Living the New Life: 3:1-11.
Paul turns his attention to the practical implications of Christian life. He describes who we are and what we should do in light of our new identity with Christ. Those who are united with Christ by faith are jointly raised up and seated with Him at the right hand of God in heaven (3:1). Therefore we should set our mind on things above and not on things on the earth. We should set our affection on spiritual things in light of eternity and do not worry about earthly things. Mind is where the gospel messaged is processed and understood. We are sinners and Christ is the Savior. Those who have believed in Christ have been forgiven of their sins. This has to go through our thinking process before it settles into our hearts. Paul exhorts us not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:1-2). Those who have died with Christ, their life is permanently hidden with Christ in God (Gal 2:20; Rom 6:3-4). When Christ who is our life appears, then we also will appear with him in glory. This speaks of the certainty of our future state of glory (1 John 3:1-3; Phil 1:21). In light of our glorious future, Paul calls on the Colossians to live in a manner consistent with our holy calling. Christians should put off the old evil nature they received from Adam and put on the new nature they have received when they got saved. Christians should get rid of their old habits and allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives (3:8-9). Our minds are renewed as we learn to know Christ deeper. It is a continuous life long process (3:10). God has given us a mind to direct our will. Our natural inclination is always to our old nature. The strongest deterrent against returning to our old nature is to focus on Christ. When we feel weighed down by the worries of this world, focus on Christ and our future glory. We have been blessed with eternal life. We are promised that we are going to spend our eternity in the presence of God (John 14:1-3). If we allow these thoughts to control our mind, we will find it much easier to live in obedience to God. There is no cultural, social and other differences in Christ but Christ is all, and in all.
The Characteristics of the New Man: 3:12-14.
When we get saved, we are identified with Christ. If we have been raised with with Christ, we must seek to live differently. All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Still we retain our sinful nature. These two competing forces are at work in our lives (Gal 5:17). Paul says that our hearts need to be changed and stabilized by the peace of God. This happens when we believe that God is in control of all things in our lives. The heart is the center of our being where the mind, the will and emotion come together. Our thinking is what determines our belief and our beliefs determine our behavior. Our actions and behavior are logical consequences of what we believe. It is not out of fear and pity our hearts are changed but only when we learn of God’s love for us in Christ. Christ’s love for us is the driving force to love God and serve him. Compassion is mercy in action and kindness is inner attitude of gentleness. Humility is the outward expression of our inner attitude of regarding self as last. Meekness is the gentle consideration of others. Pride has no place in the Christian’s life. Patience is the willingness to bear injury and insult without retaliation. Forbearing is the ability to get along with those who disagree with us. Christians can disagree without being disagreeable. Forgiveness is treating the offending person graciously and showing favor unconditionally. When we manifests these divine characters, God is glorified. Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Love is the basis of all the graces (1 Cor 13:13). Perfection means completion or maturity. One can give without loving, but he cannot love without loving. Without love all our worship, services and sacrifices are empty.
The Word of God and our Worship: 3:15-17.
Those who are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ are at peace with God (Rom 5:1). But we experience peace of God when we live in obedience. It is something we experience in the midst of conflicts knowing that Christ is sufficient in all our situations. It comes from Christ and guards our hearts from worry (Phil 4:6-7; John 14:27). One of the identifying marks of Christian is peace. We do not experience peace in vacuum. When we trust that God is in control of our life we find peace in our hearts. We should allow the Word of God to dwell in our heart in all wisdom (3:16). To submit our lives to the Lord also means to submit our mind to His Word. Being rooted and built up in Christ means to be permeated with the Word of God. The peace is produced by the Holy Spirit to promote harmony among believers ( Gal 5:22; James 3:18). Thanksgiving is the overflowing result of the presence of Christ in our life. This is a process that requires discipline of the mind, will and heart. When the Word of God dwells is us richly, Christ will express his life in us and through us. When the word of God digests and settles in our hearts, we will sing praises to God. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the result of being controlled by the Word of God. This will lead to worship and service (Ephesians 5:18-19). God is worshiped in spirit and truth (John 4:23). Worship is an act of heart, will, mind and emotion. God’s honor and praise should be our primary goal in worship (1 Cor 10:31). All our worship must be in keeping with the truth of God’s revealed Word. Only a Christ centered life would bring glory to God (3:17). Our hearts are changed only as we learn of God’s gracious love for us in Christ. God is not indifferent towards the object and the manner of worship. Ask God to replace your worries with his peace so that you may worship him with a thankful heart.
The Christian Home: 3:18-21.
Paul explains how our union with Christ impacts our relationships in our home. Here many times, the phrase “In the Lord” is mentioned. Paul calls on wives to submit to their husbands, as is fitting in the Lord (3:18). Submission is a military term means “line up under”. There is no hint of inferiority in this term. It speaks of authority and responsibility. Paul’s teaching here is on the basis of the order of creation principle. The wife was created to be the suitable helper, not as slave (Gen 2:20-22). The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3). Here submission speaks of headship and authority. The family is held together by authority and obedience. The wife’s submission is prompted by her obedience to Christ and by her husband’s love towards her. This is voluntary and not forced upon her by demand. The submission is protection from God (1 Pet 2:14). It has limitations but finds favor with God (1 pet 2:16-19). It is proper for those who are in Christ to submit one another. There is an emphasis on responsibility. There is no distinction between man and woman in Christ when it comes to salvation (Gal 3:28). At the foot the cross, all men and women are equal. We are sinners. Husband should keep on loving their wives. This is the sacrificial love and not the selfish love. There is a difference between redemptive love and possessive love. Possessive love is self satisfying love and demanding. Do not harbor bitterness towards wives because it will destroy the marriages. Children should obey their parents. They should cultivate the habit of hearing and obeying instructions from parents. This pleases the Lord. Fathers should not provoke their children, lest they become discouraged. Discipline should be tempered with love. By being over demanding, inconsiderate, always fault-finding and by unjust corrective measures, father can exasperate children. Children should not be irritated, harassed and teased. It can lead them to frustration, depression and disrespect of parents. Train children to obey God and praise them when they obey.
Servants and Masters: 3:22-25.
Paul focuses on Christian behavior in the work place. He calls on slaves to obey their earthly masters diligently. The slaves were part of the household of Masters. They should work diligently and should not work by way of eye service to gain the master’s favor. They should serve their masters sincerely as to the Lord. The diligent and cheerful works are the test of Christian service. Work has its origin in God (Gen 2:15). When world says to work hard to get ahead, Jesus says to work hard to show the world who you are really working for. Then only others would see our work from a divine perspective and our workplace will become a mission field. The believers would work diligently as though we are working for the Lord rather than for earthly masters. Our work may be unappreciated and underpaid in this life, but God promises to give us full reward in heaven (3:24). Whatever we do, do all for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). There may be respect of person with man, but not with God. There is no partiality with God (1 Pet 1:17). God does not have double standard. He weighs both the slaves and the masters in the same scale. Masters should be just and fair to their slaves knowing that they have a master in heaven. Masters should treat their slaves justly and fairly. God keeps his eyes on the character and conduct of all men. Everyone shall give account of himself to God (Rom 14:12). This principle is applicable in the employer and employee relationship today. We should do all things for the glory of God.