“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.” (Colossians 3:16 NKJV)
Harvesting and gleaning are not the same thing. It’s technically true that both involve gathering a portion of the harvest, but there are distinct differences.
I have vivid and fond memories from my childhood as a gleaner. My grandfather, my dad and my uncle, had small cattle farms. We weren’t wealthy and raising cattle was a supplement income rather than a livelihood. Since dad and his brother had full-time jobs, the only produce that we grew was in the garden, and that was to feed us, not the livestock.
Near us was a large commercial farm owned by a well-known cannery that had employed local people for many years. This company grew hundreds of acres of corn, which they harvested, not by hand but with mechanical pickers. If you aren’t familiar with farming, you might not realize that mechanical pickers would inadvertently miss a small percentage of the ears of corn and at the same time knock over the stalks so that they were literally on the ground. Once harvesting was finished, they allowed local farmers to go through the fields and glean the missed corn by hand. We did this every year with great joy because we filled the corn crib in the barn and had grain for the cattle in the winter to accompany hay. My cousins and I usually named the cattle and treated them more like pets than livestock.
To the methodical reader, today’s verse simply says “read the Bible and encourage others by sharing its message through music.” To the one who comes as a gleaner and savors every word, it says so much more.
Start with the first phrase: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly …”
To really glean from this we should be reminded of the truth that the Word and Christ are supernaturally synonymous. Is it not true that John 1:1-14 says plainly that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God and the Word became flesh?
Knowing that Jesus is literally the living Word, and the Word that gives us life is nothing less than Christ Himself living within us, we can better understand what it means to let Him dwell in us “richly.”
When Jesus told His disciples, “he that has seen Me, has seen the Father,” He was acknowledging that He and the Father were one.
They were in human terms … synonymous with each other.
The same Word declares that once we have crucified our own desires and in essence died to our own will, that it is Christ who now lives in us and through us.
Therefore shouldn’t it also be true if we said of ourselves, “he that has seen me has seen Jesus?”
At the very least, some evidence of His characteristics should be seen through how we live.
I think some are in the business of selling or promoting religion, but after a little gleaning we see that we are truly meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That is replicating more than religion! Perhaps you will go back and see what can be gleaned from the rest of the verse.
Dr. Dennis Cagle is the founder of Xaltm LLC who has been a pastor for 36 years and currently works as a church consultant. He is a former resident of McMinn County and current resident of Tellico Plains. He can be contacted at email@example.com