The Christian life is like a wardrobe. In any wardrobe there are both old and new clothes. My wife likes to throw out many of my old clothes because they no longer fit, they now look silly on me, or they are simply worn out. My problem is I get too attached to my old clothes. However, some of them just have to go.
This is exactly what Paul says in Colossians 3:5-11. He has been describing life in the new age, and like our old clothes, there are certain behaviours that do not “fit” anymore and have to go. Paul has already described the transformation that should take place in our sexual behaviour (vv. 5–7), now he talks about the radical change in the things we say (vv. 8–10).
Moses told Israel to take to heart all the words he had spoken to them because “they are your life” (Deutronomy 32:46-47). We live or die by the words we hear and speak. Therefore, we must speak life-giving, life-enhancing words. Paul gives us five examples of the kind of words that wound, spoil, and destroy. There is the seething hatred that is simmering wrath, which then may express itself in fits of rage. Then there is the malicious destruction of someone’s reputation and character; and fourthly, there is blasphemy or slander—those words that dishonour God by demeaning those made in His image. Finally, we must put away the gutter talk that soils and pollutes.
In a community renewed by the truth of the gospel, we should not lie to one another (v. 9). We must avoid the lie that, since we are forgiven, what we do with our bodies or our tongues does not matter. Or the lie that God will not hold us accountable for every careless word spoken.
We have changed clothes. We have a whole new wardrobe. We are now part of a new community that God is daily renewing. It is a community of purity and truth where there are no barriers or distinctions—no “them” and “us” (v. 11). Let us resolve today, and every day, to throw away those inappropriate old clothes.
If we find ourselves surrounded by people who continually speak unkind, impure, or untrue words, how can we learn to discipline ourselves in the things that we say?
What are some of the ungodly distinctions that sometimes exist in your church? How does the gospel help us to look at one another with new eyes?