Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

16 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. 17 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.

The Original Intent

1) Who are God’s chosen ones?

First, we must understand that Paul is addressing believers in Colossae. He is writing them because he has heard of incorrect teaching taking place amongst the believers. 

In these verses, Paul is reminding his audience they are God’s chosen ones as believers in Jesus. He is reminding them of who they are in Christ as set apart from the world around them.

God has always had a chosen people since He formed His covenant with Abraham. In Paul’s day, God’s people are those who believe in Jesus. Paul points out as believers they are not only chosen but holy (or set apart) and dearly loved.  Just as God set apart Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Israelites for His work and purposes, so has God chosen to set apart those who are saved through faith in His Son.

The Everyday Application

1) Who are God’s chosen ones?

The Colossians, and other churches in the New Testament, are not the only ones chosen by God. Believers around the world today are God’s chosen people. We are the people who God chooses to work through to accomplish His greater purposes just as He worked through those chosen in the Old and New Testament.

He sets us apart as holy and blameless through the sacrifice of Jesus because of His deep love for us. When we choose to accept that love and the gift of salvation, we become part of God’s chosen ones whom He wants to use to point the world to Himself.

The Original Intent

2) Why is there a list of virtues or positive character traits listed in these verses?

Immediately following his reminder to the Colossians of who they are in Christ, Paul provides them a list of character traits they are to “put on”. These verses, therefore, also call for the believers in Colossae to “take off” the behaviors and traits that are in opposition to those of Christ.

These traits look more like the world and less like Jesus; Paul composes his list as a reminder to believers of the higher call they have to reflect Christ, not the world. As believers live out a life full of these traits, they look more and more like Jesus. Above all in these verses, believers are called to love, the other traits are simply specifics on how to love well.

Christians look the most like Jesus when they love others. It is through this genuine love the world sees Jesus. These verses are a call to the believers in Colossae to live differently than the world around them while also loving differently than the world around them.

The Everyday Application

2) Why is there a list of virtues or positive character traits listed in these verses?

This list of character traits at a glance seems to be impossible to live out. However, the reality is, as Christians we are called to take off our old selves and put on the new. The old nature has been put to death through Jesus, we are now alive in Christ and filled with His Spirit empowering us to “put on” the deeds of the new life! (Romans 8:12-13Colossians 3:5)

Paul is clarifying what that new self should look like as we become more like Jesus. It reminds me of a similar list we call the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. Both these lists are unattainable lists on our own might. However, as Jesus transforms our lives to look more like Him and grow in deeper relationship with Him, these traits become proof that Jesus is at work in us.

We slowly look more like Him resulting in more of these traits flowing out of us. We love like Jesus loves us, and that is radical in the world we live in. There is no greater way to expose a lost world to Jesus than to love them the way He loves us!

The Original Intent

3) Thankfulness or gratitude is mentioned 3 times in these verses; why?

Thankfulness or gratitude almost seems out of place in these verses. Paul sets out to remind the Colossian believers of their identity in Jesus and how that truth overflows into everyday life, then, as if by addendum, there are continuous references to thankfulness. He mentions it 3 times in the last 3 verses of this section of Scripture, but he mentions it again later in his letter.

Matthew Henry says this about why Paul writes about thankfulness, “(It’s) to preserve in us this peaceable disposition, we must be thankful. The work of thanksgiving to God is such a sweet and pleasant work that it will help to make us sweet and pleasant towards all men. Instead of envying one another upon account of any particular favours and excellence, be thankful for his mercies, which are common to all of you.”

Thankfulness is an important part of the journey; Paul recognized this and knew no believer could grow up in maturity in Christ without gratitude.

The Everyday Application

3) Thankfulness or gratitude is mentioned 3 times in these verses; why?

The concept of gratitude or thankfulness is not solely mentioned in these verses. Paul writes of it several times throughout the book of Colossians and his other epistles. This grabs my attention and makes me ask why. When we read Matthew Henry’s thought, quoted above, we see one reason why.

As we stop and intentionally show thankfulness for what God is doing both in and around us, we see more of who God is and our attention is refocused on Him instead of us. I personally can attest to this. I have been on a journey of thankfulness in my life for the last several years. As I reflect on every day, I find at least one thing to be thankful for.

Through this journey I have seen God at work in ways I would have missed before. I see the world and events differently than before. Most importantly though, my focus shifts from my own selfish ambitions onto God’s work He is accomplishing, even in the small things.  I challenge each believer to take time and express thankfulness to God each and every day. It will change your life and your walk with the Lord in ways you could never imagine!

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