I noticed as I was reading in the book of Colossians, that the Apostle Paul used the word “heard” four times in the first nine verses of chapter one. Now I may not be a Bible scholar but it is fairly apparent that he was attempting to make a point to his readers through the repetition of that action. The first thought that I pictured in my mind was that of the newsboys back at the turn of the century standing on the street corners of New York City crying out to the passerby’s: “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Those youngsters were calling out in a loud voice in order to be heard above every other noise that filled the city street. They had news to tell and papers to sell!
That piece of history then got me to wonder what people hear when I speak, or when others talk about me. When Paul described what he had heard about the Christians at Colossi, he spoke of their faith in Christ and love for the brethren (Colossians 1:4) and how it was based on their expectations in the Good News of Jesus Christ, of which he defined as “the message of truth.” (Colossians 1:5 God’s Word ©) In answer to my own wondering, I sat back in my desk chair this morning and declared aloud that I hope the same is said about me as well!
Since I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on the book of Philippians, I went ahead and ordered his commentary on the book of Colossians. Over the last ten or so years, Colossians has inched up to the top as my favorite book of the Bible. In fact, I was reminiscing with my wife just yesterday about our first (and last) solo weeklong vacation that we took up in the beautiful mountain tops of the Sierra’s in northeast California, in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary almost eleven years ago. One of the many highlights of that special time included my first in-depth study of the book of Colossians!
Since it was just the two of us without the kids, we had lots of extra room in the trailer to pack many of my favorite Bible study tools! And I still have fresh memories of sitting under the canopy of trees with a steaming cup of coffee, in the quiet of the camp during the early hours of the morning studying God’s Word before other campers in the park arose for the day! I have a picture somewhere of both of us studying the Word one afternoon. I wanted to make sure that I had evidence to prove to our kids that we actually did relax during that special trip… And YES! I believe in Jesus name that we will get to repeat a similar vacation trip together again!
In his opening comments about Paul’s reasoning for writing this particular letter, Dr. Wiersbe made the statement in reference to the preeminence of Christ, that “What we believe determines how we behave.” That instantly got me to raise my eyebrows in thought and mumble to myself “hummmm… that may just explain why different people have responded to Piper’s and my situation the ways that they did!” It also forced me to look inside and ask myself “Is Jesus just a prominent part of my life… or is He preeminent?”
At that moment it was like most of the major decisions my wife and I ever made together flashed across my mind. And I would have to admit that in most of those situations we always yielded first to our trust in the Lord and the truth of His Word. So in that instant alone in our study, I had to laugh a bit at the tinge of condemnation that was trying its best to enter into my head! For what I pictured was the words I heard my wife and I speaking when we were faced with big decisions and difficult times. I was happy to see that the Word normally seemed to be the first thing uttered from our lips!
Maybe I am so sensitive to this because of the differing things we have heard from various folks when they’ve been in the same room as my wife in her candy-apple red wheelchair. Many times it is what we have expected to hear… but sometimes it was not! (both from the positive and negative standpoint)
When’s the last time that you stopped and listened to what you hear coming from your own mouth? I thought the Message Bible paraphrase of Colossians 1:5 was spot on when describing what Paul heard about the people in the church at Colossi of whom he had never set eyes on. He said that “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future hope in heaven, kept taut by (your) hope or expectations” in the preeminence of Christ. I think that each of us can easily tell to what our expectations are tied to by the words that we speak… especially when the decisions of life come upon us. What news would the newsboys standing on the street corners in your city be crying out about you today?
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What words am I expecting to let others hear from me today?”