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Christ's Indwelling Word
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 17, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 10, 1881.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly inn all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Colossians 3:16.
THAT is a very beautiful name for Holy Scripture. I hardly remember to have met with it anywhere else—"Let the word of Christ dwell in you." Remember, dear Friends, that Christ Himself is the Word of God, and also remember that the Scriptures are the word of the Word. They are "the word of Christ." I think that they will be all the sweeter to you if you realize that they speak to you of Christ, that He is the sum and substance of them, that they direct you to Christ, in fact, as John says of His Gospel, that they were "written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name."
Remember, also, that the Scriptures do, in effect, come to us from Christ. Every promise of this blessed Book is a promise of Christ, "for all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us." They all come to us through Christ, God speaks them to us through Him as the Mediator. Indeed, we may regard the whole of the Sacred Scriptures, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, as being "the word of Christ."
The text tells us, first, how to treat the Scriptures. ' 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." And, secondly, it tells us how to profit by them.' 'In all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
I. First, then, we are told here HOW TO TREAT THE SCRIPTURES—"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."
In order that it may dwell in you, it must first enter into you. It is implied, in our text, that the Apostle says, "Let the word of Christ enterinto you." Then you must read it, or hear it, for, unless you do, you will not know what there is in it. Yet there must be something more than the mere hearing or reading of it, for some hear the Truth of God with one ear, but let it go away out of the other ear. And others are great readers, yet they seem to read only what is on the surface. The letter passes under their eyes, but the deep spiritual meaning never enters into their heart. If you read a portion of Scripture every day, I commend you for doing so. If you make a practice of reading right through the Bible in a stated period, I commend you still more. Some I know read the Bible through every year, in due course. This is well, but all this may be done and yet "the word of Christ" may never have entered into the reader!
You know how children sometimes learn their lessons. I am afraid that, at a great many schools, there is no true instruction—the scholars have simply to repeat their lessons without ever getting at the sense and meaning of them. And, a week or two after, they have forgotten all that they were supposed to have learned! Do not let it be so with our knowledge of Scripture—let us not merely know it so as to be able to turn to its different chapters, or to be familiar with certain passages in it, or even to repeat all its words. This is but to let "the word of Christ" pass by your door, or look in at your window! Paul says, "Let it dwellin you."
So I say again that in order that it may dwell in you, it must first enter into you. You must really know the spiritual meaning of it. You must believe it, live upon it, drink it in—you must let it soak into your innermost being as the dew saturated the fleece of Gideon. It is not enough to have a Bible on the shelf—it is infinitely better to have its Truths
stored up within your soul. It is a good thing to carry your Testament in your pocket—it is far better to carry its message in your heart. But mind that you let it get right into you!
How differently some people read the Bible from the way in which they read any other book! I have seen a young woman sitting down, on board a steamboat, completely absorbed in a very suspicious looking book. I have passed behind her and passed before her, but she has not taken the slightest notice of me. Presently, I saw a tear brushed away from her eye—I knew that she was not reading the Bible—and it was my firm conviction that she was reading a novel. I have often noticed how such people let the novels get right into them, trash as they generally are—but when the most of people read the Bible, they appear to be anxious to get the unpleasant task finished and put away! In some cases they seem to think that they have performed a very proper action, but they have not been in the least affected by it, moved by it, stirred by it. Yet, if there is any book that can thrill the soul, it is the Bible! If we read it aright, we shall, as it were, lay our fingers among its wondrous harp strings and bring out from them matchless music such as no other instrument in the world could ever produce! There is no book so fitted or so suited to us as the Bible is. There is no book that knows us so well. There is no book that is so much at home with us. There is no book that has so much power over us if we will but give ourselves up to it! Yet, often, we only let it look in at our window, or knock at our door, instead of inviting it to enter our very heart and soul—and therefore we miss its power.
Then, when it once gets into you, let it remain there. A person could not be said to dwell in a house even though he should enter into the most private part of it, if he only passed through it and went away. A man who dwells in a house abides, resides, remains, continues there. Oh, to have "the word of Christ" always dwelling inside of us—in the memory, never forgotten! In the heart, always loved! In the understanding, really grasped with all the powers and passions of the mind fully submitted to its control! I love those dear Christian people who do not need to refer to the printed page when you speak to them about the things of God, for they have the Truth in their hearts. They have a springing well within their souls at all times and they have only to hear a Scriptural theme started and, at once, they begin to speak of the things which they have looked upon and their hands have handled of the Word of Life, because it dwells in them.
What is the good of merely external religion? I heard of some people who met together to pray about a certain matter, but they could not pray because the Bishop had not sent the form of prayer which they were to use on that occasion. I think that if they were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, they might have managed to speak to God without the necessity of having a written or printed form to guide them. Yet there are many who fancy they cannot offer a proper prayer unless they have it in a book. And they cannot talk about the things of God, or they can say but very little about them because they have not "the word of Christ" dwelling within them. O dear Friends, let it be always in you, from morning to night, abiding as a constant visitor within your spirit—no, not merely as a visitor, let it dwell with you—
"No more a stranger or a guest, But like a child at home."
Further, "let the word of Christ dwell in you" so as to occupy your whole being. If it dwells within you, let it take such entire possession of your being that it shall fill you. To push the truth of Christ up into a corner of your nature—to fill the major part of your being with other knowledge and other thought—is a poor way to treat "the word of Christ." It deserves the fullest attention of the best faculties that any man possesses. The Truth of God revealed by the Holy Spirit is so sublime that its poetry outsoars the eagle wings even of a Milton. It is a deep so profound that the plumb line of Sir Isaac Newton could never find the bottom of it. The greatest minds have been delighted to yield their highest faculties to its wondrous Truths. Dear young Friends, you who have only lately put on Christ, I beseech you not to let other books stand on the front shelf and the Bible lie behind. Do not, for the most part, read those other books and only read small portions of Scripture now and then—let it always have the chief place. The most excellent of all sciences is the science of Christ Crucified and the Bible is the textbook for all who would learn it! If other forms of knowledge are useful, they are like the planets—but the knowledge of God as revealed in Christ Jesus is as the sun. Let this always be the center of your system of knowledge and let all the rest that you know move in subordination and subjection to that first and best form of knowledge.
If I may know myself, and know my Savior—if I may know my sin and the Atonement by which it is put away—if I may know my way through this life and my way into the eternal life above, I will be content if I know but little else. Gladly would I intermeddle with all knowledge and, though "much study is a weariness of the flesh," yet would I find a
pleasure in such weariness if I only knew even as much as Solomon knew. But it would be vanity of vanities, and altogether vanity, if you and I were as wise as Solomon, and yet did not know the Truth of God. Therefore, "let the word of Christ dwell in you" so as to occupy the whole of your being! Let it be the resident, the occupant, the master and ruler of your entire nature!
Once more. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you." That is, let it be your most familiar friend. We know the people who live in our home, but we do not really know other people. When someone asked Mr. Whitefield, "What do you think of Mr. So-and-So's character?" He answered, "I cannot say, for I never lived with him." Ah, that is the true test! It is living with people that lets you know what they are. In like manner, if you will live with "the word of Christ," especially if you will let it dwell in you and abide with you as a constant friend, you will get to know it better, and the better you know it, the more you will love it. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, if you meet with a man who finds fault with the Bible, you may be certain that he never read it. If he would but read it in the right spirit, he would be of another opinion. And if you find a professing Christian indifferent to his Bible, you may be sure that the very dust upon its cover will rise up in judgment against him! The Bible reader is always the Bible lover, and the Bible searcher is the man who searches it more and more. Various pursuits have a measure of fascination about them, but the study of God's Word is fascinating to the highest degree. Jerome said, when he was pondering a certain text, "I adore the Infinity of Holy Scripture." I have often felt that I could say the same. The Bible is a book that has no bounds to it. Its thoughts are not as men's thoughts, a multitude of which may go to make up half an ounce! Any one of the thoughts of God can outweigh all the thoughts of men. This Book is not a book of pence, or a book of silver, or even a book of gold, but a book whose every leaf is of untold value! He shall be enriched, indeed, who lets "the word of Christ" richly dwell in him.
My dear Friends, I should like you to so read the Bible that everybody in the Bible should seem to be a friend of yours. I should like you to feel as if you had talked with Abraham and conversed with David. I can truly say that there is hardly anybody in the world that I know so well as I know David. In making The Treasury of David, I have labored, year after year, in that rich field of Inspiration, the Book of Psalms, till I assure you that David and I are quite familiar friends. And I think I know more about him than about any man I ever saw in my life. I seem to know the ins and outs of his constitution and experience, his grievous faults and the graces of his spirit. I want you to be on just such intimate terms with somebody or other in the Bible—John, if you like, or Mary. Sit at Jesus' feet with her. Or Martha—it will not hurt you to make the acquaintance of Martha and do a great deal of serving, though I do not want you to get cumbered with it. But do find your choicest friends in the Scripture. Take the whole company of Bible saints home to your heart, let them live inside your soul. Let old Noah come in with his ark, if he likes, and let Daniel come in with his lions' den, if he pleases—and all the rest of the godly men and women of the olden time—take them all into your very nature and be on familiar terms with them! But, most of all, be specially intimate with Him of whom they all speak, namely, Jesus Christ your blessed Lord and Master!
As for the doctrines revealed in the Bible, you should have them at your fingertips. The great Truths of the Word of God should be as familiar to you as a scholar makes his much-loved classics to be, or as the mathematician makes his plus and minus, his a and his x, familiar to him from hour to hour. So should you prize "the word of Christ." "Let it dwell in you richly in all wisdom."
II. But now, secondly, I am to tell you How TO PROFIT BY THE WORD OF CHRIST, if we once get it to dwell in
First, seek to profit by it yourself' 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." Let it make you wise. The man who studies his Bible well, will become a wise man. If God the Holy Spirit teaches him, I believe that he will become a wise man even in something more than a spiritual sense. Every Scot child used to be taught the Book of Proverbs—it was one of the class books of Scot schools—and I have heard it said that this particular form of instruction has largely helped to make our Scot friends so sharp. And I should not wonder if that is the case. They certainly are as wise a race of people as we are likely to meet with. I wish our Irish friends would also study the Book of Proverbs. If it would make them as cool as it has made our Scot friends, it might improve them without taking away any of their natural humor and warmth of heart. I wish that English people, also, would read more of the Bible. I can truly say that when I have met with men in whom "the word of Christ" has dwelt richly, I have often found them very shrewd even about commonplace things.
I remember a man, in a certain workshop, making a great many very rude remarks and, at last, he was silenced by one of the workmen who said to him, "I think, Sir, you are referred to in the 20th Chapter of Proverbs." He did not explain his meaning, but the man who was thus addressed went home and when he looked up the chapter, he found these words in the third verse, "Every fool will be meddling." It was an admirable rebuke for him and all the better because he had an hour or two before he knew exactly what it was. And when he reached his home and was at leisure to think, he could look up the passage and see how appropriate it was to his case. If you will take the Word of God for your guide, even in domestic and business matters, you will often manifest a shrewdness which, perhaps, may not be natural to you, but which will come to you through "the word of Christ" dwelling in you richly in all wisdom. That, however, is only a small part of the profit which it will bring to you.
Do you want wisdom with which to master yourself? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Do you need something to cheer a naturally sinking spirit? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Do you wish for that which will calm an angry mind, a temper all too apt to be suddenly excited? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Are you in a calling where you are sorely tempted and do you long to know how to be kept from falling into sin? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Is your position a very difficult one? Are you scarcely able to balance the claims of different relationships? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Are you expecting to have a time of intense strain and trial such as you have never experienced before? Prepare yourself for it by letting "the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It shall give you all manner of wisdom by which you shall be able to baffle even the subtlety of the old serpent himself! We used to have in many of our churches a number of solid, substantial men—"men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do"—and an equal proportion of deeply-taught, godly matrons, true mothers in Israel. Well, those stalwart Christians were brought up on such spiritual meat as I have been commending to you. They were diligent students of the Word of God and if we are to have a succession of such men and women, they can only be qualified by going to the University of Scripture and taking their degree by permitting "the word of Christ" to dwell in them richly!
The next way of using "the word of Christ" to profit is to seek to profit others by it' 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." We are to know the Truth of God so as to be able to teach and admonish one another.
First, we are to seek the profit of our fellows by teaching one another. No one man can ever teach such a vast congregation as I have, so as to give the separate instruction that is needed by each one. This work must be done by the members of the Church themselves. "The word of Christ" must dwell in you and then you must become a Mutual Instruction Society. Every Christian should exercise the office of the pastorate according to his ability and his opportunity. In such a Church as this, every one of the members must look well not only to his own spiritual affairs, but also to the well-being of others. What sweet and gracious instructions the older ones among you can give if you tell your experience! It is very interesting to any of us to hear it, but how helpful it is to the beginners in the Divine life!
And if, in addition to relating your experience, you talk of the Scriptures that have been opened up to you—the promises that have been fulfilled to you—the passages in the Bible that have been applied to your heart by the Holy Spirit who Inspired them—you will greatly instruct your fellow Christians. A dear Brother in the Lord said to me, the other day, "I do not often meet, now, with those people who talk about the things of God to one another. Even when I meet with Christians, their conversation is generally concerning a meeting or a Conference that is going to be held, or something that is to be done—we do not seem to talk much about Jesus Christ, Himself, and about experimental Truth, and about the sorrows and the joys of God's people." I wish we did talk more of such things. It is well to be busy for the Lord, but it is still better to be in communion with Him. You who are deeply taught in the Scriptures should try to teach others for their profit.
One way of teaching one another is mentioned in the text—"in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." A learned divine, a little while ago, discovered that no hymn ought to be sung unless it was distinctly directed and addressed to God and was intended to be full of praise throughout. Well, we do have some remarkably wise men nowadays—at least, in their own estimation—but it appears that the Apostle Paul thought that "Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" were to be used for instruction and admonition as well as for the praises of God! And, to my mind, there is no teaching that is likely to be more useful than that which is accompanied by the right kind of singing! When I am preaching, I often
find a verse of a hymn the very best thing I can quote—and I have not the shadow of a doubt that, frequently, a verse of sacred poetry has struck a man who has been altogether missed by the rest of the sermon. Think how compactly the Truth of God can be taught by means of "Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," and how likely it is to be remembered when the very measure and rhyme and rhythm help the memory to treasure up the message! I shall never forgot what repentance is while I can say—
"Repentance is to leave The sins I loved before, And show that I in earnest grieve By doing so no more."
It is well to have the Truth of God put into the form of a verse that the memory may be able to lay hold of it, and to retain it. Do try, dear Friends, to get so full of "the word of Christ" in all forms of it, that you may run with it. You know, it cannot come outof you if it is not first inyou. If you do not get "the word of Christ" into you, you will not be instructive in your general conversation.
In addition to instruction, there is to be admonition. That is a very difficult thing to administer wisely. I have known a Brother try to admonish another and I have felt that he would have done better if he had left the task alone, for he has only caused irritation and resentment. There is a gracious way of admonishing which cannot be too frequently practiced. When I first began to preach, I am afraid that I used to say a great many strange things—which, of course, I do not do now—but having, on a certain occasion, said something rather striking and, perhaps, not quite wise, there was an excellent Christian man who wanted to set me right. He did not come and thrust himself upon me in a very solemn manner and provoke me to scoff at him and his reproof. Neither did he say anything so as to irritate me, but, finding my Bible lying about, he stuck a pin into it at the words, "Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." When I was at home, I looked at that pin, and I looked at that text, and I said to myself, "Whose house was I in last?" When I remembered, I said, "That is the man who stuck that pin in there, depend upon it." I never felt vexed with him! On the contrary, I was very grateful and I always loved and admired him. And I thought, "Now, if he had spoken to me about what I had said, it is possible that he might have stuck the pin into me where I should not have liked it—but as he only stuck it into my Bible, it did not irritate me." You see, also, that I gratefully remember the rebuke even to this day.
Sometimes the best way to give an admonition will be by singing a Psalm or a hymn. The clerks in the old Meeting Houses, when they used to be allowed to choose the hymns, often took away much of the evil effect of an erroneous sermon by their wise selection of the closing verses. Now and then, if you are discreet, you can quote an appropriate verse— as people say, "accidentally on purpose"—and you can bring in a portion of a Psalm that shall exactly say for you what you might have said in a blundering way! And the dear Brother who has done wrong will accept the rebuke without being enraged by it. When you attempt to snuff the candle, do not put it out by your clumsiness, but take the golden snuffers—in the form of a verse of a Psalm, or a hymn, or a spiritual song—and even while you sing it, you will be administering the admonition and the instruction which it is your duty to give.
I wish to put this matter so that it shall be remembered by you, and I want especially to press it home upon you, dear Friends, members of this Church of more than 5,000 souls. What can we do unless you all look after one another? And how shall we ever get on unless, in addition to preaching, there shall be continual mutual instruction going on, wise and joyful and cheerful—and accepted in a kind, loving and generous spirit? God fill you with "the word of Christ," that you may thus teach and admonish one another!
But, lastly, "the word of Christ," when it dwells in us, is to profit us in our relation to God Himself, for, after all, the main objective of our singing—the principal purpose of our teaching and admonishing—must be the glory of God! "Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Oh, may "the word of Christ dwell in us" so richly that you shall bless God from morning to night! May you so overflow with holy thought and sacred knowledge that your whole being shall be a hymn of praise to the Most High and your entire existence shall be a glorious hallelujah! I do not think that we, any of us, sufficiently value the Divine ordinance of praise. Neither do I think that we ever shall, till "the word of Christ" has taken full possession of our souls.
You have been upstairs to pray, you say, and you have got no comfort from the exercise. Let me suggest that the next time you go upstairs, you sing a Psalm. "Oh, I have been up and down," says one, "trying to awaken myself into earnestness of supplication." May I also propose to you that you do not try that method again for a while, but begin to praise God. How many times a day do you praise Him? I think you do get alone to pray and you would be ashamed if you did not, once, twice, or three or even more times in the day—but how often do you praise God? Now, you know that you will not pray in Heaven—there it will be all praise. Then do not neglect that necessary part of your education which is to "begin the music here." Start at once praising the Lord! Many of our doubts and fears would fly away if we praised God more. And many of our trials and troubles would altogether vanish if we began to sing of our mercies. Oftentimes, depression of spirit that will not yield to a whole night of wrestling, would yield to ten minutes of thanksgiving before God! Praying is the stalk of the wheat, but praise is the very ear of it. Praying is the leaf of the rose, but praise is the rose itself, redolent with the richest perfume.
Praise God, then, "in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," and if you say you do not know how to do it, then "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It is a praise-begetting thing! Out of every Book of Scripture will stream praises unto Jehovah. Out of every promise will spring a sonnet. Out of every Divine Truth enjoyed and lived upon will rise a spiritual song. The whole Revelation of God is the condensed essence of praise—you have only to give it a fitting opportunity, by setting it simmering on the fire of a graceful heart—and you shall find a sweet cloud of holy incense rising from it, acceptable to the Most High. Therefore, Beloved, be much with your Bibles and let your Bibles be much with you—for your own profit, for the profit of others and for the glory of God! So be it, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: COLOSSIANS 3:1-17.
Verse 1. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Your Lord and Master has gone up to Heaven. You profess that He represents you and that you have gone up there in Him and with Him. Then do not seek the things that are down here below, the things of earth—but live where your life has gone. Where your treasure is, there let your heart be also. "Seek those things which are above."
2. 3. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead. You profess to be dead to the world. Is that profession false? You have observed that Scriptural ordinance in which you profess to be buried with Christ—was that observance only an empty form? If there was any truth in your profession, "You are dead"—
3. And your life is laid with Christ in God. You have a new life now—it is up yonder, "where Christ sits at the right hand of God." Do you not feel drawings upward? Are there no longings after the high and heavenly estate where Jesus is? Come, Beloved, let your soul break loose for a while and, like a lark, having found its liberty ascends with joyous wing, singing as it rises till it is out of mortal sight, so let it be with you!
4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in Glory. You are hidden now, your life is veiled in Him, but, at His Second Coming He shall shine forth in all His Glory and "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Beloved, seek no greatness here! Ask not for any exaltation of yourself among the sons of men, but wait for your true manifestation with Christ in Glory!
5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Kill all these evil things! Do not let them live in you for a single moment. The command applies not only to the grosser actions which are summed up under the head of fornication and uncleanness, but to all that leads to those foul sins. Not only to the fire, but also to the sparks, such as "inordinate affection," a sort of softness which is seen in some persons, men and women, too, and which often leads to something far worse—and "evil concupiscence," the first desires towards that which is unchaste. God give us Divine Grace to kill these loathsome things at once, for if thoughts of evil are indulged, they soon become actsof evil, and then who knows how far we may go in the way of unholiness?
Sin, if allowed to grow in the heart, will soon take gigantic strides and come out in the life. Depend upon it, whenever a professing Christian goes into overt sin of the kind mentioned here, he does not do it all of a sudden. The evil has long been festering and fomenting within his heart, or it would not have manifested itself thus. Oh, if he had only watched and destroyed the thief before he broke into the house, what a mercy it would have been! You notice that covet-
ousness is put down with the most filthy sins and it is described as idolatry. The desire to possess the goods that belong to others—the lust to get gain at any price—this is idolatry.
6, 7. For which things 'sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience: in which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. This was true of the Colossians and it was true of almost all those to whom Paul wrote, for these gross evils were scarcely regarded as sins in his time, so polluted had the nations become. I hope that in the case of many now living, they have been preserved by Christian training from having walked even for a time in such sins.
8. But now you also put off all these. Put them all off, like old clothes that are never to be worn again. "Put off all these"—
8. Anger It is hard work for some to pull that garment off, for it fits them so tightly. This burning coat of wrath will not readily come off, but the Apostle's command is, "Put it off! Put it off!" It does not become a Christian to be an angry man.
8. Wrath, malice. Christ will not live in a heart that harbors malice.
8. Blasphemy. Thank God that if we ever wore that robe, we pulled it off long ago.
8. Filthy communication out of your mouth. All talking that is of a dubious character must go. Anything which savors of corruption and defilement must be put away from every Christian.
9. Lie not one to another In Paul's day, lying was thought to be a virtue unless the liar happened to be exposed. In that case it was considered wrong. But to lie through thick and thin, and to lie so dexterously as to deceive, was looked upon by an Oriental as an accomplishment of which he might be proud. So the Apostle might well write, "Lie not one to another"—
9, 10. Seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. There is nothing false or untrue in God. God is true and in Him is no falsehood at all. And if you and I have really been renewed, as we profess to have been, we shall hate the very semblance of a lie and our word will be as good as our bond.
11. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all Whenever you hear certain very wise Brothers and Sisters say, "Such-and-such a promise in the Bible is for Israel, not for the Gentiles," do not be misled in the least by their assertion! Just quote this text to them— "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." These distinctions all vanish when once we come to Christ! We are one in Him and every promise to Believers is good to all who are in Christ Jesus, for "Christ is all, and in all."
12. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, hearts of mercies, kindness. Be ready to feel for others. Be very considerate of their needs. Look at others as if they were your kith and kin. If you and they are in Christ, they are indeed your kin, so put on kinned-ness, or, "kindness"—
12. Humbleness of mind. Do not try to be a big man. He who thinks himself big has not yet learned the true spirit of Christianity. Especially towards those who are sorrowful and sad, be pitiful, be kind, be humble. 12. Meekness. If others try to provoke you, do not be provoked by them, but be gentle and meek.
12. Long-suffering. Continue to put up with others, remembering the Lord's long-suffering with you.
13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. Hear this, Beloved, I pray you! Especially those of you who have hot tempers and have fallen out with one another. "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Remember how much Christ has forgiven you and show a forbearing and forgiving spirit to others.
14. And above all these things put on charity. Or, rather, "love"—
14. Which is the bond of perfectness. The perfect bond, the belt that goes round and keeps every other garment of virtue in its place.
15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body. Do not fall out with one another. You are called to peace, for you are called in one body. Does one hand in the body fight with the other hand? Does the foot contend with the eye? Of course not, for they are in one body. So are you in one body with all your fellow Christians, therefore lay aside all strife. I deeply deplore when I see Christians—and especially eminent Christians— contending with one another about minor matters of small account. Surely, almost anything ought to be borne before
there should be public strife among members of the one body! God grant that such a state of things may speedily come to an end wherever it has existed! We have enough to do to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," without contending for our own dignity or honor.
15. And be you thankful. That is a nice little text, "Be you thankful." When you are grumbling at your plain food, put this as a sandwich between your bread and butter, "Be you thankful." When you are complaining of the East wind, just try if you cannot spell this little sentence, "Be you thankful." When you are murmuring about those sharp pains and that long sickness, this is the kind of tune for the little bird to whistle at your window, "Be you thankful." We have all much for which we ought to be thankful, however sad we may think our lot to be. Look on the bright side, rejoice in God! "Be you thankful."
16, 17. Let the word of Christ dwellin you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. Do not draw any line of demarcation, and say, "So far is secular and so far is religious." Let your whole life be religious—and if there is anything proposed to you in which you cannot glorify God—do not touch it! "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him."
If any of you go to the theater, can you go there in the name of the Lord Jesus? Why, you would not dare to cross the threshold with such blasphemy in your soul! And when you go to any place of doubtful amusement, can you go there giving thanks to God and the Father by Jesus Christ? Can you thank the Lord that you are permitted to go and pray for Divine blessing when you go and when you leave? A lady once said to a Christian minister, "The pleasures of going to the play are very great. There is the pleasure of thinking of it beforehand, the enjoyment of it at the time, and then the pleasure of thinking of it afterwards." "Yes, Madam," said the good man, "and there is one other pleasure which you seem to have forgotten—that is the pleasure of thinking of it on your dying bed. I would like you to remember that."
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