Read Colossians 3
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Instructions for Christian Households
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
As is commonplace in some of Paul’s other letters, we see a shift here in Colossians 3. The first two chapters of the book lay a theological foundation of both the supremacy of Jesus and the flawed teaching the Colossians had been learning. This chapter begins with Paul imploring the Colossians to set their hearts and minds on things above–eternal things. He then spends the rest of the chapter explaining how they can do just that, giving extremely practical steps for the Colossians on how they should live and what their lives should look like.
Paul paints two different pictures for us in this chapter: one of the “old self” and one of the “new self.” The old self is marked by sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger, dishonesty and filthy language, among other traits (v. 5-9). The old self does whatever feels best. The old self returns to habitual sin thinking it will somehow satisfy the emptiness we feel, like a dog to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). The old self is self-reliant, thinking we can figure it out on our own. We’re called to something so much better than to simply stay our old selves.
Re-read how Paul describes the new self is verse 12-17. We’re called to live differently. Our lives are to be marked by virtues such as kindness, humility, and gratitude. We are to forgive people who wrong us and to teach and admonish one another, all in the name of Jesus. To put it succinctly, we are to live virtuously (which is countercultural to how the rest of the world lives). In a day and age that is self-absorbed and self-indulgent, Christians who place the interests of others instead of their own will, in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, let their light shine (Matthew 5:16) in a dark world.
When we live this way, everything shifts. Our marriages grow healthier, our children flourish, and our work on earth matters because we’re doing it all in a way that honors and brings glory to Jesus. Let us set our minds and our hearts on that today.
- Who is the most virtuous person in your life? What words or phrases would you use to describe them?
- When you think about your old self and new self, which words would have been used to describe you before you met Jesus and now that you’re following Jesus?
- How can you set your mind on things above today? What are a couple of practical steps you can take today to live with an eternal mindset?
Read this quote from New Testament scholar N.T. Wright:
“Virtue is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices requiring effort and concentration to do something which is good and right, but which doesn’t come naturally. And then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required automatically. Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.”
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