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Relationships in my family
 
Col. 3:18-4:1 (Compare with Eph. 5:22-6:3)
 
Historical setup
 
When the Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Colossians he had in mind a picture of what families looked like back when the Gospel began to spread across the Roman Empire. Families were made up of husbands who dominated their wives, fathers who ruled their children with an iron hand, wives who resented and sought to undermine their husbands, and children who rebelled against their parents.
 
‘Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.’
 
Husbands in that society already ruled over their wives. Why then was the Apostle Paul telling believing wives to do what they already did? The words that the Apostle used in Greek make it clear that he was asking wives to willingly submit to their husbands. Nowhere did the Apostle tell the husband to force his wife into submission. He was telling wives to go beyond what was required. Wives were not to submit with resentment. They were to be gracious and choose to respect their husbands’ place in the family. They were to create an atmosphere of heaven at home.
 
‘Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.’
 
In Col. 3:19 the Apostle Paul asked of husbands an extra measure of grace, too.  Instead of ruling over their wives according to their legal rights, believing husbands were to go further and love their wives. Was it not unjust that the Apostle told husbands to love their wives while wives were to voluntarily submit to their husbands? The word the Apostle used here is ‘agapao’ and it was used to describe the sacrificial love, with which God loved the world (John 3:16). It is the same word that the Apostle used to describe the Lord Jesus’ willingness to submit Himself to die for our sins. In Eph. 5:25 he used this kind of expression for husbands: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.’ (Eph. 5:25). Husbands were to give a constant direction in sacrificial love.
 
The Apostle Paul was not asking less of husbands compared to what he asked of wives.  He told husbands to give an extra measure of grace and lay down their lives for them. Christ’s sacrificial love should be the model for how a husband loves his wife. Both husbands and wives are to be in submission to one another as to the Lord. Each was to go beyond what was required. Without the help of God for both, husband and wife, married life will be limited and weak. 
 
Christian marriages and families
 
Most marriage partners think that marriage is all about what each is going to get out of the relationship: comfort, security and attention. How often such an approach makes spouses lazy in their relationships. Marriage, like God’s other institutions, was never intended as a comfort zone for lazy people. Marriage is a radical step and is not intended for anyone who is not prepared to surrender his own will and to be wholeheartedly submissive to the will of another person.
 
‘Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord!’ 
 
The New Testament emphasizes the role of children in the family. In the introduction of the Epistle to the Colossians (in 1:2), the Apostle points out to whom his Epistle is addressed: ‘to the holy and faithful brothers…’ This expression applies not only to believing husbands and wives, but to believing children as well. Children who by God’s grace became ‘holy and faithful brothers’ were not only noticed, but were treated very seriously. The Apostle reminded them to be obedient to their parents. They were not to be obedient because their society required to do so, but because it was pleasing to the Lord. It is true that only believing children can and have a desire to live in a manner pleasing to God. Obedience to parents is a blessing for children and it has to be encouraged, but never at the expense of faithful following of the Lord Jesus. The more obedient the believing children can be, even towards non-believing parents, the stronger their testimony for the Lord will be. Believing children should be ready to fulfill their privilege towards their parents, whether their parents are believers or not. 
 
Disobedience towards parents is an open rebellion against God. It is rejection of God’s Word. (Rom. 1:28-30; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). By nature children are sinful and selfish. It is so easy for them to be disobedient, but by the power of God believing children can obey their parents with joy and thus bring glory to God! 
 
By God’s grace:
 
1.             A wife can submit to her husband the way God expects!
2.             A husband can love his wife the way God expects!
3.             Children can be obedient to their parents the way God expects!
 
 
Dr. Czeslaw Bassara (
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 ; www.proword.eu)

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