God's Plan For Families
Colossians 3:18 – 4:1
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. (NIV)
Do you struggle with passages like this? I struggle because I know how far short I fall or have fallen short of carrying out our Lord’s admonitions. Last week, I spoke of working as for the Lord. Whether we are talking about our relationships at home, at work, in the church or anywhere else, we need to live with one another as brothers and sisters, recognizing that what we do is either going to glorify God or bring dishonor to His name.
The command to love Him with all our being starts here. Why do we do the things we do? Are we living for ourselves, or for God? Employers must treat their employees with respect and give honest wages to them. Employers need to see those under their authority not as things to be used, but as people to be loved and respected.
Fathers must see their wives and children as God sees them. We must love them and give of ourselves to see them led to a relationship with God, Our Father.
Our society and even in our churches we have promoted the idea that we are the head of the home and we should expect our wives and children to treat us as Lord and Master, catering to our wants and obeying us no matter what.
We need to earn the respect we seek from our families. Leadership is not the same as dictatorship. In Ephesians, Paul goes into greater detail about how we love our families and lead them in the way God intends us to lead them. Look at Ephesians 5 with me.
First, Ephesians 5:1-2 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
This is for everyone. We are to become more and more like God in the way we treat other people. We are live a life of love. God’s love was demonstrated through Christ when He gave Himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God. This is to be our attitude in all our relationships. We are to love people by giving up our selves and living for others. Most of us spend our lives struggling to get others to love us. Most of what we do in life is for ourselves. God would have us live for Him and for other people.
Do our prayers reflect the attitude of the fallen nature, the flesh, or do they reflect the attitude of Christ? Do we spend more time and energy trying to get others to love us, or trying to figure out what we can do for others?
Jump down to the 22nd verse.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (NASU)
Paul quoted from Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (NASU)
The husband is to lead: to go before, to show the way. We are not the head of the house because God wants our family to live for us. We are the head of our homes because God expects us to show our families how to live for Him and for other people. The greatest commandment is not Obey God. The greatest commandment is to love God and the second is like it, to love people.
We are to lead in such a way that our families see our example in living sacrificial lives. This means we are to, as Jesus put it, deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. We are to die to self, die to what the old godless nature wants, and live for what the new nature, the god-centered nature wants. We want to be loved and respected. We will have love and respect from God if we accept it. It is a free gift. We do not need to earn it or deserve it. God gives it freely. This is how we are to love and respect one another, freely, without expecting anything in return.
Is this fair? No! It is not fair. Life is not fair. If life were fair, we would all be in Hell. Do you really want God to treat you fairly? I do not think so.
Expect grace from God, not fairness. Trust God to give you mercy, not justice.
Mercy and grace are what we as husbands are to demonstrate to our wives and children.
We cannot obey God out of fear of punishment. To do so is to love ourselves, not to love God. We can only obey God out of love for Him when we stop focusing on the punishment and begin to focus on the love, grace, and mercy of God.
God paid our debt of punishment when Christ died on the cross. We are called to obey Him out of love for Him.
God expects us to obey… for the right reason; out of love and respect for Him.
Fathers, we must demonstrate to our families this same kind of leadership; this same kind of love.
If your leadership in the home brings you to the place that you feel your wife and children are there to meet your needs, to cater to your every whim, you have misunderstood what God means when he calls you the head of your household.
We have but one Lord. As husbands and fathers, we are to lead our families to follow our Lord. His purpose becomes our purpose.
Did you love God and obey Him out of love when all you thought about was the punishment you deserved if you failed to obey Him? I don’t think so. That is the definition of the fallen nature. We disobeyed because we thought what we wanted was best for us. We believed that God was asking too much of us when He called us to obedience.
If you expect to be respected and obeyed by your family, will you demand obedience for the sake of obedience? Or will you, like God, demonstrate your love for your family, and prove to them that you love them by sacrificing what you want for the good of the family?
Wives, if you are in the position of being married to an unbeliever, or a believer who has not come to understand these things, trust God to help you submit to your husband and respect him. It will take the grace and presence of God in your life to do this. It will take a miracle, but God can help you to live according to His plan for you. You will need to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ daily if you are to successfully fulfill the role God has called you to. You will need to live as an example of the love and grace of God before your husband and for your children.
If you are a son or daughter of parents, and especially a father, who does not understand these things, trust God to help you honor your parents as you are called to honor them. It will take a miracle, the very presence of God in your life to do so. You will need to love God and obey Him because you love Him. You will need to deny yourself and live for God.
Our society does not lead us to live according to God’s plans. When we listen to the world and the old nature, we fall short of God’s plan for our lives. We must immerse ourselves in the Word and live in the Presence of God each day.
Whose plan are we following today?