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!