We all understand that a child's perspective is skewed by his inability to recognize any other perspective than his—in the peek-a-boo game, for instance, he thinks that if he cannot see you, then you cannot see him. One mark of maturity is realizing that what someone else sees and hears in your words and actions is not necessarily what you intended, and that his own actions are largely dependent upon things in his life you may never have experienced. Perspective is huge for a Christian.
Paul told the Romans they needed to have the proper perspective about things in this life, or, as he might have called it, the proper mindset. 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. (Rom 8:5). Here he divides it into having a spiritual mindset or a fleshly mindset.
He goes on to say: For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:6-8).
So let's make this easier to see by setting the two mindsets in opposition. If you are a visual learner like I am, grab a sheet of paper and create two columns—the mind of the flesh on one side and the mind of the spirit on the other, as we go through those verses again. Some of these things do not have an expressed opposite, but it is easy to see what that opposite should be.
The mind of the flesh is death while the mind of the spirit is life and peace. The mind of the flesh is hostile to God, so it makes sense that the mind of the spirit is friendly to God. The mind of the flesh cannot submit, but the mind of the spirit will. The mind of the flesh cannot please God, but the mind of the spirit will please him. All of that is easy to see when you chart it out.
So how do we go about telling which mind we have? By the things that matter most to us. Is it wealth, status, money, power, a life of ease and luxury? Moses was willing to give up all those things. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb 11:24-26) This perfectly matches the "chart" in the previous paragraph. Could I do that? Could you?
Let's just say this. When the majority of my complaints about the church are the uncomfortable seats, the warm building, and the long sermons, then maybe my mindset is on the flesh, not the spirit.
What would you be willing to give up for the Lord? That doesn't just mean the big stuff, like your life. That means the little things too—time for personal Bible study, prayer, and visiting; actually deciding to throw your favorite skirt out because you have come to realize it is too short for a godly woman to be wearing; missing a ball game because your neighbor is in distress and this might be an opportunity to reach him with the gospel.
And what sort of difficult things would someone with a fleshly mindset find impossible to give up? The praise of men; the humility of apology; being "right" in something that doesn't really matter; acceptance in the community; a good-paying job; an ungodly sexual relationship, just to name a few, and all with the reasoning, "God wouldn't want me to be unhappy."
It's easy to play peek-a-boo like a child, thinking everything is about me and my pleasure. But sooner or later we need to grow up. The proper mindset will show me the true pleasure in serving God and looking to the good of others. If I never learn that, I will always be nothing more than a baby with a blanket over my face, always blind to the truth of my situation and never able to fix it.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:8)