I’ve been reading Colossians. Last night I read Colossians 3:12-16. In it, I found some instructions. These are sometimes referred to as imperatives. But before mention of something to do (imperative), there is a strong statement of identity. These identity statements are sometimes referred to as indicative. This passage contains both instruction and identity statement. Sometimes there’s a fight like it’s imperative vs indicative.
I’m not sure it’s a fight. I think the Word of God contains instruction and identity statements in perfect harmony. But what comes first?
This passage in Colossians answers that question by introducing the reader to what’s going to be a list of imperatives, but then inserts a very profound statement of identity. It’s hard to assume what Paul was doing as he wrote these words – or to question the Holy Spirit who inspired him to do so, but it’s almost like Paul leaves the starting blocks intent on instructing the Colossians on what they are to do (put on/put off), but is then reminded (prompted?) to remind the Colossians of who they are.
Is it not easy, especially when we have other people in our cross-hairs, to launch into what we ought to be doing as we walk with Jesus? I am learning that it’s not wrong to, standing on the authority of the Word of God, give directions to fellow followers. We consider the important place the 10 Commandments hold in the canon of scripture and we’re quick to point out what it is the Lord requires of us. But done in isolation, I am not sure we really echo the Holy Spirit’s intent.
Rather, it’s like we’re called to be before we are called to do and our doing is inseparably built on our being.
I think I am going to spend a few days thinking about how this is presented in the following passage. That may or may not lead to further blog posts. Spending time chewing over relatively small portions of Scripture never equates to an exercise in futility.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. (Colossians 3:12-16 ESV)