Colossians 3:16 says, “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.”
When someone asks me what my definition of worship is, I tell them “worship is a response to who God is and what God has done.” The third chapter of Colossians illustrates that the main thing we respond to is the gospel. “Word of Christ” in this context is to be understood as the “Word about Christ”, which would point to the perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus.
When we dwell on this, it should stir within the depths of our soul an uncontainable joy. I think we sometimes become numb to the gospel. “Gospel” has certainly become a buzz word in the church world. Yet when we let the gospel dwell in our hearts and take up full residence in our souls, so that there is no room for anything else, it should get our worship pulse racing. Sometimes we rely on sermons and the worship gatherings alone to get us ready to worship. Friends, we are prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love. True worship is a daily dwelling that Paul is talking about in Colossians. This is a dailyrecognition that what we deserve is death, hell, the wrath of God, and an eternity in torment. But what we get through the gospel and the grace of God is God Himself. He is where there is real pleasure, joy, and fulfillment. Everything else will fail us.
We get most excited about what we dwell on daily. I think of my son, Hudson, who is six years old and has just discovered the world of Minecraft. If you don’t know what Minecraft is, go talk to an elementary school student. Hudson is obsessed. He loves this thing. He wants to play the game, collect the toys, and tell me about every little Minecraft-oriented detail. He talks about it so much because he loves the game. It’s the same for us. When we daily meditate on, pray through, and herald the gospel with our words and lives, then it is as natural as breathing when we gather together for worship.
Worship should be like a process of breathing in God’s grace throughout the week, until we gather together and breathe out His praise through song. When we recognize our own depravity, we see the grace and gospel of God more fully and beautifully. We will sing about what we are most excited about.
We let this glorious story reside in our hearts, we preach it to ourselves every day, and we also sing it to one another. That is exactly what this passage is telling us to do. We are to teach and admonish one another through a variety of music like psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. When we sing, we are first responding to who God is and what God has done, but we are also singing to one another. What hope do we have when cancer hits? The gospel. What do we cling to when there is relational strain or heart break? The gospel. Who do we turn to when things are financially tight, we are lonely, or don’t understand why God would bring us through what He is bringing us through? We turn to Christ, who lived, died, and rose again for you.
So when we sing in our worship gatherings, realize that if you aren’t singing, you are missing out on an opportunity to encourage and admonish the individual two rows in front of you who is going through a tough time. When you sing, you are saying through your melodic words “I believe this” and “isn’t this great news for us?”
We see this immense love for us in the gospel, and we respond. Joyously. Thankfully. Expressively. Loudly. With celebration! We who were dead have been made alive. When we meditate on this gospel, when we truly allow it to reside in our hearts, we express it by exploding in our response to God and encouraging each other through song.