Lenten Devotion: Sunday, March 15
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Romans 8:5-6, 9
These are hard words, difficult to understand and certainly out of harmony with the temper of our times. Much of what is celebrated as good in our lives – nice homes and possessions, successful careers, education, travel, physical health, good meals, even family and good friends (not to mention good sex) – are clearly “things of the flesh.” The words and actions of our government, businesses, and media are almost always based upon the assumption that these are the good things we should seek, for ourselves and others. Most of us spend the best of our energies pursuing them. But St. Paul is unambiguous: “To set the mind on the flesh is death….”
How can we do otherwise? We are living, social animals. We must live somewhere, and work, and eat, and relate to those around us. How can we not have our minds set on these things? Even Jesus supped with the tax collectors and sinners, turned water into wine for a wedding feast, allowed his feet to be anointed, and healed the sick and maimed. What can St. Paul mean? Can anyone be saved?
As the Lord said, after his meeting with the rich man who could not relinquish his possessions, “With men, it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26) And St. Paul gives us a clue: “to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” and “the Spirit of God dwells in you.” God has freely planted his Spirit within us to aid and guide us. The things of the flesh, in this life, must always be with us. But if we seek to keep our minds set on his Spirit, and allow that Spirit to guide us, perhaps our relations and actions toward them will be right and healthy – or forgiven.
Dear Lord, help keep my heart and mind set on following Your will and listening to Your Spirit in all my thoughts and actions.