It is not said of this author, but it is stated of some, “You see that man? He is so heavenly minded that he has become of no earthly use.” This colloquialism is meant to describe the holy individual who focuses too much on God and not enough on the things of this world. It is intended to be a slam on the religious one who practices extreme piety, extra-scriptural legalism, or some form of monkish or fundamentalist separation. However, it is this minister’s contention that this statement is a non-truth. It should be challenged and then retired for at least three reasons.
First, the man has never been alive who focused too much on God. The Bible commands all individuals to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind, and being. From the sacred text, God’s worshipers are commanded to pray without ceasing, and there are no timeouts given throughout the day. God demands that whether a man eats, drinks, or whatever else he does, it is all to be an act of worship to him. The aforementioned phrase should be abandoned for it describes no one. It is a straw-man argument.
Secondly the man who intensely focuses on God and heavenly things is the same man who finds himself intensely focusing on his neighbor. He is the one worshiping God best who has radical compassion for his community. Such a horizontally focused brother is one making much of God’s Second Greatest Commandment. As he does so, externally he more and more looks like Jesus. Yes, it is fantastic worship to be the Good Samaritan, to be the one who gives a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, or to be the man with beautiful feet who proclaims the Gospel. According to Scripture, when people are more properly loved, God is more properly loved. According to the Apostle John, to love God supremely means one will love his neighbor selflessly. Therefore, the colloquial quote in view should be abandoned; it expresses a false dichotomy. One cannot divorce a focus on God from a focus on man. There is no good worshiper who is not a good neighbor.
Finally, the way for one to be of greater use in the community is for him to have an ever increasing focus on God. With increased divine attention comes increased ministerial effectiveness. Greater doxology results in greater disciple making. It is through Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer that God’s will is better understood. It is through the regular practice of the spiritual disciplines that the affections of man’s hearts are divinely adjusted. As one digests huge doses of God’s Means of Grace (i.e. Word, Prayer, Worship, Fellowship), the Holy Spirit effectually fruits believers for missional success. Friends, it should never be said, “He is so heavenly minded that he has become of no earthly use.” Men need not less heavenly-mindedness; they need more. As one focuses more on God, he becomes of greater earthly use.
Therefore, instead of improperly using the nonsense statement as a slam, why not turn it into a supplication? Why not pray …
“Lord, please help me to focus more and more and more on you today. May your Holy Spirit bring you to mind with increasing frequency and fervency as the hours of my day our spent. Help me to turn my eyes more and more upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face. May the things of this world grow strangely dim to me, but may the people of this world be seen with pity, compassion and love. Oh Lord, please increase my desire and capacity to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and then increase my passion to be in the world, but not of the world, and not detached from the world. Father in heaven, this is my plea: make me so heavenly minded today that I an fit for your use on earth. I know you love you. I know you love me. I know you love those created in your image. Help me to focus so much on you that I become of great earthly use for you and others today.”