God has given mankind three institutions for his protection and the preservation of society- the family, government and the church. Jesus instituted His church (the people called out of the world and into His Kingdom of love and light). The first century family in the Roman empire was highly patriarchal. Wives were generally voiceless and seen as chattel (property). Children were largely devalued or perceived through a utilitarian lens. Slaves were common place- both purchased and voluntarily indentured. What a mess! Paul writes to the Colossians about how life connected to Jesus changes everything, starting in the family. In one fell swoop, Jesus crushes the hierarchy. In doing so, he commands that wives (make a voluntary choice) to submit to their husbands. You may groan about that today (btw, the command is repeated in his letter to the Ephesians). But, as opposed to what? As opposed to the status quo- of being considered chattel, at risk of instant divorce and destitute of remedy, in a word “powerless”. In other words,- Paul says- wives trade in your miserable powerless position in response to your newfound life in Christ- see through your husband to Christ and submit yourself to your husband… and see what goodness flows from it. You see every relationship in the first century household could find harmony in Christ because now all were equal kneeling upon the level ground at the foot of the cross. Even slaves were now brothers. Today, if you talk about wives submitting to husbands, women will feel like the scriptural mandate is a step backwards from what they’ve achieved in their supposedly equal (or even superior) position, but instead its call to take a step toward harmony in the family motivated by reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 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. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 3:22-4:1 NIV
In what ways am I fulfilling what God calls me to be and do as a husband, father, son, brother, employer, and employee? Where am I giving just ‘eye service’ as opposed to working for the Lord?
God, as this day begins- I am so grateful for my lovely wife and the home we have been part of. May our children have the same harmony we have enjoyed over the years. I look ahead today to the many opportunities to love others in Your name. Give me please wisdom, energy, insight, productivity, and favor. I endeavor to do well, but I need Your touch. Thank you for my children and grandchildren.