When you buy a new car, one of the most important items that will be in your car is a rather insignificant little book that is usually found in the small storage compartment on the dashboard. You will be able to drive your car without it, but if you want to know about all of the options in your car and how to maintain it well, you will find that the “owner’s manual” is not only helpful but indispensable. The difficulty with most of these guides is that it can be hard to find the exact information that you need. The search, however, will be important because you will save time and money in the long run if you can solve your dilemmas. Following the manufacturer’s list of “what to do” and “what not to do” is always a wise idea.
The letters that Paul wrote to the believers in various locations could be called “operating manuals”, couldn’t they? For example, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul reminded them that “God has made them alive with Christ” and that because of this, they are no longer bound to the “basic principles of this world”. Those were the spiritual truths that the Colossians needed to know and to understand, but in practical terms, what did that mean for them? What does it mean for us? Paul knew that these believers would have questions about their new life in Christ (Col. 2: 6), so he carefully outlined for them both some of the cautions and the some instructions about what this would mean for them. His letters provided clear and concise directions on how to live out their new life in Christ.
Whether you take heed and follow the warnings and advice in the manual for your new car is your own personal decision. Whatever you decide will have consequences both in the present and in the long term. If this is true for a car, think about the ramifications that there are for life. When you and I “set our minds” on eternal values, it will always make a difference in the way that we live. Isn’t it great that we have clear instructions in a book like Colossians to help us know just what kind of actions are recommended and what ones are detrimental to those who have God’s Spirit and mind?