Colossians 3:12–17

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Pray first

How is your wardrobe looking? Are you wearing the current fashion or the classically stylish? ‘Dear Lord, clothe me.’

Colossians 3:12–17

‘Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’

Colossians 3:12–17

 12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let 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. 17And 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.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible Passage

Listen to today's Bible passage within Wordlive.

Main point

Life in Jesus

As part of ‘Hope 08’ our church was litter-picking in the nearby park. Picking up cigarette ends and beer cans led to conversations with others in the park. The boldest and most generous-spirited of our team were the children. I learned a huge lesson from them about the ‘clothing’ I need to put on!

Put off certain sins, Paul says (v 5). Then here, we are to ‘put on’ or clothe ourselves with a new outfit: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (vs 12–14).

Why? Because we are chosen, loved and made holy through the death of Christ. Because of the Holy Spirit, we can clothe ourselves with values that sustain relationships, build communities and heal divisions. The glue holding all this together is love – the mark of all Christian living and witness (v 14).

Paul encourages us to let peace lead the way in our relationships. Verses 16 and 17 remind us of the importance of God’s Word and its affect on our lives when we receive its teaching, share its wisdom and use it to worship God.                                                 

And finally, everything we do 24/7 should be in the name of Jesus – whether it’s litter-picking, listening to music, or travelling to work. Everything should flow out of a thankful heart.

Jackie Cray

Prayer points

Listen to the song below. As you do so think of ways that your life could reflect the five graces mentioned in verse 12:

• Compassion

• Kindness

• Humility

• Gentleness

• Patience 

Now choose one of these and reflect on it prayerfully. Praise God, for example, for the compassion you have experienced or seen in others. Then ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit and compassion.

Thank God for the ways in which you have seen others being compassionate (kind, patient etc).

If you feel you haven’t experienced these graces in your life and this touches a painful spot in you, ask God to heal the hurt you feel and fill you with the grace you most need (eg compassion, kindness etc).

Ask God to give you opportunities today to show someone one of these graces.

  • Song: Make me a channel of Your peace
  • Composer: Sebastian Temple
  • Artist(s): Geraldine Latty
  • Album: Songs of Praise & Worship Vol.1
  • Publisher: Kingsway Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 1967 OCP Publications, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland, OR 97213, USA.
  • Buy: Kingsway shop

Daily question

How focused are you on the challenge of doing everything in your life as if you were doing it for Jesus (v 17)?

Church life in the first century

The world of the New Testament was different from ours. Consider the following attitudes that shaped their ideas of how a person ought to live:

In the Mediterranean world, honour was determined by right and wrong behaviour. For a man, honour depended partly on his social standing – his family, town or village and religion – and partly on virtues such as courage and piety. For women, honour depended on virtues such as modesty and chastity.

A person’s self-worth hung on their contribution to the stability of society. It depended on the recognition of other people. The worst thing you could do was to act in a way that brought dishonour on the group to which you belonged.

Naturally, how honour was defined depended on the values of the group. A Christian, living with a different allegiance and different values from the pagan world, faced the accusation of deviance, and would have felt the sting of disgrace. It was therefore supremely important for a believer to feel the affirmation of the Christian community.

Society and individual
Western society is used to thinking of people as individuals. Not so in the ancient Mediterranean. People thought of themselves as part of a group, whether that group was family, place of origin, craft, trade or association (such as Pharisee or Sadducee, Stoic or Epicurean etc). Right and wrong behaviour was more concerned with preserving the integrity of the group than individual actions.

The distinct social categories in modern-day society tend to follow age groups – children, teenagers, young adults, adults and senior citizens. If Paul were writing for Western society today, would he say that in Christ there are no teenagers or senior citizens?

For the Greeks, religion was a civic duty and consisted of participation in festivals and sacrifices. It also included observing family rituals. It was very much associated with the city, and most cities had their own patron gods.

The Christian Church is a singing Church. From Old Testament times worship has been an expression of joy, expressed in song and with musical instruments.

As the Roman governor Pliny observed, Christians met to sing a song to Christ, as to a god. God is the audience of our music. When music becomes entertainment, it is not worship.

The Bible describes worship as ‘… psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit… ’ (v 16). There is no need to try and make distinctions between them. Notice that music was an expression of unity (vs 15–17)! Can we find common ground in music?

Annabel Robinson

Loving relationships

Here’s the positive list:

• compassion

• kindness

• humility

• gentleness

• patience

• forgiveness


Notice that Paul calls the Colossians ‘chosen people, holy and dearly loved’ (v 12). We are ‘holy’ because the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives. We have not yet arrived, but God, like an artist, sees in us the final result of what he is making. The fact that we are chosen and dearly loved gives us the confidence to persevere as God keeps working in us.

How can we live this way?

• Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. ‘Just do it.’

• Keep your eyes on the goal.

• Remember that God in Christ displays all these characteristics towards you!

• Forgiveness is not optional. 

In a church a responsibility lies with the leadership to model this behaviour. There is plenty of opportunity to do so! Paul wouldn’t have written ‘Bear with each other’ (v 13) if we all got along automatically.

This means putting people before goals, objectives, programmes and activities, and putting individuals before statistics. The North American church in particular tends to place a lot of emphasis on meeting organisational goals. This is good, but people frequently get in the way.

Who do you need to extend love and forgiveness to today?

Annabel Robinson

Pray for your church

Begin to hold your church at the centre of your focus by:

• drawing or writing down some of the places you meet with people from your church (eg small groups, prayer meetings, socially, Sunday services)

• drawing or writing the names of some particular individuals from your church and what they mean to you and the church and to God

• drawing or naming some of the blessings and prophecies God has given your church 

Now, look at these phrases in the speech bubbles below, based on verses 12–17 of today’s passage, and let God’s Spirit lead you to pray them for your church.

You may like to print them off – click the link on the right to open a PDF. Stick them around your house (or church) as a reminder to keep praying that your church keeps growing in the identity, character, attitudes, relationships, atmosphere and worshipfulness that God has designed for it.

Martin Hodson

God’s outrageous kingdom

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Reflect on the very different, very gracious values of God’s kingdom compared to the world we see around us, as you watch this video.

Poem: ‘I am not myself’

Let your heart soar as you read Jane Upchurch’s exploration in poetry of what it really means to be raised with Christ, the topic of our readings in Colossians this week.

Series overview

This week’s theme is ‘Life with Christ’. We will explore this during the week by continuing to go through Colossians, before taking a look at Isaiah 45:15–25 and Psalm 24 at the weekend.

Our contributors to WordLive this week:

Marjory Austin learned to love the Bible through attending summer Faith Camps and trained as a Bible Teacher. She works full-time as a school secretary. Her hobbies include Scottish dancing and fell-walking.

Martin Ayers

Jon Birch is a freelance animator, designer, illustrator and music producer. He describes himself as ‘someone who makes a living out of what he used to do in the margins of his school books’. Jon is a co-founder and contributor of, a site dedicated to providing creative resources for the church.

Cornerhouse Productions are made up of husband and wife team, Andy and Wendy Green, who create our podcasts.

Jackie Cray
is President of the Scripture Union Council for England and Wales, and is also Priest in Charge of St Faith's in the Diocese of Canterbury. She is married to Graham, who is the Bishop of Maidstone.

Martin Hodson is the Senior Minister of St Peter’s Baptist Church in Worcester. He has a longing for the local church to reach its God-given potential and is passionate about world mission. He also has a longing to go sailing and play more golf. Martin is married to Becky, a science teacher, and they have three boys who like to turn the dial up to 10 on their guitar amps.

Annabel Robinson was Professor of Classics at the University of Regina in Canada. She has had a long time association with IVCF Canada. Now retired, she is married, with children and grandchildren in Calgary and Oslo.

Jane Upchurch is a prize-winning poet, whose journey with God has included living in community as a member of the Findhorn Foundation, celebrating Jewish festivals with her family and exploring Celtic Christianity. 

Clear and present danger!

Paul’s warnings in this week’s passages about being wary of ‘hollow and deceptive’ philosophies (v 8) may sound a bit irrelevant. But are they?

Click the link on the right to take a look at Martin Ayers’ article, and ask yourself whether this is just a past issue or a contemporary problem too.

Group discussion

Want to talk about today’s passage? Share some thoughts about what you’ve read, seen or heard? Has it left you with further questions? Or do you disagree with what has been said?

Head to the WordLive forums to join the discussion online, or check out the small group programme.

Topical thoughts: Who's in control?

Talk of a new cold war is in the air, following Russia’s actions in Georgia.

Barack Obama has just been nominated as US presidential candidate with support from the party’s ‘big guns’.

Robert Mugabe has been reinstalled as President of Zimbabwe despite doubts over the election process and the economic and political turmoil in the country.

China has demonstrated its new economic muscle with the Olympics and is increasingly showing wider political influence.

Many in the rich nations have seen the value of their savings and pensions slump through the lending policies of bankers thousands of miles away.

Time, it would seem, to stick one’s head back under the duvet!

So, what are we to make of Paul’s claim in Colossians 2:10 that Christ is ‘Head over every power and authority’? Of Vladimir Putin and George Bush? Of Robert Mugabe? Of Hu Jintao? Of the nameless bankers, financiers and speculators? Of industry bosses? It is hard to believe.

But consider the world in which Paul wrote. Rome was the political power and repressed any dissent harshly and speedily. Few people had any control over their economic status. The cult of Emperor worship was growing. In such a situation Paul and his fellow Christians could say confidently ‘Jesus is Lord’ (and not Caesar).

Dare we do the same in our day?

John Grayston
Tags: Control
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  • Lara Kemp | Wednesday, 11 September 2019

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