Faithlife Sermons

Family Matters

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:41
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First of all, let me begin by wishing all of you mothers out there a very Happy Mothers day! I know that none of you could have ever envisioned Mother’s Day looking quite like this!
This is one more holiday in 2020 that will never be forgotten. Some of you younger mothers will be able to share with your grandchildren one day, Lord willing, how you spent your quarantined Mother’s Day!
I would be remiss if I didn’t take an opportunity to tell you how much I love and adore my wife, Christina, for the wonderful role she fulfills as a mother to our son, Judah. She looks after his needs, educates him, makes him laugh every day, and is a phenomenal mom!
And I would also be remiss if I didn’t pause to wish my OWN mother, who by virtue of our digital gatherings has been able to watch online for the last several weeks, a very happy mother’s day! I love you mom!
If you have your Bibles, Turn to Colossians Chapter 3, verse 18
Looking back on my sermon planning, I do vaguely recall how the text today would align with mother’s day. I can truly think of no better text for Mothers Day than to deal with what this text has to say to us today.
Let’s read it together.
Colossians 3:18–4:1 CSB
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism. 1 Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven.
Now, back to my bold claim before we read our text.
I said, “I can truly think of no better text for Mothers Day than to deal with what this text has to say to us today.”
Underlying that claim are these

Three Assumptions

1) God created the family.

He created man and woman, and he created them for each other. And the way he created us is very good.
Genesis 1:27 ESV
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:31 ESV
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2) Sin disordered the family.

Genesis 3:6–7 ESV
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Eve and Adam disobeyed God’s good command and the result was a curse - for the serpent, for the woman and for the man.
Look in particular at the curse given to the woman:
Genesis 3:16 NET
16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”
Women who want to control their husbands and men who want to dominate their wives is as unnatural as thorns and thistles interfering with man’s labor, and as unnatural as death coming to the human race. The creation has been subjected to futility by its creator for our rebellion against Him. But that is why today’s text is such good news.
In fact, the good news of today’s text was foreshadowed in the curse to the serpent:
Genesis 3:15 ESV
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
What theologians call the protoeuangelion - the first gospel promise is that one day boy born of a woman will crush the serpent’s head decisively.
We don’t have time to discuss all the biblical theology that continues to unfold that promise until you get to Calvary, but let’s jump to the good part…it happened. Jesus was born of a woman and defeated Satan and his minions for good. We’ve read about it in Col.
Colossians 2:13–15 CSB
13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
So as a result of Christ’s death on the cross, the curse of sin is broken!
Garrett Kell summarized this so well on twitter one day. He said:
“In Eden God cursed the ground with thorns for our sin. (Genesis 3:18) On the cross Jesus wore a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29) Jesus' glory was to wear our curse on His head.” - Garrett Kell
So that leads me to the final assumption that underlies my claim about today’s text...

3) The Christian family is part of the new creation.

We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to put off the old self and put on the new self over the last few weeks. As a result of our union with Christ, we are a new creation. Dead to sin. Alive to God. Totally new.
Paul said it like this somewhere else:
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
So when Paul gives these commands, we are to receive them as God’s good commands for our families to flourish as part of the new creation.
If Christ is in you - if the Holy Spirit is there illuminating this text and convicting your own heart, you will see that God loves the family he created and these words are LIFE and PEACE and JOY!
You will say with Paul:
Romans 7:22 ESV
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
So let me give you

Five New Creation Commands that Bring Joy in Christian Homes

I’d like to say a brief word to those of you who are single, separated, divorced, or the victims of abuse before we dive into these commands. You are not forgotten. I pray that the Lord will comfort to you and strengthen you. And I also pray that the Holy Spirit will bring peace to your soul as we consider this portion of Scripture. Who knows how the Lord may use this passage in your future - whether it’s in a future relationship or in your godly counsel to someone else. I’m asking that you stay tuned in.
So the commands are pretty straight-forward. Let’s list them, look at them, try and understand them and see how we may apply them. Again, reminding ourselves that the actions of verses 18–21 all lead to enhancing a lack of conflict, which is fueled by love and continued obedience to Christ’s word.
First of all:

1) Christian wives, submit to your husbands.

Paul says:
Colossians 3:18 CSB
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Christian wives do not hear the word submit and think it’s a bad word. They understand that
Submission is a recognition of relational order, not an acknowledgement of superiority or inferiority.
We know this to be true because Jesus, the Son, is fully EQUAL with God the Father, and yet submitted to him in all things.
Philippians 2:5–7 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
So by way of application, let me share with you wives a few things that submission is not, and then a few things that it is.
To submit to your husband does not mean you are unequal with him.
It does not mean that you do not have an opinion.
Submission does not mean you have no say in decisions.
Submission doesn’t mean you are your husband’s servant.
Submission does not mean you do 99% of the work around the house.
Submission means you recognize that your husband is accountable to God to lead your family.
Submission means that in matters where you potentially disagree, that after having discussed everything together as equals, you willingly and joyfully follow his leadership provided he is not asking you to disobey God.
But most importantly, submission means that you are doing what is fitting IN THE LORD. Don’t miss that crucial part of verse 18. The fitting thing for wives who are in Christ - united with him - is to submit.
Now for the husbands. You have receive two commands from Paul in one verse. I’m breaking them apart into two separate points. First he says that...

2) Christian husbands, love your wives.

Paul says in the first part of verse 19:
Colossians 3:19 CSB
19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.
Now this sounds like a no-brainer. You would hope that most men know when they get married that they are supposed to love their wives. But in Paul’s day, apparently that was not as much a given.
Some of the commentaries I read painted a very bleak picture for what it was like to be a woman in Paul’s day. They had very few rights and were given very little respect at all. It was a decidedly patriarchal society. So you begin to see how radical the new creation order would have been - especially in Paul’s days.
The command for a husband to love his wife did not even appear in any of the extrabiblical household rules of Paul’s day. It’s almost sad to imagine how new and different this must have sounded to the Colossian church.
What? Love my wife? What a novel idea!
But we would be remiss if we didn’t also add that in another letter that Paul wrote at about the same time he said that
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
That word “Love” carries a whole lot more import when you understand that it is the kind of sacrificial love that gives even when it will not necessarily be repaid.
Love means look after her like you would look after your self.
I have to confess that far too often I fail to love Christina like that. I become way too self absorbed and into my own agenda and my own plans that I don’t stop and ask what would please Christina right now? What would make her happy?
As a Christian husband, my prayer is that I’ll grow more and more into the likeness of Christ by laying down my own desires and taking interest in the things that would bring my wife joy. That is what this command to love means.
On this mother’s day, let me remind all you husbands that are listening that
One of the best legacies a father can leave his children is to love their mother. - C. Neil Strai
That’s a good word!
But what happens when a Christian husband fails to love his wife as he should but still expects her submission? Or, what if he shows love toward her but finds that she does not immediately reciprocate his love toward her? After all, we know that, as R.C. Sproul once put it, there is no more fragile mechanism in all the universe than the male ego. So we see Paul say to

3) Christian husbands, do not become bitter toward your wives.

Look at the second half of verse 19
Colossians 3:19 CSB
19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.
This is a passive imperative. Don’t become embittered toward them.
That verb form implies that the bitterness is experienced by the husbands. What Paul is envisioning, then, is probably the feeling a husband would get when he feels he can technically enforce his will on his wife but as a result he fails to win her love and respect.
That leads the husband to feel cheated and embittered at not receiving what he thinks he is due.
James Dunn insightfully comments: “This is the likely outcome for anyone who stands on his rights alone and who knows and exercises little of the love called for in the first half of the verse.”
In other words men don’t get these commandments confused. "Wives submit to your husbands" is not the best verse to start quoting to your wife while ignoring the commands God has given you.  Start there in your lane. Keep loving. Keep serving. And don’t get bitter about not receiving what you think you deserve. Remember - Christ showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners he died for us!
Love like that.
So Paul has addressed husbands and wives, but now he writes directly to the children who would be hearing this letter read in the Colossian Church. He says that

4) Christian children, obey your parents.

Look at the next verse. Paul says:
Colossians 3:20 CSB
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Children who are listening in today, don’t you think it’s pretty awesome that the Apostle Paul talks right to you? You can understand this. You’re able to respond to this as an individual. Paul is saying that God wants you to obey your mom and dad because this pleases Him.
God is very happy when children are obedient.
Did you all know that this is the 5th commandment that God gave to the People of Israel on Mount Sinai?
Exodus 20:12 CSB
12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
This mother’s day would be the PERFECT day for you to memorize Colossians 3:20 and then live it out.
Let me put it back on the screen and let’s say it together:
Colossians 3:20 CSB
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
So whether you’re six or sixteen, and whether you are a Christian or not, children are commanded to obey their parents because that is what pleases God and brings him glory.
Ok, so now for you men who are fathers… You receive the fifth command from Paul here in Colossians 3… he says that

5) Christian dads, do not exasperate your children.

Paul says in verse 21
Colossians 3:21 CSB
21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.
Part of becoming what we are in Christ as dads is learning not to irritate our children with unreasonable demands, or our irritable moodiness after a long day. Paul urges fathers not to provoke their kids like that. There is nothing more disheartening to a child than to try and live up to unreasonable expectations. You don’t want your kids feeling like it’s impossible to hit the moving target of making dad happy.
Instead fathers should be nurturing, provide discipline, give instruction to their kids and love them in a way that does not exasperate them. So dads, if you want to increase the joy in your Christian home, don’t exasperate your kids.
Ok, so that rounds out the five commands for a new creation family, but our text has more to say. So very briefly in the time that remains, I want to speak to verse 22 of chapter 3 through the first verse of chapter 4.
It’s very important as we approach this text to understand the context in which Paul wrote, and not import our conceptions of slavery onto the text. Thankfully slavery is outlawed in almost all the world today, but it was very much a part of the every day fabric of Greco-Roman society. However, it would be a serious mistake to say that slavery then was the same as the later North American counterpart. Let me be clear: What took place in America should never happen again.
The Bible is extraordinarily clear in a number of ways that relate to the slavery:
It is wrong to kidnap
It is wrong to beat people
It is wrong to rape people
It is wrong to breed people like animals
It is wrong to transport people like cargo
and it is wrong that slavery was based entirely on a person’s color of skin.
With that all said, listen to what R. Kent Hughes had to say about this text:
He said [QUOTE] “The advice Paul gives here was ultimately revolutionary, because in time it brought the downfall of slavery as an institution. But it was also immediately revolutionary in that it brought fullness to the Christian’s life, whether slave or master.
In the ancient world this was a domestic [reality], because slavery was an intensely personal family matter (which is why it is listed with the household codes). Today the application is largely professional as we are either masters or serve our masters.” [END QUOTE] – R. Kent Hughes
So for us today in 2020, there is still something to take away from this text, albeit not as a direct corollary, but by way of extension. We can learn from Paul’s exhortations to the Colossian slaves and masters...

Two Principals for Christian Employment

1) Christian Employees, do what you’re told...
a. When no one is watching
b. With sincerity
c. With diligence
d. With an eternal perspective
e. As unto the Lord
Colossians 3:22–24 CSB
22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, 24 knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
Christians ought to be known for their extraordinary work ethic. We should be setting the example in the workplace for excellence. It would be a compliment for others to tell you to take it easy or you’ll make everyone else look bad. And when your unbelieving coworker asks why you care so much when the boss isn’t around - that’s your golden opportunity to say: “I don’t work for him. I work for my heavenly master in heaven. I am his servant.”
What a testimony that would be. Not to mention, if you take verse 25 seriously, you understand that failure to work heartily may pass here on earth with lackadaisical human oversight, but your heavenly master is always watching, and totally just.
Colossians 3:25 CSB
25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism.
But in addition to the Lord keeping watchful eye on how employees work their earthly employers...
2) Christian employers, treat your employees fairly...
a. Because you also have a heavenly boss...
i. Who is totally fair
Colossians 4:1 CSB
1 Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven.
We see here that the motivation for employers to treat their employees fairly is because they have a master in heaven. But I also added the extra line: “who is totally fair,” because I think it is implied in verse 25 of chapter 3 as Paul transitions from addressing slaves to addressing masters, and because he makes it explicit in Ephesians...
Ephesians 6:9 CSB
9 And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Sometimes I wonder if Christians think that if Jesus was their boss, he would be so kind, gentle, and gracious that he wouldn’t expect any work. But just a cursory glance at the New Testament, where Jesus is constantly urging his people to be productive and diligent in their labour, would show Jesus to be a demanding superintendent. He would expect those who were under his authority to give honest effort and a full day’s work. Yet at the same time, there would be no partiality, no injustice, no petty criticisms, and no demeaning attacks on people’s dignity. He is the perfect Master who treats all those under his authority with love, tenderness, gentleness, justice and righteousness. He is the model for anyone who is in a position of authority.
So let us end by circling back to where we began. God’s new creation design being pursued and recovered by the power of the Holy Spirit. This text covers the essence of Christian relationships. We said it applies by way of extended application to our workplaces, but it especially applies in Christian homes. And if you get right down to it, between those two things, that is the majority of where you spend your waking hours.
Christianity is so practical. Paul is so down to earth with this stuff. He goes right to the nub of things doesn’t he? He says to put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved:
Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Forgiveness, Forbearance and LOVE...
...and then he turns your attention right to the very place where if we are all truly honest, there are times we find it the hardest to live those things out around those we spend the most time with. These commands get right to the heart of what Paul said in Col. 3:17
Colossians 3:17 CSB
17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Doing the dishes, cleaning your room, sweeping the floor, mowing the yard, filing that report, changing that diaper - it is all for God’s glory. So let’s get our minds off earthly things and start serving our heavenly master and loving our families well.
That is
pleases Him
reveres His justice; and
will be rewarded.
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