You’ve got a new life, so live it
Your spiritual makeover1 Now that you’ve been raised from spiritual death to live with Christ, start looking for what heaven has to offer. That’s where you’ll find Christ, sitting at God’s right hand, in the seat of highest honor. 2 Let your mind spend time thinking about your spiritual life. Don’t waste your time over-thinking your life here on earth. 3 The old you, born for this world, is dead and gone. The new you, born again, is safely hidden, protected by Christ.
4 Christ, the source of your spiritual life, is coming back. When he does, you get to stand with him in the spotlight of his glory. 5 So go ahead and bury the dead part of you that wants to hang on to this world, with its sex sins, dirty behavior, lust, and the feelings you know are wrong. Let’s not forget greed; it’s as bad as worshiping other gods. 6 God is going to come down hard on disobedient people who commit these sins. 7 The old you belonged to that sinful world, and you lived like it.
The new you8 But now, the new you needs to get rid of all that nastiness: anger, temper tantrums, spite, insults, and spitting dirty talk out of your mouth. 9 And come on, stop lying to each other. You’ve gotten rid of the old you who behaved like a stinker. 10 You’re wearing a new you now. And you know what, you’re looking more and more like the Creator. I can see the family resemblance. 11 In this new life of ours here on earth, it doesn’t matter if we’re Jew or Greek, circumcised or not, slave or free, barbaric foreigner or Scythian savage. This new life isn’t about who we are. It’s about who Christ is. This is the same Christ who lives in every one of us. 12 You are God’s handpicked people. He dearly loves you. And I know that you are absolutely devoted to him. So show it in the way you dress. Clothe yourselves with these virtues: tenderhearted compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
13 Cut each other some slack. If you get into an argument, forgive each other. Remember, the Lord forgave you. 14 Drape all of those virtues with love. It’s the glue that holds everything else together, perfectly.
15 Now let the peace of Christ run your heart. That’s what you’re called to do as part of this body, the church. Be glad about that. 16 Keep the stories and teachings of Jesus alive in your life— vibrantly alive. Draw from them wisely as you teach each other, and as you correct each other when necessary. You’ll also find help by singing psalms, hymns, and other spiritual songs. Sing them all with gratitude in your heart for what God has done. 17 Whatever you say when you open your mouth and whatever you do wherever you go, do it all as a representative of the Lord Jesus. Thank God through Jesus for this privilege.
Family counseling18 Wives, follow your husband’s lead. It’s the right thing for the Lord’s people to do.
19 Husbands, love your wives. Don’t give bitterness a chance to grow and drive you apart.
20 Children, always obey your parents. This makes the Lord happy.
21 Fathers, don’t antagonize your kids. That can spiral them down into a depression.
22 Slaves, do what your earthly masters tell you to do. Don’t put on a fake show, trying to impress them like you’re some kind of a people pleaser. Instead, do the work sincerely out of respect for the Lord.
23 Whatever you do, put your whole heart into it. Think of yourself as working for the Lord, not for any human being. 24 He’s going to pay you for that. He has an inheritance waiting for you. You work for Christ the Lord. 25 People who make the wrong choices in life are going to get paid, too. They’re going to get what’s coming to them. It doesn’t matter who they are, there’s no favoritism when it comes to the payback.
More literally, “hidden with Christ in God.” That’s a vexing phrase that Bible experts struggle to explain. It’s a phrase Paul didn’t generally use. The phrase may simply mean that God the Father and God the Son are united as one in Spirit. What that means is another vexing problem…like trying to explain the Trinity and how the Cubs won the World Series again.
“Barbaric foreigner or Scythian savage” is more literally “barbarian, Scythian.” “Barbarian” was a word people used to tag foreigners who spoke in some unfamiliar language, and who seemed to be crude, rude, and the walking version of a belch. That’s also a fair description of what people in the Middle East thought about the Scythian tribes who lived along the northern coast of the Black Sea, above what is now Turkey. Josephus, a Jewish historian in the first Christian century described Scythians as “wild beasts…delighting in murdering people.”
Paul wrote, “Let your mind spend time thinking about your spiritual life. Don’t waste your time over-thinking your life here on earth” (3:2). Does that sound like good advice to people today? Or does it sound more like the pensive reflection of a man on trial for his life?
Paul wrote, “The old you, born for this world, is dead and gone. The new you, born again, is safely hidden, protected by Christ” (3:3). Do you think that describes who Christians are or is it who they wish they were?
Bachelor Paul tells married women, “Follow your husband’s lead. It’s the right thing for the Lord’s people to do” (3:18). Really? What counterpoints would you make to Paul if you could talk with him about this?
LIFE APPLICATION. What do you think it looks like in the local church when Christians do what Paul said the people of Colossae should do? “Let the peace of Christ run your heart. That’s what you’re called to do as part of this body, the church” (3:15).
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul lists several kinds of behavior that he says Christians should get rid of: “anger, temper tantrums, spite, insults, and spitting dirty talk out of your mouth. And come on, stop lying to each other” (3:8-9). For those of us who live out in the workaday world, which one of those is the toughest to avoid?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul tells children “always obey your parents” (3:20). What exceptions to that rule do you think he would have allowed, given the fact that it was legal for parents to sell their children into slavery to pay for a family debt?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul’s advice to slaves is particularly troubling in our culture that sees slavery as thoroughly selfish and absolutely unjustifiable. So how can we justify cutting Paul some slack and allowing him to get by with telling slaves to work for their masters “out of respect for the Lord” (3:22)?
LIFE APPLICATION. On the flip side of talking about the nasty behavior we are supposed to get rid of, Paul tells us to dress up in our pretty spiritual clothes: “tenderhearted compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Cut each other some slack. If you get into an argument, forgive each other. Remember, the Lord forgave you” (3:12-13). In our workaday world, which of those do you think is especially tough to do?
LIFE APPLICATION. It’s a wonderful thought Paul has. “In this new life of ours here on earth, it doesn’t matter if we’re Jew or Greek, circumcised or not, slave or free, barbaric foreigner or Scythian savage. This new life isn’t about who we are. It’s about who Christ is” (3:11). Do you think that is true in churches you have been a part of in your lifetime? Does it matter who we are or where we’ve come from?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul said, “Whatever you say when you open your mouth and whatever you do wherever you go, do it all as a representative of the Lord Jesus” (3:17). How do you see people do that in the secular world today?