Scripture Text: Colossians 3:15-17
Last week I mentioned about having room for Jesus. I think most people, including myself have a tendency to fill their lives with certain things that leaves little room for the more important ones. Christians do this by filling their lives with things and activities that effectively pushes God out of their lives. What I meant to say last week is that we should not fill our lives with all these other things that replace Jesus in our lives. Our new lives in Christ ought to be characterized by a full devotion to the One who came to save us. That is the essence of the passage today — whatever we do ought to be for the glory of Jesus Christ. Worshipping Him should be our desire and goal each day of our lives. The Christian life is not about making room for Christ in our lives, but it is about making our lives all about Jesus. He is the reason we exist and who we worship. Worship, however, requires a few things, which Paul addressed in this passage.
Put on Your Worship Clothes
Following Jesus means becoming a whole new person. Once Jesus saves us, we will act differently than before. That is the role of the Holy Spirit — to conform us to Christ. Even the world expects Christians to be different. When others see Christians acting like the world, they wonder why they should join us. Paul first described our changed Christian life by saying, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Colossians 3:5). He then wrote that we must put on our Christian clothing in order to worship God rightly. What are these worship clothes? Is it what we wear on Sunday morning? In a way, it is, but Paul was not talking about garments we wear. Look at the following verses.
Colossians 3:12-14 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
The Christian wardrobe contains garments that Christ bought for us when He died on the cross. These worship clothes include compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love. These are things we need to wear to effectively worship God. If you lack compassion, your worship will be hindered. If you lack humility, how can you rightly see God worthy to be worshiped, or your need for Him? If you lack forgiveness, how can you accept God’s forgiveness and worship Him for it? If you do not love others, you cannot know God well, for He is love (1 John 4:7-8). Therefore, Paul encouraged us to put on this new holy lifestyle that is consistent with a new identity in Jesus Christ. We need to no longer practice the old vices that characterized our lives before Christ, but instead practice the new virtues that the Holy Spirit empowers us to have. This new wardrobe, however, is not something we only wear for special occasions, but it is for everyday use. We will see this later in the passage.
Be Ruled by the Peace of Christ
The new self Paul described is very similar to the fruit of the Spirit which he mentioned in his letter to the Galatians. Related to the qualities of our new Christian self and a part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. The Christian life ought to be one which demonstrates peacefulness. If Jesus Christ is your Savior, then you know the Prince of Peace and you should know and have the peace of God. Peace is the quiet disposition which arises when people are committed to the lordship of Christ. A part of our worship includes having the peace that God gives us. If we do not have this peace, then it is difficult to worship Him as we should. Although the peace of God is generally an individual matter, in this passage, Paul was addressing the church. Look at the following verse.
Colossians 3:15 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
In this passage, Paul encouraged the church to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts. To rule something or someone is to lead. It means to direct the actions of something or someone else. Thus, the peace of Christ ought to direct our thoughts and actions. We ought to be known as peacemakers, not peace breakers. The individual hearts of each member, however, must be at peace for the whole congregation to be at peace. That is the peace Paul was mentioning. Rather than a command for personal peace, Paul stressed harmony in the whole church. A church ought to demonstrate peace and reconciliation within the body of Christ. We ought to be at peace with one another, as this is a good witness to an unbelieving world. False teachers in the church in Colossae posed a threat to the harmony of the congregation. Paul believed if they demonstrated the peace of Christ, it would keep them on the proper path.
The reason for such peace is that believers are called into one body, meaning the church as a whole. Paul wanted peace to guide all of the church’s collective activities. This peace includes considering others more important than yourself. It is difficult to have peace rule your heart when you strive to get your way, or consider yourself or what you want as more important than others. Also related to the peace of Christ guiding us is being thankful. The combination of thankfulness and peace makes sense. A lack of peace generally results from self-seeking or dissatisfaction with things as they are. Being thankful means we realize that all things are provided in Christ. If we are truly thankful, there is little room for bitterness. The last part of this verse tells us to do these things with thankfulness in our hearts. We will see this again later, for thankfulness is a necessary aspect of our Christian walk. But next, we need to be filled with something.
Be Filled with the Word of Christ
In verse fifteen, Paul wrote that we ought to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Having peace direct our lives requires something else, though. In verse sixteen, Paul spoke about something else dwelling within us. There are many things scripture mentions that dwell within us. For instance, we are sinners by nature, therefore, sin dwells within us (Romans 7:17). When God draws a person to Himself and that person believes and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God “makes His home” in that person. God begins to dwell within the new believer (Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:14). Here, Paul mentioned something else that should dwell within us. Look at the following.
Colossians 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Paul exhorts us to let the word of Christ dwell in us. There are probably many ways to understand the phrase “word of Christ”, but perhaps the best way to understand it is the word about Christ. This would essentially be the gospel message — Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come, died, and rose again so that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life. The church ought to constantly recognize the reason for its existence by continually remembering and living out the gospel message. The word of Christ ought to live richly within us. It ought to consume us. In this sense, the word of Christ, like the peace of Christ, becomes a measure of living our Christian faith within the church community. Before the church does anything, she should answer two questions: Is the peace of Christ present in the congregation at this point? Is what we are going to do consistent with, and will it promote the gospel of Jesus Christ?
It is the personal responsibility of every person who follows Jesus Christ to let God’s Word dwell within him or her. So, what can we do to have the word of Christ dwell within us? Read God’s Word. Here we see the importance of the Bible. If God’s Word does not dwell within us, if it does not rest in our hearts and our minds, it will not readily influence us or lead us along the path of love and peace. If God’s Word does not dwell within you, then when Satan comes your way, and he will, you will not be prepared to withstand His temptations and attacks. By letting the Word of God richly dwell within you, you can instinctively know what God’s Word says and rebuke the deceiver and accuser of the saints. When life turns for the worse, when trouble and tribulation come your way, having God’s Word living within you will remind you of His promises for you. You will know that no matter what happens to you on this earth, it does not compare to the riches of glory that God has prepared for all those who follow Jesus Christ.
Having the word of Christ richly living within us results in other positive things. One positive result is that we will be able to teach and admonish one another. We will be able to follow Jesus’ command to teach others all that He said (Matthew 28:19-20). We will be able to warn and counsel others of potential problems in their lives. It is hard to instruct others on what God has said without first knowing what He has said. Another result of God’s Word richly dwelling within us is singing with thankfulness. We should not overlook that our worship through song is a result of God’s Word dwelling within us. As God’s Word lives within us and becomes a natural part of our Christian walk, we respond with a heart of worship by singing praises to God. Singing, in fact, can be one means of teaching and admonishing one another. Therefore, as the new year approaches, it is a good time to make a personal resolution to dwell on God’s Word more and for it to dwell within you. Spend more time reading and meditating on scripture. Let it lead you and draw you closer to Jesus. You will be better for it.
Do Everything in the Name of Christ
Thus far in this passage, Paul has written about the importance of wearing a Christian lifestyle (such as having compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love), letting the peace of Christ lead you, and letting the Word of Christ live within you. The final verse in this passage brings this all together and speaks to the pervasive nature of worship. Worshipping God will be central in heaven. As such, it must be central in the life of the church now. God is preparing us now for an eternity of worship in heaven. Therefore, worship should be the main activity of both our private and corporate lives now. Having the peace of Christ guide us and having the word of Christ dwell within us ought to motivate us to genuinely worship God no matter where we are or what we are doing. Look at the last verse of this passage.
Colossians 3:17 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is a very comprehensive statement about Christian worship. Nothing we say or do is excluded from worshipping in the name of Jesus Christ. Believers are to live and act as those who bear His name and must do nothing that would bring shame to the name of Jesus Christ. One way Paul described our worshipping in the name of Christ by whatever do was in our relationships with one another. Paul showed in the following verses of this chapter how doing everything in the name of Christ applies to every member and every relationship of a household — wives and husbands, children and fathers, masters and slaves. Every relationship we have, everything we say, and everything we do, ought to be for the glory of Jesus Christ. In this way, the verse is very similar to something Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Look at the following verse.
1 Corinthians 10:31 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
In this particular verse, Paul was addressing an issue of legalism in the church where some believers were requiring others to strictly follow the dietary laws of the Old Testament. Therefore, he wrote no matter what you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God. Every aspect of a Christian’s life has the potential to honor God, and that is the goal we should seek. If you cannot worship God in what you are doing, then you do not need to do it. This and the verse in Colossians tells us to do everything for the glory of God and in the name of Jesus Christ. Bringing glory to God means we say and do those things that pleases God. This goes back to the previous verse. How can we know what pleases God if we do not know what He has said? To please Him requires we know His Word. To bring glory to God in whatever we say and do also means we worship Him at home, at work, and everywhere else we are. We ought to worship God when we are with our church family, and when we are not. We ought to worship God during Sunday school, when we sing songs (even songs we may not really prefer!), when we give an offering, when we preach God’s Word, and when we hear God’s Word preached. Yes, we are even supposed to worship God in a church business meeting. Do it all to please God (glory to Him), and to bring honor to Jesus Christ (in the name of Christ).
One last thing before we close, notice the importance of being thankful in this whole passage. Thankfulness is an essential element of our Christian faith. It pleases God for us to be thankful, which means, it brings Him glory when we are thankful. Paul’s letter to the Colossians contains many references to being thankful. It is mentioned at least three times in this passage alone. In verse fifteen, Paul exhorts us to be thankful. In verse sixteen, he wrote that the word of Christ should dwell within us with thankfulness in our hearts. And in the last portion of verse seventeen, Paul wrote that we ought to give thanks to God in everything we do. Therefore, whatever we do, in word and in deed, we ought to do in the name of Jesus Christ, for the glory of Jesus Christ, and with an attitude of thanksgiving to Jesus Christ. In fact, Christians ought to be the most thankful people in the world. We have so much to be thankful. We have forgiveness, eternal life, adoption into God’s family, and the presence of God wherever we are just by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Being thankful declares our gratitude to Jesus for all that He is and has done for us. Therefore, be thankful.
In closing, this passage tells us several things about how to worship God. One, we ought to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Let it lead you in all your dealings with each other. Also, let the word of Christ richly dwell within you. Take time to read, meditate, and dwell on God’s Word. Get to know your Savior better by reading His love letters to you. As the scriptures dwell within you, you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil and to remember God’s promises for you in times of trouble. Lastly, remember that everything we say and do ought to bring honor to the name of Christ and be pleasing to Him. In fact, our lives ought to be all about Jesus. To rightly worship Jesus as our Lord and Savior requires nothing less. As Paul wrote in verse eleven of this chapter, Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). He is the total reason for us to exist. For us to follow Jesus as Lord, for a church to truly be His Church, means for us to surrender all that we have and all that we are to Him. It is all about Christ. Period! As we begin a new year, let us dwell on the Word of God. Let us focus on worshipping Him in all that we do. Let us commit to surrendering all to Jesus. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.