Words. We all know that the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” isn’t really true. Words do hurt us which is why God made sure to include several verses in His word about our language. Here are just a couple tried-and-true verses to live by when it comes to how to speak to people:
Colossians 4:6 Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Proverbs 15:4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
There are plenty more verses about our words and how important they are, if you haven’t read them I would encourage you to look them up. God has made it very clear how He feels about language and the impact on both the speaker and the listener. But I don’t think how we speak is the focus of this verse in Colossians.
As I was reading the Colossians 3:16, I was struck by a question I had never really asked before, “What is the ‘word of Christ’”? This verse is very specific what kind of word we are to let reign in our lives so I think it’s worth exploring just a little bit. In John 1:1, we learn that Jesus Himself is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So if Jesus IS the Word, what is Paul referring to when he is talking to the believers in Colossae?
I did a short study on the original word for “word”, logos. This word is the same in both John 1:1 and Colossians 3:16, it means “a word, speech, divine utterance” (Strong’s concordance, 3056. logos) When Jesus lived here among us, He said a lot of words and gave several speeches so again I asked, what is Paul referring to? So I started praying for some guidance because I was feeling a little lost and overwhelmed at exactly which word of Christ was I supposed to let dwell in me and how could let them all live in me richly without trying to memorize every word He spoke. I also made an assumption that since Paul is talking to believers, he isn’t simply trying to tell them to let Jesus live in their hearts as in salvation. So I don’t think Paul is talking about a saving knowledge of Jesus when he says, “word of Christ” in this verse.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, and with all of your souls, and with all of your mind.’ That is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
For me, as I was reading these verses in Matthew, it became clear that Jesus summed up how we are to live in these very powerful words and that if I want to have the word of Christ live, dwell, drive my life, this is the word I need to follow. All of His other words point to these veres. All of His ministry point to these verses. All of His death point to these verses. All of His resurrection point to these veres. To let the word of Christ dwell richly in my life, I have to live with God being the focal point of every single area of my life first, and then the outflow of that focus will be that I love myself because I know who I am in God and I love the people around me. And in case you are wondering, this is again agape love…unconditional.