Colossians – 4:1
God is concerned that we do family relationships His way. The trouble is God’s ways are not ours. God’s way often runs counter to our culture and to our natural selfishness. The result is we resist these or explain them away. However, not doing things the way we were designed to operate “voids the warrantee.” We then wonder why we struggle and why we are not happy and why things don’t work.
Fair warning: these things are offensive in American society.
In this section of Colossians, Paul addresses three sets of household relationships. We can understand them in our society as core social relationships. Often we struggle to balance marriage, children, and work.
How does God see these relationships?
1. The vulnerable one comes first followed by the one with perceived power.
2. Submit/obey is vital for the vulnerable one. Love/fair is required of the powerful.
3. Wrong doing will be dealt with (v 25) regardless of position. (God understand the violation of these relational rules as “sin.”)
I. Marriage relationship – wife and husband.
A. “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” [v 18]
a. The Bible says this three times. (Eph ,23 – Colossians – 1 Peter 3:1)
b. The feminist movement has pressured the culture to reject this concept, without much thought.
2. Before we judge we need to understand what is being said and why.
a. The Greek word means “to reflexively obey” (Strong’s)… it is the same word that is used in Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 to mean our obedience to government and law.
b. This is contrasted with “usurp.” The Greek word for usurp means to “to act of oneself.” One person put called it “selfish independence.”
c. One translation suggest verse 18 means: “A wife must put her husband first.”
3. What is the issue?
a. In the Garden of Eden, Adam refused to “be the man” when Eve was tempted. He never interfered with the temptation.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” [Genesis 3:7]
1.) We often think Adam was off doing something else.
2.) The text is specific… Adam was “with her” meaning Adam was there while the temptation was happening.
3.) Since Adam was given the command to not eat the fruit of that tree… sin became Adam’s responsibility.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” [Romans 5:12] (Adam is specifically mentioned in Romans 5:14.)
(Cursing the woman) “…Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [Genesis 3:16b]
4.) This battle goes back to sin and a time when the man failed to take responsibility and defend his wife.
b. Here’s the problem: When the wife becomes a competitor for the husband bad things happen because competition means different things to a man. (God’s design for the woman was to be a partner not a competitor.)
1.) In competition someone loses. In partnership there is a mutual achievement.
2.) However, in competition, when balance is disrupted and control is gained, bitterness sets in and everyone loses.
***** Notice there is a qualification: “as fitting in the Lord.” In other words, your relationship to your husband is reflective to your relationship to the Lord. *****
B. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” [v 19]
1. Men tend to have the reputation of being selfish and self-centered.
a. We are, because sin makes us selfish.
b. The standard for love is Jesus Christ.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25]
2. The truth about men.
a. When stressed we like to either kill something or shut down.
b. Men’s BIGGEST struggle is NOT sexual… it is anger.
1.) When the man is not required be “the man” we become selfish and cowardly. (Adam in the Garden of Eden.)
2.) The man’s default (at home) is “neutral.” If we are never asked (more than once) we will never get in gear.
3.) The politically correct propaganda machine keeps telling us that we are irrelevant sperm banks.
(Interesting that the President urged men to be men and fathers last Father’s Day… this created a huge uproar from feminists.)
3. When we are selfish we become abusive.
a. The word translated “harsh” means to make bitter.
“Wherever bitterness is, there love is wanting. And where love is wanting in the married life, there is hell upon earth.” (Clarke)
b. The other way to read this is “stop being bitter towards the wife.” (Causing bitterness or being bitter towards.)
c. Maybe another way to say this is “grow up.” Be a man and love your wife… self-sacrificing… for her good (not your selfish purposes).
II. Family relationship – children and parents
A. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” [v 20]
1. The word “obey” means “to conform.”
a. Reality: parents have more experience and knowledge. They are not just being mean.
b. Fact: a child that will defy a parent will defy any authority.
2. Problem: Parents are too busy working, playing, etc… to be parents.
a. “Children spell love T – I – M – E” (quantity over quality)
b. Political error: “children’s rights” (Children have the right to be born, the right to be loved, the right to be taught properly.)
Wiersbe: “Children do not create problems, they reveal them.”
(BTW, how you treat your husband or wife will be how your child treats your husband or wife.)
B. Father’s (here we go again men…notice a pattern?)
1. “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” [v 21]
2. Three mistakes we make:
a. Indulgence (leads to spoiled children)
b. Neglect (leads to insecure girls and criminal boys)
c. Break the will (discouraged means spiritless, disheartened, without hope, without confidence.)
Wesley “Parents who cannot discipline themselves cannot discipline their children.”
Wesley observed that children who’s will is broken (rather than shaped) become “desperate or stupid.”
III. Work relationship – slave and master.
(Addressing an ancient world social order… slavery was NOT what we think of it being… typically slaves in the Roman world had high standing, were well educated, were highly compensated. Also, much of the modern world practices slavery... at least 1 million people enter the slave industry every year. )
1. “…sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” [v 22]
2. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” [v 23]
1. “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair,” [4:1a
2. “…because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” [4:1b]
When we don’t do it right:
1. God cares so much about our relationships that God takes it personally, as “sin.”
2. Our relationships break down, life becomes difficult/miserable.
When we get it right:
1. We enjoy life as God meant it to be, not under the curse.
2. We become witnesses to a desperate and stupid world.