Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
(Philippians 3:17-19 ESV)
In this passage Paul has been pointing out characteristics of people who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” and who therefore should not be imitated. So far we’ve seen that they give in to every impulse and take pride in sinful living.
It all comes down to non believers live for what this earth has to offer. Notice that their minds are “set”. These people don’t want to change their way of thinking. They are obsessed with earthly comfort and happiness at the expense of their eternity [Luke 12:16-21].
People who live like this think that earth is all there is so they try to get as much of what they want as possible. When asked “How much money is enough?” John D. Rockefeller famously replied “Just a little bit more”. We can never be satisfied by earthly things. Anything the world has to offer is only temporary and, hence, can only provide temporary happiness.
This is why people become obsessed with, and addicted to, things like wealth, fame, and sex. Just like drugs, these things provide only temporary highs. To maintain the happiness these things bring, one must constantly pursue them, as Mr. Rockefeller implied. One’s mind must be “set” on them.
The problem is that anyone who does this will miss out on what brings true eternal joy – a relationship with God through His Son Jesus. The thought that people were living like this brought Paul to “tears”. Paul truly cared about the lost people in this world. So did Jesus. That is why He came – to save the lost [Luke 19:10].
Jesus’ mind was not set on earth. His goal in life was to do the work of the Father. He humbly relinquished any claim to deity [Philippians 2:5-8]. Nor did He pursue earthly comforts – He didn’t even have a permanent residence [Luke 9:58].
There is nothing wrong with being concerned with earthly affairs. In fact, Christians should be concerned about things like sex-trafficking, poverty, and pollution. But we should be even more concerned with the fact that many people are “set” on the things of this earth and are thereby neglecting their most important need – forgiveness of their sins – which will bring the permanent joy that we all are seeking.
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