him.
In verse four of Colossians 3, Paul again reminds us that we don’t have a life of our own: "When Christ, Who is your life . . . " Then he finishes the thought with, " . . . [Christ] shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory." We’ll appear with the Lord.
In reference to Christ’s appearing, the Apostle John writes, "Now we are sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). That means my eternity with Jesus started the moment I got saved. So did yours.
We will not be changed at that moment to be as He is because John goes on to say in the next chapter that "as He is so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). So what is going to happen to us when Jesus appears? The thing that is going to hit us when He appears is just how much we have been like Him all along while living on this earth. We are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. When that realization happens, we’re going to think, "Wow! I could have done a lot more. I could have touched a lot more. I could have made a bigger difference because I know now just how much I was like Him all the time."
This is why demonic spirits run terrified from us. We’re fully clothed just like Jesus , it’s called the armour of God, and we’re hidden behind the shield of faith. The devil can’t tell the difference between us and Jesus when we have our armour on! For all he knows, it’s the same Jesus that kicked his teeth out when He was on the earth.
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
After Paul tells us that we are dead and hidden with Christ and that we will appear with Him in glory, he tells us to "mortify" (Colossians 3:5) and "put off" (Colossians 3:8). He is still talking about relationships because you can’t have fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, lying, wrath, filthy communication, etc., in your relationship with Jesus, or with others, for that matter.
So, Paul, how do we get rid of those things in our lives? Mortify or kill by starvation, and put off. In other words, just don’t be involved with things that promote the wrong kind of thoughts and activities. Don’t feed on those things, which goes back to seeking those things above and setting your mind on things above. Whatever we seek, we find. So if we’re seeking the wrong things, we’ll find them and feed on them. But if we’re seeking the things above, we’ll find them and feed on them.
We mortify and put off the wrong things. Then we put on the new man who is created in the image of Christ (Colossians 3:10), and we practice the right things, like mercy, compassion, humility, forgiveness, charity , the bond of perfection , and peace, and thankfulness, and so on.
Finally, after 17 verses, Paul gets to the specifics of the relationships between spouses, parents and children, and servants and masters.
Our getting our act together with God makes all the difference in the rest of our relationships. So, if there is a problem in another relationship in our lives, let’s look back to our relationship with Him. Let’s ask the Lord, "Okay, where am I messing up? What is it that I need to straighten out and get fixed with You, Lord?"
Set your love on the Lord, and it will be much easier to love the rest of the people.