Jeremiah 10:1-25; Colossians 3:18-4:6; Psalms 78:60-64; Proverbs 19:10-12
NT: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged. 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. Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving… Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 3:18-4:2, 5-6 CSB)
Often times with people, there is the way that you behave as an individual, out in the public sphere – then there is the way that you behave in the context of your family, when the world is not watching. Families have the ability to bring out the best in us, or the worst in us. Oftentimes, within families there can be a lot of resentment and pain, cyclical sin patterns, reminders of the past, etc. It is one thing to do well spiritually as an individual, away from your family – but another thing to do well spiritually when you get around your family. When we come to faith in Christ Jesus and are given the grace to “put on Christ” and walk in holiness, that grace covers our familial relationships as well. The same Jesus who is Lord of our lives individually should still be Lord as we interact with our families. In Christ, family can and should work… and work well – to the point that it brings life to others and glory to God. In this passage of Colossians, Paul moved from “putting on Christ” as individuals to “putting on Christ” as a family unit.
Here Paul mentioned different roles and relationships within the family: Husband and wife, parent and child, and master and servant. A note about slavery: slavery is not a system created and condoned by God. Slavery was a system created and sustained by a corrupt world system. Slavery was never part of God’s desire for any person… God has always promoted and provided freedom. That doesn’t deny the fact that slavery existed and was leveraged by people of faith throughout the Bible. However, as God’s redemptive plan for mankind has been progressively revealed through the ages, humanity’s conviction against slavery has grown. Slavery in the context that Paul mentioned here, was not the slavery of the old South in America. These slaves, though they were not free, were considered a valued part of the family. There was even a provision in the law for slaves that loved their master so much, they could choose to remain with their master. Also… submission is not an evil word. Submission is actually a very good, beneficial and beautiful thing when done properly.
Now with that said – in a family where Christ is Lord, there is order, peace and life. In God’s structure, the head of a home is the husband/father – not because the husband/father is better or more important, but because that is the role God has given him. In that role, the husband/father is the covering for family. Next is the wife/mother, who is the heart of the home. As an illustration, think of a house: the husband/father is the roof and the wife/mother is the walls. They both need each other. The roof protects the walls and the walls support the roof. When a wife submits to the role that her husband has been given by the Lord, she is supporting him. When a husband loves his wife with the sacrificial agape love of Christ and is not bitter towards her, he covers her and protects her. In that context of a supporting wife and a loving husband, a strong, peaceful, loving and life-giving home is formed. Children are to submit to and obey their parents in everything… and the parents (especially fathers) need to not be overbearing and highly critical in their directions and expectations. Household servants should obey and respect their masters as they would respect and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Masters need to be just (behaving rightly) and fair (treating equitably) with their servants, just as the Lord Jesus has been just and fair with them.
How do we do all of that? Through consistent prayer, alertness to unrighteous attitudes and behaviors, wise actions, and gracious speech as we individually put on Christ by faith and are led and graced by the Holy Spirit. Our life in Christ doesn’t end when we open the door to our home and close it behind us. We need to remain clothed in Christ every waking moment of our day and not let our guard down in the private confines of our home. If we make Christ the Lord of our families, just as we have made Him Lord of our lives, just like us individually, our family will become a source of life and blessing that will glorify God and establish and extend His kingdom.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You not only provide grace for me to walk in life and holiness, but You provide grace for my family to be a place of life and grace. Just as you grace me throughout the day to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, grace my family to be a place where the word, the flesh and the devil does not have its way – but where You are Lord of all. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.