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 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
This time of isolation is hard. We want a lot of things that we’re accustomed to. I’ve written a good bit about how caught up we are in our comforts, and how we can take for granted all the good gifts that we’ve been given. Indeed, losing so many of them all at once has a way of making us reevaluate our priorities.
But honestly, I’ve found—even in my own heart—just how difficult that is. Despite my own advice, I find myself wishing things would “just go back to normal.” It seems that the pull of my own flesh is as strong as Paul would describe it in Romans: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (7:15). And I do that because of the false promises of the flesh.
What do I really want? I want life and peace which is lasting, even eternal. I want a durable peace which can persist through all the difficulties and hardships of life. My flesh pursues the things of this world as though they will satisfy these desires. But the peace is a false peace and the life a hollow life.
And I think that’s because the flesh is primarily concerned for itself and not God. The flesh serves the flesh, but we are meant to serve God. And when we are emotionally exhausted, it’s easier to walk according to the flesh. We aren’t so much fooled as we are worn down. Right now, I think we’re all susceptible to that. It’s a trap we’re ready to fall into.
But Scripture teaches that this way leads to death. To choose to gather together because you’re lonely; to choose to drink too much because you’re bored or stressed; to choose to waste the day away in tv or social media because you feel like you can’t cope—all of these things bring the temporary satisfaction you crave. But none of them will ultimately satisfy. None of them will bring life and peace.
Instead, God calls us to follow Jesus, to orient our hearts toward service to him. Most of us don’t like that because we’re not too interested in duty for duty’s sake. We are trained to ask, “What am I going to get out of it?” But true life and true peace are gifts given by God to his servants, not things that you can achieve. To pursue them directly as ends in themselves is to set the mind on the flesh. And that’s folly. True wisdom is to set your mind on the Spirit, on serving God in whatever way he calls you—even if he calls on you to suffer. And his promise is that even in the midst of that suffering, you will have true life and true peace.
So walk not according to the flesh, but persist in your pursuit of life according to the Spirit. God is faithful. He will meet you there. Trust him.
Lord, you are my king and you’ve called me to serve you. But my suffering makes me self-seeking and self-serving. I find myself looking for the quick fix and the easy relief. But God, you call me to a different path. You call me to imitate Christ who suffered in pursuit of your will. And you gave him true life and true peace. Forgive me. Please teach me how to walk today. Help me to resist the temptations of the flesh.