Hope permeates Paul’s letters.
Colossians 1:1-6, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this, you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”
Hope is a word often used but rarely understood.
Whereas we use “hope” today in terms of “I hope my team makes the playoffs this year,” or “I hope I get a good grade on the test,” those things may or may not happen. Our team may have an offseason filled with injuries, or we may not have studied well for the test. But “hope” in the Greek is so much more: it is “an earnest expectation,” more than that, an earnest expectation of something guaranteed.
When we read “because of the hope laid up for you in Heaven,” we should feel the full force of what Paul is saying here. “Because” connects the preceding statement to the “hope laid up for you in Heaven.” Because of our hope of Heaven, we have our faith in Christ Jesus, and the love for the saints.
There’s a saying I remember hearing at youth group when I was growing up, “They’re too Heavenly-minded to be of any earthly good.” This phrase was prevalent during the perfect storm of the Left Behind book craze and Y2K. People would stock up on supplies, and hunker down in preparation for the Lord to return.
I see why the phrase was used for people who did nothing but sit and wait – but I abhor its use all the same. Those who employed that phrase to critique missed something important. Words matter, which means the words we use to critique matter greatly. It is not those who are too Heavenly-minded, but those who do not have a full view and realization of that glorious hope laid up for us in Heaven.
A heavenly-minded Christian will be about doing good for the kingdom on earth because they know they are storing treasures up not here on earth, to rust, be eaten by moths, or sold in estate sales, but in Heaven, where their treasures will be enjoyed perfectly, completely, and eternally in Christ.
C.H. Spurgeon said what I think perfectly sums up why you cannot be too Heavenly-mind. And why a heart, mind, and soul focused entirely on that hope can bear much fruit.
“Why, if there is to be such a rich reward of grace, let us bear all the gracious fruit we can. And if the time of working is so soon to be over, let us be instant in every holy labor while yet the season is with us.”
Christ says in Matthew 6:20 that we can “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” What hope we have! The place Christ has prepared for us is not like banks, which can close, leaving us with no return on our investment, nor like homes that can be broken into or burned down. Christ guarantees that no one will steal and nothing can corrupt your treasures laid up in Heaven.
Christ then tells us “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we are Heavenly-minded, it is because our hearts are set upon our treasure, which is Christ Himself, our savior and redeemer. He is our treasure He is our only hope on earth. If Christ, our treasure, is seated at the right hand of the throne of God in Heaven, then our hearts will be found in Heaven as well.
For us this is glorious, life-changing news. Not only are we saved by grace alone through faith alone, a free gift of God, but we can also – through faith – bear fruit pleasing to our God, who will keep our rewards in surest safety as we eagerly await our eternity to be spent with Him in Heaven. Paul wrote that God Himself has prepared these good works that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
This should drive us to proclaim the Good News to the world, kindle our hearts to help the poor and the mistreated, and undergird all we do in this life. We do this, not to enjoy the fleeting treasures on earth, but to joyfully receive and enjoy the treasure laid up for Heaven, Christ Himself.