Have you ever wondered why God created families? Thankfully, the Bible provides answers to this important question. In fact, at the very beginning God said that it is not good for man to be alone. So He created a helpmate suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18) The purpose of family is deeply ingrained in the creative purposes of God. Family provides relational community, and helps provide aid and support as we live out the purposes of God. The family also provides the context to display the character of God as relational harmony is expressed through love, forgiveness and encouragement toward one another.
We are in the section of Colossians where Paul provides practical insight concerning these important relationships. Paul begins in Colossians 3:18-19 with these simple words:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
It is important to remember that God calls all Christ followers to submit to one another. We tend to think of the expression of submission as a negative trait that is outdated. Paul, speaking to the entire church in Ephesians 5:21 says “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” In addition when Paul delivers these words to the wives at the church in Colossae, he was not denigrating the wives to a lower relational status. In fact, when we think of the act of submission, wives should remember that:
Submission means that you give your husband permission to lead. A practical implication is that wives encourage their husbands to take the spiritual leadership that originated with God’s design.
In the same way Paul has some important words to the husband’s as he calls these men to love their wives. In Ephesians 5 he adds description to this act by saying that the husbands love for his wife should reflect the love that Christ demonstrates for His church. Men do this by providing protection, provision and leadership. This has always
been God’s plan for the relationship between the husband and wife. The impact of sin damaged this important relationship and the consequences are identified in Genesis 3:16.
In Colossians 3, Paul continues to call the family back to healthy order under the Lordship of Christ as he provides simple instruction to parents and children.
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Colossians 3:20-21
Children are called to give respectful attention to the direction of their parents. God considers this respect toward parents as important. Paul adds that it is pleasing to the Lord. Here the goal is not simply to follow rules or commands but to trust God in obedience with the authority that He has established within the family.
In verse 21 Paul turns his attention to the father or more specific, the parents. The authority to discipline is weighty and is often either neglected or enforced without the proper motive of love. The discipline identified here is instructive and should not exasperate the child to an emotional state of discouragement.
As we work through this section of Colossians 3, my prayer is that we recognize the family as a platform to display the gospel to the nations. By God’s grace we will see the family as a lab where we practically work into the rhythm of our lives the Godly characteristics like kindness, gentleness and forgiveness. This progressive sanctification is proof that God is at work within our faith community.
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