Colossians 3 & 4
If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him ---a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek, and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also you should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love you wives, and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that form the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving, praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned, in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person…
I've been listening in Sunday School. My husband, and Sunday School teacher has been teaching the book of Colossians. Hard slogging, in light of the sneaky bad guys trying to insert their heresy into the gospel. The apostle Paul is trying to nip the new age religion in the bud. Chapters 3 and 4 appeal to me because of their very practical application. And Bob emphasized on Sunday how we just can't do these things on our own power. Bob had been putting the lesson together and editing it on Saturday, and I was amazed when he kept offering to help me do things. I knew he needed to devote his time to getting the lesson ready, and anything I needed could wait. I'd much rather he get his lesson done than stay up too late on Saturday night and be groggy Sunday. When he taught this passage on Sunday, it hit me---these verses were washing over him all day Saturday, and the weeks prior, so no wonder---offering to help me with unpleasant tasks was the wonderful result of Christ working through these verses.
Let's pick it apart bit by bit, and hopefully, further imprint it on my brain.
"raised up with Christ" Wow. That means that positionally, I am forgiven, risen, and seated with Him at the Right Hand of God. What a great place to be. The victory has been won. Here are my daily marching orders until we see Him face to face:
"keep seeking the things above" Wow. It must not come naturally. This theme of seeking God and His plan, and His ways is throughout the whole Bible. It is a choice.
"set your mind on the things above" Another reminder, another choice. My life is hidden with Christ in God. Safe. Secure. And He is in control. His timing is best.
"consider the members of my earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed which amount to idolatry". Idolatry is a concept I often have trouble wrapping my mind around. I am not tempted to worship stones, and sometimes look down my nose at the superstitious or Old Testament barbarians who had this problem. But, idolatry is also immorality---because using others, or taking advantage of others is not obeying God. And impurity, passion--crusader arrogance, letting anger leak into speech is also idolatry, and evil desire as idolatry---it is easy to see that in the terrorists. But, what is my evil desire? What will trip me up?
"For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come.." Whoa. There will be a day of accounting. God is going to set everything right. In His perfect timing, not mine.
"put aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech, do not lie.." It is a choice. And if I see these things in my daily life, it ought to be a red flag to ask God for help in these areas.
"Since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices. and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge.." sounds like a process. A continual, growing, daily process.
"there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian,.." This is why as Christians, we are not to be bigots. In God's eyes, we are all human, flawed, and needing salvation. After we believe that Jesus is the Savior, God sees us in Christ, and as all the same no matter what color, size, age, ethnic, no matter where we live or work. We Christians are His. Purchased. Bought for a purpose of good works. And God wants us to treat each other with love, "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also you should you forgive."
"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful." We need reminded to be thankful. And here is calling and purpose, and doing what God designed us to do in Christ. Our lives are to ones of inner peace, love, harmony.
The word "thanks" is embedded here over and over. What is my motivation for pointing out my fellow-Chrisian's error? "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks ..."
This next verse if often yanked out of context and paraded in front of women trying to get them to conform. But, I do not see a paragraph break here. these next couplets need to be kept in the context of how we treat one another. These verses do NOT say allow your husband to get away with abuse, or crimes that violate God's laws. And the very fact that they are here is a signal that they don't come naturally. They have to be taught, and we have to ask God for help to DO them.
"And whatever you do in word or deed, so all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through HIm to God the Father. Wives be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them."
See, I hid the hard to swallow in its context. Do I submit to my husband with thanks to God? Fitting? What is fitting?? Scarlet O'Hara's maid muttering, "its not fitting" comes to mind, from the movie, GWTW. It is not fitting, proper, pleasing for a wife to be stirring up trouble, gossiping, whining, plotting, moody, etc. Neither is it pretty. God was very specific when He created the first woman as a help-meet. A helper suitable. God made us very different, and then He gives us the power to love and honor and respect each other.
How do I embitter my husband?? Better ask him. Sweetie?
And please help me, Lord, to not exasperate my sons. I see a lot of eye-rolling these days, and reluctance to be with us, and my hugs and requests are becoming burdensome to them. Help me back off. I don't want my sons to lose heart. I don't want to overwhelm them with words or expectations. They are Yours, Lord. I need to give them back to You.
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord..." Even cleaning toilets, even vacuuming, and dusting..."It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."
"Devote yourselves to prayer...Keeping alert with an attitude of thanksgiving..." And my Sunday School teacher pointed out that the Apostle Paul did not ask them to pray for his freedom, but for opportunities to share the gospel. wow. When my tests come, when I am in prison or in the hospital or at a graveside, will I be praying for opportunities to share the gospel? Wow. Please season my words with salt and grace. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.