4 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

I recently sat with another pastor who lamented exhaustion in his ministry. He was discouraged about the growth of his people and I felt deep sympathy for him. We’ve all been there. All pastors and church leaders feel the weight of discipleship of their people and all of us feel like failures at some time on some level. I began to think about the ways that I am encouraged by SGF and their faithfulness. Pastors need encouragement sometimes… So I thought I’d line out four simple things you can do to encourage your

pastor. Here goes:

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1. Read your Bible and think deeply. Your pastor wants you to grow. Spiritual growth is done through study and engagement of Scripture. Basically, your discipleship is just that: yours. It is not dependent on some program, pastor, or community to push you to be a faithful disciple. While a good church, pastor, or community can aid in your growth as a Christian, your own personal discipline is not dependent on those aids. It is yours. Work hard and own it.

ben-white-292680-unsplash2. Attend church. I have a saying whenever someone apologizes for missing church. I say, “Its ok, we don’t take attendance.” I mean that! I think most pastors mean that. At SGF we don’t take attendance. We don’t judge your spiritual progress by your attendance at a particular worship service, meeting, or program. Our church seeks to measure success by asking the question: “are people growing to be more like Christ?” That being said, there is one easy, sure-fire way to encourage your pastor: attend. When someone attends faithfully, I feel tremendously encouraged. They don’t have to do anything else. Even though I am not critiquing their spiritual growth by their attendance, it still brings me great encouragement for them to simply attend. It tells me that the church matters to them. It tells me that they want to be a part of the community and enjoy gathering with us. Even if they do nothing else, a faithful attendee encourages my heart. So, attend church and your pastor will feel respected and loved. Attend… it’s that simple.

manki-kim-51020-unsplash3. Get out of your comfort zone and talk with other people about Jesus. When an athlete plays a sport, the competitive nature of his or her teammates propels them to work harder and make themselves better. I remember when I was in high school, one of the other point guards and I would have free-throw competitions. He and I would stand next to each other at the foul line, taking turns shooting until one of us missed. I remember the excitement of the challenge to be better. I remember the urging of the team around us. I remember feeling encouraged and strengthened to do better each time. I wasn’t trying to beat my teammate, I was trying to do better… to BE better.[1] It is the same way for your pastor. The more evangelical you are with your neighbors, the more he will feel convicted and propelled to share Christ in his own life. He is not trying to beat you in competition, he is trying to become a better disciple. When one of my people shares a story about their evangelistic encounters, I feel inspired and pressed to do more in my own efforts to spread the gospel. So get after it! Then share your stories of success and rejection with your pastor.

alexis-brown-82988-unsplash4. Disciple someone. Make the effort to know others deeply. As the pastor of a small congregation, I feel a great deal of responsibility for the discipleship of the people. Fortunately for me, our church is designed such that there is a built-in opportunity for meaningful conversation and relational engagement: we eat lunch every Sunday after church. To be clear, not everyone stays for lunch and this is in no way required. Eating lunch after church is simply a way to connect with people who may otherwise not get any discipleship. At these lunchtimes, I’ve witnessed as people speak with each other and have deep, meaningful conversation. Watching these conversations go one step further is a delight! When I hear of a member connecting to another person outside of Sunday lunch, I am ecstatic! When I hear of two or more people in my congregation getting together to learn and grow together outside of events, or when I hear of the text prayer needs that are being met, or when I hear of members loving and serving each other, I am overjoyed and relieved. You see, when the Church begins to disciple itself and not depend on the pastor alone, then “church” is working the way its supposed to work. So, make a regular meeting time with someone, work your way through a study with someone else, or just call other people from the church to pray with and for them. Do the work of discipleship and let your pastor know you are doing it.

I hope this list encourages you to love and encourage your pastor well! I wish every pastor could have the same experience of encouragement from their people that I do with SGF. If you want to encourage your pastor, try some of these things. Do you do anything additional to encourage your pastors? Let me know in the comments.

[1] My max free throws in a row was somewhere around 150. The guy I shot with usually won, but we were pretty neck and neck.

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Colossians 3:22-4:1; Brief Thoughts

22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people- pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Identity drives behavior. What a person identifies as determines how that person will behave. If a person identifies themselves by their occupation, they will build their self-worth and behavior around what is acceptable for someone with their occupation. Likewise, if someone finds their identity in a hobby, they will find their self-worth and value in that hobby. Christians are to find their identity in the God that they worship. Indeed, A Christian’s identity is to be so defined by Christ that all other titles fall into submission to Christ first.

In a world where people are so frequently defined by occupation, Paul urges Christians to remember that their LORD is Jesus, not man.

A quick note on slavery: human slavery was a common practice in the first century. It was wrong and it was not a Christian practice. When Paul writes to Philemon he encourages him to free his slave Onesimus.

Slavery is never a good thing and, in the context of Christianity, should be utterly rejected. However, the world in which we live will always be governed by sinful behaviors and oppression until Jesus returns.

In order to apply this particular text, it is best for the reader to consider the term “slave” to indicate some sort of employee relationship.

Those who serve in a position to a boss ought to serve with a special reverence. Christian employees ought to serve their bosses as though they are serving Christ, Himself. Each task should be undertaken as though the Lord has assigned it to them. This is, of course, the natural response of one who recognizes God as sovereign. If God is sovereign then there is reason for whatever circumstance one might find themselves. Further, if God is sovereign over me then I am a citizen of His Kingdom and my actions either defame or exalt His Kingdom’s reputation. So, the concern of a true believer is whether or not he/she is pleasing to the Lord. For the Christian is well aware that God is the Master of all things and He will reward and punish accordingly.

Paul issues a warning and encouragement in the last phrase of verse 25. Justice will be served on those who behave unjustly. God will right the wrongs that are done in this life. No matter how lowly a person is, justice is served. No matter how elite a person is, justice will be served. God will repay each according to their own deeds.

This ought to bring a terrifyingly sober approach to employee-employer relationships. First, to recognize that God is sovereign over one’s current circumstance ought to inform the effort with which one pursues excellence in their tasks. Second, Christians should recognize that their rewards for their labors come from God and not man. No matter how much a believer deserves recognition, they must learn contentment in and pursue only the recognition that comes from God alone. Finally, a believer must recognize that God is the ultimate judge and that He will handle injustice in His time and in His way.  Trust in the Lord, He will repay each according to their deeds.

Finally, employers ought to treat their employees with the same recognition that employees should submit to. Strive as an employer to treat those in your charge as Christ treats you. For He is your Master and He is your example. So, if you have a slave, it stands to reason that you should set that slave free and pay them a just wage. Further, if you have an employee who fails, it stands to reason you ought to forgive and help that employee succeed. If Christ is your master, then you should look like Him.

Colossians 3:20-21; Brief thoughts

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The people who know you best are your family members. They see your brokenness, they are witness to all your failures and they are radically dependent on you for their own personal growth. Beyond the spouse, Children are the most intimately acquainted with the mother and father.

Echoing the fifth commandment, Paul calls children to “obey [their] parents in everything” (v.20). The Lord commands the children of Israel to “honor their parents” (Exodus 20:12). This is the first command with a resulting benefit or purpose, “that your days may be long in the land…” Likewise, Paul establishes that children ought to obey their parents because it is pleasing to the Lord to do so.

Children are not given an exception to obedience. They are to obey their parents “in everything” (v.20). It is the child’s responsibility to obey, in everything. That is to say, the child is to live in submissive obedience to their parents. The question in a wicked society is: to what extent does a child obey a sinful parent? No exemption is given in this text, though the Lord does give some principles that could be applied to this question in other areas of Scripture. One is that the Lord does not tempt someone to sin (James 1:13), but provides a way out when tempted (1 Cor. 10:13). So if an unbelieving parent demands a believing child sin, then the child should seek the way out. Further, if obedience to the parent is endangering the child or the child does not feel safe, that child should seek help from authorities or the adults who are aware should seek help from authorities. A gospel-centered community should be a place of safety and protection for children. Where orphans, widows, lame, and broken are left to their own struggles, there is no gospel.

The children are to obey and fathers are to be careful that they do not “provoke” their children. The term translated “provoke” means: “to stir-up, to exasperate, or to fight and contend” (Theological Lexicon of The New Testament). Fathers particularly can exasperate and domineer their children. Demanding obedience, they will unreasonably place restrictions on their children. Further, focusing on their desired outcome, fathers may unintentionally overlook the value of the moment by moment discipleship for which they are responsible.

In addition to demanding a particular outcome, fathers can sometimes confuse headship with mastery. Fathers are to serve as the head of the household but not as master. Fathers do not bear a whip, nor are they commissioned to drive their family to obey. Rather, “husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The Husband does not lead his family by command, but by example. He walks in holiness, living a life of example and service to others (c.f. 1 Tim. 2:8, Eph. 5:25-33, and Titus 1:2). As the head of the household, he bears responsibility for the life of the household. It is, therefore, imperative that he lead his family well and intercede on their behalf with the heart of Job (c.f. the book of Job, take note of all the times Job prays for and intercedes for his children).

When a father fails to lead His children with love and compassion and instead domineers them, demanding obedience, he will inevitably drive them to discouragement. In effort to train his children to obey and to have a long life as promised in Exodus, fathers run the risk of discouraging the very obedience they desire to foster. So, fathers must take seriously the opportunity to speak with and engage their children on a deep level.

Here are some simple exercises and questions fathers can engage to learn how to better lead their children.

  1. Read one of the four gospels and take note of every time Jesus interacts with His disciples. How does Jesus teach them? How does He engage those He is trying to lead?
  2. Read Ephesians and Colossians and take note of every character trait that is used to describe a Christian. Ask yourself, “am I exhibiting these character traits in a manner that is visible, and am I able to be imitated?
  3. Consider how Jesus deals with you in your error. Are you offering your children the same grace and patience He offers to you?

In the same way that obedience is pleasing to God for children, so good leadership is pleasing to God as well. As believers, our chief delight is to please the Lord. So great is this delight that the more we please God, the greater our maturity will be.

Finish the Book! 3 tips to becoming a reader and a list of where to start!

“Leaders are readers!” – Harry Truman. Leaders read books that engage their mind and challenge them to be better. Likewise, good pastors read books. Books about theology, history, practice, church ministry, and the like flood the desk of a good pastor. Good pastors will try to read a variety of books from a variety of perspectives and they will strive to understand viewpoints that are well beyond their personal opinions.

I can remember seeing the library of a particular pastor I had come to admire. He had three small rooms lined wall to wall with books, categorized according to topic. In addition to the walls lined with books, he had free-standing shelving that filled the empty space with more books. He was asked how many of these books he had actually read. He casually said, “Every book, cover to cover. With the exception of the reference works and commentaries.” The reference works and commentaries lined one wall of one of the three rooms. Then, pointing to a stack of about 10 books, he added, “Oh! And that stack on my desk. I’m reading those now.” Such a wealth of knowledge had made him a powerful pastor whose knowledge was used by the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of all he came in contact with.

Contrast the aforementioned pastor with a particular pastor I knew in seminary. Having found him in the library, I asked if he had completed the assigned reading for the class. “Sure. I mean I got the gist of it.” Slightly appalled I asked for clarification. His response: “Oh, I didn’t actually finish the books. I mostly just skimmed them until I got the idea.” I didn’t understand! I was unaware that we could just skim a book and say we got the material down. Over the next few weeks of coursework, my friend began to fall behind in the class discussion. His lack of knowledge began to show and his ignorance of the subject matter drove him further and further into unengaged silence in the class. I cannot help but wonder the effect that failing to finish the books that are designed to equip him for the ministry has had on his pastoral ministry.

Don’t get me wrong. Many pastors are descent pastors in spite of not being strong readers. They love people and engage well. However, one cannot help but wonder how much more powerful they would be if they were disciplined readers. Reading is a matter of training your mind. I am assuming that most pastors are reading their Bibles in significant measure. If that assumption is wrong, then those pastors need to leave the ministry. In addition to the Scripture, pastors would benefit from reading other books as well.

I was not always a reader. I preferred a ball and a hoop on a blacktop over a book in a chair. Yet, God drove deep into my soul the understanding of my own need for discipleship and the wealth of spiritual discipleship available to me in books. As I began to pastor I started to realize that godly men had laid their souls out on page for me! So I began to read the works of Ravenhill, Edwards, Spurgeon, Tozer, Piper, Bonhoeffer, and Murray. I experienced in those authors words that have accelerated my spiritual growth. So, read dear brother! Read! If you are not a reader, here are three tips for getting started.

  1. Finish the book. There is nothing more tragic than reading 3/4th of an author’s labor only to quit near the end. Finish the work! If you have ever read the likes of AW Tozer or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you know that the last chapters are paramount to understanding their efforts. Tozer particularly tends to put his greatest and most passionate applications at the end of his works. Read to the end, or you may deprive yourself of the best part.
  2. Vary your reading. I try to read one book that is an easy read (usually about ministry practice), one book that is a heavy read (usually theology), and one book for fun (often a book I’ve already read). In this way, I’ll feed myself a well-rounded diet of thought. Further, vary your perspectives. Read the heretics. Even if you spend the whole book fighting with them, read them. As a pastor, you will find it invaluable to be able to explain to your congregation members why you disagree with prominent authors. Do not be afraid of the heretic, they are here to sharpen you.
  3. Start small. I sometimes find myself reading 4-6 books at a time. If you’re not used to reading and engaging texts, don’t do that. Start small. Read one book at a time. Make your first work something easy but engaging. I’d suggest something from the Christian living section of your bookstore. As you get your feet under you as a reader. Read something heavier. Perhaps a puritan? Maybe something by Tozer? Go ahead! Dive in! But start small.

If you are not used to reading consistently and finishing the whole book here is a short list of books to get you started. I’ve broken them into four phases to kind of stair step you into reading larger more weighty works. Hopefully these help.

Phase One: Tuning your mind to enjoy reading spiritual material.

  1. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  2. More than a Carpenter by McDowell
  3. Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
  4. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Phase two: Learning to engage deeper (a little).

  1. Don’t Waste Your Life by Piper
  2. Basic Christianity by John Stott.
  3. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
  4. Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

Phase Three: Moving Towards personal practice

  1. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
  2. The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy
  3. Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
  4. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray

Phase Four: Enjoying the journey of reading for worship.

  1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn
  2. The Holiness of God by RC Sproul
  3. Living in Light of Eternity by KP Yohannan
  4. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Colossians 3:18-19; Brief Thoughts

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Having completed an explanation of identity and motivation, Paul gives exhortations to the believer about how they are to conduct themselves in their relationships. It should not be surprising that Paul feels the need to give exhortation regarding those who are closest to us. The closest relationship a person has is their spouse. It is the spouse who sees the most intimate moments in the heart and life of a believer. Naturally, it is in these close relationships that must reflect the image of Christ in the heart of the believer.

A side note: the instructions given to wives in scripture are not given to the husband. The husband is not responsible for ensuring that she receives her instruction. The wife is responsible for her obedience and does not need her husband to instruct her in the way of obedience. Rather, the husband must trust the Holy Spirit to work in the heart of his wife. Likewise, the wife must trust that the Holy Spirit is going to work in the life of her husband. Consider spiritual growth in marriage this way: both the husband and the wife have their own bucket in which their own responsibilities for maintaining their relationship with the Lord are placed. Each one has a dipper with which they can reach into the bucket and share some of their own insight with others. They are welcome to share the contents of their bucket with their spouse. They are not welcome to put their dipper in the other person’s bucket be it to stir, correct, or withdraw. Kahlil Gibran urges married couples to “share [their] bread with one another, but do not eat from the same loaf.” In this way, you will provide for the other, but you will not steal from the other.

So wives are to recognize a chain of command. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Submission does not mean subjugation. Submission does not mean to ignore abuse or sin. (In cases of abuse, please separate yourself from that person and seek help from both church leaders AND police authorities. Biblical submission does not mean that a woman or a man leaves herself or himself in a dangerous situation. Abusers need to be addressed both by spiritual and civil authorities. There is much to be said on this, far more than we can cover in this passage. Here we will simply say – if you are being abused, please seek help from authorities and get some space between you and that abuser.) Rather, submit means to recognize the chain of command. The husband is the head of the household and as such is empowered to make decisions for the household. The wife is to speak boldly to her husband, respecting his position, challenging him to be a better leader, and engaging in honest dialogue with him. The husband is to be kind and gentle with his wife. He is to love her and be gentle with her. The term for love is the term for divine love. It is self-sacrificing love that transcends selfish motive so common to man. So while the wife is encouraged to submit, the husband is commanded to love and be gentle. The term for “harsh” used could also be translated “do not embitter your wife.” In other words, the term means that the husband must be careful not to make his wife bitter or her life so difficult that she loses hope and joy in her marriage.

Too often married couples use their words and concern to direct their spouse’s spiritual actions. Men will try to command their wives and, inadvertently, lead them to bitterness. Wives will nag their husbands and, inadvertently, disrespect their position as protector, provider, and leader thereby leading him to become passive and lazy, feeling as though he cannot win. Yet, if married couples will focus on their individual development and stop attempting to control their spouse, then there will be a great unity between the two. As is fitting in the Lord.

An explanation of motivation in the Lord is at the center of the exhortations given to each relationship set. So here in marriage, the roles of husband and wife are “fitting in the Lord.” Living under these guidelines are fitting, or appropriate. The word used for “fitting” is referring to a sense of duty or responsibility. Note that Paul’s appeal to the husband and wife is not based on a feeling or pleasure. It is based on duty. No one feels like submitting. Likewise, it is much easier for a husband to harshly command his wife void of love or concern. Submission is difficult. Tenderness is uncomfortable. Still, it is the duty of the wife and husband, respectively. Sometimes it is difficult for a wife to submit to her husband, yet, it is fitting for her to do so. Sometimes it is difficult for a husband to love his wife and not be harsh, yet, it remains his duty to love her and be kind and gentle with her. When a husband fails in his duty of love and tenderness towards his wife, submission becomes less and less appealing to the wife. Likewise, when the wife refuses all submission, her husband will have difficulty in his role. However, if both parties are lead by the Spirit of God and are obediently following Jesus, these exhortations are not burdensome but are a delight (1 John 5:3).

Colossians 3:17; Brief thoughts

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

“whatever you do” has served in some cases as a justification for claiming Gospel-centric efforts in every sphere of life. In general, the Christian culture of the western church has used this phrase to point the church to consider everything they do as an opportunity for the gospel. Indeed, “whatever” describes any activity in which one engages. This word can be interpreted very loosely as a simple phrase meaning that any and all activity can be made to be holy. However, considering the context of this particular chapter, “whatever” seems to be a reference to that which was stated in verses 12-16.

As noted in earlier entries on Colossians, verse 12-17 provide an explanation of the marks of a Christian. Paul establishes that the new nature has come and is being conformed to the image of its creator in verse 10 and then explains what Christians do that evidence this reality. In other words, a Christian pursues holiness. Taken in this context, the “whatever” that Paul is speaking of is closely linked to a pursuit of holiness. So it is here that we should take a moment and ponder the divine truth that God begins and completes the work in His people and that the people of God actively pursue a holy life in obedience to His word.

Philippians 1:6 asserts that God began the work of sanctification and that God will complete the work. In Romans 6:16 Paul praises God that the Roman Christians have become obedient from the heart (the obvious implication being that God has wrought that obedience). Yet, the exhortation to pursue holiness remains in Philippians 2 and 3 as well as Romans 6:19-23. The work of sanctification is decisively a divine work that results in human effort. True Christians have been made holy and true Christians pursue becoming holy.

So, whatever actions a believer may undertake in pursuit of that holiness, as they strive to be more Christ-like, it ought to be done in the name of Jesus.

Names matter. When someone knows your name, they know something about you that is a unique identifier. Unlike simple descriptors of appearance, a name offers some modicum of identity and personhood. When we identify someone by another moniker, we de-humanize them. When someone is referred to as “that man” or “the one with brown eyes,” we strip them of their persona and individual uniqueness. Likewise, when we give someone a new name like “Little-John” or “Scrappy,” we are adding to their identity by granting them a new name that is perhaps more fitting. So Paul calls for Christians to find their personal identification in Jesus Christ our Lord.

A believer’s identity is wrapped up in the name and nature of Jesus. When people encounter a Christian, that believer should be so immersed in the pursuit of holiness that people cannot help but associate them with Jesus. In every activity and every discipline that a Christian pursues, a pursuit of living like Jesus must be apparent. Christian, you have been changed! Now live like it.

Some preachers enjoy waxing eloquently that you should be doing all your tasks “as unto the Lord!” Implying that somehow you could drink coffee in your half-awake stupor to the glory of God! While it may be true that you can pursue all activities with holiness as a motivating factor, it is a bit hyperbolic to apply every menial task to the glory of the Almighty. Though in some sense it may be true that believers bring honor to God by living a peaceful and quiet life, it is also true that one could over-think what it means to do everything in the name of the Lord. In short, God is less concerned with whether or not you decide to drink a Dr. Pepper over a Coke than He is that you actually engage your neighbors with the Gospel. So consider what you are actually doing to pursue holiness as you consider this verse. Remember that you have been made holy and are empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to accomplish the work.

Finally, all is to be done with gratitude. The heart of Christian obedience is gratitude. Thankfulness is so critical to the sanctification process that Paul mentions it three verses in a row. In 15-17 Paul inserts the necessity of gratitude in a Christian’s life at the end of each exhortation. True believers do not pursue holiness out of obligation or requisite demand, but out of gratitude for what has already been accomplished. Indeed, this gratitude is precisely what drives a believer to live a holy, gospel-centered life.

Further, when a Christian considers the nature of grace and the mercy of God, they cannot help but be grateful. Such gratitude levels the playing field of community. When life is lived with a full understanding of what God has accomplished in the lives of those who love and serve Him, then there is no basis for arrogant self-exaltation. Understanding that grace is a continuous gift of God in the sanctification of the believer further diminishes any and all self-righteousness. When a person understands that their identity is wrapped up in Christ and that they are empowered by His working in their hearts, then there cannot be a “better than” mentality. Morality becomes something that is a delight for the individual, not an imposition on the community. Do you know this grace? Have you grasped the depth of what Christ has done for you? O Christian, grab hold of this great truth: God has made you holy, is making you holy, and will make you holy. You get to delight in the pursuit of holiness!

Colossians 3:16; Brief Thoughts

16 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. 

If a person believes in a greater authority, then the word of that authority ought to be manifest in the life of that person. It is a reasonable measurement of authenticity to test them by the word of their professed authority. When someone submits to an authority, the word and directives of that authority are evident in their lives. Likewise, the word of Christ is manifest in the lives of those who profess Him as Savior and Lord. So Paul admonishes fellow believers to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (v.16).

The word of Christ should be so ingrained in the heart and life of a believer that it is said to be alive within. Every thought and word that proceeds from the mouth of a believer ought to stem from the indwelling Spirit of the word of God. One of the greatest tragedies in the western church is the severe Biblical illiteracy. The word cannot dwell where it is not read. The average professing Christian in the west does not read their Bible on a daily basis. So pervasive is this truth that many pastors struggle to read even a chapter of the Bible each day. This should not be! True believers in Christ find their very animating breath in the Word of God (c.f. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). When Christians fail to read the word of Christ, they starve themselves of the breath of God and are spiritually suffocating. Alas, we live in a churched culture that values everything but the Word of God and we are watching the degradation of society as a result.

Not only are Christians to fill themselves with the word of God, they are to do so “richly!” By asserting this descriptor, Paul is calling the believer to more than mere engagement with Scripture. He is calling the believer to a feast! Believers do not merely read the word of Christ, they draw their life’s breath from the very word of God. The fullness of a believer’s inner being is found in and through their relationship with the word of Christ.

As the believer embraces the indwelling word, they begin to exhibit some evidence of that word in their life. The word of Christ begins to dictate the things they say and do to one another, leading them to teach and admonish brothers and sisters in Christ through that word. As the heart of a believer matures in their grasp of the word, wisdom will become common in their teaching and encouragement of each other. The beginning of wisdom is the “fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:7, 9:10, and Psalm 111:10). As Christians submit to the word of the Lord in their lives, teaching and admonition pour forth from their mouth. As the word takes root in their heart, the overflow of the heart pours out onto the community around them. One of the greatest joys of Godly community is the unity of Christians as grounded in Scripture. Such a unity that is founded on the grace of Scripture, levels the Spiritual playing field among the community. When Scripture is the source of wisdom, hierarchy ceases to exist. All within the community are subject to the word of Christ indwelling them. So, Christians confront each other in love with the word of God. In beautiful, wise engagement with the community, true Christianity changes the heart of the individual as they engage together with the whole community.

This beauty of community centralized on the word results in a unique expression of singing. Singing is natural for Christians who stand in awe of God. Singing is a response that is birthed in the heart of one who has observed God. Once a person sees God, they cannot help but express something. Singing is the most common of responses for the human heart. The word of Christ, dwelling inside a Christian, will manifest itself in Song. This is why it is not abnormal for Christian communities to sing, produce, and embrace corporate worship in song. Christians sing, so, Christian, sing! And what should we sing? Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. What these terms mean are often debated. Some argue that Christians should only sing the Psalms and that these are the three types of Psalms in the book of Psalms. Others argue that Psalms refers to the Old Testament book, Hymns are dominantly theological, and Spiritual songs tend to be songs that give testimony to God’s work. Still, others explain that these are three different structural designs for musical expression. Whatever the case, the point of this passage is that the word of Christ manifests itself in singing. Indeed, when the heart is lifted to heaven on the wings of the word of Christ, a song will inevitably ensue.

Thankfulness results in as the culmination of a Christian’s abiding in the word of God. Recognizing the depth and greatness of God’s grace, Christians live a life of gratitude and love for God.

Are these manifest in your life? If you claim Christ, then feast deeply on the word of God and these will become the manifest evidences of the indwelling word of Christ!