“You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” — Matthew 16:23b
Peter’s interactions with Jesus go from the highest highs to the lowest lows. One minute, Peter is praised for his insights, promised the very keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:18). The next minute he is scolded for a lack of faith — he is even called “Satan” — for trying to prevent Jesus from facing his coming suffering and death. The difference between these two moments, according to Jesus, is where Peter is setting his mind.
Are you setting your mind on “divine things” — that is, things of God — or on things of this world?
Here are some tests to see if your mind is set on the right things. First, do you judge others who have made different decisions from yours? Consider an ordinary decision, such as buying a car. It takes some time to decide what kind of vehicle you need: the right size, fuel efficiency, reliability, purchase price, color, etc. Once you narrow it down and decide on what make and model you want, you settle on a price, drive it home, and enjoy your purchase. All that is normal and good.
But where things can go wrong comes in what happens afterwards. Do you then become so set in your choice that you start to judge other people? Do you look at other cars on the road and consider them with disdain? “That one is too small,” “that one is not reliable” or “I can’t believe someone would drive that!”
If you move from making up your mind to judging other people who think differently, then you may have your mind set on the wrong thing.
Here is another test: Like Peter, do you claim there is “no way” that you would allow for a variation to your plans? Jesus told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to die, but Peter rebuked him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). Peter’s mind was set, and there was no way he was going to let anyone — not even Jesus himself — change those plans.
We live in a world where it is increasingly easy to set our minds on a certain way of thinking. In these times of lockdown especially, when our physical interactions are limited, we are mostly able isolate ourselves from people who think differently. We can choose who to talk to, what to watch on TV, or what to read online. We can set our minds only on those opinions with which we already agree. From there, we can quickly move to judge others and think to ourselves, “There is no way that I would ever do something like that.”
Making plans is good. Deciding on a course of action is important. But be careful not to be so dug-in that you set your mind on human things and miss out on what the Lord wants to do.