Part 9 – Colossians 3:18-4:1
One of the ways God provides direction and accountability to His followers is through authority in human relationships. It is possible that some unhealthy patterns had developed in the Colossian church, which could be why Paul provides specific instructions, both for those in authority and those who are under authority.
He begins with a discussion of family relationships. One of the reasons God has established spiritual authority within the family is to help us grow in our understanding of Him. He urges husbands to love their wives, and wives to submit to their husbands, because the human marriage relationship is a picture (albeit a flawed one) of the relationship between Christ and the church. The same spiritual symbolism exists within the relationship between parents and children. God exists as our heavenly Father, and we are His children. If there were members of the church in Colossae who were abusing their authority, or not properly yielding to authority in their family, this would be of major concern to Paul. This is why he makes clear, imperative statements, because it is “fitting in the Lord” and “pleases the Lord” that we model His love within our families.
For similar reasons, Paul also gives explicit instruction to “slaves,” who had every reason to be resistant to their masters. Paul, however, insists that they conduct themselves in sincere obedience to their masters, even if they are poorly treated, because in doing so they are “serving the Lord Christ.” Likewise, Paul implores masters to be just and fair in their treatment of their bondservants, “know(ing) that you too have a Master in heaven.” Again, earthly relationships have bigger meaning than just their impact on earth. Establishing healthy dynamics within relationships of authority in the church is critical to maintaining unity in the church as a whole.
- Do you view human authority as also being God’s authority in your life? When do you find this most challenging?
- How do you handle situations where you are the person in authority? Are you a servant leader? Do you lay down your life, the way Jesus your Master laid down His life for you?
- Do you tend to work more for the approval of men or for the approval of the Lord? How would it change your mindset (as a parent, child, spouse, boss, employee, etc.) if your sole aim was to please God in everything you did?
Think of someone (a parent, leader, coach, etc.) who has exercised authority over you in a humble and sacrificial manner. Contact that person this week to thank them for their wise and Godly leadership in your life. Take a few moments to pray for wisdom and grace for those people who currently hold positions of leadership in your life.