Thursday 03 January 2019

Bible Book:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (v 14)

Colossians 3:12-17 Thursday 3 January 2019

Psalm: Psalm 96: 11-13  


When Paul talks in this passage about putting on new clothes, he definitely isn’t talking about the January sales.

Instead, he is writing to the Church in Colossae (in the country we now know as Turkey) from prison, where he is awaiting trial.

Paul had never been to Colossae, but he had heard a lot about the faith community there from Epaphras.

In the verses right before this extract from his letter, he has written about the importance of Christian communities turning away from harmful ‘earthly’ practices – including sexual sin, anger and greed (Colossians 3:1-11).

However, in this process of ‘giving up’ – so pertinent for this time of year in our own society – Paul does not advocate creating a vacuum.

Instead, he urges the Colossians to live lives that are visibly different – lives which glorify Christ. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience are encouraged, along with forgiveness, thankfulness, peace and, above all, love.

This may sound like quite a shopping list of admirable qualities to live by. But these instructions mean more than just ‘be nice to each other and everything will be OK’.

Paul is genuinely concerned that the Colossian church is being influenced by false teachers and practices. If you read back over chapter 2, there are references to “philosophy and empty deceit” (v 8), issues with food, drink and festivals (v 16) and “self-abasement and worship of angels” (v 18). This may refer to the growing popularity of Gnosticism (the belief that the material world was inherently evil and therefore the body should be punished or indulged; also that Jesus couldn’t have existed in human form) and other mutated forms of Judaism.

In this societal soup of beliefs and practices, Paul is advocating that the Colossians should keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and be distinctive in the way that they live, letting all words and actions flow from belief and trust in him.

The words of our chosen hymn from Singing the Faith today fit well with Paul’s words as we think about how we could put his ideas into action:

“Love shall be our token, love be yours and love be mine
Love to God and all the world, love for plea and gift and sign.”

(StF 210, Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894)


To Ponder:

  • What does ‘living a distinctively Christian life’ mean to you?
  • How do we engage with those people who have a different world view and outlook to ours, if we are called, above all, to love?
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