We were made in the image of God for the purpose of serving Him. While there are a variety of ways we can do that, one way is through relationships. We have an opportunity every day to serve the Lord through how we interact with one another.
Husbands and Wives
As we pick up in our study of Colossians, Paul says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them” (Col. 3:18-19). In a day of self-expression and independence, submission is not a popular word; but Christians are not called to be politically correct. We are called to be Spirit-filled and to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). God is a God of order. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul speaks of the Godhead saying, “God is the head of Christ.” Christ is no second-class citizen and women are not second-class citizens. Christ is equally God as much as the Father is God. He is not inferior on any level. The Trinity is the model for all relationships. Jesus is the head of the Church, but He does not force the Church to do anything. Both Christ and the Father are equally God. Both the man and woman are created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). A wise husband needs the input of his wife. This does not mean they cannot disagree. But the husband is ultimately responsible for the decision. A wife’s submission is not absolute. It has limits. Notice the verse says, “as is fitting in the Lord.” A wife’s ultimate allegiance is to Jesus. If your husband asks you to do something that would be disobeying the Lord or puts your family in danger, submit to God not man. Husbands are to love their wives with a sacrificial love. What destroys homes and marriages is pride and selfishness. If the husband is submitted to the Lord and the wife is submitted to the Lord, they will have no problem submitting to one another. Anything with two heads is a freak and anything without a head is dead. Every business needs a CEO and every football team needs a quarterback. It has nothing to do with being superior or inferior. We all have different gifts, strengths, and different roles. The home is built on love and respect. The husband submits by showing his wife love. She submits by showing him respect. And in doing so, God is honored.
Parents and Children
Paul continues, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (v. 20). Our culture is disintegrating because the family is disintegrating. Years ago, parents had lots of kids. Today, kids have lots of parents. Ephesians 6:2-3 says, “‘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.’” Obedience has to do with actions. Honor is an attitude. Obeying is temporary. Honor is lasting. Children obey when they are young, the goal being for a child to obey God. Children can honor their parents all their life by talking to them, seeking advice, but doing what God calls you to do. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged” (v. 21). Don’t correct your kids in a way that embitters them. God disciplines those He loves (Prov. 3:12). Some parents are too authoritarian and do not exercise love. Others are too permissive and do not exercise discipline. A good rule of thumb is to have A – Authority over their attitude and actions, B – Boundaries for their behavior, and C – Consequences with consistency.
Employers and Employees
“Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism. Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven” (Col. 3:22-4:1). Paul is in no way condoning what we in the Western world think of when we say, “slavery.” In Exodus 21:16 human beings were not to be kidnapped or sold. In Exodus 21:26 slaves were not to be abused. Paul is referring to indentured servanthood, a voluntary contract that didn’t last for a lifetime and was not based on race. These principles in our day apply to the employee/employer relationship. This is what it looks like to be a Christian at work. God is your real boss. You don’t work for “them” you work for “Him.” Serve the Lord in your job. Never just do the minimum required. Always do your best. God is watching and He will reward you. Excellence is not perfection. If you are an employer, treat your employees with dignity, justness, and fairness.
If you are struggling in one or more of these relationships it may be because the number one relationship in your life is not right. Submit to God today. Ask Jesus to take control of your life, home, family, work. Submit by confessing Jesus Christ is Lord. We all fall short. That is why we need Jesus. There are no perfect marriages, parents, kids, workplaces. But we do have a perfect Jesus!