Abide In the Word
Read Colossians 3:16-17
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.
What practical steps can you take to allow the Word of God to “dwell in you richly”?
We have a lot of options these days about what we take in through our eyes and ears. When we turn on the radio or stream music, we have a choice to make. When we open a book, we have a choice to make. When we scroll social media, turn on the TV, listen to a podcast, attend a concert or a play, we have a choice to make. What kind of content are we going to take in? Whose words are we going to listen to?
In today’s verse, Paul urges the Colossian church to let the word of Christ, which is Scripture, dwell in us. That means Scripture should abide in us and be at home in our hearts and minds. Why? Because when it is living in us we are able to teach God’s Word accurately to others and we are able to wisely correct the behavior of our brothers and sisters who are living out of line with His Word.
We have to remember that when Paul wrote this letter, the early church did not have a New Testament in their Scriptures yet. They listened to teachings and readings at church gatherings and then relied on mostly memorization and oral retelling to pass it on. That’s why Paul stressed the importance of singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The early creeds and teachings of the church were most likely sung so that they were easier to remember. It was critical that the apostles' teaching was passed on accurately and songs were one way to accomplish that.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to remember something when it is set to music? Childhood teachers understand this principle. Need your kids to remember their address? They have a song for that! Need your kids to memorize their times tables? They have songs for that! And when my kids are memorizing Bible verses or the books of the Bible...you guessed it. Their teachers have songs for that!
We no longer live in a time when we do not have easy access to Scripture. You likely have at least one Bible in your home. We can google a Bible verse and have it pop up in seconds. We have Bible apps on our phones. Some of them even read the Bible to us! We have access to Christian radio and podcasts. Resources abound to help us understand the historical context of the Bible and help us apply it to our lives.
So why in the world are so many church leaders concerned about biblical illiteracy these days? Because of the choices we make. We have too many options when it comes to content. Sadly, most of us would rather be entertained than educated and affirmed instead of admonished. So we seek out the content that will make us feel good and have fun rather than challenge us to grow spiritually.
And while Paul says that we need to let Scripture dwell in us “richly,” we think to ourselves “nobody has time for that.” But our screen time reports each week tend to prove otherwise. We’d rather read short Bible verses with pretty backgrounds while we scroll social media than crack open our Bibles and study a passage in context and in depth. We’d rather listen to popular music than soak up the deep theology of the old hymns. And we are suffering for it. Paul said that whatever we do is supposed to be for the glory of God’s name. But how can we represent Him well in everything we do if we don’t know Him and we don’t know what He said?
Friends, today I encourage you to choose content options that will teach and admonish you wisely. When you turn on the radio in your car or ask your speaker to play a song, I encourage you to do as Paul says and sing along to “spiritual songs.” There’s no better way to have God’s Word dwell in you richly than to have a biblical earworm stuck in your head all day! Maybe you could cut your TV time short each evening and pick up your Bible instead so the last words you take in each night are His and not the world’s. Maybe you could turn on a Bible app each morning to have it read Scripture to you while you get ready for the day or get up earlier to read your Bible over breakfast. You can also check out all of the resources we have here at Back to the Bible to help you make better content choices. There are so many ways you can apply today’s verse and “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” today and every day!
Lord, Your Word is truth and it gives light and life. I want to abide in Your Word and let it dwell in me richly. But I know that requires action on my part. I have to be diligent about being in the Word if I want the Word to be in me. Help me choose Your Word above the words of men. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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