1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. — Colossians 3:1-17
Marriage: The New You and the New Y’all
by Alex Buckler
Five years ago, my wife and I stood in front of hundreds of people, with our pastor between us, and made promises we could not keep. We were making promises on behalf of ourselves, some fifty or sixty years from then, based on pleasure, pain, trials, and triumphs we did not yet know or understand. When I consider this reality, I find myself faced with the tension of “the already but not yet.” Our new joint identity as husband and wife was initiated that day, but the full understanding and ability to uphold such a promise is yet to be fully realized.
To be completely frank, neither of us could know the depth of one another’s depravity, nor did we truly grasp the lengths to which we had gone, as single adults, to rationalize and hide our own sins before our life together began. It was only through the context of a new life, where we would begin the process of dying to our old selves, that we initiated a bond that was to be sustained by mutually investigating one another and the Word. This was so we could be fully known, while submitting our sinful ambitions, appetites, and approval needs before Christ. It was through this process, showing the love of Christ to one another in spite of our depravity, that we could begin to display being fully loved.
Almost two thousand years ago, Paul wrote about a very similar process to the church at Colossae. This passage was written for the purpose of contextualizing Christ’s love for His people, so they could understand how their new freedom and responsibility informed the way they walked both with Christ and with one another. In verse 17, Paul prescribes walking in the name of Christ, which provides us with a very crucial diagnostic question: would a friend of yours be convinced of the effect Christ’s love has on your life if their only evidence was the way in which you loved your spouse? I ask, not to condemn, but to call us all to question the intention of our marriages.
The institutions of marriage and the Church were both given to us as vehicles for our unified sanctification (that is, our being conformed into the image of Christ), and as vehicles for the advancement of the gospel into the nations—which begins in our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. In a Western society that is so culturally contentious, I ask you to consider this: could it be that the most visibly countercultural expression of our faith is our ability to love within a very fixed view of marriage? If this is true, then our marriages cannot be primarily about us. Instead, they must be about displaying God’s goodness through an incredibly tangible expression of the gospel wherein we receive a new identity, and then spend the rest of our lives conforming to the image of that identity.
- Have the decisions you and your spouse made about your family been based primarily on your old selves (self-centered needs, former family traditions, or your expectations of marriage) or your new selves (who you are in Christ and biblical principles)?
- Verses 5-9 provide a list of sinful temptations against our brothers and sisters in Christ. Which of these do you need to intentionally “put off” for the sake of your spouse and the gospel?
- Verses 12 and 13 provide a list of gospel-centered virtues. Which of these attributes does your spouse most effectively exemplify? Bless them by letting them know you notice and that you appreciate their love.
- Spend some time listing what you and your spouse are thankful for today. Thank and praise God in prayer together.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.