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. – Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
In our last two installments, we’ve taken a look at the first two phrases in this verse, “let the word of Christ dwell in your richly” and “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.”
Today, we’ll look at the final part:
“…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
This phrase refers to worship and has obviously been much discussed during the course do church history. For the purposes of our study, though, I want to make two points.
1) Christ-centered worship. The first phrase of verse 16, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” defines and guides the sort of worship described here. These “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” used in worshiping God should always be led by and consistent with God’s word.
I’m not very smart, but one thing I’ve figured out is that “words matter.” They mean things. So when we participate in worship – whether it’s corporately in church or in our car driving to work – what we are singing back to the King matters. If we are participating in worship, God wants us to worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If we are singing stuff back to God that isn’t accurate, we are definitely not worshiping in the the truth!
2) Corporate worship. In verse 16, the Apostle Paul is speaking directly to us as individual followers of Jesus Christ, but it’s also obvious that he’s speaking to us as a group as well. “Teaching and admonishing one another” and “thankfulness in your hearts” are phrases obviously deal with believers in a corporate setting. And this reminds us of how important it is to worship our Lord with a group of other like-minded believers. Absent a group, it is easy to grow in our own self-interested direction without “teaching and admonition” applied to ourselves and without the benefit of worshiping our Lord and Savior with others. By ourselves, we tend to navel gaze, but with others we receive discipline and instruction and become aware of the needs of others as we worship the King.
Finally, let’s not forget the reminder at the end of the verse, “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We discussed thankfulness as we were moving through verse 15 and I’ll refer you here for that detailed discussion. However, it is very appropriate that Paul add this reminder. Think about it. We have the opportunity to dwell richly in the word of Christ. We have the blessing of “teaching and admonishing one another” (helping each other grow in the Lord) and we have the blessing of worshiping together. These things alone are worth giving much praise and thanksgiving to our God.