We ended yesterday’s post with an exhortation to be thankful for the Lord’s presence, to be persistent in prayer so that we stay attuned to what He will show us. “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” (Rom 12:12)
No matter our circumstances, we can give thanks that our Lord is with us and goes before us, we can be thankful for His protection, love and guidance. So as Christ followers we are to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.” (Col 3:14-15)
Truthfully, in our flesh we cannot put on love and let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, unless we submit our lives to Him. He must be our Lord to whom we humbly submit. Jesus made this point clear, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5)
We must stay in God’s Word daily and persist in prayer, and encourage one another in love. “Let the Word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:16-17)
We previously discussed ten positive behaviors which Christians are supposed to practice from (Col 3:12-15). This important verse 16 offers an eleventh trait: letting the “Word of Christ dwell richly among you.” The “Word of Christ” refers to Christ’s teachings, both directly as found in the Gospels as well as those explained by the apostles. According to Paul, the teachings of Jesus “live” within believers in a powerful way.
This verse lists three specific applications of Christ’s Word dwelling in the life of a believer. The first two aspects are noted together: teaching and admonition. Christ’s Word can instruct us, which is “teaching.” At the same time, Christ’s Word can also show us where we are wrong. The Word of Christ gives us guidance in how to correct mistakes in what we believe and what we do. “For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
Third, Paul encourages the singing of various types of spiritual songs. Paul never gives preference to one type of music over another. His purpose here is simply to state that all types of music were to be used to let the Word of Christ dwell richly within us. This singing was to be done with an attitude of thanksgiving. Singing praise to God is largely associated with showing our gratitude to Him, rather than focusing on ourselves or our own desires. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (Phil 4:4-5)
In the last verse in today’s text, Paul summarizes his teaching with the all-encompassing phrase “whatever you do”. “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17)
Anything unmentioned in his list is to be understood from his words in this verse. This includes what we say and how we act. This fits cleanly with Paul’s rejection of legalism and pious self-denial. Our relationship with Christ is not about a set of rules—human minds could never make enough individual rules to cover every possible situation. Instead, we are to submit everything, and every moment to Christ. Instead of living by a checklist, we are to submit to Him in “whatever” we think or do.
This teaching is emphasized a second time. Paul’s teaching is once again all-encompassing. We are to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The final phrase “giving thanks to God the Father through Him” is one reason for the tradition of ending prayers using the name of Jesus. We thank God the Father, in the name of Jesus, our High Priest and Mediator. It is through Jesus we are saved and have a new life. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)