As I was preparing
this week’s lesson, I was reminded of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians in chapter 1: 9-12. I prayed that pray
for you this week. Let me read it…”For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with
the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order
that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in
the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you
may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified
you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
That you may live
a life worthy of the Lord – fitting to him, pleasing to him.
It is these phrases
that struck me as I began studying Colossians 3:18-4:1. There are ways we can relate with others, whether in our homes or
at our work, that can bring harmony to our relationships and honor to God.
“The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes.”
In an Associated
Press article this last week they noted that America’s divorce rate began climbing in the late 1960s and skyrocketed
during the ’70s and early ’80s, as virtually every state adopted no-fault divorce laws. The rate peaked at 5.3
divorces per 1,000 people in 1981.But since then it’s dropped by one-third, to 3.6 which is the lowest rate since 1970.
They report that it is a combination of things which is fueling this decline. Among them are two opposites side of the coin:
*The number of couples
who live together without marrying has increased tenfold since 1960
*An increased determination
of many couples to make marriage work Today’s scripture really lists what
we may look at as relationship rules laid out by God for us to use to bring harmony in the home and even the workplace. In
whatever role we find ourselves – at home or at work or in church ministry – life can and must be lived for the
Lord and in harmony with one another.
A heart set on things
above – on the one who is preeminent in our lives- is a key to living in harmony in our homes and workplaces. Paul has
prefaced this passage with verse 17 - And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in
the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” It is by his power and authority that we should
live out our personal relationships with others, bringing him glory.
look at the general admonitions to three different groups of people in these verses:
Husbands and wives: Paul says here and in Ephesians 5, that we are to live
in mutual love and submission to each other. The word “love” we have talked about before. Let’s look at
the word submission. The wife here is told to submit to her husband. This word is a military term which refers to being placed
under someone. It brings about order. This word is not about equality, but order. God is not a god of disorder and confusion.
He brings about order in the family, by distinguishing who is the head of the home. And as a wife honors the Lord and her
husband, she will place herself under her husband’s headship. Mutual love and submission toward one another fit the
picture frame of each or our lives – Jesus is Lord!
Children and parents: Paul refers to obedience and encouragement here.
Children are to obey – listen and attend –their parents. To what measure? In all things, not just in what pleases
themselves. With what motive? To please the Lord. Actually this goes right along with one of the 10 commandments – the
first one with a promise…if children obey, they will live long. Yet Paul calls parents to make it as easy as possible
for their children to obey. The word “fathers” can refer to parents, as well. So as parents we are not to provoke
or discourage them. Be consistent in your discipline or training, listen to them, give them time, be patient with them as
they grow into maturity. With the motive of pleasing God to bring order and harmony to life, children need to obey and parents
need to encourage them.
Slaves and Masters: Employees and Employers: Paul says to them to treat
each other fairly. Be honest and sincere. And brings out the truth of who they are ultimately serving – they both have
a common master – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Living a life worthy
of the Lord and doing all we do in his name, revolves around the pre-eminency of Christ in our personal lives. If He is the
pre-eminent One in our lives, we will love each other, submit to each other, obey authority, and treat one another fairly
in the Lord. A heart seeking harmony
focuses on relationships, not just given roles. I believe after studying this, if we are to focus on the responsibilities
of these roles of husband and wife, children and parent, and master and slave, we might miss the real truth that will build
our lives to bring honor to God. And that would be relationships are more important than roles - relationships with Jesus
and others. We can so focus on establishing proper roles in the family and miss the more important responsibility of deepening
our relationships with each other. What identifies us as Christian families are not the roles we play out in our homes, but
the relationships we enjoy with each other because of Christ.
I want to give you
some practical questions to help you look at whether your heart is seeking harmony in your relationships. These questions
were delineated in a commentary by Timothy Owens. The author asks a question of why pilot whales beach themselves. They can
do it as a family or an individual. One of the theories is that there navigation system is altered by a parasite lodging itself
inside the whale’s inner ear or brain. And the whale loses it ability to echolocate. It loses its sonar system to give
it a sense of direction. The whale cannot locate itself in deep water so that it can sustain its life and instead, ends up
on the beach. The whale doesn’t know that the parasite is there, no less how to get rid of it. Have families ended up
beached – unaware of what has disoriented them? So to help us “beach-proof” our families or ourselves as
individuals, let’s listen to the questions to consider.
Who or what is the center of your family or relationships? Is it a career?
A person? Some school activity? Someone’s illness or addiction? When Christ is not the center of every relationship,
we lose our way. Do you dare ask yourself, your spouse, your children: Who or what is the center of your family of your relationships?
Is there healthy submission of family members to each other? Paul calls
us to mutual submission. How are you saying to each other in your relationships – “Less of me and more of others
in the home. Less of what I want and more of what others need?” Remember is it roles or relationships you are seeking
What is the love level in your relationships or in your family? What’s
the “hug” quotient or the “affection” index. Figure those scales out considering your cultural tendencies.
That makes a difference – maybe it’s not hugs – but how are you doing at expressing you love for one another?
Do you know to this day, that my oldest son does not leave me without giving me a hug or a peck on the cheek? Tell your kids
that you love them – or your grandkids – Tell them that they matter to you and show them. Tell them that they
matter to God not for what they do but for who they are.
Define obedience: By your actions – not just your expectations of
others. Don’t be hypocritical, telling them they are to obey you, to do what you say. And then you turn around and don’t
obey the authorities over you. What is the obedience factor like in your home?
Have you created a frustration-free environment for your children? Or maybe you could consider your grandchildren here.
J.B. Phillips translation says “Fathers don’t over-correct your children, or they will grow up feeling
inferior and frustrated.” Someone else said…“Do not harass your children, lest you make them spiritless.”
Are your children discouraged? Maybe you need to see where there frustration comes from – maybe its there schedule –
or yours – their commitments – or yours. What’s the frustration factor in your relationships?
can help you to get to the underlying things that disorient your family or even yourself. Find a way to make your home that
safe and special place where relationships with God and others define the family. Let’s create that place where God
is honored, Christ is served and where we take care of each other by building relationships. May God give us hearts that are
tuned toward each other, not just our roles or responsibilities. Whether it be at home or in the work place, may God be pre-eminent!
Is your family beached
in their relationships? You’ve lost direction? Ask God to give you help to find the deep waters that will nourish your
relationships so you won’t have to gasp for air and cry for someone to rescue you from a crisis of your own doing.
Is your heart seeking harmony?
Jesus Christ is Lord!!