Summary: How should we live our lives in a way that Jesus is evident and the gospel relevant? Paul has some practical advise. Also information on how Gnosticism is rampant today.
Marriage is when you agree to spend the rest of your life sleeping in a room that’s too warm, beside someone who’s sleeping in a room that’s too cold.
I do a fair amount of pre-marital counseling - and though I don’t share that illustration - what I do tell couples that are preparing for marriage is that the key to a successful marriage is not considering your needs to be more important than the needs of your spouse - that it is a life of caring for someone else - making sure they are covered, provided for - and treated fairly.
At a recent business retreat a former member of the Central Intelligence Agency put it this way: "Be as concerned about the success of others, as you are about your own success." To put into Biblical terms: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
What we’re going to look at today as we finish our study in Colossians is that principal worked out in marriage, the workplace, and the family. It is the practical section of the book - often Paul will deal with the theological stuff first then apply it in a "rubber meets the road" way for the recipients of the letter - first about relationships, then 5 practical pieces of advise for everyday Christian living.
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
" (18) Men and women who were used to a certain system - now freed by Christ - needed some advice. Wives should honor and submit to the leadership of their husbands "as fitting in the Lord" - there is a balance - no one in the partnership is more important, each just has different roles.
" (19) And husbands likewise might have been used to being "all supreme general" - but cannot get away with treating their wives harshly.
" (20) Kids should obey their parents because it pleases God. For a fuller discussion of this see our study in Ephesians 5 & 6 - but suffice it to say that the submission of a wife and the obedience of children are different. It’s pretty clear that while children are under the supervision of their parents that they ought to obey - unless the parent models or tells the child to do something contrary to God’s Word.
" (21) And parents are told - don’t go too far. Don’t "embitter" your kids by treating them unfairly or harshly. It means to provoke, nag, embitter or make resentful. Don’t nitpick your kids and don’t berate them - treat them like you want the Lord to treat you as He disciplines and instructs you.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
" (22-23) Employees - do your work, don’t cheat - and don’t fool around when the boss is gone - be sincere in your service as if you were employed by the Lord Himself.
" (24) Did you know that God will reward you for your good service on the job? So you really are working for Him.
" (25) We are held responsible for our actions - God is watching.
4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
" Ephesians 6 also goes into detail for bosses - not to treat your employees in a demeaning or mean-spirited fashion. Be fair - and don’t make them afraid of punishment - instead treat your employees like the Lord treats you.
Paul’s closing comments in the 4th Chapter are kind of like last words of wisdom - he’s said all he can about the problems facing the churches in the area of Colosse - about the person of Christ - how He is fully man and fully God - fighting the tendency towards asceticism and ritual instead of relationship and worship - battling the worship of angels and the immorality that grows out of a false idea that only spirit is what matters - not what we do in the body.