Book of Colossians Bible Studies
Col 3:16-25 Practical Christianity - Great clothing choices Part 2
by I Gordon
We've been talking clothes from the book of Colossians lately. What to
wear. What not to wear. What's in. What's definitely out. It's been
telling us to clothe ourselves with particular things and to put off
certain things. Last time was about what we should clothe ourselves
with. Someone once said
'When our days are characterized by trouble, anger, hurt, or bad
feelings, it's time to invest in a new wardrobe'
. This is true. Here is what was in vogue 2000 years ago - compassion,
kindness, love, patience, humility; And thankfully, unlike the clothing
choices you've made this morning, these things never go out of fashion!
We are going to carry on with some other great clothing choices this
morning and finish off chapter 3.
This passage in Colossians is about practical Christianity. It's about
the doing. It's about action. We read Col 3:12-15 last time and we saw
lots of verbs in the passage:
yourself with a heart of compassion. Bear with one
another. Forgive one another. Put on
Love. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Be thankful.
As mentioned these are all verbs - doing words. And, as we saw last
time, what we are called to do is based on what's been done for us and
in us. It is treating others, and passing on to others, something of
forgiveness, compassion, patience or love that you have already
experienced from God.
In this study we are going to carry on and there are lots of little
mini-topics in the passage but they all fall under the larger umbrella
of 'Practical Christianity'. Paul focuses on three areas of practical
In your personal life
In your family life
In your work life
Practical Christianity in your personal life
Col 3:16-17 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. (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.
Firstly it speaks about the importance of allowing the word of God to
dwell in you richly. Why? Why is it important to do this? What does the
word of God actually do in our life anyway? As I started to think about
this I thought - 'Well how is the word pictured in the Bible? What
images or metaphors does the Bible use to help us understand the ways
in which the word operates in our lives?' I found 8 but there are no
doubt more. Can you think of any? What is the word of God likened to in
the Bible? I'll give you the first one.
- Heb. 4:12 '
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the
The word as a sword operates on others as well for, in describing the
armour of God, Eph 6:17 says to take up '...the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.'
I'll add the others into the footnote so you can test yourself before
seeing the answer!
No cheating now!
So it says we are to 'let' the word of God dwell in us richly. It's not
difficult. It's not expensive. It costs you nothing... but time. We are
to read His word, hear His word and meditate on His word. Another way
is to sing His word. Now you may not be a Luciano Pavarotti or even a
Susan Boyle. You may be tone deaf and have a singing voice that only a
mother could love. If that's you you'll appreciate the three little
words 'in your hearts' in this verse.
'Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.'
You can sing in your hearts. You can have a little song of thanks going
on inside. You can do this as you go for a run, weed the garden, ride
your bike, walk the dog, mow the lawns or wash the dishes. And maybe
even a few other places as well. It's another way of having your minds
and hearts renewed with the truth of God's word.
Secular vs. Spiritual time: Is there is difference?
Col 3:17 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.
The second area of practical Christianity in our personal lives
involves doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus. We can tend to divide
everything into the secular and the spiritual. We think 'right, I've
got church in the morning - a spiritual God time. Then I'm mountain
biking in the afternoon - secular or worldly me time.' But that's
religion, not relationship. It is a trap to be avoided and it is the
total opposite of what the New Testament teaches that, as 1Co 10:31
says, 'whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the
glory of God.'
Jesus has given himself to the believer and that wasn't just for
church, home group and times of devotion! Try to avoid the trap of
seeing somethings as spiritual and others as meaningless.
We'll come back to this thought in the last few verses as it is brought
up again so we'll leave it there for now. But I want to focus your
attention on the last aspect of personal practical Christianity...
How many times does Paul say this? Look at the end of verse of vs. 15.
Now look at the end of 16. And finally, though you are probably getting
the point, look at the end of verse 17. Paul repeats this command to
give thanks over and over. This tells my little brain that giving
thanks must be very important and not something we little humans are
overly good at! Have you been thanked recently? How did that make you
feel? What are you thankful for? What is the last thing that you
thanked the Lord for? When was the last time you gave thanks in the
middle of difficulty or discontentment?
H. A.Ironside said
'We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy
of discontent and dissatisfaction.'
We live in an age where the abundance of what we have is only matched
by the level of discontentment and dissatisfaction most feel! Odd but
true. But thankfulness is the key to unlocking the Lord's work in our
lives. It is that important.
You may remember the story of how 10 lepers fall down before Jesus
begging Him to heal them. He told them to show themselves to the priest
and they would be healed. They went off and before they arrived there
they were miraculously healed. Now imagine if you were one of those
lepers? How would you feel? Unbelievably grateful right? Yet only one
came back to Jesus to give thanks. Does this story not speak volumes of
Practical Christianity in your home and relationships
Col 3:18-21 Wives, submit 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
We move on now to practical Christianity in the home. You could say
this can be where the rubber hits the road! There is so much pressure
on families today. God puts great focus on the family structure and
family relationships and in this passage mentions wives, husbands,
parents, children, fathers... So that includes you somewhere in there.
Maybe you are three out of the five! If we are going to talk about
Christian character then were not just talking about Sunday at 10am. We
are talking about how we respond to our kids, how we treat our parents
and how we relate to our wife or husband.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Here is a verse that has been used by some husbands as a bit of a
stick. Hopefully not many... but some! Let me just say the following
(and please take this footnote into account!
) The Bible does say that there is an order within the family structure
and that the husband has that role of leadership. But that doesn't make
one better than the other - it is just the roles that God has
established. The problem we have, it seems to me, is that we often
think of some kind of dictatorship or military style barking of orders
by the husband desperately trying to force the wife to submit! But that
is not what this is about. The Greek indicates a willing submission by
the wife and it is obviously tied in to verse 19 - having a loving
husband. In fact the corresponding passage in Ephesians says that
husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
Goodness... That is putting a lot back onto the husband! Now, we don't
like this word 'submit' very much. We don't like it and society doesn't
like it. Society has placed bad connotations upon it. But within a
loving relationship it is an important and positive word. We should
remember that the whole of Christianity involves submission. Christ had
to submit everything unto the Father and does so again when He returns
1 Cor.15:27-28 tells us. Christians need to submit themselves unto the
Lord. Ephesians, speaking to all Christians, tells us to submit to one
another (Eph 5:21). Philippians 2:3 tells us that we are to regard one
another as more important than ourselves. In terms of leadership, Jesus
said the greatest amongst us will be the servant of all. So 'submit'
isn't a bad word. It is meant to fit quite normally into a relationship
where the husband loves his wife.
Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Now I stumbled upon a quote about husbands that I think the wives will
like. 'A husband is one who stands by you in troubles...'
That's nice isn't it? They are there for you. Supportive... Loving...
Standing by you... Oh wait a minute. Sorry... that's not the full
quote. Argh, silly me. Here it is.
'A husband is one who stands by you in troubles you wouldn't have
had if you hadn't married him.'
Well... ok... at least he's standing by you in the troubles he's now
causing you. That's sort of good of him!
'Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the
What about children? It isn't just marriages feeling the pinch. There
is so much pressure on kids today... so much rebellion by kids today.
God put 'honour your Father and Mother' in His top ten list of
commandments for a reason. The strength of a community or a nation
comes down to the strength of the families within it, which in turn is
built on the respect, honour and right relationships between its
members. If Christianity is going to make a difference in the family
then it has to impact how fathers and mothers treat their children and
how children respect and honour their parents. But here is the
challenge: In the list of not so great characteristics of the last
days, amongst other things the Bible tells us that people will be
'boastful, arrogant, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
Pro 30:11-12 (NKJV) tells us that 'there is a generation that curses
its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that
is pure in its own eyes...'
I believe we are in that age, and it's not easy as I'm sure many of you
can attest to. There is a real challenge for kids these days - a very
real pressure upon them.
One thing it does say here is 'Fathers, do not embitter your children,
or they will become discouraged.' How can parents embitter them?
Children can become embittered through neglect or mistreatment, through
being spoilt or in treating one child as more important than another.
Practical Christianity in your work life - Christianity on the job!
Col 3:22-4:1 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do
it, not only when their eye is on you and to win 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 men,
(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 his wrong, and there is no favouritism.
(4:1) Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because
you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
We move now to practical Christianity in the work place. Now,
obviously, the context of this passage is that of slaves and their
masters. Slavery was obviously a big part of first century Roman
culture. Not so much today thankfully! But we can apply these words to
whatever task, job or position we have been given to do. Paul tells
them to obey those over them and do what they are asked to do - not
only when their eye is on you to win their favour, but with sincerity
of heart and reverence for the Lord. Those words very much apply to our
life and jobs today! Not much has changed. The ability of man do get
away with doing very little in his work has been around for a long time
Some of us might be able to go off to our jobs in the morning, just as
the seven dwarfs did, singing 'Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work we
go'. For others its 'I owe, I owe, so off to work I go...' That's just
a fact of life.
Often it seems that you're just slaving away at ho-hum boring
repetitive tasks. That survey I just mentioned in the footnote said
that 46% of the people surveyed were looking for other jobs! The fact
is, if that many people are looking for another job it probably
indicates that most jobs are not all that exciting and the next job you
get could well be filling the role left by some other disgruntled
employee! It's just life! The slaves of Paul's day probably had a lot
to complain about as well. They wouldn't have liked their lot in life.
They were tempted to not try all that hard. What does Paul tell them?
1) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for
the Lord, not for men,
I work for a big organization so emails are sent when someone is away.
It is often amazing seeing the Friday-itis or Monday-itis where people
just keeping getting sick around those days! Whatever you do, this
passage tells us, it's for the Lord. Gulp! It could be the most menial
task - but if it is for the Lord then that makes all the difference. If
you had a job scrubbing the floors of the local public toilets, you'd
probably put an average amount of effort in. If you were cleaning the
floors in Buckingham palace for the Queen you'd probably want to make a
pretty good effort. Who you are doing it for makes a difference.
Sometimes at work you may get sick of the company you work for or be
slacked off with your boss. This can affect your work because you can't
be bothered working for someone who you don't respect. Well, that's the
natural reaction! It's not the spiritual reaction. Your 'boss', Paul
says, is the Lord. And this applies for whether you have the most
important of tasks or the most menial. You work for the Lord.
2) Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the
Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
This reminds us that the Lord watches and the Lord rewards. Normally we
think of 'rewards' in the sense of doing some great spiritual work that
lasts for eternity! We all want to be doing something that has eternal
significance and may result in a reward at the judgement seat of
Christ. That's normal and natural. But here Paul was reminding us, 'no
it doesn't have to be some great grand spiritual work. It can be the
most mundane work. It can be as simple as a slave working hard for his
master because he is doing it as to the Lord - and the Lord watches and
the Lord rewards.' We need to remember that it is the Lord that we
The Lord of all, watches all
Col 3:25-4:1 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and
there is no favouritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is
right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Finally he reminds us that there is no favouritism with God. It doesn't
matter whether you are at the top of the corporate ladder or just
trying to balance on the first rung. In Paul's day the masters could
often treat their slaves improperly. They thought they were in control
and could call the shots. They were at the top of the tree and these
lowly slaves were their property to treat how they liked. Well this
verse is reminding us that God isn't partial and He isn't impressed. He
doesn't look down, then or now, and think 'wow - you're really
somebody! Look at how many people you get to lead and command... I'm
impressed!' No, He doesn't take note of such things. The person running
the country is no more important that the person sweeping the floors in
His view. He treats no one any different based on their earthly
standing. The Lord's judgment is based on faithfulness - whether for
good or for bad. That is what this verse is saying. It is a reminder to
the slaves to do their work unto the Lord. It is a reminder to the
master to treat their slaves fairly because they have their real master
in heaven Who watches and repays.
Now I know there have been quite a few different topics and thoughts
that arise from this passage. But all of these verses touch on some
aspect of where your faith in Jesus Christ should make some practical
difference as to how you live your life; whether it is in your personal
life, your marriage and family life or your work life.
Can you remember the verse from James earlier?
Jas 1:22-24 do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive
yourselves. Do what it says. (23) Anyone who listens to the word
but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face
in a mirror, (24) and, after looking at himself, goes away and
immediately forgets what he looks like.
As we have looked into God's word for this study we don't want to be
like that man who hears but just forgets! No...There may have been
something that you can take to the Lord and talk about. For me, as I
was reading through this passage, the main two were the importance of
thankfulness and doing your work, whatever it is, unto the Lord. For
you it could well be something different. But whatever it is that spoke
you (hopefully something did!) be sure to ask the Lord about it and see
what He would have you do.