The big picture

There’s something that people I admire have in common. They have the ability to see the big picture even when times are hard, and even when they’re under pressure.

As a result, they don’t get thrown off course. They’re more likely to hold to their principles. And they’re less likely to say or do something that they’ll regret later!

Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-3 are classic big picture thinking: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

That’s big stuff. One of the things Paul is saying to the Colossians—and to us—is that since they have already received the benefits of being “raised with Christ” (even though they’re still physically living life on earth), they can focus on “things above” and not get distracted and pulled down by what belongs to their “earthly nature.” (He gives some examples in verses 5, 8 and 9).

Focusing on the big picture is trusting in God’s plan—even when you not sure what tomorrow will bring. It’s letting “the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (verse 15)—even when you’re tempted to let worry and fear take over. It’s marching forward in God’s mission with humility and love as your close companions—even when you want to yell at everyone and run for the hills.

And it’s about prayer.

In a book about preaching, teacher and pastor David Helm offers some helpful advice for fellow preachers, which just so happens to be wise counsel for everyone else too: “The more you spend time looking at the big picture, the better your grasp of the big picture will be.”*

It’s challenging, especially when our lives and world feel pretty messed up. But a grasp of the big picture will help you avoid getting stuck in the weeds of doubt, worry, fear, anger and panic.

Set your hearts on things above.

The more you spend time looking at the big picture, the better your grasp of the big picture will be.

By Matthew Ruttan

–This Sunday is Anniversary Sunday at Westminster. We will celebrate Communion (virtually), enjoy some special features, and I will teach about 1 John 4:7-21 and what God’s command to love means in a world that feels particularly flammable.

–*David Helm, Expository Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014), 70.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

–“Up!” is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on June 8.

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