What does the “New Man” look like? How do we change? And who do we become when we give over to Jesus all that we are, both the good and the bad alike, and allow ourselves to be transformed by the only God who can do so?
These are the questions that should come to mind when we look at a passage like Colossians 3:18-4:1 and begin to see what God is calling us to when He delivers these instructions to us through Paul, starting with wives and husbands in Colossians 3:18-19 (ESV):
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
As unfortunate as it is, at first reaction, there are large swaths of people who find themselves offended by what we read here. Perhaps even asking a question like, “How could Paul write something so demeaning?” But what happens when we realize that what is going on here is something much deeper than what it seems on the surface?
What if this passage is about God Himself, and His great love for us?
When we take a step back and look at these words in Colossians with a lens shaded by the blood of Jesus, words like “submission” come across to us in a far different manner. Our most important relationships become something that are not only not about us, but about how to say thank you to our Savior for loving us in the ways He does, despite our shortcomings. We see this right here in the first couple of verses when we realize that for a wife to “submit” to her husband is to voluntarily put herself under her husband’s leadership, out of a selfless love and service to her other half. The key is to do so “as is fitting to the Lord”—something immediately followed by a call for husbands to love their wives in such a way that Ephesians 5:25 (ESV) further describes this way, “…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” There is no greater love than this.
But it does not end there.
The way of Jesus extends to ALL our relationships and connections, including in our roles as both children and parents. Here is what we read in Colossians 3:20-21 (ESV):
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Put another way, our reliance on God works together with how He orders things. Where kids are to rely on their parents, trusting them to bear the weight of responsibility to do what is best for them, fathers are to help them thrive. Kids are supposed to be elevated to a place where they best reflect the glory of God, growing into the image bearers they were created to be. And in both cases, we can see how God approaches us with His good for us in mind.
But how about in our work lives? How are we called to live for Jesus when it comes to this part of our lives? Here is what we read in Colossians 3:22-24 (ESV):
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
We do what we do because Christ is all in all. Every good thing we have now, and will continue to have for all of eternity, we have because Jesus made it so—and we can receive it freely if we choose to follow Him. “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, ESV).”
However you slice up this passage, this much is true: It is not about us! And through our relationships within our families and at work, we can say thank you to God by reflecting His love for us back on the people we are in the closest proximity to. Our God is worthy of our praise and honor in ALL the most consequential roles we play here in this life—extending long into eternity as well. “We love because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19, ESV).”
The only question left for all of us to ponder is this: How do we respond?
“For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace … in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet. 4:6-11. ESV)
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- When it comes to our relationships, what are some of the ways we can approach them that would be “fitting to the Lord”?
- How do we live and work with a “sincerity of heart” and healthy “fear of the Lord”?
- What kind of inheritance is in store for us as we follow Jesus and His ways in all we do?
- What are some relationships you are most thankful for? How have they helped you?
- Do you understand who Jesus is, and what He did for us on the cross? (If not, reach out to us here and let us know: https://www.harvestworld.com/contact-us/).
“BETTER THAN” – OUR STUDY OF COLOSSIANS IN REVIEW …
Colossians 4:2-18: “Our Own Strength” / Blog post and Study Guide: “Starting Out Where it Ends”
Colossians 3:18-4:1: “Our Old Relationships” / Blog post and Study Guide: “Gracious Reflections of a Savior’s Love”
Colossians 3:12-17: “Clothed in Christ” / Blog post and Study Guide: “A New Suit Pressed With Timeless Truth”
Colossians 3:1-11: “Our Old Self” / Blog post and Study Guide: “Life After Brambles of Old News”
Colossians 2:16-23: “In Christ Alone” / Blog post and Study Guide: “The Disappearing Shadows of Faith”
Colossians 2:6-15: “Freedom in Christ” / Blog post and Study Guide: “God Is There and He’s Not Hiding From You”
Colossians 1:24-2:5: “Mystery Revealed” / Blog post and Study Guide: “A Mystery Worth Discovering”
Colossians 1:15-23: “The Supremacy of Christ” / Blog post and Study Guide: “Jesus Christ Holds It Together“
Colossians 1:1-14: “The Pressure of the World” / Blog post and Study Guide: “An ‘Others’ Kind of Faithfulness”