Devotional # 162. 11/9/15. Colossians 3:18-25.
Intro. When we started this chapter we saw that our minds were to be set on the things of heaven even though we’re still on the earth. This chapter has been great because we’ve seen what the Christians character is supposed to be like. Now we see the first place that it is evidenced: in the home. How we really are and who we really are is most obvious when we’re at home dealing with our family.
vv. 18-20. Most of this you’ll recognize as being very similar to what we read in Ephesians 5:22-6:3 and specifically verses 22-24 and 6:1 (Devotionals # 110-111). Some of the things we talked about were how the foundation was set in Eph. 5:21 where it told us that EVERY (man and women believer) submit to EACH OTHER in the fear of God. From that we respect God when we respect each other and our different roles. The wife isn’t actually submitting to her husband she is submitting “to the Lord”, by obeying His command and as if she’s doing it directly to Him. In the same way the husband submits to the Lord Jesus also by loving his wife in the way Jesus loves us.
Noted differences between the passage in Ephesians and here are:
-In Ephesians 5:25 & 28 husbands are told to love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” and that husbands should love their wives as their “own bodies” but here in Colossians 3:19 husbands are told to love their wives and “not be bitter towards them.” What would cause a husband to be bitter towards his wife? If we keep our rule of looking at context then the assumption would be that Paul had heard about the husbands in Colossae being bitter towards their wives, or that when other Christian men acted or spoke bitterly of their wives they did not discourage those men from acting that way. Maybe the ladies displayed a better Christian life than their husbands or maybe they were always nagging their husbands. The more you read the Bible the more you see that not a lot has changed over thousands of years. But regardless of why you feel bitter towards your wife – it is wrong. Give it over to God and stop leaching poison into your marriage and your family. As a husband you are responsible to God to lead well, not to be bitter towards your wife even if she deserves it!
-In Ephesians 6:1 children are told to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” but in Colossians 3:20 children are told to “obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” It’s cool because the authority that we’re supposed to teach our kids is still there (“the Lord” Jesus) but now we also see that kids are supposed to obey “in all things.” As we’ll see towards the end of this devotional God doesn’t let us escape out of doing things with loop-holes and omissions. Instead children are to obey their parents in “all things.” Why is that? Because parents are the representation of God and we’re teaching them to obey God in all things!
v. 21. Again, fathers are reminded not to provoke their children just as they were in Ephesians 6:4. I was talking with my kids about this yesterday and because context is always crucial I read just prior in Colossians 3:17 (“whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”) to them. And when we got to this verse it hit me that we were really talking about verbal and physical abuse also. So if my daughter failed a math test and I tell her how stupid she is and that she needs to study harder then my “words” are provoking her. And if my son is playing a hockey game and another kid checks him and he cries, if I’m walking out to the car and I shove him into another car to toughen him up, then my “deeds” are provoking him. Either way, verbal and physical abuse are not OK.
One noticeable difference between Ephesians and here is that Ephesians just gives us instruction on not provoking our children and that we should be “bringing them up in the training in admonition of the Lord” but here in Colossians we see why we shouldn’t provoke them. It’s because they will “become discouraged.” Any normal parent knows that they should not discourage their children from good things. In fact I find that I spend a significant amount of time encouraging my children because they can get discouraged fairly easily. What does it say about us as Christians if we’ve “put to death” our sins and “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering” and bore with each other and forgiven each other (3:12-13) but here we sit provoking our children to anger and depression? A very good case could be made that you haven’t “put off” those sins or “put on” all those good Christian qualities in the first place. It doesn’t matter how loving you are towards those antagonistic, nonbelieving family members or how ethical you are at work or how charitable you are to the bum panhandling in the parking lot; if you don’t show love to your children, teach ethics to your children and give to your children. In fact since God is all about your heart, I would venture to say that all of those other ministries that you think you’re doing so well are actually failing because everything that we do affects our witness and those around us. You may disagree with me, you may think that what you do when no one is watching doesn’t affect anyone, but you’re wrong.
v. 22. Speaking of work – we’re told how workers (“bondservants“) should work for their bosses (“masters“). Just like in Ephesians 6:5 we’re told to obey our bosses “in the flesh…in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.” So it’s recognized that these are our bosses in the flesh not our eternal “Boss”, we only have to obey these bosses as long as it doesn’t conflict with what God has told us. And we’re not to fake it but we’re supposed to be “sincere in our heart” as if we are working for Jesus. Because ultimately we are working for Jesus.
If you consider yourself a worker and you were concerned that “masters” didn’t get talked to by Paul that will happen next week in chapter 4. If you consider yourself a “master” (a supervisor or manager or President or CEO) then the same applies – next week we’ll talk about your role.
vv. 23-25. Just in case you think you can come up with something that isn’t included in what Paul has just said, he makes sure to tell us that “whatever you do“, you are to: 1. “Do it heartily” and 2. “As to the Lord and not to men” (v. 23). So we’re not allowed to do it halfway, we can’t do “good enough.” We’re held to a standard of doing everything that we do to the best of our ability because it will glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a tough thing to hear, it means that even the things that I don’t consider important I need to be able to do my best. And if we get into this mentality then even the things that we don’t consider work will begin to pop into our head as important and to do them to the best of our ability.
Paul doesn’t just tell us to do something and not explain that we will be rewarded for it. But it’s a different kind of reward than what we’re used to. We “will receive the reward of the inheritance” and we’ve talked about our “inheritance” before. This inheritance was understood by the Colossians because in Rome the law said if you adopted a child then legally they had the same rights as your children by birth. So God will reward us with the same inheritance that His Son has: eternal life in heaven, hanging out with the Father and humbling ourselves in ways that glorify God for eternity! This sounds foreign to us and maybe unrewarding because all too often we leave it up to our imagination to try and make this seem worth it. But if we just read through the Bible we will see the descriptions and gain a fuller understanding of the true riches that await us after death. But these things are given to us because we “serve the Lord Christ.” If you don’t serve Him how can you expect to gain the inheritance, if you don’t take Him at His word how can you believe His promises? And so we come full circle. We’ve just been told how to be a “bondservant” and then we’re told to “serve” our “Lord Christ” or “Master Savior.”
Finally, we are told that there is “no partiality” when it comes to this with God. If we accept the “inheritance” and all of the blessings that go along with it but we don’t do what we know we’re supposed to do and we don’t “serve” then why would we expect not to be repaid for the wrong that we have done? But instead of focusing on what we haven’t done let’s concentrate on doing the right thing. Make a deal with yourself today, right now, that you will serve the Lord and do everything “in sincerity of heart, fearing God” and then, pray for Him to help you. Step out in that faith and “do it heartily“! I know that it seems impossible but the only way to run a marathon is to take the first step.