Summary: The key to our relationships in the home is focusing on how we can give to others rather than on what we can get from others.

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During the rehearsal for her wedding, a nervous bride was having a difficult time remembering all the details. Her kind pastor took her aside at the end of the rehearsal and said, “When you enter the church tomorrow, you will be walking down the same aisle you’ve walked down many times before. Concentrate on the aisle. And when you get halfway down the aisle, concentrate on the altar. And, when you reach the end of the aisle, your groom will be waiting for you. Concentrate on him. Focus on the aisle, then look at the altar, and finally, lock eyes with your man. That’s all you have to do.”

That seemed to help a lot, and on the day of the wedding, the beautiful but nervous bride walked flawlessly down the aisle. But people were a bit surprised as they heard her repeating these words during the processional: “Aisle, alter, him. Aisle, alter, him. I’ll alter him.”

As we take a look at what God’s Word says about our relationships in the home, our main thought should not be how we can alter others but how the Spirit of God can alter you and me.

Colossians 3:18-21

How we live in our family says a great deal about our faith. There is no more difficult place to exercise these virtues day in and day out than in the home. The home reveals where the heart is. Someone has said that character is who you are when nobody is looking (in this case, nobody other than your family).

1. In a home, each person has equal RIGHTS but different ROLES.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

“Here there is no Greek or Jews, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Sythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11).

In this passage, Paul was not simply upholding the cultural norms of his day. Back then, wives and children were looked down upon. Christianity elevated women and valued children.

Many in the first century saw Christianity as a threat to society because it allowed women to have influential positions in the churches (Rom. 16:1-2, 3, 6, 7, 12; Col. 4:15) and slaves were permitted to regard their masters as “brothers” (Philem. 16).

2. In a home, the focus should not be on what I can GET but on what I can GIVE.

• A wife is to give SUPPORT to her husband (v. 18).

There is probably no biblical teaching more controversial than that of a wife’s submission to her husband. The fact that a teaching is not popular is no reason to discard it. If we did that, we wouldn’t have much of the Bible left.

The verb “submit” is in the middle voice and can imply a voluntary submission. It makes the wife’s submission her willing choice.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18).

Our English word “helper” doesn’t sound very important. The original Hebrew word, however, is much more meaningful. It conveys the idea of someone who “assists another to reach complete fulfillment”

• A husband is to give LOVE to his wife (v. 19).

“Husbands, love your wives” (v. 19a). The successful marriage is based on love. Since love is commanded, it is not simply a feeling. Romantic love may lead to marriage, but it does not sustain it for long. It is much easier to feel romantic love for someone when you do not live with them. The love that Paul commands husbands to have for their wives is something that can be willed. This kind of love is not a feeling but an action. It always puts the welfare of the wife and her needs first. It is never concerned with power or control.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). A husband must love his wife to the point of being willing to die for her. A wife is asked to submit to her husband’s love, not to his authority.

“And do not be harsh with them” (v. 19b). The phrase could also be translated, “Do not become embittered [or resentful] toward her.” No matter how a husband’s wife responds to his love, he never has the right to stop loving her or treating her harshly.

• A child is to give OBEDIENCE to his or her parents (v. 20).

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12).

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Eph. 6:13).

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