Don’t Be So Heavenly Minded That You’re No Earthly Good?

Posted: April 15th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

I grew up in Assemblies of God and Pentecostal churches and also attended Baptist church for several years. In each of those denominations I have heard countless warnings of this, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good. The way it was portrayed to me was as a caution to not be so caught up in church “stuff” that I miss doing what God wanted me to do in life. Somehow this made sense to me. I could see that spending all my time in Bible study and prayer could cause me to stay in my little Jesus bubble and cut me off from contact with the world that Jesus commanded that we share the good news with.

Over the past several years, I have to disagree with this mentality; that it is possible to be too heavenly minded that I would be no earthly good. What changed my mind? I can think of no more heavenly minded individual that walked this planet than Jesus Christ. Last I checked, He changed the course of history and was able to minister to most he came in contact with. Whether it was healing, or freedom from the bondage of sin that He gave people, there was no doubt where His passion originated from.

It came from keeping His eyes continually on the Father and only doing what He was instructed to do . See, He was so in tune with heaven, that He could not help but be “earthy good,” because the heart of God is for all mankind to be saved.

Maybe it’s that our definition of “heavenly minded” is incorrect. We (Christendom) have woven into this term the idea that being heavenly minded is praying and studying 24/7, going to Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and whatever other night church programs or retreats that we can handle. Instead we should follow the example of the One who we claim to emulate.

Christ’s idea of “heavenly minded” is having intimate relationship with God. Only when this relationship is established can He put something deep inside us that we cannot stop. As we surrender our will to His, our nature becomes in sync with His heart in that it becomes our desire that none should perish. So this deep groaning in our heart calls us out to minister to the needs of the world. Whether it be providing food, money, a helping hand, or simply an ear to listen, our nature has to be one of a willing servant to those in need.

Recently Americn Idol has started using their popularity as a platform to raise money for many different charitable endeavors. They call it Idol Gives Back. It brought to mind Matthew 25, where Jesus is giving a picture of Judgement Day. Some religious people are sent to hell with the words, “I never knew you,” while others were invited to join God in heaven. The difference? <em>”For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”</em>

So I ask myself, who is being more heavenly minded?

  • Christopher Hopper

    Very thought provoking post, Chris. I like how you spun it on its head like that…redefining the proper word the proper way. I once heard that phrase preached, “Being so heavenly minded that you are ALL earthly good.” Sums it up.


  • Tony

    Chris – great topic – great post. Heavenly minded is earthly good if heavenly minded means a mind truly focused on Christ and how He wants to use you to impact this world.

  • baddogmooney

    CH – Thanks for stopping in and leaving a few lines. You’ll be hearing from me.

    Tony – “how He wants to use you” if we could really get hold of that. . .

  • Tony

    No doubt. I can think of any number of ways that “I” want to be used – but am I listening and open to what God wants? Can I just write a check on Sunday and clear my conscientious of any responsibility of Matt 25? I don’t think so but I feel like that’s as deep as I get sometimes.

  • Paula

    Is their a scripture that supports the no heavenly minded concept.

  • baddogmooney

    paula, I’m not sure which way you are asking the question. Are you asking, are the verses that support NOT being heavenly minded? Or the possibility that you can be so heavenly minded you are no earthly good?


    - mooney

  • petermlopez

    Excellent post. I couldn’t agree more. As I recall, we are instructed to “seek first the kingdom of heaven…” This sounds like a commission to be heavenly minded to me.

    Nice blog. I just stumbled across it today. If you don’t mind, I’d like to link to it from my blog. There is no obligation for you to do the same, but feel free if you so choose. Thanks.

  • Pepps

    You are no earthly good until you are heavenly minded.

  • Alan

    What you have said is true.
    However, let me propose another understanding of this extrabiblical ‘saying’:

    If I am so focused on heaven (and not on Christ) that I push other people out of the way to get there, I am too ‘heavenly minded’ to be any earthly good. I am not following God’s will for my life.

    The goal is knowing and obeying God; following His will for us. Which does not include being calloused. Heaven is not the ultimate goal; it’s a bonus.

  • Alan

    I’ll add to my previous comment that this is a prime case of a statement that is true or false, depending on how you understand it.

  • steve

    Colossians 3 speaks of being “heavenly minded” as having the same attitude and lifestyle as Christ where being “earthly minded” carries the idea of having the attitudes and lifestyle practices of unsaved people. Philippians 2 speaks of having the same mind as Christ, which refers to laying aside our own wills and desires in order to seek that of Christ. So to be “heavenly minded” is to think and act like Christ.

  • greg

    not sure i agree with everyone here. i have a bit of a different understanding about what it means to be ‘heavenly minded.’ when i’ve heard that injunction used i have always thought it to mean that we shouldn’t be so preoccupied with heaven (i.e., the afterlife), that we miss the opportunities for abundant life right here right now. in other words, “being too heavenly minded” didn’t mean having the mind of Christ. of course we should have the mind of Christ! on the contrary, being too heavenly minded has to do with worrying way too much about our own personal eternal destiny (and how we get there) rather than caring more about the hurting neighbor along the way (the good samaritan). i have known many Christians who treated this life just as a prep school for the afterlife, just trying to learn all the right behaviours, follow all the right rules, and use all the right words so that they can be sure to be in the right place in the afterlife. that, to me, is being too heavenly minded. instead, i believe we are called to experience the fullness of God’s amazing love right now in the present. jesus said that he came that we might have life, even abundant life. this is not a someday proposition. it is a present AND future proposition. so, while i appreciated your take, i just wanted to give a slightly different interpretation of the old phrase. at least for me, it is indeed possible to be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. and i think it breaks God’s heart.

    • baddogmooney

      Wow. Great perspective. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it is quite valid. I too have known Christians who have what I believe is an unhealthy lean toward the afterlife, while forgetting our duties here. Thanks!

      - mooney