The customer service representative had little interest in helping to correct the billing error that the company had made. She suggested that I should just email their department because she was ‘too busy.’ After spending nearly 30 minutes waiting on hold to talk to her, that answer was not what I wanted to hear. I knew that there was a choice to make – would I allow myself to become angry or would I choose to peace? Life is full of little choices like that for me, and for you, too. Thankfully, I chose to close the call graciously and to take a break to refocus for Jesus’ sake.
In his letter to the Colossian Christians (and to us) Paul was inspired to give us practical direction about finding the serenity that God promises to His children. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17, NIV) What exactly does this passage ask of us?
First of all, we are to give the Lord Jesus a priority place in our lives!
“The word of Christ” is how Paul refers to the entire message of wholeness and transformation found in the Gospel, the message. If we want to know joy, we cannot isolate the good news that we are saved, that God has restored us to Himself, to some isolated corner of our lives that we explore only in church on Sunday morning. That ‘’word” needs to be stirred into every moment, shaping every decision. Paul says “richly.” We cannot just sprinkle a little “Jesus” here and there in our lives, we need to soak our lives with His Truth.
Second, we are to be engaged with one another with wise counsel!
The Christian life is not lived best in isolation. We love one another in this family of God enough to both point in the right direction (teach) and to warn our brother (admonish) when we see him wandering. That is a challenge in our privacy obsessed culture, isn’t it? The idea that we are happiest when we can ‘do our own thing’ is a lie. A deeper joy is found in choosing to a life that requires surrender of Self, first to Jesus, and then to become a part of His Body, the Church. Within that family, we engage in the give and take of loving relationships which enrich us.
Third, we choose the attitude of our heart!
What is the soundtrack of your life? Paul tells us to sing! You don’t have to have a voice that earns applause to sing. Let three kinds of songs find their way into your daily life –
psalms; songs that are worshipful, offering adoration to God;
hymns; songs that praise Him; remembering His gifts and promises; and
spiritual songs; those songs that come from our own heart, overflowing from our experience of His goodness.
We can choose to ‘sing’ shaping an atmosphere of joy and inviting the Spirit’s presence to flow in us and through us, or we can choose to be miserable, full of complaint and criticism. We choose!
Fourth, we always remember that we belong to Jesus!
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
My first prayer in the morning goes something like this – “Father, help me to remember to live for You and with an awareness of You today. May my words reflect Your goodness and love, my mind be shaped by Your purposes …” Do I always live that prayer? Hmmm, no! But, my goal is to belong to Him. In Him, I am secure, loved, hopeful, and my best self. Help me, Jesus!
Choose JOY today. Take this short passage and pray it, meditate on it, let the Word own you – heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here is it is, the word from the Word, restated from The Message.
“Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:16-17, The Message)
Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and king,
The triumphs of His grace!
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease—
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin,
He sets the pris’ner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Hear Him, Ye Deaf, His praise, ye dumb
Your loosened Tongues employ,
Ye blind behold your Savior come
And leap ye lame for you.
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.