Reading for Wednesday, Aug 15: Colossians 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. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (v1,2).
With this statement, Paul seeks to elevate the Colossians to a more high-minded position. We struggle to know the particulars of the Colossian heresy, but it appears again that their argument is based on “human philosophy” (2:8), man-made opinions, rather than God’s instruction. Paul’s statements in ch3 remind us of our call to reflect on matters of eternal significance, the “weightier matters” that Jesus spoke about.
This does not require the Christian to reflect only on “heavenly” matters. It’s been said that Christians are so heavenly minded that their of no earthly good. Although the critique is unflattering, it’s a point worth making. We’re not commanded here to ignore matters of justice, poverty, and oppression in the world. Paul’s point is just this: you’ve put to death the earthly nature (v5), so live like it. As people who have put greed to death, we should have no problem assisting our brothers and sisters in need. We’ve been liberated to live generously. But we remain vigilant, ever on guard against the wiles of Satan. “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator,” (v8-10).
No, the life we live here on earth matters too much to ignore it completely. In fact, it matters so much that Paul implores us to a particular kind of living: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (v12-14).
These statements hardly need any commentary: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (v15-17).