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God does not intend the Christian life to be lived in a vacuum.
The old has to be discarded, and the flesh ruthlessly dealt with. However, there is a new attire to be clothed with that speaks of the graces of Christ, for God would have us all to be like His Son.
Such features will help us in the assembly to maintain an atmosphere of love and respect. They will help us in the family – whether wives, husbands or children – and they will govern our behaviour in the work place as well.
Wherever we are and whatever relationship we are found in, we represent the name of the Lord Jesus (chapter 3.17).
This ought to cause our hearts to well up in thanksgiving to the Father through Christ, whose peace rules in our hearts.
Colossians chapter 3.12-25
Graces to put on (verses 12-14)
What we have to put on is in keeping with what we are before God. We are the subjects of Divine election, sanctification and affection, and certain Christ-like characteristics need to be displayed. We are to have a heart of compassion which demonstrates a practical goodness and tender consideration of others. We should be characteried by a genuine lowliness of mind, coupled with the ability to maintain control of personal strength and to bear up under pressure and opposition, while showing the quality to exhibit patient endurance with each other. If we have a complaint against someone, it affords the opportunity to show them the kind of forgiveness that the Lord Jesus has already shown to every one of us. Then, to crown these graces, Paul says “put on love.” Love is that which binds believers together and provides the impetus to make progress towards the spiritual completeness intended by God.
Presiding peace and the indwelling word (verses 15-17)
– Love is the crown of all the graces
These verses may be paraphrased as follows: Allow the peace of Christ to arbitrate if disputes arise among you. Let the word of Christ abide in you in all the richness of its wealth. Let the wisdom of the doctrine of Christ admonish each one of you. Let the worship of Christ arise as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, being thankful to God. Everything we say and do must be in subjection to the authority of the Lord Jesus, and through Him our gratitude is directed to God the Father. Is Jesus Christ Lord of my words and works?
Christian behaviour in various relationships (verses 17-25)
Paul deals with the home and the workplace in these verses. In every mention of wives in the epistles, the principle of subjection is emphasised. Note, it is always to her own husband that the wife is to submit, and Paul adds that this is befitting in the Lord.
Husbands have to love their wives and not to be irritating them out of a bitter spirit. Here the love is unqualified, but in Ephesians 5, a husband must love his wife as he loves himself and “as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.”
Children are exhorted to obey their parents, and, Paul adds, “in everything.” Note the higher thought that this is well pleasing not just to the parents, but is in keeping with a desire to please the Lord Himself.
This instruction to children is balanced by the requirement that fathers should not provoke or stir up their children. By displaying the wrong attitude, it is possible to dishearten your children so as to take any feeling or passion out of them.
In verse 22 we enter the work place with an appeal to servants or slaves. Perhaps with the background of Onesimus (chapter 4.9), the converted slave being sent back to his master Philemon, Paul deals more extensively with responsibilities in this context. Obedience, continuance, diligence and reverence are the features that must characterise their service. Whatever they are asked to do, and whether anyone is watching or not, they will work, putting their soul into it with energy as serving the Lord Himself.
They may be slaves down here and may have nothing of their own in this life, but the Lord will recompense their labour with a heavenly inheritance. What dignity is conferred on the Christian slave and indeed all of us, when we remember that we serve the Lord Christ! William Kelly has made the following observation on this passage: “No person becomes obedient by good rules. The heart must be filled with right motives.” It truly elevates even the most mundane level of service when the motive is to serve the risen Christ.
Exhortations, the opening of doors and opportunities.