Who Are You People?
3/12 – Where the Rubber Meets the Road (Colossians 3:18-4:1)
Introduction — Here Paul gives specific instructions for the family. Those who are in Christ are to live for Christ. They must pursue Christ with all their hearts, showing their new nature in their relationships with one another in the church and in the family and at work. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where Christians do what they say they believe Wives must follow the lead of their husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands must love their wives like Christ loves the church. Husbands must not be bitter toward their wives. Children must obey their parents in all things, for this greatly pleases the Lord. Fathers must encourage their children. All followers of Christ must do their work heartily, as for the Lord rather than other people. Paul uses few words to talk about a radical notion: it is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Paul knows that if every follower of Christ serves the Lord sincerely and reverently then the church looks more like Christ, every family looks more like Christ. The church shines brighter, and the family grows stronger. For Paul, this is where the rubber meets the road: it is the Lord Christ whom you serve. How about us? Do we see the importance of a vibrant church? Do we see the value of a strong family? Do we live what we say we believe? Do we give Him lip service only? Do we give Him life service always? Do we serve Him with humility and reverence?
This is where the rubber meets the road: it is the Lord Christ whom we serve! So, let’s serve Him well!
Wives, be subject to you husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (18)
Comments: Paul begins this section by addressing the wives in the church. To speak to the women was to voice their worth and their importance in the family. Why? Most were uneducated. Some lived apart from their husbands. Few lived as equals with their husbands. But here, Paul speaks to both the wives and the husbands. He speaks to them as equals. Paul urges the wives to be subject to their husbands (1) voluntarily, and (2) as is fitting in the Lord. The Christian wife, then, actively and freely follows her husband’s lead, as is proper in the Lord. She fully commits to her husband. She wants the best for her husband. She does not try to manipulate her husband. She listens to her husband. She sacrifices for her husband. Question: Wife, when is it difficult for you to follow his lead? Application: Affirm his worth. Stand by him. Stand up for him. Refuse to demean your husband anywhere. Refuse to criticize him in public. Hear his heart. Follow his lead. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. (19)
Comments: First, Paul directs the husbands to love their wives. What does this love look like? This is not primarily romantic love. This is not merely friendship love. This is sacrificial love, laying down one’s life for the sake of another. So, then, this loves does not domineer. This love does not abuse. This love does not flee. This love does not give up. This love is not selfish. This is a love like Christ (Eph. 5:25). Second, Paul directs the husbands not to grow bitter towards their wives. He shows the Christian husband that he must guard against developing a sharp, biting attitude for his wife. Therefore, the husband must sacrifice for his wife, but he must not be sour against his wife. Question: Husband, when is it difficult for you to love your wife? Application: Affirm her worth. Send her encouraging text messages. Sacrifice your time, your plans for her. Guard against a sour outlook toward her. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. (20)
Comments: Next, Paul speaks to the children (more than likely the younger children) of the family. He urges them to be obedient to their parents. He leaves little doubt that children must obey the parents. Obedience is to listen and to put into action. One word picture for this idea is to answer the door. Children, then, are to hear and answer their parents’ call to action. Children obey their parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord greatly. Question: Children, where are you closing the door to your parents? Application: Affirm their worth. Listen to your parents. Hear their heart for you. Open the door to them. Stop defying them. Obey them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. (21)
Comments: Paul turns his focus to the fathers. His words are simple and direct: do not provoke your children, so that they will lose heart. Fathers must not make their children resentful. Fathers must not nag or deride their children. Fathers must not be quarrelsome with their children. Fathers must build up and not tear down their children. Question: Fathers, where do you keep stirring up trouble with your children? Application: Affirm your children’s worth. Build them up. Encourage them. Stop nagging them. Stop going out of your way to provoke them. Stop stirring up trouble. Stop tearing down. Start building up. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they will not lose heart.
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth . . . fearing the Lord. (22)
Comments: Paul now speaks to the slaves in the household. He urges them to obey their masters on the earth. He wants them to not give lip service to their work as if they are merely pleasing men. Paul wants them to obey with sincere hearts, fearing the Lord. He tells them to do their work heartily. He reminds them that it’s the Lord Christ whom they serve. In fact, the words are in the imperative. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a directive. Serve the Lord! Do your best at all times. Take no short cuts. Question: Where do you take short cuts at work? Application: Affirm your boss. Always strive to do your best for him or her. Do not take short cuts. In all things obey those who are your masters on earth.
Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness. (1)
Comments: Paul concludes by urging the masters of slaves to grant justice and fairness to those slaves. These masters must remember that they, too, have a Master in heaven. Theses lords must never forget the grace their Lord gave them. They must not hold back or hold off showing grace to those who work with them and work for them Question: Where do you withhold justice and fairness? Application: Affirm all people. Show lavish grace, being just and fair with all people. It’s the Lord Christ whom you serve. So, keep on serving Him. Serve Him by serving your family well. Serve those at work well. Serve all people well. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Oh, it just got real.
Word Study for Colossians 3:18-4:1
18 subject (hypotasso—place or arrange under; obey; to subordinate; submit)
18 fitting (aneko—belong; reach up to; do one’s duty; proper; pertaining to)
18 Lord (kyrios—owner; ruler; master; sir; supreme in authority)
19 embittered (pikraino—make sharp or bitter; to irritate; make something turn sour)
20 obedient (hypakouo—obey; listen; answer the door; attend to; heed; give ear to; follow)
21 exasperate (erethizo—make resentful; provoke; nag; stir up anger; be quarrelsome)
21 lose heart (athymeo—be discouraged; be disheartened; continuous discouragement)
22 external service (opthalmodoulia—eye service)
22 please men (anthropareskos—people-pleaser)
22 sincerity (haplotes—sincerity; generosity; singleness; simplicity; morally whole)
23 do your work (ergazomai—do; labor; do business; bring about; behavior)
23 heartily (psyche—soul; life; spirit; breath; inner self)
24 reward (antapodosis—recompense; giving back in return; rendering)
24 serve (douleo—be a slave; be controlled by; serve; be subjected to)
1 grant (parecho—to provide; to afford; to cause to happen; bring forth)
1 justice (dikaios—righteous; just; proper; conforming to law)
1 equality (isotes—worth; honor; equal in dignity; fairness; precious)
Application for Colossians 3:18-4:1
Let’s live as godly families.
Let’s live by God’s design for families.
Let’s be people who closely listen and closely follow the Lord.
Let’s give our best to our families.
Let’s give our best to our work associates and bosses.
Let’s give our best to those we might employ.
Let’s remember that it’s the Lord Christ whom we serve.
Let’s serve the Lord Christ with excellence.
Gospel Connections for Colossians 3:18-4:1
Christ Jesus is Lord. He submitted Himself to the Father. He loves the church, His bride. He encourages all of His followers. He completed all the work entrusted to Him from the Father. Jesus did that work from the depth of His soul. Jesus became like a slave so that He could free us from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is our master. Jesus grants justice and fairness to His followers. Christ Jesus is Lord.
Thoughts and Quotes for Colossians 3:18-4:1
Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave. ~ Martin Luther
Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife. ~ Franz Schubert
My advice to a new husband is nothing more than 'husbands, love your wives.' And 'love your wife as Christ has loved the church.' Never forget that you are Christ's representative in serving your wife. ~ J. I. Packer
Marriage is more than finding the right person…it is being the right person! ~ Elizabeth George
A husband and wife honor God when they love and honor each other. ~ Jim George
Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them. ~ Lady Bird Johnson
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~ Frederick Douglass
Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ~ John F. Kennedy