Doing His Will
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (NKJV)
The book of Colossians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
It is believed that the epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Colossae, Asia Minor. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Colossians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first two chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last two chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the books of Romans and Ephesians, Paul’s previous writings.
Colossae, in Paul’s time, was a small city in decline. Once a great mercantile city, it was now the least significant of the cities to whom Paul wrote his letters.
The city of Colossae was located in what is southwestern Turkey today. It was located in the province of Phrygia, ten miles east of Laodicea, thirteen miles southeast of Hierapolis, and about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was about a hundred miles north of the Mediterranean Sea.
In this passage, Paul begins his writing about practical Christian living with “Therefore, as the elect of God,” (v. 12a). Christians are “the elect of God”, meaning they have been chosen by God as God’s people.
Christians also are “holy and beloved” (v. 12b). We are in the process of being sanctified, being made holy by God, who loves us greatly.
Next, Paul gives us some specifics of how we should act, as God’s chosen people. He writes “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (v. 12c).
The Greek word translated “put on” is a command, something we should actively obey. We are called to actively appropriate into our behavior these qualities. Our behavior should be tender, merciful, kind, humble, meek and patient.
Paul continues “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” (v. 13). “Bearing with one another” involves overlooking imperfections. It is not Biblical to point out every mistake others make or to keep score of their imperfections or mistakes.
We are called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Christ has forgiven us of far more sins against Him that any sins that others could ever commit against us.
Paul writes “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (v. 14). To love one another is an action, it is something we are called to do. Love bonds us together, in perfection, relationally. Love is a choice. It is not based on performance.
Paul continues “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (v. 15). Finally, Christians are to put on “peace”, another fruit of the Spirit along with love.
Peace should “rule” in the hearts of Christians, the “body” of Christ. We are also called to “be thankful” for all things, for all things come from God.
Paul then writes that we should teach and admonish one another (v.16). He writes “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (v. 16).
We teach from the Bible, which also includes Scripture from which our hymns and spiritual songs are based. Our singing should be “to the Lord” from our “hearts”, and not for the enjoyment of others.
Many Christians resent Biblical teaching if it does not agree with their own thinking. This is because their thinking is of the world, and not of God.
They then twist God’s teaching to align with their worldly thinking, and justify their position by playing the “interpretation” card.
God sees through their ruse. If their thinking was of God they would have no problem with Biblical teaching, and for that matter admonishment.
Paul specifically calls us to admonish one another when someone is not acting according to the teachings of the Bible. But many Christians again resent this admonishment, calling it “judging”. This “digging in” or “bowing of necks” against the word of God is sin.
Paul concludes this passage with “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (v. 17). We should glorify the Lord in all that we say or do, while again giving thanks to the Father through the Lord Jesus.
So how should we best apply this passage in our world today? It appears to me that the phrase “not my will, but Your will” best sums up this passage.
As Christians, we first should study the Bible so that we know what the will of God is in all situations that we face in life. Once we know His will we should be obedient to Him, with thanksgiving.
Obedience is not always an easy thing to accomplish. It requires dying to ourselves and living for Him.
Online Bible Commentary