Bind It On Your Forehead

April 07, 2014Filed under theology#devotionsMarkdown source

I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: Psalm 72, Proverbs 7, and Colossians.

One of the real joys of memorizing Scripture is the way that—by the grace of God—it slowly shapes you and (trans)forms the way you think. Jaimie and I have been memorizing Colossians this spring, and we will have finished the book by the end of April, Lord willing. I read through the book this morning, and found great joy in that I can see the contours of Paul’s letter much more clearly and understand the book much more deeply. Even more, though, I am extremely glad for the ways I can see that the book is shaping me.

Several days last week, I woke up with various verses from the book echoing in my mind—Col. 1:23’s encouragement to hold fast to the faith, Col. 1:15–19’s magnificent and beautiful Christology, Col. 2:20–23’s admonition to lean on Christ and not on worldly asceticism, Col. 1:29’s picture of Paul’s hard work for the sake of the gospel… It is difficult to overstate the impact it has on one’s life to have a book like this constantly ringing in one’s mind. Its contents are now always ready to be drawn upon as I encounter opportunities and trials.

Colossians’ sweep from the doctrine of Christ and salvation to our eminently practicable response is typical of Paul, and reminds me that we cannot ever separate the two. When the book enjoins men like me, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them… Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:19,21), this is entirely dependent on the reality that I have been raised with Christ and know that I will appear with him in glory when he returns (Col. 3:1–4).

My ethical response (Col. 3:5–4:2) finds its foundation in the assurance of what God has done and the hope of what he will do. My ability to carry out that response is wholly based on my unity with Christ: that in him spiritually I died and have been raised (cf. Col. 2:20, 3:1). He is my life (Col 3:4). There is no separating our obedience, our pursuit of holiness, from his gracious work on our behalf. He did and does and will do, and we respond. Neither can we fail to respond and say that we are truly in Christ nor perform moral acts of any worth if we reject Christ.

And daily I find myself meditating on and turning to these realities and commands. I am led to worship, and led to obedience. Praise God for Colossians, for his command to know his word by heart.