The Gospel and Relationships
In our families (18–21)
Gospel transformation is holistic and affects every aspect of a Christian’s life and family. Paul speaks of the proper family order under the Lord, which was groundbreaking in a day when neither wives nor children had many rights. Paul argues that neither wife nor husband is to be arrogant or overbearing. Instead, wives are to “submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” while “husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
Note “submission” is not that of an obedient child or doormat. Women and men are equal before the Lord (Gal. 3:28). Instead, God’s word teaches an order He designed so the Christian home would bring glory to His name. Wives, then, voluntarily taking a position of submission to their husbands, is a matter of the wife’s relationship to the Lord, not to her husband. In other words, a Christian wife must turn over to Christ her temptation to rule her husband’s life.
Likewise, husbands must love their wives. A gospel-centered husband seeks to serve, love and think of what is best for his wife. A Christian home, then, is built upon two Christ-followers united in love and working to please each other within the context of mutual love and respect.
In addressing children as members of the church, Paul reflects on a groundbreaking aspect of the gospel. Ultimately, Christian children obey their parents because it is pleasing to the Lord (v. 20). Paul radically commands fathers not to “embitter your children.” The word for fathers can refer to both parents, but may point to the father’s responsibility in the raising of children. A Christian home is to build up, not tear down.
In our work (3:22–4:1)
These verses are best understood to mean that the gospel impacts relationships in the workplace. First, the Colossians are told to “obey earthly masters in everything” even when no one is watching. The Christian employee should be the most dedicated, loyal and hardest working. Even if your job seems trivial, you are ultimately working for the Lord, therefore your job is an act of worship. Your ultimate motivation is a reward no one can take away, “an inheritance from the Lord.” God also is watching how the employer treats those who work for him or her. Likewise, God is observing our attitudes and work ethic.
In our interactions (2–6)
The gospel also transforms interactions within the Body of Christ. Christians have a responsibility to be “devoted to prayer” (v. 2), with a spirit of “watchfulness.” The Colossians were to be mentally alert, knowing circumstances within and outside the church. Paul adds “with thanksgiving” since thankfulness is the environment for expectant praying, seeing beyond obstacles to the power of God.
Paul emphasizes intercessory prayer, which he says God uses to open new doors for the gospel. It also is vital that the truth be communicated with clarity — intercessory prayer plays a role in the gospel being presented understandably.
Paul then turns his thoughts to “acting wisely toward outsiders.” To “hear” the gospel, they need to “see” the gospel lived out by a positive witness. Paul therefore urges Christians to seize each moment to win the unsaved to the Lord. Christians are to make their witness interesting, and work to know the rudiments of the faith so “you may know how you should answer each person.”
Ultimately, the power of the gospel transforms the Christian and impacts every aspect of his or her life. Has the gospel changed you?