Colossians 3:1-9

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2

What we believe determines how we act. If what we say we believe doesn’t match our actions, we probably don’t really believe what we think we do.

In Colossians 3, Paul reminded his readers that Christians’ actions should reflect their convictions. When the Colossians had died to their old life and been baptized in Christ (2:12), they embraced certain truths: Christ is seated at the right hand of God, a position of authority and power (3:1); their lives were hidden with Christ in God (3:3); Christ is coming again, and they will be with Him in glory (v.4). Because of these beliefs, they needed to change their actions.

Putting aside certain behaviors didn’t secure salvation for them—they had already received that. When Paul told them to set their hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things, he wasn’t telling them to live a monastic life. He wanted them to treat earthly things as temporary and to treat sin seriously. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed may have seemed acceptable in their old lives, but those behaviors had to be eliminated in their new lives. Such actions incur God’s judgment (vv. 5-6).

Anger, malice, slanderous talk, dirty jokes, filthy language, and lying seemed acceptable before they became Christians (vv. 8-9). But those things were incompatible with their new life in Christ.

Our behavior doesn’t change automatically when we become Christians. As we try to rid ourselves of sinful attitudes and actions, they will rear their ugly heads and say, “Hey, remember how much you used to enjoy us?” We can’t depend on our ability to control our relationships or our mouths. As we yield to the Holy Spirit who lives inside us, He produces fruit in us, including kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

What are your actions saying about what you believe? Do others see the fruit of the Spirit in what you do?

DIG DEEPER:

What rationale does James 2:14-26 give for saying that righteousness requires actions for faith to be complete? What if Abraham had refused to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22) or if Rahab had continued to live as a prostitute (Joshua 6:23-25)? Would they still have been considered righteous?

What is said about controlling our tongues in James 3:3-10? In what situations are you most apt to lose control? How could prayer help you in these situations?

How does our relationship to the law change when we become Christians according to Romans 7:1-6? Does the fruit you bear demonstrate that you’re walking by the Spirit?

Nancy J. Baker

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