Of all the beneficial Christian practices, the most neglected is the practice of meditation. In our busy world, we do not often set time aside for deep and focused reflection on biblical truth. When we do eventually get around to doing it, we rarely think on heaven and the glories to come. If themes on which we meditate are like members of Jesse’s family, meditation on heaven is the forgotten David that no one even thought to invite to the party. Yet, as it turns out, that it is the very child that will richly bless us.
The Bible Commands Heavenly Mindedness
The Bible clearly encourages (even commands) us to think often of heaven. Here is a sampling of texts that prove this: ‘Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’ (Colossians 3:1-3). ‘But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 3:20). ‘For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling’ (2 Corinthians 5:2). ‘If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city’ (Hebrews 11:15-16).
Heavenly mindedness is not something we should ignore. In fact, for the Christian it is something that should never be far from our hearts
This also includes the New Testament instinct to long eagerly for the glorious return of Christ. Thus Paul could write, ‘As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1:7); ‘waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13); ‘our Lord, come!’ (1 Corinthians 16:22b).
3 Reasons to Meditate on Heaven
Plainly then, heavenly mindedness is not something we should ignore. In fact, for the Christian it is something that should never be far from our hearts. It is important to look forward to heaven and the glories everlasting. We are commanded to be often in that frame of mind. To do this, we must endeavour to familiarise ourselves with the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Whole blog posts – even books – can and have been written on that subject. So my intention here is simply to consider three of the major benefits of thinking regularly about heaven.
1. We are motivated to fight sin in our lives
Heavenly mindedness is a powerful motivator for earthly godliness. ‘We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure’ (1 John 3:2-3). It naturally follows that if one desires to see Christ and enter into Christ’s heaven, then they must strive after Christ’s Holiness. So the apostle John tells us that it is those who have this hope that purify themselves. What hope? The hope of Christ’s glorious appearing and our own glorification.
As our longing for heaven grows so does our desire to be the kind of people who belong there
As our longing for that future grows so does our desire to be the kind of people who belong there. In the same way, we clean house when we expect a visit from someone important. How much more should we grow in personal holiness as we expect the single most important person ever? Heaven is a place for the holy. Only holy creatures will be happy there. C. S. Lewis is famous for saying, “only the pure in heart will see God because only the pure in heart want to.” This desire leads us to strive for the holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord. It motivates us to fight sin in our lives.
We will not achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, allow the vision of heaven to motivate the pursuit of holiness before ‘death’s dew lies cold on our brow.’
2. We are better prepared to face suffering
Heavenly mindedness is a powerful tonic for dealing with earthly suffering. It does so by sheer contrast. ‘The sufferings of this present age are not worth comparing to the glory that shall be revealed to us’ (Romans 8:18). Present suffering pales to insignificance when contrast with glory. According to Paul, it is not even worth comparing. It is like the famous story of the man who discovered that he had inherited a huge estate. Instantly he became the owner of a mansion, horse drawn carriages, land and a large sum of money.
On the journey to receive his inheritance he was robbed. The thieves took everything he had on him, even his shoes. So he walked the considerable remainder of his journey barefoot. He had to pick through dumpsters in order to eat. That night he slept under a bridge in the cold. But none of these troubles bothered him. This wasn’t because they were not harsh and uncomfortable. It was because he knew what lay ahead. His inheritance enabled him to joyfully endure the trouble.
No matter how much we suffer in this life, eternal glory awaits us. A vivid vision of what is ahead will make us joyfully endure trouble now
Now this doesn’t mean that the suffering is any less painful. It does not mean that we enjoy suffering or become glib in speaking about it. But it does put suffering in a right and biblical perspective. No matter how much we suffer in this life, eternal glory awaits us. A vivid vision of what is ahead will make us joyfully endure trouble now. When the baby is born, the birth pains are forgotten (Romans 8:22).
3. We are empowered to seek the world’s highest good
Heavenly mindedness is a powerful driver of earthly usefulness. There is an oft quoted phrase, ‘Don’t be so heavenly minded that you become of no earthly good.’ It is a phrase that is meant to ridicule Christians who think of heaven often. They are accused of being out of touch with reality. ‘Focus on the real issues affecting the world today,’ critics say. Heavenly mindedness is thought to steal attention away from what’s practical. It does so, allegedly in favour of unimportant ‘pie in the sky’ notions. This is flawed thinking.
A brief glance at history shows that, generally speaking, Christian witness in the world shone brightest when Christians were least beholden by it
Again I borrow from C. S. Lewis. He said, “it is precisely those who thought the most of the next world that did the most good for this one.” A brief glance at history shows that, generally speaking, Christian witness in the world shone brightest when Christians were least beholden by it. The more the Christian church became earthly minded, the less spiritual good it did to the world.
This should not perplex us. Who is better equipped for sacrificial service than the one who sits loosely in this world? If one does not seek the applause of the world because they have the applause of God in view, they will boldly tell the world what it doesn’t want to hear but needs in order to be saved. If one isn’t addicted to the world’s fleeting toys and their pleasures because they have solid and eternal rewards in view, they will be most given to sacrifice time and resource for the good of humanity. To summarize, it is those who need the world least, that help it the most.
A concluding appeal
So, dear Christian, are you looking for some motivation to fight sin in your life, endure suffering and be of earthly good? Try building into your life a deliberate culture of meditation on Christ’s return, your entry into heaven and the glories everlasting. All the material is there in your Bible. It will be meat indeed and drink indeed for your soul. I must warn you that it will not come without effort. If you apply yourself, little by little, it will yield a good harvest.