15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
After instructing us to “Let the peace of Christ rule” Paul now tells us to Let the message of Christ fill our lives. Not only is a thankful heart a heart where Christ’s peace is in control but its where:
- Christ’s word is overflowing
Paul talks about the “message about Christ” which is everything that describes Him. His work while He was in this world, how He reached out to people as well as how he reacted and responded to them. It includes the sacrificial life that He lived as well as the death that He died. It involves both the words that He spoke as well as the way that He lived. It was how he handled the problems as well as His perspective of this world. The way that He saw people as well as how He spoke to people. What are we called to do with the message of Christ? Let it consume us; let it fill our lives to overflowing. What is filling your life, is it the message of Christ or that of the culture? How full of His forgiveness are you, how full of His faithfulness, how full of His Fathers Will? Is Christ filling ever crevice of your life, or are there caverns and corners where He is restricted? The word fill is not just about taking up space but taking residence. Periodically I have had people come and stay in my home, whether it’s for an overnight or for several weeks. All of them had one thing in common they are all guests. Now there is a big difference between a guest and the one who permanently resides in the home. A guest is not a permanent resident; they come and go according to what is convenient for them not their host. A guest doesn’t have a right to go wherever they want, or to remodel and change the home however they want. They can’t just paint the walls a different color if they feel like it or rearrange the furniture because it isn’t their home. The resident is the one who has the right to rearrange. Being filled means inviting the Redeemer in to reside, to take us permanent residence. Are you treating Is God as a guest or are you granting Him full access to your life? Are there any areas where you are walling off the Word? Sometimes we spend more time fighting the Word than letting it fill us. What we fill the holes in our heart with will determine our happiness. Many of us are trying to fill the emptiness with the earthly and the external instead of the eternal that John 1:1 speaks of: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Ultimately what we are full of will determine how free we are, the problem is that most of us are so stuffed with self, society, and sin, instead of the Savior, that we have become slaves. It’s no wonder that we are never satisfied. What goes into your life will determine what comes out, praise or poison. Many of us are living thankless lives because we are being filled more by the world than the Word. Instead of feasting on Him and being full we are snacking on substitutes and getting fat. Is your life being filled by Jesus or the junk? Not only are we to let the Word dwell in us but it should do so richly. There are many who purchase power-ball tickets to play the lottery and very rarely they win. Now I am not endorsing gambling I’m just using it as an illustration. When they do win they go from a pay check to pay check existence to a penthouse one, from just managing to millionaires. All of a sudden they have an overabundance and if they are not careful and learn to control their riches their riches will control them. Riches often end up controlling people and even make decisions for them. Most of the people who have won the lottery have ended up deeply in debt because they allowed the riches to cause them to make unwise decisions. Whatever you are rich in will influence you the most and steer your decision making. Look if you are rich in love, love will make your decisions. If you are rich in mercy, mercy will influence and impact every relationship that you have. If you are rich in wisdom, your decisions will be governed by that wisdom. Here Paul tells us that we should be rich in God’s Word residing within us. That means He is the one influencing me in making decisions, He has a right to change my life. Paul now tells us to “teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.” Teaching means communicating truth what it is that we believe and know. Counseling means to admonish, to warning people about what they believe and how they are behaving. It is warning them of the direction in which they are headed and the disaster ahead. Often we see these responsibilities teaching and counseling as belonging to the pastor of a church but Paul wasn’t writing to pastors here, he was writing to the church. That means that each of us as Christians has a responsibility to teach others, including our children and fellow Christians. We also have a responsibility to warn, which is not always easy, but it is necessary. Look if you were in a burning building, I would have the responsibility of doing everything I could to warn you and to tell you to get out. Most likely you would be grateful that I warned you, why because your life was at stake. So why is it that we don’t also see the responsibility that we have to prevent others from being burned by sin? And if we care enough to warn, then why is it that so many chose to take offense? But how do we know what to teach and when to warn, by filling ourselves full of Christ’s Word. That’s what gives us the wisdom to see the smoke, and the courage to call others out, so they don’t suffocate in sin. Paul also points to another result of the word residing in our lives, we will sing. Not out of guilt but out of an overflow of gratitude to God. Paul tells us to sing with thanks to God, for what you might ask? Well Paul doesn’t say because our attitude at all times is to be one of thanks regardless of the circumstances. This is not just about thinking thankful thoughts it’s about vocalize our thanks. Right now some of you may be saying, “But God, I don’t feel like singing. I’d rather complain.” Paul says sing. “But God, my throat hurts because I’ve been yelling at the kids.” Still we hear the same call “Sing” “But God, no one else wants to hear me.” Still we are called to “Sing” Who is it that is supposed to be in control here? The Word of Christ, from who’s perspective are we supposed to be looking at the world? From His. As we go through problems we can sing not because of the pain but because of what it can produce. Problems can be productive, trials can be transforming and actually bring treasure . In Acts 8:1-4 it was persecution that pushed the church out of their comfort zone and out into the country. Persecution caused them to pray, to preach, and to pursue God’s plan. The misery of persecution served to get them on mission. Now if the word of Christ is going to fill you in all of its richness, then you’re going to have to get it down off of the shelf and open it up. This is not just about you getting into the Word but letting the Word get into you. The only way any of us are going to gain a proper perspective and be thankful is as we fill our minds with the Word of Christ. Remember reading the word is not supposed to be a duty it’s a joy. Are you being filled by His Word or your wants and the world?