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 minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Col. 3:1-2 NIV
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The Apostle Paul had decided to intervene in what seemed a spiritual mis-information and mis-direction of the Colossians by a group of false teachers who gave the impression that they needed to add the worship of angels and some other spiritual activities to their worship in order for their worship to have a reward – Col. 2:8; 16-23. He let them realise that God and Christ were sufficient to address any issue that they may have as their new life gave them new rights and privileges that will guarantee them peace.
In furtherance to this, he suggested that whatever Christians may face, there will always be the need to be patient in the Lord and also need to live lifestyles worthy of being called Christians – Col. 3:1-3. It is in this type of lifestyle that the full reward of the Christian life can be obtained. As far as the Apostle Paul was concerned, Christians are to primarily set their minds on heavenly matters rather than earthly matters since through baptism, we are supposed to have died with Christ and so all earthly desires are supposed to have become very secondary. In that way, we will be able to appear in glory with Jesus Christ when he eventually returns. To set minds on heavenly matters will be to consider earthly desires from the perspective of its impact on heavenly ambitions and once there is a clash in interest or the manner of achievement of the desire with heavenly objectives, we are to take a decision in favour of our heavenly aspirations. It is not possible for us as Christians to love both equally just as the scripture reminds us that friendship with the world is enmity with God – Jms. 4:4.
He went further to recommend some dos and donts that should guide the communal living of members of any Christian community in the subsequent verses of chapter 3 of that same letter to the Colossians which again remains relevant to the desire of any Christian to enjoy the full reward of the Christian lifestyle.
1. All members of that community are to put to death those character traits that belong to the earthly nature – Col. 3: 5-8. To put to death here means to ensure that such acts do not exist amongst them, individually or collectively, no matter how minute it may be. He listed some of those earthly nature characteristics to include the following: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander and the use of filthy language. Christians are to continually work on ensuring zero existence of these character traits amongst them.
2. The Apostle Paul is convinced that greater reward will be enjoyed from the Christian life if Christians avoid lying to one another – Col. 3: 9-10. The act of lying is one done by an individual who consciously wants to deceive the other in order to gain an advantage. So why would any one want to take undue advantage of the trust of a brother or anyone for that matter. It is betrayal of some sorts which can have fatal consequences and destroy the community in the long term. There can be no progress in an environment of distrust and Christians need to avoid acts that will lead to that. Lying is definitely one of them.
3. The Apostle believes that Christians will gain more from their communal living if they avoid discrimination – Col. 3:11. The only condition for which anyone can be accepted and treated, as part of that community, should be the willingness to worship the Almighty God only and to accept Christ as Lord and saviour. It is on this basis only that the group can be accepted as a Christian group and any other basis for interaction among individuals in this group will be seen as discrimination. This is because the real essence of belonging to the group should be to ensure that all those other shortfalls that tends to separate any one from the group must be made up for by others so that the picture of equality is presented at all times. The thought of being one another’s keeper must be uppermost in the minds of members because that is the only way that everyone will have everything with no one left out – 2Cor. 8:13-15. This should be the goal of anyone who is a believer in the faith.
4. Paul believes that the Christian lifestyle will be rewarding for all if members clothe themselves with good virtues some of which he listed as compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness and patience – Col. 3:12. Realising that it is not possible for active human beings to live together without friction, he advocates the readiness to forgive one another just as God readily forgives – Col. 3:13. Above all, he advocates as always, the need for true love to exist amongst members of the Christian community for the reward of such life to be received.
5. In recommending the next two standards that can ensure a rewarding Christian life style, the Apostle Paul uses the word, “Let”. In the first he advices that members of the Christian community, let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts – Col. 3:15. The use of that verb implies that it is their choice to do. Christians must always think of peace in every situation they find themselves, especially in relation to fellow brethren. The thought of how Christ will approach the situation in order to ensure peaceful resolution of all matters must be paramount in them at all times. The biblical advice, “as much as it is lies with you, be at peace with all men” must always be the mantra – Rom. 12:18. Of course, without peace, there will be no progress.
6. The second of the “let” in Paul’s recommendation for a rewarding Christian life is for Christians to, let the message of Christ dwell richly amongst them – Col. 3:16. It will always be impossible to be effective and fruitful in our Christian life if we keep the word far from us. The Almighty God told Joshua that, ensuring the keeping the Word close by at all times and meditating on it day and night is the secret, not just to success but to good success – Josh. 1:8. The Word remains the lamp to the feet of the Christian (Ps. 119:105) and without it, Christians will continue to walk in darkness, a lifestyle that will never produce good success.
7. The Apostle Paul believes that if Christians do all things in the name of the Lord, they stand better chance of getting rewarded in their lifestyle – Col. 3: 17. Doing something in the name of the Lord is to do only those things as God’s representatives, that God is aware of the action in reference and as approved of it. Christians need to realise that man may have the ability to do most things but not all of those things can be rewarding – 1Cor. 6:12; 1Cor. 10:23. If anything, some of those acts can result in regrets. However, once God is brought into it in terms of awareness and approval, the end result can only be positive. If all the members of the Christian community operate in this manner, there will be no room for regrets in the community.
8. The Apostle Paul appreciates the importance of the family unit to a rewarding Christian community so he spent time suggesting ways of ensuring that family units live in peace with one another – Col. 3:18-25. Firstly, he advises that wives submit to their husbands with the Almighty God as the standard, just as he urges husbands to love their wives and be gentle with them. He urges children to obey their parents just as parents are expected to avoid pushing their children to bitter limits with actions that are not comfortable. He also urges slaves in such households to be sincere in the course of their duties and avoid pretense. No doubt, these advises if well taken will engender peace in any home and by inference in the Christian community, and as earlier said will be very rewarding to all.
The Apostle Paul believes that all the above will help the average Christian to enjoy life in the faith and this can not be too far from the truth. We all need to imbibe this advises and do all practicable to live in them. If we do succeed in doing this, then we will be succeeding in living the new life with the expectation of benefitting from it.
May God grant us all the ability to live our Christian life in a manner that will be rewarding to us all in this world and in the world to come in Jesus name. Amen.