Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The Christian life is often likened to a race, a marathon of sorts. But reading the Bible shouldn’t be. We’re often obsessed with reading plans and deadlines. Check. Check. Check! I read my (verse, chapter, book) quota today. Off with the rest of my tasks!
My challenge in this post, and with them all, is for you (us) to consider the word usage and placement and meaning. This is the inductive study method. Observe, interpret, apply. Repeat.
Straightaway in this passage I notice the verbs: dwell, teaching, admonishing, singing. In many ways this outlines a progression or the natural result of allowing the Word to affect your life.
Let the Word Dwell
The word, “let” is a verb that means to allow. This implies that you, as the believer, have a choice regarding this command. You should let the Word dwell in you. Make the choice. Allow it to dwell.
Dwell means to reside or occupy. To allow the Word of God to occupy “you” means to let it be the sole tenant in your very being – in your soul – in your heart. Let the word occupy your heart. The Word gives life to our conscience.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
See, without the Word occupying our being, our conscience can become dull. A dull conscience is what leads to us not putting off the old man, not putting on Christ.
But wait; there’s more.
So, if you allow the Word of God to occupy your being, in a saturated (rich) way, you will have all wisdom. Yes, all wisdom comes from God
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
Teach One Another
Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. Knowledge of God’s Word comes from allowing it to dwell within you richly. So, once you have the knowledge and wisdom, you are prepared to teach and admonish. Who is this person prepared to teach and admonish? One another. And the Word is useful for both.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Many Christians hide behind the “do not judge” verses and lack the courage to admonish, even their friends. Believe me, I’ve been there. But this verse tells us to teach AND admonish.
Maybe we should start singing those corrections?
Sing with Grace
We are supposed to teach and admonish, but how? In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Now that’s a different approach.
Do we take this literally? Probably not. Maybe.
The truth is that we do spend quite a lot of time singing in the Christian life and so much theology is taught through song (see: Songwriting – The Musician’s Sermon).
Music brings us joy and takes us through the difficult times, testings, and trials. It is the best coping mechanism ever. That joy that comes supernaturally from the Lord when we sing to Him (and to one another). The joy fills our heart with grace. Grace is just a fancy-pants, Christian jargon word that means favor.
God gives us favor and we give each other favor.
Easy to say and hard to do. I’ll be the first to admit it.
But it’s love and kindness that motivates us to change our ways (repent).
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4
So often we read through chapters in bulk so quickly, that we don’t take the time to deeply think about how each word and its placement within the sentence has rich meaning. This is how we allow the Word to richly affect us.
Spend time meditating on a verse or two. Reading the Bible isn’t a race. It’s nourishment to our very being.
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:17-21
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- Have you done a word study? How did it change your perspective?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.