In the first seventeen verses of the third chapter, Paul has described that those who truly belong to the Lord are those whose lives are hidden in Christ. They have put to death anything that steals their affections away from Christ and have put on the new self as God’s chosen ones. In the following paragraph the apostle Paul will describe what a life hidden in Christ looks like in the various relationships we have. Being God’s chosen people means it changes our relationships and how we deal with people. The problem is that we ignore God’s design for relationships and we end up with major relationship problems. Christ is to be all and in all, even in relationships. We need to make a very important point before we begin looking at the various relationships and how Christ is all and in all in these relationships. Difference of role does not mean inequality of worth or value. Just because children have different roles than parents does not mean that either are of lesser worth or value. Just because slaves have different roles than masters does not mean they are unequal in worth or value. Just because wives have different roles than husbands does not mean that either have lesser worth or value.
I believe that the command for wives to submit to their husbands has been so often challenged and has been difficult for many wives is because men have read “headship” as “dictatorship.” Wives do not need permission to live life. Wives do not need to check in and be told what to do. Marriage is not a cult. Husbands are never told to enforce submission or to demand submission. The picture is that the wife yields to the husband, seeking out his best interests. A wife voluntarily yields and this yielding is what is proper in the Christian order. A godly wife wants her husband to loving lead her and lead the family. Wives are not to lead the household. There is a problem with this in our society today where the roles have been reversed. We see passive husbands and domineering wives. I understand the problem because we see a lot of men today who are not willing to take the lead. We see many men who do not want to provide for the family and are content to be lazy. Husbands are often content to allow the wife to lead and the wife leads because the husband won’t lead the household. Many husbands think that they are the head and they can tell their wives to work while they do not provide for the family. As the head, husbands, the buck stops with you. You are responsible for the family, not her. Headship is not telling her what to do. Headship is being the leader in the family and taking responsibility for the family. If we are going to tell the wives to yield and not take the lead, then husbands must step up and be that leader. Wives, encourage leadership from your husband. Do not seize the leadership simply because you do not see your husband leading. You must continue to have a yielding spirit and spark leadership in your husband.
Husbands are commanded to love their wives. Husbands, if you do not think that loving your wife means yielding to her best interests and submitting your life to her, then you do not know the first thing about love. If you think love is being the boss, being the dictator and telling your wife what to do then you do not know anything about the biblical concept of love. Husbands, love your wives. Treat your wives the way you want to be treated. Provide for them. Give them security. Meet the needs of your wife. Do not be harsh with her. She is in your tender care as she is yielding to your leadership. Do not be overbearing or intimidating. Do not cause bitter feelings and do not become embittered toward her. Wives lovingly yield to their husbands. Husbands lovingly lead their wives. This dynamic is the picture of those whose lives are hidden with Christ.
Children are to obey their parents in everything. You do not only obey the commands from your parents that you agree with. Children are to do what their parents tell them to do. Children need to understand that as much as you do not understand this, your parents are seeking your best interests. Godly parents give you rules and tell you what you need to do because they are seeking out your best interests. Your obedience to your parents pleases God. Children should be ready to hear and response to the teachings and directions of your parents. The behavior of the children set the tone in the home. As parents we cannot give in to our children simply because it is easier or the path of least resistance. Children are not to rule the house. Children are not to be in charge. Children are not the head of the house. Parents, when your children are disobedient there is a big problem. Your children are being cute and their disobedience is not okay. Parents must stop making excuses for disobedience. If you continue to make excuses for your children then you are sending your child to eternal punishment. What did God just say? Children obey their parents pleases God. If parents do not train their children to obey, then they are not pleasing the Lord and you are setting your heart on their eternal destruction.
Fathers are not to provoke their children so that they do not become discouraged. Fathers, the buck stops with you. You are given the ultimate responsibility for training your children and not provoking wrath and discouragement. Train your children. Do not demoralize or crush your children. Do not exercise your authority unreasonably. Leadership in the home must never be oppressive. Discipline must always come from the proper spirit, not from anger. As parents we must recognize that children are children. They will act immature and require training. Discipline your children for rebellion and lawbreaking. Don’t discipline for childish immature. Train and teach them. This requires wisdom on the part of the parent to discern between the two. But this is a critical factor in making that we are not discouraging our children when we discipline. We must be concerned about excessive severity. By the same token, we cannot swing the pendulum to the other extreme and be far too lax. There must be punishment for disobedience but make sure the punishment fits the crime. We need to have balanced discipline. Acknowledge and reward good behavior and obedience. Do not only discipline negatively. Encourage obedience in how you reward your children. Do not worship your children by letting them rule. Love your children by training their hearts and disciplining their errors. Parents also need to consider what they are teaching their children to love. What are you teaching your children to spend their time doing? Are you teaching them to love God or love the things of this world? Children lovingly yield to their parents. Parents lovingly teach their children and act in their best interests. This dynamic is the picture of those whose lives are hidden with Christ.
If the command was given to slaves to obey their masters in the Roman world, then the application is certainly true that we must obey those who have rule over us, including work. We are not allowed to break the principles and teachings of the gospel simply because we are on the job. God’s law applies in every place. We do as we are asked out of fear and reverence for the Lord. We are good workers who obey with a sincere heart because we understand that in doing so we are serving the Lord. Work as if you are working for God. That is the reason why we will not steal time on the job by not working with all of our might. We should never be hardly working but recognizing that we are working hard for the Lord when we work hard for our masters. Verse 25 reminds us that God will deal with any mistreatment you receive. It is not up to us to take what we think we deserve because our master is cheating us on the job. God will take care of that. God does not show partiality and your master will be repaid for the wrong committed. Don’t work just because the master is watching. Don’t just go through the motions pretending to work hard. Christians work from the heart. Christians do all work as if they are working for the Lord. Christians will be rewarded by God for their work.
Masters are to be just and fair. Just because you are a manager or have people who must report to you does not mean that you can mistreat or be unfair in your treatment of them. Know that you have a Master in heaven. Do you want God to treat you the way you are treating those under your charge? Treat them knowing that you have a Master watching over you and you must give an account for how you treated those who are subordinate to you.
Our lives are to be pointing to Christ. People are to see Christ in how we act as wives, husbands, children, parents, workers, and managers. Keep your eyes on Christ and apply what you see to these life relationships.