Restoring Relationships Colossians 3c
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Wife Coming Unglued
While browsing in a Christian bookstore one day, I discovered a shelf of reduced price items. Among the gifts was a little figurine of a man and woman, their heads lovingly tilted toward one another. Happy 10th Anniversary read the inscription. It appeared to be in perfect condition, yet its tag indicated damaged. Examining it more closely, I found another tag underneath and chuckled -- Wife is coming unglued.
Today all kinds of relationships are coming unglued. In this passage Paul shares the secret of having good relationships. In Colossians 3:12-17: Paul says we should live as new creations in Jesus Christ. God can empower us to live victoriously over sin. The Lord does this through His Spirit and His Word. As we submit to the Word and live in the Spirit we enjoy fellowship with God and victory over sin. A good relationship with God will make an impact on all of our other relationships too. This is what I want to look at tonight. We will see what God requires of us in the home and the work place. There's one common denominator in all these relationships, submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are three relationships we will look at tonight: Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children, Masters and Servants.
Firstly, Husbands And Wives: Love And Submission
a. Wives Be Submissive
Colossians 3:18: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
The word submit u&potassw means to place or arrange under, to be subject to, to render obedience. We must not think of submission as slavery or subjugation. The word comes from the military vocabulary and simply means to arrange under rank. The fact that one soldier is a private and another is a colonel does not mean that one man is necessarily better than the other. It only means that they have different ranks. God has established authority in society for our own good. Everyone can't be the boss. Today, no one wants to submit to authority. We are living in a very lawless society. Even when people outwardly comply to authority, they are often rebellious on the inside.
The Choice Of Submission
Why did Paul tell wives to submit to husbands when they were in submission already? The clue is in the grammar. The verb submit is in the middle voice. Literally, it means place yourself in submission. Sit down on the inside as well as the outside. You've been sitting down on the outside because you had no choice. Now we give you this voluntary choice, this act of the will rather than this legal requirement. Paul was after a heart attitude, a spirit of humility by choice, not coercion. Wives who rebel against their husbands are in fact rebelling against God. Paul corrected the Corinthians on this in 1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. It's not a matter of equality, but a matter of men and women having different roles in the family, the Church and society. Jesus Christ is equal with God yet submitted Himself to the Father, even though it meant death upon the cross.
This doesn't mean that a wife cannot express her opinion on something. In fact, a wise husband will listen to his wife and value her ideas. But it does mean that she must accept her husbands decision and support it. The final responsibility for the home lies with the husband. So Paul commands Christian wives to submit to their own husbands as is fitting in the Lord. God is pleased when wives submit to their husbands.
Love And Submission
A young lady walked into a fabric shop, went to the counter, and asked the owner for some noisy, rustling, white material. The owner found two such bolts of fabric but was rather puzzled at the young ladies motives. Why would anyone want several yards of noisy material? Finally the owner's curiosity got the best of him and he asked the young lady why she particularly wanted noisy cloth. She answered: You see, I am making a wedding gown, and my fiancé` is blind. When I walk down the aisle, I want him to know when I've arrived at the altar, so he won't be embarrassed. Such love the young woman had for her man. She entered into this marriage with great respect for her husband.
b. Husbands Be Loving
Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
The husband has the responsibility of loving his wife; and the word for love used here is ajgapaw — the sacrificing, serving love that Christ shares with His church. A marriage may begin with normal, human, romantic love, but it must grow deeper into the spiritual agape love that comes only from God. In the parallel passage from Ephesians 5: Paul made it clear that the husband must love his wife even as Christ loved the church. Jesus Christ gave His all for the church! He willingly died for us! The measure of a man’s love for his wife is not seen only in gifts or words, but in acts of sacrifice and concern for her happiness and welfare. How can a husband express this love in a practical way?
The King Imprisons A Family
A royal prince and his family was once captured by an enemy king. When brought before the king, the prince was asked, What will you give me if I release you? Half of my wealth was the princes reply. And what if I release your children? Everything I possess. And if I release your wife? Your majesty, for her I would give myself, said the prince. The king was so moved by the prince's devotion to his family that he freed them all. As the they returned home the prince said to his wife, wasn't the king a handsome man? With a look of deep love for her husband she said to him, I didn't notice. I couldn't take my eyes off the one who was willing to give himself for my sake. Firstly, A husband must make sacrifices for his wife.
Secondly, He must satisfy her needs. He must provide for his wife and family. It is the husband's responsibility to work and provide for the family's needs. God gave Adam the responsibility of tilling the ground to provide food for the family, not Eve. 1 Timothy 5:8 says: If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Husbands are to provide for their families by working diligently. I will add a word of caution here. Husbands mustn't become so wrapped up in their work that they don't have time for their responsibilities at home.
Thirdly, he must sanctify his wife, he must keep her pure just for himself. Peter says that husbands and wives must live together. This speaks of sharing the joys and burdens of life together. Marriage is not just living at the same address it is the sharing of life. When a husband and wife are married they are no longer two people but one. They share everything. This speaks of intimacy and care. Husbands must also provide a secure environment for their families. The wife must feel safe in her husband's love. Women aren't as strong as men physically. Therefore husbands need to be understanding of this. They need to realize that their wives feel insecure at times and provide the strength they are looking for. They should not embitter their wives by taking them for granted. A wife is not a personal slave but a help meet. Marriage is like a partnership. This is the idea that Peter brings out in his letter.
1 Peter 3:7: Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
The Weaker Vessel
Weaker is a comparative term. If 1 Peter 3:7 describes the wife as weaker the husband must also be weak. This observation hits the nail on the head. An arch is a strength built out of two opposing weaknesses. Each side strengthening the other. This is the secret of a strong and lasting marriage. Marriage is a partnership founded upon love and submission.
Ladies do you honor your husband? Do you respect him? Do you submit to his leadership? Or do you do your own thing regardless? Is your submission fitting as unto the Lord? Husbands do you love your wife? Do you love her as Christ loved the Church? Do you make sacrifices for her? Do you provide the security she needs? Do you live with her in an understanding way as the weaker vessel? Husbands and wives do you both submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
Secondly, Parents And Children: Encouragement And Obedience
a. Children Be Obedient
Colossians 3:20: Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Children are commanded to obey their parents in everything. This includes both the commands they agree with and the ones they don't. The word obey u&pakouw means to listen and submit to. There are a number of reasons why it is good for children to obey their parents. First and foremost it pleases God. When children obey their parents they are in fact submitting to God's authority. When they disobey they are really rebelling against God. God will bless children who respect their parents and obey them. Secondly, obedient children are happy children. Kids enjoy life much more when they obey. They have nothing to fear when they keep their parents rules. They save themselves the pain of being chastened. A rebellious child is miserable. Getting their own way doesn't make them happy. Children need boundaries to live within. It makes them feel safe.
Thirdly, obedient children are less likely to hurt themselves. Parents make rules for the safety and well being of their children. When children observe these they are kept from many of the dangers that exist in society. Finally, when children learn to submit to authority they usually grow up to be law abiding citizens. Rebellious children often grow up to become rebellious adults. They often turn out to be criminals. Yes there are many benefits for children when they obey their parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 highlights this: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.
Obedient Child Recovers Better
Years ago a famous children’s specialist said to me: When it comes to a serious illness, the child who has been taught to obey stands four times the chance of recovery than the spoiled and undisciplined child does. Those words made a lasting impression upon me. Up to that time I had been taught that one of the Ten Commandments was for children to obey their parents. Never had it entered my mind that a question of obedience might mean the saving or losing of a child’s life.
b. Parents Be Encouraging
Colossians 3:21: Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
The word fathers in Colossians 3:21 could be translated parents, as it is in Hebrews 11:23. Paul made it clear that parents must make it as easy as possible for children to obey. Provoke not your children is a commandment to parents, and how often it is disobeyed! Too often, parents automatically say no when their children ask for something, when the parents should listen carefully and evaluate each request. Parents who often change their minds create problems for their kids, sometimes by swinging from extreme permissiveness to legalism.
Instead parents should set appropriate boundaries that suit the age of their kids. Too many rules and restrictions only stifles children. Stifled children will grow to be insecure adults. They will be unable to make decisions for themselves because they have never been trusted with responsibility. They will have poor social skills and lack confidence in public. Yet not enough rules is also dangerous. Children must be given more freedom gradually.
Fencing A Playground
Appropriate boundaries for kids provide what a fence provides for a playground. Children playing in an unfenced playground stay in the middle. They feel insecure because they don't have any limits. Yet when a fence is in place they will run all over the playground. Balance is the key! We need just the right number of rules for their age. By giving our children boundaries they know that we love them. They sense we want to protect them from things that would be harmful.
Parents must bring their children up with both correction and instruction. It is not enough to nourish our children physically by providing food, shelter, and clothing. We must also nourish them, bring them up, emotionally and spiritually. Nowhere in the Bible is the training of children assigned to agencies outside the home, no matter how they might assist. Ephesians 6:4: And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. The word admonition nouqesia means warning, instruction. It literally means to put a warning into someone's mind. Good child training requires both positive teaching and warning as well as correction and discipline. Our children do not always appreciate our counsel, but that does not eliminate the obligation we have to instruct and encourage them. Of course, our instruction must always be tied to the Word of God.
The word training paideia or nurture means discipline, correction, chastisement. It is translated chastening in Hebrews 12. Children learn right from wrong by being disciplined. There must be a consequence to disobedience. Proverbs has much to say about using physical punishment to correct disobedient children. We must be sure, however, that we discipline our children in the right manner. To begin with, we must discipline in love and not in anger, lest we injure either the body or the spirit of the child, or possibly both. See how God dealt with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He gave them a rule and a warning. Later he disciplined them.
Paddles From The Pulpit
The Rev. Sam Harney, pastor of Grace Brethren Church of Toppenish, Washington, gave mothers in his congregation large wooden paddles and warned them about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. He warned, The time is come to leave the Dr. Spock philosophy of child raising and return to the Biblical principle of train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Fathers and mothers should encourage their children, not discourage them. One of the most important things parents can do is spend time with their children. A survey in one town indicated that fathers spent only thirty-seven seconds a day with their small sons! It is an encouragement for children to know that their parents, as busy as they are, take time — make time — to be with them. Parents also need to listen and be patient as their children talk to them. A listening ear and a loving heart always go together. You took time to have me, a child said to her father, but you won’t take time to listen to me! What an indictment! How much time do you spend with your children each day?
Children do you obey your parents in everything? Are your actions and attitudes pleasing to God? Or do you rebel against your parents? Do you realize that God has given your parents authority over you for your own good? Parents are you bringing your children up in the Lord's ways? Are your rules fair and appropriate for their age? Or do you discourage your children by being to severe or inconsistent? Parents do you balance your correction with instruction and love? Do you spend time with them? Is your life a good example to follow?
Thirdly, Masters And Servants: Honesty And Devotion
Slavery was an established institution in Paul’s day. There were 60 million of them, and many of them were well-educated people who carried great responsibilities in the homes of the wealthy. In our society we do not have slaves. But these principles apply to any kind of honest employment.
a. Servants Be Devoted
Colossians 3:22-23: Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men - pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
Firstly, our service must be sincere. A Christian worker ought to be the best worker on the job. He ought to obey orders and not argue. He should respect his boss and have a good attitude towards him. Single hearts and sincere hearts are necessary for Christian servants to please God and serve their masters acceptably. These instructions emphasize the positive side of obedience. Servants are to obey to please God, not just to avoid punishment. A Christian worker ought to serve Christ and not the boss only, and he ought to work whether anybody is watching or not. The phrase eyeservice is important today. Many employees today work hard while their boss is watching them but slacken off when he is not here. However, Christians mustn't do this. They should serve the Lord and work hard all the time. God is always watching us and we must aim to please him.
Colossians 3:24-25: Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
Secondly, our service must be superior. We must give our very best. We should be dedicated and loyal workers. Our Lord's name is at stake. When Christians bludge on the job they bring shame upon the name of Christ. When they work hard God is glorified through their testimony. Even if the master doesn't commend them, they will receive a reward from the Lord. In the same manner, if they disobey, the Lord will deal with them even if their master doesn't. God doesn't respect persons. Because we serve Christ we should give our very best. The Lord will examine our work and reward each one according to their deeds. Joseph is a good example of someone who served faithfully. He gave his best and God blessed him for it.
Genesis 39:2-4: The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.
b. Masters Be Honest
Colossians 4:1: Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Paul admonished the Christian masters to treat their servants with fairness and honesty. This would be a new idea to Roman masters because they considered their slaves as things, and not people. Masters had almost total control over their slaves and could do with them whatever they pleased. But again Paul stressed the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Even though the Christian boss has workers under him, he is also under the Lord! Christian bosses will one day give an account to God for the way that they treat their employees. They mustn't be harsh or unjust in the way they treat their workers. Bosses must pay their workers what is right. Employees are entitled to be given the right pay. God keeps a record of this and will punish those who defraud their workers.
James 5:1, 4: Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed our fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
What kind of service do you put in at work? Do you work hard all the time, even when no one is watching? Do you earn your pay? Or do you slacken off when no one is around? Is the quality of your work a high standard? Do you bring honor or shame upon Christ through your work ethic? Do you do everything as unto the Lord? Will the Lord reward you for faithful service? Employers do you treat your employees well? Do you pay them fairly for their work? Does your heavenly Master approve of your management?
Before we can restore our relationships we must submit to the authority of Jesus Christ! The heart of every problem is the problem of the heart. Fortunately God’s Spirit and God’s Word can change and control the heart. Are you living under the authority of God's Word? Are you reading it and obeying the Lord? Are you submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Can the people who live with you detect that you are filled with the Spirit and the Word?
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.