Colossians 3:5-10, 14-15, 17-21, 4:5-6comment (0)
February 23, 2012
By Joseph F. Scrivner
Related Scripture: Colossians 3:5-10, 14-15, 17-21, 4:5-6
Bible Studies for Life
Assistant Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, Samford University
Last month, we saw Paul’s order of indicative and imperative in Ephesians. He began by reminding his readers of their position in Christ. When warning against false teaching in his letter to the Colossians, he follows the same pattern. The first two chapters explain the pre-eminence of Christ and the corresponding fullness believers possess in Him. In the third and fourth chapters, he moves to admonitions about a lifestyle that should follow from this fullness.
Cultivate a Christ-centered Character (3:5–10, 14–15, 17)
Paul calls on the Colossians to adopt an attitude corresponding to their status in Christ. If they have been raised with Christ, then they should focus on heavenly things (Col. 3:1–2). This is in contrast to an undue focus on ritual and rules mentioned at the end of Chapter 2 (Col. 2:16–23).
Likewise, since they have died with Christ (Col. 3:3–4), the Colossians should put to death “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry” (5). Indeed these things once characterized their lives, but now they have a new identity in Christ (6–7). Just as this new existence in Christ should avoid sexual impurity, it also should put away inappropriate communication with fellow believers. These unsuitable actions include anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language and lies.
Those chosen in Christ should put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Again this behavior is required as a proper response to what one has received in Christ. In short, “put on love — the bond of unity” (14). This is reinforced by sincere, Christ-centered worship, personal and corporate (Col. 3:16). These spiritual virtues enable the believer to live in a way that honors the Lord Jesus’ name (17).
Have a Christ-centered Home (3:18–21)
Of course, these spiritual virtues must begin with the believer’s most intimate relationships: spouse and children. Unfortunately this is an area where Christians are often not much better than others. Believers naturally learn bad habits as children and easily reproduce them as adults. Further it is often difficult to confess these problems and find helpful, encouraging counsel in the church. Perhaps churches need to invest more time and resources in this area. In addition, perhaps larger churches can consider ways to make affordable counseling available to their members, members of other churches and possibly even unbelievers. This may be one important way to demonstrate a commitment to “family values.”
Be a Christ-centered Witness (4:5–6)
Considering concrete ways in which believers can overcome destructive habits in their families can be an important avenue for Christian witness. Indeed few things may be more important than a demonstrable commitment to family health and restoration through professional spiritual counseling services. Further offering such services to those outside the church without pressure to convert or join could be an invaluable testimony to Christ’s love for people. Further it may indicate Christian concern for people as whole human beings, not just disembodied souls destined for an afterlife.
Of course, a person’s eternal destiny is an ultimate concern. Yet believers may “win more souls” by giving more resources and time to helping people in their very earthly situations. Doing so without attaching religious strings may be one sure way to show unconditional love. Then believers will serve Christ and unbelievers will be attracted to Christ for all the right reasons.
Consideration of such ministry may be one way to obey Paul’s command: “Pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message” (Col. 4:3). Perhaps it is one way believers can “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” As we meditate on how to be wise witnesses for Christ, may we all consistently strive to make sure our speech is “always gracious, seasoned with salt.” For Christ’s sake, amen.