John T. Willis

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Humility, Forgiveness, Love, Thanksgiving--Colossians 3:12-17

Paul and Timothy continue their admonitions to Christians, now calling Christians as "God's chosen people, holy and beloved"--Colossians 3:12. This is rooted in and follows Deuteronomy 4:37; 7:7; Psalm 33:12; and many other Old Testament texts. See further 1 Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:33; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Colossians 3:12-17 contains 5 admonitions (verses 12), then 3 admonitions (verses 13-14), and finally 3additional admonitions (verses 15-17), built around the themes of humility, forgiveness, love, and thanksgiving. This blog follows these admonitions.

I. Five admonitions consisting of the "clothes" of Christians. Colossians 3:12. Paul encourages Christians to "clothe themselves" with five spiritual garments.
a. Compassion. This means "merciful compassion"--a deep feeling of compassion for other people, especially hurting people. See Philippians 2:1; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 3:8.
b. Kindness. This is treating other people kindly=with kindness=in a kind way. See Galatians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 2:7; 4:32.
c. Humility. The major human problem is "arrogance," "pride," "self-centeredness," "I-strain," "ingratitude." Christians must be concerned about the well-being and interest of others, not themselves. See Philippians 2:3-4; James
4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Matthew 5:3.
d. Meekness. This is genuine patience or longsuffering, especially in times of distress or persecution. See Galatians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2.
e. Patience. This is the practice of waiting quietly for a long time and exercise forbearance. See Galatians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 3:10; 4:2.

II. Three admonitions about treating others in a Christlike manner. Colossians 3:13-14.
a. Bear with one another. Christians have the character of "welcoming" others as Christ has welcomed all humanity. See Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:32; 5:2, 25, 29.
b. Forgive each other. God through Jesus Christ has forgiven us, so we must naturally love one another. Other people mistreat and oppress us, but when they ask forgiveness, we yearn for forgiving them, just as God has forgiven us. See Matthew 6:12-15. The forgiveness Christians have received in baptism (Colossians 2:13) gives the community of faith freedom and readiness not to bear and not to foster a grudge against another even though there may be grounds for complaint and grievance.
c. Clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Love covers a multitude of sins. See Proverbs 10:12; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Romans 13:8, 10. Love is the invisible bond or tie that unites all of God's true people, even with all our diversity.

III. Three admonitions about thanksgiving. Colossians 3:15-17. In each of these three verses, Paul emphasizes the importance of "thanksgiving."
a. "The peace of Christ"=the peace that exists between Christians through Jesus Christ--rules in our hearts. This attitude surpasses all understanding. We cannot make this happens. This works in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. See Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:16. Therefore, we cannot but "be thankful." This is not for isolated Christians, but for the whole community of faith.
b. "The word of Christ"=the biblical message about Jesus Christ--dwells in God's people richly. Thus, spontaneously, they "teach and admonish one another," AND they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in their hearts WITH GRATITUDE or thanksgiving. "Psalms" are typically Old Testament Psalms, normally in the Book of Psalms, but also elsewhere, as in Exodus 15:1-18; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; 2 Samuel 22; etc. A psalm is a melody produced by a musical instrument. See for example, Psalms
33:1-3; 150; often in the Old Testament, and specifically commanded by God himself through the true prophets of God in the Bible--2 Chronicles 29:25. A hymn is a festive hymn of praise. Examples of the early church occur in texts like Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Timothy 3:16. A spiritual song is a song created by the community of faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. See further Ephesians 5:19.
c. Paul concludes with the admonition: "WHATEVER you do, in WORD or DEED, do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus. "Word and deed" is not merely external worship, but everyday living, where people toil and sweat, dealing with other human beings. Jesus Christ is the basis of all of this. And in all this, God's people are to "give thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ." This is genuine spiritual worship. Romans 12:1-2. THANKSGIVING is the HEART of Christian living.

Share YOUR thoughts and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU. May this wonderful passage bless YOU richly.

John Willis


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