¡°SPIRITUAL IN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Colossians 3:18-4:1 September 21, 2014
1) The root of all conflicts: The major problem facing human society is the inability of people to get along with each other. From sibling rivalry among children born from the same parents, to the breakup of marriages, to crimes against each other in community and wars against enemy tribes all the way to international confrontations between major powers, the problem is the same. The root of all these inter-personal or international conflicts can be summed up in one word: Amorality¡ªpeople who don't have absolute moral standard and they do all they see fit. (Judges 17:2) All the social problems we have are rooted from man wants to live his life apart from God. Men without moral standard or protection of moral behavior see all others as potential threats to their pursuit of security and happiness. In order to protect his own security and the pursuit of happiness, man has to take actions against all others because he believes if I don't do something to protect myself no one else will.
2) The solution to all conflicts: When a man becomes a Christian, the word of God contains an absolute moral standard that is rooted in the nature of God. Christian faith is not just a relationship between man and his God but also about between man and his neighbors. When Jesus was asked of the greatest of all laws in the Old Testament, his reply encompasses both a relationship with God and relationship with other men. Christian faith is more than just personal, it is also relational. The life of a new man is a life that lives among others, both believers and non-believers. The new man is also to have an impact on the society in which he lives. Th teaching that Christians are to have relationship in the society isn't unique to Paul. Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-14, ¡°You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? You are the light of the world. A city set on the hill cannot be hidden.¡± It takes a new life in a man to be the salt and the light to the world to show them there is hope for a better relationship.
THE ROLE OF WIFE IN MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP: (3:18)
1) Submission in relationship: ¡°Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it is fitting to the Lord.¡± (3:18) This is an abbreviation of Paul's teaching in Eph 5:22-24, ¡°Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. As the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.¡±
In spite of its straightforward clarity, Paul's simple statement has been widely challenged in our day, even by some claiming to be evangelicals. They argue that Paul's teaching on this theme is not Spirit-inspired, but from his chauvinistic, rabbinic attitude toward women. Such people seek to usurp the role of God and decide for themselves which parts of the Bible are inspired and which part is not. Some argue that Paul's teaching on authority and submission was cultural, and does not apply to our society today. But these critics won't argue about 3:19, if it is only cultural, that men are no longer required to love their wives. All the attacks on this simple principle on relationship between wives and husband had brought devastation wounds to the marriage. When a woman submits to the loving leadership of her husband and follows God's intention for her, she is fulfilled and so is her husband. Attempts to confuse or reverse the duties of wife and husband would destroy the blessings each is to be to the other.
2) Submission in marriage: The principle of submission in the marriage rela-tionship is found throughout the New Testament. Paul write in 1 Cor 11:3, ¡°Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman.¡± Paul also writes in Titus 2:5 to instruct women to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husband.
¡°Be subject to¡±, hupotasso, means ¡°to put the self under voluntarily¡± as in the case Jesus subjected himself to his parents. (Luke 2:51) When Paul asked ¡°wives to submit to their own husbands¡±, it is clear it is in a marriage context. In this case, submission is never meant to be inferior because there is no difference between male and female in the eyes of God. (Galatians3:28)
Submission of the wife to her husband is fitting in the Lord. The form of the Greek word expressed an obligation, a necessary duty, just as Christians are to subject to their Lord, wives are to subject to their husbands. God has this in mind for marriage to be harmonious when wives subject themselves to their husbands as Christians subject to the Lord for harmony in the church.
THE ROLE OF HUSBAND IN MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP: (3:19)
1) Love in marriage: ¡°Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.¡± (3:19) In Eph 5:25, Paul wrote, ¡°Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church.¡± Obviously, the church is not so lovable, Christ has continually loved her with grace and forgiving mercy. Paul made two commands to husbands. First, they must love their wives. Paul used the highest level of, agapate, unconditional love, and the present tense indicates an ongoing, non-stop love, throughout the marriage. Nothing the wives may do can change their love for their wives. This is about long term commitment and the determination of a life-long marriage relationship. The phrase ¡°do not be embittered against them¡± indicates that husbands are not to take back or change their commitment to love their wives regardless of any irritants wives may splash on their face. It is that kind of love God expects from husbands.
2) Love in self-giving: ¡°Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her¡± is the last part of Eph 5:25. This is about the self giving of Jesus Christ for the church. God wants to see husbands love their wives to the point they will give their all, even their lives, for their wives. Most of the problems in marriage relations has to do with ¡°self seeking.¡± We all want our needs be met by the other side, but the Bible encourages us to see, instead, what we can give to meet the needs of the other side, even to give our lives. It is about self-giving, not self-seeking, that we may experience the best marriage relationship.
THE ROLE OF CHILDREN IN FAMILY RELATIONSHIP: (3:20)
1) Children are to obey their parents: ¡°Children, be obedient to your parents in all things.¡± The parallel text is in Eph 6:1. Obey, hupa-kouete, to put self in an under position. So, this is more than just the action of listen and do what you are told, but an inner attitude in the heart, willing to be humble in a lower position oppose to the parents on a higher position. That children are to honor and obey their parents is taught repeatedly in the Bible. It appears first in the Ten Commandments: ¡°Honor your father and mother that your days may be prolonged in the land.¡± (Exodus 20:12) The Bible also spells out punishments of children who do not obey and honor their parents. (Ex 21:15-17, Lev 20:9, Mt 15:4-5)
To obey parents in ¡°all thing¡± means children have no right to choose if they want to obey some of the teachings of their parents but not others. This is a sign of trust and respect children need to have in their parents. There is only one way children may disobey their parents if teachings of parents are in direct contradiction with the teaching of God in the Bible.
2) Children's obedience pleases God: ¡°For this is well-pleasing to the Lord.¡± (3:20b) This is about the motive of honoring and obeying parent: we want to please God by doing what He wants us to do. When Jesus was baptized, the Heavenly Father was ¡°well-pleased¡± with his own Son. (Matt 3:17) If you are looking for ways to please God and receive blessings in your life, start your practice of obedience to your parents at home.
THE ROLE OF PARENTS IN FAMILY RELATIONSHIP: (3:21)
1) Things parents shouldn't do: ¡°Fathers, do not exasperate your children that they may lose heart.¡± (3:21) This verse intersects with Paul's teaching in Eph 6:4, ¡°Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.¡± The duty in family relationship isn't one-sided. Parents also have obligations to their children. Let's replace ¡°fathers¡± with ¡°parents¡± to include all mothers.
Exasperate, erethizo, means to stir up, to provoke or to irritate or to nag all the time. ¡°To lose heart¡± may be better translated as to lose courage or spirit. This is about things parents should not do to hurt the normal growing of their children. The influence of parents in the life of their children has been summed up in a perspective by Dorothy Law Nolte entitled ¡°Children Learn What They Live¡±:
If a child live with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to find love in the world.
Be careful not to do anythings that may undermine the healthy growth of your children, particularly in their personality and emotional health.
2) Things parents should do: ¡°Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.¡± (Eph. 6:4) Paul encourages parents to do something good for their children through discipline and instruction. Many parents fail miserably in these two areas: There is NO discipline nor instruction in parenting in too many homes. Many children grow up wild because parents neglect or afraid to exercise their duties of discipline in their everyday life. Many parents don't have anything to teach (instruct) their children. Most parents care so much on providing physical or material needs of their children, but never or seldom instruct them how to live and grow, and discipline them when they fail to do right.
Paul gives parents the best resource material in the discipline and instruct-ion of their children: The Lord, the Bible, God's Word. Christian parents are to learn and be grounded in the word of the Lord, so they will have the best guidelines, principles to grow their children. This is different from the secular knowledge of your education. Those are good for learning skills for making a living. But the instruction of the Lord in the Bible is about their character, their moral value, their goals and purpose of life and their usefulness in the kingdom of God. If you want to be good and effective parents, learn the instruction of the Lord yourself first so you can be effective to instruct and discipline your children.
ROLE OF THE SUBORDINATE IN SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP: (3:22-25)
1) Be obedient to your superior: ¡°Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.¡± (3:22) Although we don't have slaves or master in today's society, we do have those who have authority and power over those who are under their supervision in many levels of our society. The Bible never instigates subordinates to stage revolt against their superiors but to do their duties faithfully as they should. ¡°In all things¡± is an important advice: Be faithful in discharging your duties both you like or agree and those you don't like nor agree to. As long as it isn't against moral principles of the Bible, we are to be honest, faithful and diligent workers in any place to fulfill our duties as we are serving the Lord. Clashes between the employers and employees are often triggered by selfish intent on both sides. Since job and work take the most part of our life in time and energy, it is so important we need to know what the Bible says we should do to create and maintain smooth relationship both at work-place and the society at large.
2) Be faithful to your Lord: ¡°Whatever you do, do it heartily as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is Lord Christ whom you serve.¡± (3:23-24) Paul presents to us two biblical perspectives on our attitude toward work and superiors. The first is: Whatever we are assigned to work, we believe the Lord is in the placing of work in our life. Therefore, we are to be faithful as we serving the Lord, not men. How can we be unfaithful when we serve the Lord? Secondly we will be rewarded for the faithful discharging of our duties at work. God is ultimately in charge of our work and reward. How wonderful it is to realize that even in our daily work, God is there to take control for our good.
ROLE OF THE SUPERIOR IN SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP: (4:1)
1) Be just and fair to your subordinates: ¡°Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness.¡± (4:1) Historically, most masters, superiors and employers have not been just and fair to their employees. Those in high position often use their employees as tools for their selfish benefits. This practice has led to many revolts, labor movement and even revolutions all around the world. Christian employers and superiors are to be fair and just to their employees in wages, work condition, job security and respect. Whatever economic system it may be, workers are to be treated with honor and dignity in wages and protection. The Bible has so much to say about fair treatment of workers and their rights in the eyes of God.
2) Be aware the Lord is watching: ¡°Knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.¡± (4:1b) Masters, superiors or employers need to know: you too have a Master in heaven watching how you do with your duties in treating your slaves, workers. Before this heavenly Master, we are all equal in his eyes. So, those who are in authority need to be faithful in doing their duties as master and employers because God is watching and he will deal with those who are not faithful in His trust. Those who are in position of power and authority need to know that your position and power are also a trust of God and you need to do it faithfully according to the principles of God in the Bible.
APPLICATIONS OF TRUTH:
1) The key to real spirituality: ¡°A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.¡± (John 13:34-35) The key to demonstrate our true spiritual quality is to love one another in the marriage, at home, at work and in all other circles of life. Should there be any sign of lacking love in our relationship, there is a defect in our pursuit of the kind of spiritual life God wants us to have. True spiritual life isn't about how much you know or talk, it is about how much you act in love to others.
2) Take responsibility for spiritual life: ¡°Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly (carnal), merely infant in Christ.¡± (1 Cor. 3:1) Paul wrote to the church where he was their pastor. These people didn't grow their spiritual life since or after he left that church. Who is responsible for their being infant in Christ since they had Paul as their pastor? Spiritual life is for each Christian to pursue, to grow, to seek and to achieve. We may seek help from others, but it is OUR own responsibility for our own spiritual life. Putting the blame of our poor spiritual condition on others is never biblical.