Thursday, May 27, 2010

but now you must rid yourselves...

Lately I've been reading through N. T. Wright's commentary on Colossians--which has been chock-full of really brilliant insights--and I thought I'd share a bit.
Today I read his comments on Colossians 3:8. Here Paul is trying to show the Colossians what, practically, it means to take "off the old self with its practices and... put on the new self" (3:9-10), and so he exhorts the church: "Now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." I think Wright's remarks on this verse, while simple, are powerful:

slander, speech which puts malice into practical effect... and filthy language, words which, either by their foul association or their abusive intent, contaminate both speaker and hearers. All such things are to be put away from your lips: one cannot always prevent angry or hateful thoughts from springing into one's head, but they should be dealt with firmly before they turn into words. It is not 'healthy', as is sometimes supposed, to allow such thoughts to find expression. It is certainly healthy to recognize and face up to one's own anger or frustration, and to search for proper and creative ways of dealing with it. But words do not merely convey information or let off steam. They change situations and relationships, often irrevocably. They can wound as well as heal. Like wild plants blown by the wind, hateful words can scatter their seeds far and wide, giving birth to more anger wherever they land.

3 comments:

danieldumas said...

We get some caught up in N.T. Wright's New Heaven and New Earth theology that we forget about his moral and character development within the Church. Nice passage.

Ryan said...

From what I understand his new book, "Once you believe" or something like that is all about ethics and spiritual formation but more focused on communal practices than Foster & Willard type stuff. I think the review I read might have been on Christianitytoday.com but I'm not sure.

Nance said...

CT has Scot McKnight's review of the book--I don't know if that's the one you saw, Ryan. I found it after browsing The Jesus Creed this afternoon: http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/may/afteryoubelieve.html
The review is overwhelmingly positive... it was a little surprising, really.