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. (Colossians 3:16) ESV
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16) NASB
Three points jumped out of this scripture as I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal what God was saying. First, Paul tells believers to allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in us; second, he suggests that we teach and correct one another; and finally, he calls us to use all wisdom measured with thankfulness when doing so.
A “richly dwelling word” implies living action. In order for something to dwell (“to live in” or be at home,”) it must first be alive. Paul assumes the reader understands the word Jesus spoke was alive and, that by being so, could render changes within its “dwelling place.” This assumption seems quite valid in John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word….and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1: 1-14) Paul declares, not only should Christ’s word “live in” or “be at home” in the believer, but it should do so richly or “in full measure.” The living word of Christ, dwelling in full measure, will grow to full maturity inside a spirit; and therefore, change it in such a manner as to make it like its host. In other words, Christ’s living word richly dwelling makes us more Christ like.
Secondly, Paul instructs believers to teach and “express warning, correction, or disapproval in a gentle, earnest, or careful manner,” (admonish) on other believers.
Not so fast! He said what?
Yes the Holy Spirit, through Paul, said believers who allow the word of Christ to richly dwell inside of them are to teach and correct other believers in the ways of God! Proverbs 27:17 confirms Paul’s words, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”(NIV)
We are Called to Teach
The Body of Christ that is His faithful are called out of the world to be in community with the common goal of becoming more like Christ and less like our old selves. We are to work together, allowing God’s word to live inside and change us; and we are called to help our brothers and sisters in the faith to learn and grow under the tutelage of one another.
Admonishment has been given a bad name in our politically correct world. In a world that says “be tolerant of virtually everything that another does,” admonition has been removed from the vernacular. Of course this practice is ridiculous. Would a mother withhold admonishing her child so as not to “offend,” if he or she was in danger? Or, would a driver proceed through a crosswalk full of children because he found stopping at an intersection offensive, especially when he was late for a meeting? Why then, should not one believer admonish (“express disapproval in a gentle, earnest manner”) to another if he or she was engaged in a behavior that was offensive to God or presented Christ inappropriately to those outside the Body? Admonishment is a loving practice. It unites the Body of Christ and makes us more like Him as we grow in grace collectively in the Lord. The world must not tell us that we cannot correct one another!
Finally, Paul declares that admonition should be given and received with all “thankfulness in (our) hearts to God.” We know that as we grow in Christ, we will make mistakes, and may have difficulty shedding bad habits, and practices learned before we trusted Jesus Christ. The correction we give and receive in love, and a genuine desire to transform one another into the image of Christ should, therefore, be seen as coming directly from God Himself. It should be received with joy and praise to the Father who loves his children and teaches us in the way in which we should go.
Father, thank you again for your word; thank you for making it alive and thank you for transforming us through a continual washing of our spirits with it. Cleanse us Lord by Your admonishment through fellow believers who allow your word to dwell within them. Continue to shape us into the image of Jesus Christ. Crucify us and raise us up to be living members of the Body of Christ, one body that is called out of the world to shine Your light into a dark world. In Jesus name we pray.
Do you welcome growth and challenge from other believers when you have strayed? Do you speak the truth in love to others?
This post is for Grow in His Word. I also link up here.