Summary: Christian relationships in the Church. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Colossians chapter 3 verses 18 to chapter 4 verses 1:


If you think your family has problems,

• Consider the marriage mayhem created;

• When 76-year-old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey.

• She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother.

• That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.

• “My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother.

• My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law.

• My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew.

• But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle & my own children are my cousins.”

Quote: Robert Orben:

• Who can ever forget Winston Churchill’s immortal words:

• “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,

• We shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.”

• It sounds exactly like our family holidays.

Our title this evening is A Family Affair:

• The writer (Paul) talks about different relationships that we have;

• Wives & husbands.

• Parents & children.

• Masters & slaves (Employers & employees)

• So those of you who are retired, widowed and have grown up children;

• Are really going to benefit from tonight’s message!

Before we start this section of the letter I want to mention three things about relationships:


• This is about home life and work life.

• Our faith must work in the everyday affairs of living.

• And there’s nothing more routine than family life and work life.

• But if our faith doesn’t work there then it doesn’t work!


• The Fight, J. White, IVP, pp. 121ff

• Ten Commandments of Home Rule

• (1). If you sleep on it - make it up.

• (2). If you wear it - hang it up.

• (3). If you drop it - pick it up.

• (4). If you eat out of it - put it in the sink.

• (5). If you step on it - wipe it off.

• (6). If you open it - close it.

• (7). If you empty it - fill it up.

• (8). If it rings - answer it.

• (9). If it howls - feed it.

• (10). If it cries - love it.

• More seriously, our faith must work in the everyday affairs of family life and work life.

• If our faith doesn’t work there then it doesn’t work!


• We are talking about roles not rulers.

• Everyone has a defined role:

• Husbands and wives, Parents and children, employers and employees.

• But please remember that everyone is of equal rank.


Look back to Colossians 3:11 and, adding to Paul’s list from Galatians 3:28,

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

• Paul emphasises in these verses that we are all equal in God’s eyes.

• Equality is not the issue in these verses, the issue is one of order.

• Note: Order not importance!

• God is a God of order; and life will always work best when we follow His roles for us.


• Husbands and wives reciprocate,

• Husbands and wives react to the actions of the other.

• Parents and children and employers and employees reciprocate.

• That is they have to give and take to make them work!


• What Paul was writing in the first century was radical.

• Wives, children and slaves (for our discussion, employees)

• Were looked down upon in society.

• They were second, third and……even lower class)

• But, Christianity elevated women, valued children and gave slaves a value!

• Quote: ‘Only place a slave was equal with his master was in the Church’.

We will look at these pairs together as Paul gave them to us,

(1). Husbands and Wives: Love and Submission (vs 18-19):

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”


• The American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

• Better known to most people by his pen name Mark Twain,

• A Mormon acquaintance once pushed him into an argument on the issue of polygamy.

• After long and tedious expositions justifying the practice,

• The Mormon demanded that Mark Twain cite any passage of Scripture;

• Which expressly forbidding polygamy.

• “Nothing easier,” Mark Twain replied.

• “No man can serve two masters.”


• These verses are not about master and subservient;

• It is about two equal partners called husband and wife.

• Note: Paul did not address the wives first because they were the neediest!

• We must not think of submission as "slavery" or "suppression."


• In the Greek text the word used comes from military language and simply means

• "To arrange under rank."

• The fact that one soldier is a private and another is a colonel;

• Does not mean that one man is necessarily better than the other.

• It only means that they have different ranks.

• Or in our context, it only means that they have different roles.

One thing the Bible teaches us is that God is a God of order:

• That order is seen in society,

• In the Church,

• In the home,

• And in the workplace.

In the home the Bible teaches that the order is this:

• Man is the head of the household:

• Please note that headship is not dictatorship;

• Headship, is simply ‘loving leadership’.

• It is the husbands role to make sure the family are heading in the right direction!

• Quote: “The husband is to be the thermostat in the home,

• Setting the emotional and spiritual temperature”.

Question: What direction is that?

Answer: In the things of the Lord!

• The husband is not an independent loose cannon;

• He himself is subject to the Lordship of Christ.

• In fact Ephesians chapter 5 verses 21 says;

• Both the husband and the wife must be submitted to the Lord and to each other;

• This mutual love and submission creates an atmosphere of growth in the home;

• That enables both the husband and the wife to become all that God wants them to be.

• A happy marriage does not come automatically;

• It is something that must be worked at all the time.

• But as we walk with Christ in submission to Him,

• We ought then to have no problem submitting to one another.

(b). Parents and Children: Encouragement and Obedience (vs 20-21):

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

(1). Children:


A small boy asked his mother for a cucumber to take to Sunday School.

• Although she was slightly puzzled at his request,

• His mother complied.

• Later that day, she asked him;

• “What the cucumber had been used for.”

• He replied;

• “Sorry mum, I got it wrong, we were supposed to bring a newcomer!”

So that families don’t get it wrong:

• The apostle Paul wrote some advice to Parents and children;

• Once again the advice is two-way, that is requiring both parties to do something.

A great deal is being said about the rights of children, and they do have rights:

• One of them is the right to be born.

• Another is the right to be born into a loving home.

• Children born into the homes of Christian parents;

• Have the right to have parents who will teach them the Word of God;

• Pray for them and discipline them in love.


• John H. Starkey was a violent British criminal.

• He murdered his own wife, then was convicted for the crime and executed.

• The officials asked General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army,

• To conduct Starkey's funeral.

• As Booth stood before the gathered congregation;

• He faced as ugly and mean a crowd as he had ever seen in his life,

• But his first words stopped them and held them:

• "John H. Starkey never had a praying mother!"


• And their foremost responsibility is to obey.

• Ill: As I remind my kids often remember the 5th commandment!

They are to obey "in everything":

• That obviously does not mean sinful things

• Parents who are submitted to the Lord and to one another,

• Will not mistreat or abuse their children;

• But lovingly live out before them the things of God.

To obey "in everything":

• That means not simply obeying in those things that please the child.

• But by submitting themselves to their parents guidance in all areas!


• “The child who does not learn to obey his parents;

• Is not likely to grow up obeying any authority.

• He will defy his teachers, the police, his employers,

• And anyone else who tries to exercise authority over him.

• The breakdown in authority in our society;

• Reflects the breakdown of authority in the home.”

• For the most part, children do not create problems; they reveal them.

• Parents who cannot discipline themselves cannot discipline their children.

• If a father and mother are not under authority themselves,

• They cannot exercise authority over others.

• It is only as parents submit to each other and to the Lord;

• That they can exercise properly balanced spiritual & physical authority over their children.


• In verse 20a: Paul tells us the measure of the child's obedience is "in everything";

• In verse 20b: Paul tells us the motive of the child's obedience is “to please the Lord.”


• Suppose at one of our Youth Houseparties;

• I gave the young people a quick test.

• The test was simple; make a list of things that please the Lord.

• When the answers were gathered in, I think I would know what most would say.

• (1). By exalting Jesus Christ.

• (2). By proclaiming the message of the cross.

• (3). By believing in God and his promises.

• (4). By staying pure.

• (5). By sharing the gospel with unbelievers.

• (6). By giving to others in time of need.

• I might be wrong but I wonder how many if any would put down:

• By submitting to my parents authority even when I don’t want too!

• Yet this is where we prove that our Christianity is reel;

• It pleases God and makes for a happy family!

(b). Parents:

The word fathers in verse 21 could also be translated "parents":

• Paul made it clear that parents must make it as easy as possible for children to obey.

• “Do not embitter your children” or "Provoke not your children"


Four things a parent can do to discourage a child:

(1). Ignore them.

• A father with no time for his children is raising them with deep-seated resentment.

• Quote: “Give your children time when they are young or they will take it when they are older”

(2). Indulge them.

• Give them everything they want, spoil them.

• And they grow up feeling like the world owes them.

(3). Insult them.

• Some parents are overly critical.

• And as a result their kids grow up with very low self-esteem.

(4). Intimidate them.

• Threats and unfair expectations can break their self-esteem.

• Sadly some children can never please their father no matter what they do

Paul reminds us in these verses the formula for a happy home:

• In verse 20a: Paul tells us the measure of the child's obedience is "in everything";

• In verse 20b: Paul tells us the motive of the child's obedience is “to please the Lord.”

(c). Masters and Servants: Honesty & Devotion (3 vs 22–4 vs 1):


• Somebody asked the Pope how many people worked in the Vatican?

• He replied; “About half of them!””

(1). Servants (employees):

“Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.”

• Slavery was an established institution in Paul's day.

• At least half of the people in Paul’s days were slaves.

• Many of them were well-educated people;

• Who carried great responsibilities in the homes of the wealthy.

• In many homes,

• The slaves helped to educate and discipline the children.

Question: Why didn't the church of that day openly oppose slavery & seek to destroy it?


• For one thing, the church was a minority group;

• That had no political power to change an institution that was built into the social order.

• In 1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 21:

• Paul was careful to instruct Christian slaves to secure their freedom if they could;

• But not once did he ever advocate rebellion;

• Not once did he encourage slaves to overthrow the existing order.

• The priority of the early church was to spread the Gospel and win souls,

• Not to get involved in social action.

• Had the first Christians been branded as an anti-government sect,

• They would have been greatly hindered in their soul-winning and their church expansion.

Now don’t forget:

• That the gospel message is one of liberty and valuing a person;

• So naturally these issues would arise at some time.

• If you know your history;

• You will know that they did.


• William Wiberforce:

• He was hailed as a 'Renewer of Society',

• William Wilberforce was the conscience of Parliament.

• His great goal was the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery.

• Quote: Wilberforce wrote, "God Almighty has set before me two great objects,

• The suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners."

• A meeting in 1787 with dedicated abolitionist Thomas Clarkson;

• Was to alter the social fabric of the British Empire and, in time, the western world.

• For 18 years, from 1788 onwards,

• Wilberforce - with Pitt the Younger’s support;

• Annually introduced anti-slavery motions in Parliament.

• In February 2007 a film titled Amazing Grace,

• About the life of Wilberforce and the struggle against slavery,

• Will be released to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the date;

• The British Parliament voted to ban the transport of slaves by British subjects.


• In our society we do not have slaves.

• But we can apply these principles to any kind of honest employment.

• A Christian worker ought to be the best worker on the job.

• A Christian worker ought to obey orders and get on with their allotted task.

• A Christian worker ought to work well;

• Whether there is anybody is watching or not.


• A missionary was put in charge of supervising a group of natives on a work detail.

• He was frustrated because they were lazy and worked only while he was watching them.

• When he left they would sit around and not work.

• The missionary had a glass eye so he decided he would try something.

• He took his glass eye out and sat it on a fence post

• And told the natives he would be watching them even when he was away.

• The missionary was thrilled it seemed to work well;

• Until one day he came back and saw them sitting around again.

• He looked over to the fence post;

• And saw that someone had put a hat over the eye.

• A Christian worker ought to work well;

• Whether there is anybody is watching or not.

• A Christian workers motive for working this way is because;

• Verse 24b: “It is the Lord Christ you are serving”

Paul tells us that if a Christian follows these principles,

• They will receive their reward from Christ;

• Even if their earthly boss does not recognize them or reward them.

(2). Masters (Employers):

“And masters, treat your servants considerately. Be fair with them. Don't forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven”.

• Just as the husbands and wives and parents and children;

• Have mutual and reciprocal responsibilities, so do masters and servants.

Paul admonished the Christian masters to treat their servants with fairness and honesty.

• This would be a new idea to Roman masters,

• Because they considered their slaves as "things," and not people.

• Masters had almost total control over their slaves

• And could do with them whatever they pleased.

• Few unsaved Roman masters ever thought of treating their slaves with fairness,

• For slaves deserved nothing (ill: 2 legged tool).

The world into which Paul wrote this words (chapter 4 verse 1):

• The social standards and pressures totally disagreed with Christian ideals,

• But says Paul “The Christian master was to practice those ideals just the same.”

• He was to treat his slave like a person and like a brother in Christ.

• He was not to mistreat him, he was to deal with his slave justly and fairly.


• 1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 22:

• Paul reminds the Christian masters that actually they are also slaves:

• He reminds them that the Christian slave was a free man in Christ,

• And the Christian master was a slave to Christ.

• In other words he says let your social and physical relationships;

• Be governed by your spiritual relationships.

And finally:

In our passage the word “Lord” is used five times.

• When the Lord is over you, you don’t “lord it” over them,

• Whether a husband, parent, or employer.

• As we review this very practical section of Colossians,

• We see once again the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ in our lives as believers.

• It is by His power and authority that we should live in our daily relationships.

• If He is the pre-eminent One in our lives,

• Then we will love each other, submit to each other, obey one another,

• And treat one another fairly in the Lord.