Let’s draw some relationship advice from Colossians 3:18-25. Human relationships are some of the most difficult aspects of daily life we face. No matter who you are, you are connected to a vast web of people, such as parents, spouses, in-laws, children, employers, friends, and relatives that you interact with regularly. Moreover, no matter who you are, you are also marred by the effects of the fall, and these effects are inevitably revealed in your interactions with other people. This passage draws three key truths that you need to know, in order to build godly relationships with the people around you. I learned these truths through a wonderful sermon my pastor, Tim Grieves, preached at our church.
18 Wives, submit yourselves 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 curry 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 human masters,
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 their wrongs, 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.
Our Relationships Are To Be Under Christ’s Lordship
Firstly, see how many times Paul mentions the Lord (underlined above) or a synonym of the word in this passage. It is an astounding 7 times!
When we repent from our sins and believe on Jesus Christ, we become his disciples. This new identity affects every aspect of our lives, including the relationships we have with others. As disciples of Christ, he enters as a “third party” into our relationships and reigns as Lord above our relationships.
No longer can we carelessly treat others the way we think is best. Instead, we treat others in the way Christ commands us to, such as loving our neighbor, and the specific commands found in passages like the one above.
Our Relationships Are To Be Motivated By A Desire To Please God
Secondly, observe all the instances “as to the Lord”, or a similar phrase appears (highlighted in red).
Paul reveals in these phrases the primary drive that Christians have in all relationships is to honor the Lord. Honoring people is secondary. What’s more, any desire to honor people ought to flow from an overarching desire to honor God.
Some helpful questions to ask to test if our actions are pleasing to God are:
- Does the Bible prohibit this action or promote a better way?
- Will this action drive the other person to a closer relationship with Christ?
- Is my conscience clear or does it condemn me?
Ultimately we are accountable to God for our thoughts and actions. Therefore, we must relate to others with the fear of the Lord and serve others with the commendation of Christ in mind.
Our Relationships Are To Be Others-Focused
Lastly, notice all the commands given (highlighted in yellow).
The common thread is that they direct the attention of the one being addressed (wives, husbands, children, slaves, and masters) towards the other in the relationship. This is the practical application of embracing Christ as Lord and seeking his honor: others-focused relationships.
So often in relationships, we focus on others’ actions than our own. We conjure up lists of things the other person does not fulfill or satisfy in us. Then we resolve to treat them poorly because of their failure. However, the Lord is concerned about our own conduct towards others.
In all our relationships, we are called to display the love of Christ towards others through our obedience to the highlighted commands above.
What powerful relationship advice from Colossians 3:18-25! God gives us these truths so that we might navigate our human relationships with wisdom and knowledge. Learning and applying these truths in our lives will respect God’s natural order, bless others, and bring much joy from your relationships. Rejecting and dismissing these truths will lead to much rebellion, pain, and frustration.
In what relationships is the Lord calling you submit to His wisdom? Let us know below!