3:1-2 Unfortunately, many modern Christians are out of their minds. What do I mean? Well, if you have bad habits that you can’t control, you have a mind problem. Actions originate in the thinking. You may assume you can just break your bad habit, but you must begin to pry it loose in your mind. If there is no change to how you think, there will be no substantive change in how you live. This is why Scripture calls for “the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2).
3:12-14 What are some of the clothes of “the new self” that we need to wear (3:9-10)? Paul tells the Colossians what to put on: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (3:12). These are the counterparts to the dirty clothes of “the old self” (3:8-9). And over all of this, we are to put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (3:14). If the qualities in 3:12 comprise the Christian’s new wardrobe, love is the overcoat.
One way we manifest the characteristics of the new self is by forgiving one another (3:13). Some believers harbor unforgiveness, and it results in perpetual anger and bitterness. Why? Because, as far as they’re concerned, offenses committed against them linger like unpaid bills, and they demand payment. However, they forget that our vertical relationship with God is linked with our horizontal relationships with one another.
Forgiveness does not mean approving a sin or excusing evil. Rather, forgiveness means releasing people from obligations incurred by their wrongs against you. This may come in the form of unilateral forgiveness—that is, forgiving someone who has not asked for forgiveness. Or it may come in the form of transactional forgiveness, which involves the confession of the offender, his repentance, and reconciliation.
What makes forgiveness possible is recognizing that the Lord has forgiven you (3:13). There is an inseparable link between forgiving and recognizing that you’ve been forgiven. To refuse to forgive, in fact, is to burn a bridge over which you must cross (see Matt 6:14-15). If you refuse to forgive, you have blocked God’s operation in your life (see Matt 18:21-35). But when you forgive, you no longer “grieve” the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), and you imitate the one who has forgiven you.
3:15-16 Let the peace of Christ . . . rule your hearts. When you are committed to setting your mind “on things above” (3:2), God will give you the peace of Christ—inner calm despite trying circumstances to help confirm your decisions and the directions for your life. If you don’t have that, something is out of alignment. So, in order for peace to rule, you must let the word of Christ dwell richly (3:16). The Word of God must be at home in you, welcome in every room of your heart.
When I visit with members of my church, they say, “Make yourself at home, pastor.” But they don’t want me going into every room and doing whatever I want! God’s Word, by contrast, must have access to every inch of the house of your heart—every bedroom, closet, and attic. You may have junk and dirt in places that you don’t want God to see. But rest assured: he already knows about it. And if you’ll let him, he can clean it up.
Our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are to be directed toward God and toward one another. With them we worship our Lord with gratitude, and we also teach one another biblical truth.
3:17 Doing something in the name of . . . Jesus is like authorizing a contract with his signature. You are to do everything under the authority of Jesus, making sure he approves of your actions. Jesus’s name signed at the bottom of your day means his power is behind your life. You are to do all things with his reputation in mind.