When taking pictures with a digital camera, we must allow a moment before actually taking the picture for the camera to focus clearly. Every time we move the camera, we must again allow time for it to refocus to get a clear picture.
The same is true in our own lives. We must often pause and adjust to life to reestablish our focus. If we’ll let him, God will help us refocus our focus. He does this through shifting our perspective, our attention, and our activity by lining it up with his will.
Note: Reading the verses indicated at the beginning of each section is essential for fully embracing this teaching.
Romans 8:1-17 tells us our perspective should be via the Holy Spirit, not our flesh. In other words, we are to focus on what the Holy Spirit desires. When we do this, we realize that we are under no obligation to our sinful desires.
This realization is powerful because it tells us that as children of God, we have access to everything Jesus had access to. That means we can overcome the temptation to sin.
To help establish a Holy Spirit perspective, ask yourself one question: Do you have Christ in you? If you have declared Jesus Lord and Savior, then the answer is “yes.”
A Holy Spirit perspective means you can declare victory over sin. It means that instead of saying “I can’t help it” you can make progress toward perfection.
Colossians 3:1-17 says our attention should be set above, not below. This means we let the realities of Heaven fill our thoughts. In other words, we don’t let the temporary distract us from the eternal. We instead let the eternal direct our temporary focus.
An eternally directed attention means that “whatever” we do is for God’s glory. Again, the goal this side of heaven is progress toward perfection. But how do we know we’re making progress?
Progress comes as we eliminate old habits that don’t please God. You can tell this is happening, that old habits are falling away, because your life looks less and less like those who haven’t yet made Jesus Lord. It looks less and less like those controlled by the flesh.
But eliminating old habits isn’t enough. We must also “put on the new self” and increasingly let peace and love rule in our lives. Bringing Christ regularly into our conversations and well as becoming known for gratitude to God also direct our attention increasingly to the realities of heaven.
Psalm 1 provides a solid guide for assessing our activity, which indicates if we have a Spirit, not flesh, perspective and if our attention is above, not below. Having activity that is rooted, not windswept, provides an outward expression of these inward elements of our focus.
Meditation on God’s word regularly refocuses our focus. It reestablishes Holy Spirit perspective and redirects our attention to the realities of Heaven. It helps us live in a way where the world’s activity doesn’t define us.
As we read the Bible, we can use passages like Psalm 1 to determine if our activity lines up with how God wants us to live. This then indicates if our influences come more from Scripture or the world.
Begin by looking at how you spend your time. Where do you walk, stand, and sit, and with whom do you do them with? Then ask, are you walking, standing, and sitting where God directs you?
Whether or not we delight in God’s word also indicates where our attention and perspective fall. If we seek truth in the pages of the Bible and we enjoy learning and doing what it says, we’ll notice him increasingly directing our perspective and attention.
Psalm 1 also tells us that if our activity is that which pleases God, our lives will be fruitful. We’ll also see God’s protection in our lives.
The above provides the framework for Biblical reflective practice that helps us think about what we think about. It involves not only learning from experiences but also processing the thoughts and emotions that come with those experiences. This reflective process is akin to renewing our minds and directing our thoughts.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Prayer is an essential element of reflection for Christians, too, especially praying Scripture.
To take this a step further, spend time reflecting and praying about the following questions:
- What are you paying attention to?
- How does eternity shape your perspective?
- How can you make stillness and meditation before God a habit?
Use the Bible verses referenced throughout this post to help you in assessing these areas of your life.
The process of establishing and maintaining a life with a Holy Spirit perspective, heavenly-focused attention, and rooted activity requires that we not only repeat the above assessment regularly but that we also extend our understanding of the concepts it contains.
Begin this further study by praying for wisdom and understanding. Make this a habit. Deeper study of God’s word also includes:
- Getting comfortable with repetition. Read passages of scripture multiple times, and look for repeated words, phrases, and concepts.
- Reflect on what you read. Ask how it applies to your life specifically.
- Don’t let frustration deter you. Stopping (i.e., quitting) is the only way to not succeed.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Growth pains don’t feel good, but they are necessary.
- Focus on closeness. The main reason we study the Bible is to get close to God. Focus there in your studies. It will change your life.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Questions for further study:
- What does Colossians 3:1-17 tell you about your spiritual clothing?
- What does Romans 8:1-17 tell you about your identity?
- What does Psalm 1 tell you about your habits (i.e., your activity)?
- What connections do you see among these three portions of scripture?
- What contrasts do you see within each portion of scripture?