“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.”
Three words in verse 16 end in “ing:” “teaching,” “admonishing,” and “singing.” Some of us would not know the difference between a participle from a pickle; however, these three participles are the by-products or side-effects of the previous part of the verse. If the Word of Christ finds lodgment in our souls, we will teach, admonish, and sing. These three characteristics will trend in our lives and become a pattern of orientation. They will not be sporadic or intermittent in their direction.
Paul employed “admonishing” and “teaching” in Colossians 1:28 with the same meaning. Here, however, he adds “singing.” We “let the word of Christ dwell” in us with song and music.
“Teaching” has to do with the communication of truth. If we are to teach, we must learn. If we are going to talk, we must listen. If we speak, we must hear. Systematic communication of God’s Word is foundational for Christian living. It arises out of regular engagement with the “word of Christ.”
“and admonishing one another”
“Admonishing” involves showing someone else how to execute the Christian life with discretion or prudence. “Admonishing” means to place in the mind personally. Sometimes the New Testament translates it as “warn,” to warn about the dangerous consequence of something (Acts 20:31; Co 1:28). It is our privilege not only to teach others but to warn them. Most of us dislike becoming involved in the problems of people. We all have a circle of Christian friends to whom we are a blessing (all things being equal). God expects us to warn them graciously when an occasion arises.
“Admonishing” has to do with a corrective application of a spiritual problem. Some people cannot apply Scripture for themselves. They need others to help them. When a person learns to fly, he needs someone to show him how to fly the airplane without stalling. If you stall out, things can get quite messy! Admonishing helps another person apply a specific Scripture to a particular problem. We do not teach another person how to shoot by saying, “Here is a gun; go out and shoot.” He must squeeze the trigger, not jank it, for an accurate shot. It is in the application where we hit the target.
“One another” indicates that the Christian life involves a commitment to other believers in our sphere. Note other “one another” passages of Scripture: Eph. 4:32; 5:21; Col. 3:13; 1 Thes. 5:11; Heb. 10:25; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 1:7. Most of us are unaware of our responsibility to other Christians. “One another” means mutual help in applying truth to experience. We are responsible to other Christians as fellow members of the family of God (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 6:10). Most of us know our obligation to deliver the gospel to non-Christians, but few understand our responsibility to the saints.
God has designed the Christian life so that we need other believers to help us apply Scripture to our experience.
Are you involved in encouraging a Christian? God has given us a ministry to other believers. We need others to encourage us in the application of truth to experience. When I became a Christian, a Christian challenged me to memorize a verse daily. That did more for my spiritual life than anything else in my Christian life. There is no honorable discharge from this work.
God wants us to saturate our minds with “the word of Christ.” The more we know Him, the more we will be like Him. We have so many rough edges. We inherited many of these areas from our parents. We cannot get rid of our sharp tongues in our strength. We are ornery, possess a critical attitude, and have a bad temperament. We wonder why we are not more saintly or have such a short fuse. Why is it that we explode so quickly? We do not apply Christ-centeredness to ourselves. The Word of Christ will change us (Heb. 4:12).
No wonder our minds are corrupt after watching a night of television. We watch ghastly murders and rapes then we wonder why our Christian lives are so ineffective. After an evening of T.V., we feel like we need an internal bath. God makes us clean through the Word of Christ (John 15:3; Psalm 119:9), then we become Christ-centered. The Word of God is a spiritual spot remover when we become defiled by day-to-day life. We need the Word of God to remove the sin in our lives (1 John. 2:14).
The Lord defeated Satan through the Word of God (Matt. 4:4,7,10). He did not have a scroll of Deuteronomy to read to the devil. He quoted Scripture. When the devil attacks you, you cannot say, “Wait a minute, devil, till I find a verse for you. Wait till I go home for my Bible.” He will not wait; he will clobber you. It would be best if you had a verse right now. We must say, like the Lord, “It is written.”
Having learned the Bible, we will find that we have the right verse for the right situation when Satan tempts us. When he draws us to say something we shouldn’t, a verse comes up on the television screen of our soul and saves us from that sin. We will find that the more of the Word of God we have in our souls, the less room there is for unworthy things. Do foul birds make nests in your mind? Saturate your mind with the Word of God.