Why We Worship Part 3

This is the third and final installment of my 4 go to Bible passages that talk about what we should do with music when we gather together. Click here for part 1. Click here for part 2.

The last passage is Colossians 3:12-17:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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.

Doug Moo, in his commentary on this book, writes, “In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul has called on us to take a ‘heavenly’ perspective on all of life.” (273) As he continues that thought, he contrasts the things we should put to death (Col. 3:5) with what we should put on instead (10): the new self. The new self is demonstrated by putting on five things: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. All of these attributes are ways God acts toward us, so it’s only right that we act the same toward each other. Moo continues, “this new identity, while given in Christ, also much be achieved in practice.” (275) We can’t just talk about these characteristics, we must live them out. The point Paul is making is that we are called to be unified, and these virtues will “foster community identity and cohesion.” (Moo, 274) The command to be like the Lord continues, because we know that none of us are perfect, so there will be times where forgiveness needs to be extended, just like God has forgiven us.

The last virtue, that brings all the other virtues together, is love. Continuing with the clothing theme Paul uses above (put on), this is like the coat that holds everything else together. Thanks to Francis Schaeffer, we know that the mark of every Christianis to be one of love toward each other. Jesus actually says this is how we demonstrate that we’re his disciples! (John 17:21) Love is the core virtue that allows us to put on all the other virtues.

Next, we see the peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts. This peace is made possible through Jesus’ death on our behalf. We have peace with God where we were once at enmity with God (Rom. 5:10, Col. 1:21), which then allows us to have peace with each other, because apart from God’s work in our lives there is no hope for peace. That peace leads to us being one body. Then Paul throws in the random “And be thankful.” There’s a lot that he’s mentioned here that we can be thankful for! Because of what Christ has done on our behalf, we respond through thanksgiving.

Now we’re in to some things we do for music! Verse 16 begins, “Let the word of Christdwell in you richly.” This could also be translated the messageof Christ. So we’re commanded to fixate on the Bible. The themes and ideas in Scripture should be the themes and ideas of the songs we sing because the goal is to focus on Christ’s words, not ours. This is where I’ve been so thankful for a resurgence in theologically rich songs, many of which are taken straight out of Scripture! When we combine theological truths with song it makes it that much easier to remember God’s Word. Paul then goes on to talk about what we do when we sing: teach and admonish. Paul is talking about the positive and negative aspects of Christian life together. The positive is that we get to teach through what we sing, which is why we want our songs to be based in Scripture. The negative is that we have to admonish each other through what we sing. This is calling for repentance: a turning away from sin and back to Christ. Both of these are to done in all wisdom, which is personified in Christ.

Just as he does in Ephesians 5, Paul brings up 3 different kinds of songs: Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It’s worth noting that although there is mention of the content of the songs we sing, there’s nothing in Scripture that speaks to the style of songs we sing. What we’re instead commanded to focus on is our hearts and attitudes when we sing, not the style of the songs we sing. Paul also brings up, once again, that this singing is to be done with thankfulness.

This section ends where we began, with the idea that all of life is worship, the question is who, or what, are we worshipping? We’re commanded to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thus we’re commanded to worship Christ through everything we do. Whether that be eating a snickers bar, walking, or sleeping, it’s to be done as an act of worship. When we live this way, our lives will be overwhelmingly marked by gratitude.

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