A Colossians 3:16 Kind of Singing
Colossians 3:16 (ESV) says, “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.”
When someone asks me what my definition of worship is, what I tell them is that “worship is a response to who God is and what God has done.” What we see here in Colossians 3, is that the main thing we respond to is the gospel. Word of Christ in this context is to be understood as the “Word about Christ,” which would point to the perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus.
When we dwell on this, it should stir an uncontainable joy within the depths of our soul. Sometimes, I think that we become inoculated to the gospel. It’s become a buzzword in the church world. But when we let the gospel dwell in our hearts—I mean take up full residence in our souls where there is no room for anything else—it should get our worship pulse racing. I think sometimes the breakdown is that we rely on sermons and the worship gathering alone to “get us ready to worship.” Friends, we are prone to wander, prone to leave the God that we love. This is a daily dwelling that Paul is talking about in Colossians. This is a daily recognition that what we deserve is death, hell, the wrath of God, and an eternity in torment. But what we get through the gospel and the grace of God—is God himself. He is where there is real pleasure, joy, and fulfillment. Everything else will fail us.
We get most excited about what we dwell on daily. I think of my son, Hudson, when he was 6 years old and had just discovered Minecraft. If you don’t know what Minecraft is, go ask any elementary school student. He was obsessed. He loved it. He wanted to play the game, collect the toys, and tell me about every little detail about the world of Minecraft. He talked about it so much because he loved the game. It’s the same for us. When we daily meditate on, pray through, and herald with our words and lives, the gospel, then it is as natural as breathing when we gather. It’s like a breath in of God’s grace throughout the week, and we come, we gather, and we breathe out together his praise through song. When we recognize our own depravity, we see the grace and gospel of God so much more fully and beautifully. We will sing about what we are most excited about.
We let this glorious story reside in our hearts, we preach it to ourselves every day, and we also sing it to one another. That is exactly what this passage is telling us to do. With a variety of music: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we are to teach and admonish one another. When we sing, we are first responding to who God is and what God has done, but we are secondarily singing to one another. What hope do we have when cancer hits? The gospel. What do we cling to when there is relational strain or heartbreak? The gospel. Who do we turn to when things are financially tight, we are lonely, or don’t understand why God would bring us through what he is bringing us through? We turn to Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for us.
So, when you sing, realize that if you aren’t singing, you are missing out on an opportunity to encourage and admonish the guy two rows in front of you who might be going through a tough time. When you sing, you are saying with your melodic words, that “I believe this” and you look across the aisle and say, “You believe this. Isn’t this great news for us?”
We see this immense love for us in the gospel, and we respond. Joyously. Thankfully. Expressively. Loudly. With celebration! We who were dead, have been made alive. When we think on this gospel, when we truly allow it to reside in our hearts, we should be exploding in our response to God, and we should be encouraging each other in this gospel with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.