Sunday, September 25, 2011

FAMILY RELATIONS (Colossians 3:18-21)

The former first lady Barbara Bush was asked to speak at the 1990 Commencement Ceremony of Wellesley College. Wellesley, a women’s college is world renowned as a liberal bastion of feminism. Much controversy swirled around the decision to welcome the wife of a conservative, republican president who was herself, a stay-at-home mom. Mrs. Bush decided to take advantage of the controversy and challenge the young women: "to cherish their human connections. And she went on to say, “As important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections—with spouses, with children, with friends—are the most important investments you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent. … Whatever the era … whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children … they must come first. You must read to your children, you must hug your children, you must love your children." Mrs. Bush concludes, "Your success as a family … our success as a society … depends not on what happens at the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

It is so true what Mrs. Bush had to say. The health and the success of our Church, society largely depends on how healthy our marriages, homes and families are. In our success driven western society the pure pleasure of marriage, the joys of parenting, the satisfaction of building a family and home is not held in the highest regard. Today we are concluding our study of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. Isn’t it interesting that Paul being a single man himself made it a point in several of his letters to the new churches to give advice to families.

It seems to me that he wanted to make sure that the new Christians didn’t go of on some super spiritual tangent thinking that the spiritual life has nothing to do with how we relate to our family. The opposite is true, let’s find out what Paul was saying to families in Colossians 3: 18-21. Paul was addressing four key relational principles between wives, husbands, children and parents (fathers). Let’s look at them one by one.


The very mention of words like marriage and family can evoke unpleasant memories and reactions in some. I do however believe that it is extremely important that we understand marriage, family and parenting from a Biblical point of view rather than by the dictates of our popular culture. Paul begins his discourse by first addressing the wives. Vs 18“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

Over the centuries many Christian husbands, leaders and pastors have used this and other related verses to keep women under subordination. No wonder why many women react to this scripture. Some argue according to Gal 3:28, “There is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We all are equal in Christ therefore they say my husband can not boss over me. Others soft peddle the meaning of the word “submission” they say it means “respect” I looked at both the standard and contemporary Bibles where the Greek word here was translated as “submit.” Elsewhere Paul writes, “The wife must respect her husband” (Eph 5:33). In Greek respect literally means, “To be afraid of, or fear.

For Paul, both submission and respect were separate and equally important. So let’s not mix them. Paul used these two strong commands to address the problem of “lack of submission and respect. What does submission mean? Does it mean that the husband can demand any and everything from his wife? Or the wife should always be subservient to her husband?

The Life application Study Bible provides great insights about submission: “God ordained submission in certain relationships to prevent chaos. It is essential to understand that submission is not surrender, withdrawal, or apathy. It does not mean inferiority. Submission is mutual commitment and cooperation. Thus God calls for submission among equals. He did not make the man superior; he made a way for man and woman to work together. Jesus Christ, although equal with God the Father, submitted to Him to carry out the plan for salvation. Likewise, although equal to man under God, the wife should submit to her husband for the sake of their marriage and family.[1]

When Paul says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” In a way he was saying, “Wives, when you submit to your husbands you are doing the right thing and it pleases the Lord. Christ gave up voluntarily his rights and submitted to God; likewise the wives should voluntarily give up their rights to rule and control and submit to their husbands. Wives how do you know that you are in submission to your husbands? You are submitting to your husband when you consider his opinions better than yours, respect his authority at home and in public, let go of your point of view in order to accommodate his, fit into his plans instead of your husband fitting into yours.

Elisabeth Elliot once commented, “true liberation comes with humble submission to God's original design." That original design in the marriage is that wives should submit to their husbands because he is the head of the family. This is radical and counter cultural. The modern woman finds it hard to submit to her husband. However difficult it may sound when wives finally learn to submit to their husbands they will find healing, protection, and freedom, more over it is expected of every Godly wife. If wives are called to submit to their husbands what is expected of husbands?


Most couples in the western world enter marriage via the vehicle of love. But as the years pass by the vehicle of love seem to get rusted due to lack of maintenance or negligence and eventually it stops functioning. Who is responsible to see love maintained in a marriage? What does the Bible say about whose responsibility is to love? We know it takes two people to work on their marriage; however the Bible does seem to put more responsibility on the husband when it comes to loving their wives. We read in Vs 19, “Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them” What does this mean? How should a husband love his wife?

Paul gives three principles to husbands in loving their wives; we read them in Ephesians 5: 25-31. Firstly, it is sacrifice (v. 25). If men are to demonstrate Christ-like love to wives, it is to be sacrificial (v. 25). Your love for your wife must cost you something. It could be your time, energies, interests and at times your wallet. Your marriage is worth any sacrifice.

Secondly, it is partnership. Husbands share a mysterious “One flesh” relationship with their wives. (Vs 31). In marriage husband and wives are a team, they are partners and they share a union of shared interests and companionship. One flesh means regular compromise from both sides of the relationship. In other words not taking each other for granted. Thirdly, it is nourishment. A husband should love his wife the way he loves his own body: “He nourishes and tenderly cares for his body” (v. 29). A husband must nurture his wife emotionally.

How is your wife nourished by you and your marriage? How is she a healthier follower of Christ because of you? Do you know what makes your wife emotionally loved? Though their emotional needs may vary, most women crave for one thing more than any thing else from their husbands that is “Spending Quality time with them”

In this busy world whether they are newly married trying to manage jobs and the household for the first time, parents juggling kids schedules, the empty nesters with lot of activities most couples feel strapped for time. Unless we make time we will never have quality time with our wives. "The lifeblood of a relationship is your spending time together. Without quality time together, the connection between the couple withers and it becomes increasingly difficult to reconnect.” Yet, how many husbands ignore this emotional need of their wives, for their own detriment?

Spending quality time with your wife doesn’t have to cost you the world, with a little bit of creativity you can have quality time. Here are a few simple ways where you can have fun with each other. Turn off the TV, sit on the couch, and drink coffee together, while looking into her eyes share how your day was and ask her how her day was. Go for a walk together and let her talk while you both walk. Find a baby sitter and take her out for dinner just two of you. Lock the door behind you and put a “Do Not Disturb Sign” on the door knob, your children will understand that you both are a team and you need time with each other. There are many ways to spend quality time with our wives if only we see it as important and care to invest in it.

In a marriage when the wife submits to her husband and husband loves his wife as Christ loved the Church that marriage will be like heaven on earth. A family usually consists of not only a husband and wife but also children. If we want a healthy family, each one must learn to play their roles well. What is the role of children? How are the fathers to treat their children?


Though Paul had never been married and never had children of his own he stresses that children obey their parents in everything for this pleases the Lord. Traditionally obedience is regarded as a virtue. Children have been expected to be obedient to their elders.

The kind of widespread and accepted disobedience we see as the cultural norm today however is a sign of the end times. The bible says, children are “disobedient to their parents.”(2 Tim 3:3) When it comes to obedience who is our reference point? Jesus Christ is our example. He was tested in his obedience by his earthly parents and His heavenly father. His first test came at the age of twelve. Do you remember the story where Jesus stayed back in the temple in Jerusalem after attending the feast of the Passover along with parents? After three days of searching his parents found him in the temple and had a hearty word with him. After that, “he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them….And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”(Lk 2:51-52).

Children learn to obey your parents in all things if you want to become wise and live longer on this earth. Parents it is your responsibility to teach your children to obey you. But how do we do that? Is it by force and intimidation? Let’s see what Paul has to say about how fathers should relate to their children.


Parents must learn the language of love, acceptance and affirmation when it comes to raising children. Paul gives specific instructions to the fathers here keeping up with the traditions of a Jewish home where fathers played a crucial role in instructing or training children. He reminds fathers to be gentle and loving in disciplining their children. They are not to provoke them to anger otherwise they will loose heart. As a father I asked my self a question, what would provoke my children to anger? I came up with the following answers: unjust punishment, lack of affirmation, constant nagging and fault finding, cutting words or remarks, comparing them with others specially their success or lack of it, being strict and heavy handed, not giving them grace when they fail and make mistakes.

Parents must realize that the approval and affirmation by their parents especially fathers is crucial for the overall development of a child. When a child is loved, accepted, and affirmed at home he or she seldom seek for love outside of the house in wrong places. It is interesting that Paul would address these issues of the home in the first century itself by doing so in a way he paved the way for healthy homes and marriages which is according to God’s plan and purpose.

In conclusion let me repeat these four key principles of family relations. 1. Wives submit to your husbands as it is fitting in the Lord 2. Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 3. Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord. 4. Fathers do not provoke your children to anger that the may not loose heart. Let’s remember, we can only do all of these things when we keep Christ as our reference point. Amen

[1] Life Application Study Bible, NIV, 1930,

Sunday, September 18, 2011


There is a story circulating in Detroit about the early days of Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company. It concerns a machinist with Ford Motor Company who had "borrowed," over a period of years, tools and other automobile parts. Although it was against company policy, "everybody did it," and management did nothing about it. One day, however, the machinist was converted. He was baptized and became a believer who took his baptism seriously. The day after his baptism, he gathered up all the “tools” he had collected over the years, loaded them into his pickup, took them to the plant and presented them to the foreman with his confession and request for forgiveness. The foreman was so overcome by his honesty that he cabled Henry Ford himself, who was visiting a European plant. After explaining the entire event in detail, Ford immediately cabled back this response: “Dam up the Detroit River,” he said, "and baptize the entire plant."[1]

This person in the story realized that, after getting saved and baptized he could no longer live like the way he used to live in the past. In other words he had to be differently focused. What does it mean to be differently focused? There was a community in the Church of Colossae that had heard and received the Good News, and believers who had died and been raised again in Christian baptism, but were struggling to live out their new found faith. The writer Paul suggested to them that they were to be differently focused. We read it in Col 3:1-17, these seventeen verses contain practical suggestions in regards to how a born again Christian can live out his new found faith with a different focus than the one he or she once used to have.

Chapter three begins by appealing to all those who have been "raised with Christ," that is, born again or those who are newly born into God’s family. This new birth comes with certain responsibilities that believers must begin to shoulder. The author implores Colossians to do two things; In Vs1, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” In Vs2 “Set your minds on things above not on earthly things” When we combine these two verses we get, “Set your hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In other words they should stop doing what they were used to do in their sinful state and cultivate a new life style by focusing not so much on the earthly things but on things above. He goes on to say why? The reason is that they have died to sin and their life now is hidden in Christ."

What powerful words are these: “We are dead to sin and our life is now hidden in Christ.” What do they mean? Since our true life is hidden above with the heavenly Christ it is expected of us that we must channel our mental and physical energies into seeking this hidden life above. In other words we must realize that, though we live in the world we are not of the world. We are citizens of heaven with a different set of values and focus. Paul explains how we can change our focus and what a life that is differently focused looks like.


Susan is a good Ohio woman who, in her late 20s, began to take her faith seriously - compulsively so. Yet the more she practiced her faith, the more she questioned the efficacy of her efforts. Her doubts came daily, nagging her relentlessly and causing her constant pain. "I'd kept it a secret from my children, from my parents and from my husband," she admitted.
For Susan, sin is everywhere. And she is the first among sinners. The one who most needs to confess ... again ... and again ... and again.

She figured she was the only one who had this condition - viewing the world through a sharp and precise moral prism, seeing sin in every situation, and magnifying transgressions whenever they surfaced. But she is not alone. In fact there are a vast many who suffer from this very thing. Clinical psychologists have given her obsession a name. They call it the scrupulosity obsession or the “doubting disease." One time or another we all may have suffered with this obsession.

At first glance, Vs 5-8 might seem like an invitation to scrupulosity. “Put to death," he commands, "whatever belongs to your earthly nature: “sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That is a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It is because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger.” (The Message)

Paul's not finished. "But now you must get rid of all such things as these: “bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.” Get rid of all such things or Strip yourself of all such sins and polluting practices. Begin to live an authentic Christian life, removing from yourself all the trappings of your old life. These Scriptures seem to play right into the struggle that many of us are trying to escape, legalism that says, don’t do this, don’t do that, you better watch out God might explode in anger. So, what does this mean for us? Are we to focus constantly on the above mentioned list of sins? Or are we to live a life of constant introspection, relentlessly obsessing over every one of our motivations, thoughts, words and deeds? Is Christian living nothing more than avoiding a list of negatives? Not at all! It is a living that is differently focused.

How are we to change our focus? Paul challenges us with the words: "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (3:2-3). In other words do not dwell so much on the negative things, or set your minds not on the temptations of this world, but on the joy of life with Christ, a life in which we are free to enjoy boundless compassion, kindness, love, peace and gratitude. Can we do this? Yes we can because we have been given a new and abundant life that is safe and secure and hidden with Christ in God.

Paul wants us to focus on Christ, and what he has done for us to set us free from sin instead of overly concerned about our short comings. Our goal is to grow in Him, not in the passions of this world. When we grow deeper in Christ, then the dismaying and debilitating distractions of this world will slip away. In other words the grip of the power of sin in our lives will be broken. What matters, is not a perfectly flawless record of avoiding sin, but instead a vital, loving and faithful relationship with Jesus. When Christ becomes our focus then we can be confident that we will quite naturally die to the patterns of the old and sinful life and gradually but surely develop a new lifestyle that is differently focused. What does a life focused differently look like?


Over the centuries we Christians have been wrongly labeled as peculiar, weird, antisocial, narrow minded, bible bashers, and so on by the world. Are we that weird as we were perceived to be? No, we are just different and are differently focused. As a result we value and respect people because all are created in the image of God. We share our resources with others because we love people. Paul exhorted the Colossian believers that they were different and commanded them to put on: Compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.(The Message). You might be saying, well again another set of rules that Christians need to abide by. These are not rules to live by but they become a part of a life that is in Christ.

I wish that we became perfect at the moment we have accepted Christ as our savior, but that hasn’t been the case for many right? We keep struggling with sin. As we know nothing comes easy in life, in the same way it takes intentionality, discipline and hard work to cultivate God honoring habits and life style. How does a differently focused person different from the rest of the world? In the world people, hold grudges, hurt each other, spread slander and gossip, want to take revenge, don’t forgive others, they are rude, proud, and so on where as Christians are called to be different from the world. Paul urges the Roman believers, in Romans 6:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In other words we just can not act like those who do not know Christ as their savior.

The true transformation happens not by avoiding sin but by renewing our mind. In our text we read “set your mind on Christ.” How can we renew or set our minds on Christ? It is by reading and applying God’s word. I Peter 2:2, “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Therefore, I urge both new and seasoned believers to read, meditate and apply God’s words found in the Bible from where one receives nurture and grows up.

In conclusion, when our lives are differently focused they affect our homes, churches and the society at large. Our worship on a Sunday service will be different. Instead of tearing each other down we exhort each other in all wisdom, and uplift each other by singing hymns and Psalms. Whatever we do in word or deed, whether in the Church, at home or in the work place we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Above all we Love God and love one another. My payers is please Lord change and help us focus differently so that we might continue to grow in the knowledge of your Son and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Amen