12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 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.
Here in Colossians 3 we not only see the call to live out our new position and put on Christ’s provision for the new life, but we are also reminded of the:
- Priorities of the new life
Paul concludes this look at the new life by giving three priorities for our hearts. Christ’s followers who have put on the Fathers provision are not focused on disputing everything or controlling everything. They are to be concerned with the peace of Christ, the word of Christ, and the name of Christ.
- Peace of Christ
The Greek word for peace includes both the concept of an agreement as well as an attitude of rest and security. Here in Colossians 3 we see both aspects. Objectively, believers are at peace with God: Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The conflict and resulting separation between the rebellious sinner and a righteous God has been satisfied by the Savior and His sacrifice on the cross. Because of His blood believers are at rest, safe and secure. Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 7, that the “peace of God… shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Here he calls it the peace of Christ because it is the peace He brings: John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.“ But it’s not just about the provision and protection of His peace but also the direction as we let His peace pilot our lives. The Greek word for rule was used to describe the activity of an umpire in deciding the outcome of an athletic contest. The peace of Christ should guide and direct us in making decisions. Wherever there is a conflict of motives or desires, it is the peace of Christ that must step in to have the final say and decide which should prevail. In this life there are many umpires that we can allow to control our hearts other than His peace. Those who love money end up letting it control their thoughts, which effects their attitudes and actions. Who gets hurt and what is right is not important, money, and the getting of more of it is what rules their reason. Some people allow pleasure to control them. Pleasure becomes their pursuit and their purpose regardless of the relationships it ruins. Others allow the desire for control to control them. It’s a my way or the highway mentality, a my way or no way. What is ruling your life? How do you know? The easiest way is to ask is it restoring or ruining your life? Only the peace of Christ should rule. So when the bills pile up, it is not the bills that control our actions and attitude but the peace of Christ. When health falters and fails, it is not the body that controls the spirit it is Christ’s peace. When we find ourselves in a disagreement with someone, it is our emotions that control our thoughts and actions but the peace of Christ. Christ’s peace decides how I’m going to respond to the events and people of my life. Not only is peace objective and subjective, but it is also relational. As believers we are called to live in peace with one another. Individuals who have peace with Christ should have peace with His children. Instead of hate there should be harmony. Disunity among God’s disciples is not only a disgrace but it fails to point people to God’s peace. The greatest way to preach peace is to model the message and practice it. So let me ask you what is ruling your heart? What determines what you do and how you will act in life? We say that we want peace in our lives yet many of us refuse to give control to Christ and let His peace rule our lives. Who is on the throne of your life, self or the Savior?
- Word of Christ
Let the message of Christ fill your life, literally means to let the Word of God be at home in your life. This is a call to let the Word take up residence and be at home in your heart. There is a difference between a guest and someone who dwells in a home. A guest comes and goes according to what is convenient for him and for his host, a dweller remains regardless of the circumstances. The truths of Scripture should so permeate every aspect of our lives as believers that it governs every thought, word, and deed. That means that we are not just called to read and study the Word but to live it out loud. Are you letting the Word of God take up permanent residence in your life? This command is in the present tense which means that we must keep on doing so. Acts 2:42 described the life of the early believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Are you devoted to the Word or just dabbling in the Word? The early disciples were devoted, they persevered and remained faithful to the Word. The word richness can be translated “abundantly or extravagantly rich.” It’s a reminder that the real riches are not found in the world but in His Word. What is filling you up, the word or the world?
- Name of Christ
Whatever you do or say do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, whether in the church or in the world, for there is no sacred-secular split in God’s eyes for He is Sovereign over all. The simplest, most basic rule of thumb for living the Christian life is to do everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus whether by lip or life. Lastly not only do we see the priorities for the new life but also the:
- Pattern of the new life Vs 15-17
Paul says, “. . . and be thankful . . .” At first glance this may seem like an afterthought thrown in for good measure. But Paul was being very intentional when he tied peace and thankfulness together. When I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ, then I can be at peace with them. And when I remember what God has done by bringing me into a relationship with Himself through Jesus and am thankful for that, then I can let the peace of Christ control every thought, every action, every word. The more thanks, the more peace. The two are in direct proportion to one another. You want peace then why not try being thankful. Three times in three verses Paul tells us to be thankful. Appreciation is the appropriate response of believers to all that God has done. It is ingratitude that marks unbelievers while a thankful spirit cannot be contained that is why Colossians 2:7 declares that we should be “…overflowing with thankfulness.” How about you, what are you overflowing with, is it an attitude of gratitude or one of grumbling? Do you find yourself whistling or whining?