“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Of Wisdom, Singing, and Thankfulness – Part III
Over the past few messages we have lingered over these verses in chapter three because this is where Paul is calling us to live as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. Just as we received Christ Jesus the Lord we are to walk in Him, not as those who are laboring to get God on their side, but to walk with our minds and hearts and hope fixed upon the Lord Jesus and the truths of the gospel. Chapter three of this letter is written to describe what the life lived in response to the gospel of grace should look like.
In this message we are taking up two more qualities that should mark us as believers. We are called, as the people of God, to be consecrated to Christ and always thankful to God the Father. Paul mentions thankfulness three times in just three verses and then in verse 17 he calls us to radically consecrated lives.
Those who have received Christ Jesus the Lord by faith should be a people marked by both thankfulness and devotion to the Lord. Let’s make sure we see this: verse 17 says, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything…
#1. in the name of the Lord Jesus, and
#2. giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So here is an incredible prescription: whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything … in the name of the Lord Jesus and do everything … giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus.
I think it is all too easy to hear or read these words and they just sort of bounce off of us. We hear them, yet we remain unchanged. But these things should be the identifying marks on every one of us in Christ Jesus. So, I’d like to make sure we allow these commands to sink in and sit on us with their proper weight.
A Consecrated People
“…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…”
What does this mean?
Well, It means that all of our life decisions should flow out of and make sense in light of who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done for us. Every action we take and every word we speak, should reflect and grow out of our relationship with the One who has saved our souls from sin and death.
If we were to think about our life as a pie, we might divide it into parts: one part of the pie is family, one part career, one part recreation, one part ministry and church life, one part political involvement. Your life may have many parts and pieces. These are interrelated, but distinct.
Well, Christ must pervade (spread through and be perceived in every part of) the pie so that every word and action, in your family, in your career, in your recreation, in your church ministry activities, in your political involvement, every word and every action, in every conceivable part of your life, is to be done in the name of Jesus, that is in an accord with who He is.
The Lord Jesus and His saving work must be the very foundation and starting point for every endeavor: in your marriage, your parenting, your friendships, your work, your hobbies, your recreation, your service in the church and in the community. We, His people, have been called out of darkness into light and life to live upon, feed upon, be shaped by, and act and speak from our devotion to Him.
This verse tells us that every single word we speak and every single action we take should be stamped with Jesus’ name on it. Paul is calling the people of God to a radical consecration, lives set apart to Christ and His glory. Every word that we utter in this life should be spoken as if the Lord Jesus was standing right behind us and had sent us to speak that word, in that way. Every action we take should be engaged in with passion as if the Lord Jesus Himself had sent us to do it and was coming along side to strengthen us for it.
Jonathan Edwards, a pastor in the 1700’s, was a man who felt the weight of this call. In 1722 and into 1723, at the age of 19 he wrote out 70 resolutions and determined to read over them once a week. Here are just two:
7. Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
19. Resolved, Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if I expected it would not be above and hour before I hear the last trump.
There is coming a Day when the sum and substance of our lives will be revealed and laid bare before our Lord.
Are you living in reference to that Day when you will see your Savior?
Those in Christ need not fear any condemnation on that Day. Christ is not against us and will never be.
But, 1 Corinthians 3 does say that our work in this life will be tested on that Day and the worth of it will be revealed. A true believer ought to live in light of that Day when we will see our wonderful Savior and our lives will either be revealed as precious in his sight or wasted on this world.
Are our lives consecrated, set apart to the glory of Christ? Does the Lord Jesus and His saving work function in your life in such a way that He informs the way you understand yourself and the world and your role in it, such that everything you say and do, you say and do in the name of Jesus, for His pleasure and for His glory?
“Before conversion, the man made light of Christ, minded his farm, friends, merchandise, more than Christ; now, Christ is to him as his necessary food, his daily bread, the life of his heart, the staff of his life. His great desire is, that Christ may be magnified in him.” Taken from the book A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine, 1671.
Christians bear Christ’s name in every moment of their life – we are to be a consecrated people, speaking and acting so as to please Him. Act today as you will be glad you did when you see Him face to face.
A Thankful People
But, Paul goes further. He gives us some of the content of what this means. We are to say and do everything in Jesus name, giving thanks to the Father through Him.
This means that if we are to be consecrated to Jesus we must carry into every sphere of life a heart of thankfulness to God the Father. In ever moment of life we are to enter with hearts filled with thanks for what God has done for us in sending His Son, and we are to speak and act from that heart of thankfulness. This verse says there should never be any word or deed that is said or done without a thankful heart.
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Everything that bubbles up out of your mouth should come from thankfulness. Everything.
The Call to Holiness.
We have an incredible call here, to live every moment in full consecration to our Lord and Savior and with unceasing thankfulness. And remember that this was Paul’s great goal in ministry.
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
Every one of us, with our particular weaknesses and difficulties are called to maturity.
The question is, how should we respond to such a call as this?
I assume that every person here knows that they have fallen far short of this in practice. I mean, If your spouse was asked to write down the top five heart attitude that describe you best would pervasive thankfulness be among them? If your kids or boss or friends were asked, what would they say?
But where does that leave us? How should we, who are not always marked by these things, think about this call and pursue this call? We cannot let them skim the surface of our lives, bounce off us, leave us unchanged, but how can we make progress?
The Weight of Reality
Maybe we should begin answering that question by asking another question: Why do our lives lack a full devotion to Christ and a pervasive thankfulness?
I want to suggest that if we lack a life of full consecration and constant thankfulness it is not Paul who out of touch with the reality of life, it is we who are out of touch with the weight of the glory of the gospel of grace. It is we who need to consider our Savior.
I don’t believe that Paul was out of touch with your pain. For one thing, remember that Paul is writing Colossians from prison.
Col. 4:18 “Remember my chains.”
Paul was not out of touch with suffering. Paul was not exempt from the pain and struggle of life. As an apostle of Christ he described his whole life as, “…being given over to death for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:11).” Paul knew suffering. He knew heartache and tears and trials. Paul was not enjoying a pain free life of comfort and ease as he penned these words: be thankful, give thanks in all circumstances. Do everything… giving thanks. Paul understood the reality of life very clearly and he understood the hope laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:4)
Paul was not out of touch with reality. Rather, it is we who need eyes to see reality as it is. This has been Paul’s goal in this letter to the Colossians – to reveal the indescribable treasure of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, to place reality before us.
D.L. Moody (1837-1899) said,
“Seeking to perpetuate one’s name on earth is like writing on the sand by the seashore; to be perpetual it must be written on eternal shores.”
How many of us are desperately trying to build castles and write our names on the shore of this world only to have them washed away? Paul in this letter has been trying to help us get our eyes on Jesus and the eternal shores that He alone secures.
So, why do we lack pervasive thankfulness and consecration? It is not because life is so hard, it is because we forget and belittle who Jesus is and what He has done.
But, how are we to grow to be more and more consecrated and thankful when we seem to forget reality so quickly? There are so many temptations and difficulties and struggles in this present age. It seems like we stumble around every bend. How can we make progress toward holiness?
Well, I think it is crucial to see first that Paul wrote these words, having come to see all the painful difficulties of his life in the context of a far greater reality, a reality that radically reinterpreted every part of his life. Paul had embraced Christ as the absolute treasure of his life. Christ was of such value to him that all other treasures became as nothing.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
A Christian is one who has been awakened to how indescribably precious it is to have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and friend, awakened to how undeserving they are to have Christ as Savior and Lord and friend. A Christian is one who has embraced Christ, forsaking all other treasures for Him. Has your heart been awakened to the value of Christ the Lord? That is the first and foundational thing. You must be born again.
But, the question remains, if we have been awakened to the value of Jesus, how do we fight and pursue holiness in midst of the various trials that assault us every day?
Take Time to Consider
Well, if we have been awakened, the struggle for every believer is to remember.
Remember that the trials of your life are momentary and they fit into a context of immense hope. We stumble and grumble, when our eyes have only this world in view. We get frustrated when we have forgotten about the eternal shore.
Why do we live like those in darkness, who do not know God, who have no future hope?
Could it be that we have not been seeking those things that are above (Col. 3:1), nor setting our minds on things above (Col. 3:2), nor embracing the glorious news that we are chosen, holy and loved by God (Col. 3:12), that Christ has conquered our greatest problem (Col. 2:13-15), that God is on our side, that we are heirs of the eternal inheritance as children and not enemies (Col. 1:12-14)?
Have you taken time today to acknowledge and savor the grace and love of God toward you in Christ Jesus? How do you spend your time? How much of your life is invested in setting your heart on Christ? Do you pursue those who have the Word of Christ dwelling in them richly? Do you invite their input into your life (Col. 3:16)?
We need to take time to place the pain and struggle and disappointment of this life in the light of the gospel. Take time to interpret the circumstances of your life through the lens of God’s undeserved work for you in Christ. If you are not taking time to consider the gospel everyday, you will become more and more thankless, grumbling, short-sighted, and grasping for any momentary of pleasure that this world can afford.
John Newton (1725 -1807)
“Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his [carriage] should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, “My [carriage] is broken! My [carriage] is broken!” Taken from Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton and Cited by John Piper in, John Newton: The Tough Roots of His Habitual Tenderness.
To the extent that we do not recognize the incredible and absolutely undeserved treasure that is ours because of the kindness of God toward us in Christ Jesus, it is to that extent we will not be consecrated or thankful.
Have you taken time to consider what is yours just beyond the bend?
So, how do we grow? Well, first we must be made alive, awakened to the value of Christ. Second we must spend time to consider again and again the value of Jesus, embracing afresh the truth about God and His work to save.
But then, we must pray.
Colossians 4:2 says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
I’d like to read you a passage from a pastor who served in South Africa and lived in the 1800’s and early 1900’s named Andrew Murray. Murray writes,
“The more I think of and pray about the religious situation in our country, the deeper my conviction becomes that Christians do not realize that the aim of conversion is to bring them into daily fellowship with the Father in heaven. For the believer, taking time each day with God’s Word and in prayer is indispensable. Each day we need to wait upon God for His presence and His love to be revealed.
It is not enough at conversion to accept forgiveness of sins or even to surrender to God. That is only a beginning. We must understand that we have no power on our own to maintain our spiritual life. We need to receive daily new grace from heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus. This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer or a superficial reading of a few verses from God’s Word. We must take time to come into God’s presence, to feel our weakness and our need, and to wait on God through His Holy Spirit to renew our fellowship with Him. Then we may expect to be kept by the power of Christ throughout the day.”
It is one thing to have heard and believed the gospel once upon a time; it is quite another to daily seek the Lord in earnest prayer, asking for eyes to see. Do you daily ask God to help you set your mind on heavenly things so that the Word of Christ might dwell in you richly?
“You do not have, because you do not ask.”
Are you spending time to consider the Lord Jesus?
Are you spending time with those who will point you to Jesus?
Are you depending upon God every day in earnest prayer?
and Lastly we must press on.
“Not that I have already obtained this (that is the final resurrection) or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
There is not one who has obtained perfection. But, do not let your past failures, even todays failures define who you are. If you are a Christian you are chosen by God, holy, and beloved and God’s will is that you become mature. You are to press on toward perfection because Christ Jesus has made you His own.
Do not deny that you still have sin. Rather, confess it and press on to holiness.
1 John 1:8-9
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just [just because Christ already paid for it!] to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Sin in your life should not paralyze you in guilt and fear because of grace; but neither should grace embolden you to go on in sin.
Let us awake, brothers and sisters, to the new life that is ours. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us press on toward lives of full consecration and constant thankfulness, placing Christ our glorious Lord ever before us. Striving to please Him.
People who are fully consecrated and constantly thankful do not spontaneously erupt out of nowhere. That kind of people must be awakened by the Spirit of God. That kind of people daily seek the things that are above, daily set their minds on things above, daily seek to let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly. They surround themselves with those who love Christ. They daily pray for renewed spiritual eyes to see their very great need and the glorious God who has freely given, in Christ everything they need.
The maturity that God desires in each on of us, the consecration and thankfulness that should mark us, comes only as we continually and earnestly set our hearts upon the hope of the gospel in Christ Jesus our Lord, asking God to help us every day.
1 Peter 1:13
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.