The Christian’s Relationships

Title: Lord, even over the household.

Text: Colossians 3.18-4.1

CPT: Colossians, when you confess Jesus as Lord, that confession must be manifested in and through the relationships with the people closest to you as you are serving the Lord in your marriage, with your children, and in the relationships you share with your master and servants.

CPS: As those who confess belief in Jesus as Lord, that Lordship extends over every aspect of our lives, including the relationships with the people who are closest to us: in ours marriage, with our children, and in the relationships we have with those with whom we work and serve.

Introduction: Let me begin by openly talking about Dysfunctional Families – I shared my story last week, not to summon sympathy, but just to share my experience. I find two areas at work in my life: The Word of God and my experience. When I was younger, I would find these two appeared to clash. As I get older, I find the Word of God validates my experience.

Let me ‘splain… What I preach and proclaim from God’s Word isn’t about how I feel or what I think. As I open God’s Word and share, it comes from faith that what God says is true – even if I don’t understand. And, I find experientially, this has played itself out in my life.

Many of you could feel what I spoke about last week, because it is your story, too. And, as you’ve watched these same scenarios work themselves out in your lives, the lives of your parents, the lives of your children, the lives of your friends and their families, you concur.

I wish there were more stories like the girl I spoke about who was adopted in her family and I mean truly adopted. Not just on paper, but experientially. Not just by the courts but into the family.

What we’ll look at today is the perfect home – the perfect family. I know ‘that’ family doesn’t exist in real life. I believe there are some families who come close. I know there are some families who try real hard. But, the fact is that we’re all sinners and when sinners get involved, well, things just don’t go perfectly.


Next, let me offer a caveat here, as well? Now listen carefully, because what I have to tell you relates to how you receive this message. I’m going to make a statement that you know to be true and I worry you’ll just gloss over it. Oh, yeah, I know that. You have no control over other people. Let that sink in, because I’m sure most all of you said, “Yeah, I know.” I’m not sure you really do. I say that because the responses I see in people is just the opposite – you want to control other people and their decisions. I’m going to say it again: You have no control over other people. I can only control me. Say it with me: I can only control me. And that’s a hard enough task as it is!

When we look at this text, we see that Paul doesn’t say to anyone here – here is what you make other people do. Can I re-read this with the take some folks get here? Bear with me…

18 Wives, make your husbands love you, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, force your wives submit to you, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Fathers, make your children obey you in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Try not to provoke them in the process, lest they become discouraged. 22 Masters, make your Bondservants obey you in everything…

You get the idea. Right now, as we begin, do me a favor, do yourself a favor. Don’t think of anyone one else – focus in on you and your role as it applies in your life. Maybe you’re younger, you’re not yet married or don’t have children. Think and apply these to your life as you prepare for those things. Pray and ask God to lead you as you surrender and submit to His Will for your life.

Let me give you a focal point: take your pencil, pen, highlighter and note the following phrases. This actually begins in 3.17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24; 4.1

Jesus is Lord of the House…

We see this in three different relationships within the home:

  1. The Marital Relationship of Man and Woman
  2. The Parental Relationship of Parents and Children
  3. The Working Relationship of Slaves and Masters

A word about these relationships. 1) I find it interesting that one man might be in all three groups. Indeed, that might even be Paul’s thinking here. That man can be husband, father, and master. He has great responsibilities in relations to his wife, his children, his slave. 2) Each of the others, the wife, the child, the slave, are subservient, they are submissive not just to their husband, parents, master, but their actual service and submission is to the Lord Jesus.

This is hard, I know, but note what God is doing in each relationship.

t.s.: This last section will need some work because today, we no longer have slaves and masters. We’ll talk about that when we get there. 1st, what is God doing in the marital relationship?

I. The Marital Relationship (18f)

exp.: rd 3.18f; Wives and husbands; lit.: men, women; typically there is a pronoun with these words, showing possession. You belong to each other. And, you serve each other.

ill.: The marriage relationship is foundational to our society and as God has designed, it is a picture of the Gospel. Have you heard me say this before? Let me demonstrate with a graph, an image of The Trinity.

exp.: turn with me to Ephesians 5.21; the parallel letter to this one; read through 5.33; The Church is a Picture of the Gospel.

app.: Married Couple – you are a picture of the Gospel to the rest of the world.

t.s.: next, we have the parents…

II. The Parental Relationship (20f)

exp.: rd 3.20f; The trinitarian function is the same in this relationship; That further reflects the church; The Roles of the Elder and Deacons; why there is dysfunction in the church; Example is Saddleback, who ordained 3 women to the pastoral ministry this past week; Society forces its way into the church and wields its power over her – just as the society forces itself into the family and wields its power of it. Then you have dysfunction. And, you no longer present a picture of the Gospel.

ill.: I want to take a moment to address something, I didn’t handle right last week. I mentioned something about Mother’s Day, but I didn’t do anything special. I don’t want to say I never will, because I’m sure I probably will; however, I don’t use the calendar to plan my preaching schedule. I use the Bible and I preach through books. With that being said, after Mother’s Day, I came across a movement by a certain party in our political system to remove the term ‘Mother,’ and instead use the term “birthing person”.

Ben Shapiro sent out a tweet to show how ridiculous this has all become. He tweeted: “Happy Birthing Persons’ Day to all the egg-producing homo sapiens of unspecified gender who made the decision to bring to term a meaningless cluster of cells!”

Had I known about this, I would have said something and expressed my gratitude toward Moms. Whereas, you’re probably going to see “Happy Birthing Persons Day” instead of Happy Mother’s Day, we will recognize Mothers on Mother’s Day!

app.: Moms, you are loved and appreciated. Thank you for your sacrifices to make us who we are. Can I say a word on this to Husbands, Dads, Wives and Mom? Your relationship with each other is a picture of the Gospel, but so is your relationship to your children. Let me demonstrate once again with an image. Your relationships mirror the church and her relationships.

t.s.: Finally, a word about this last grouping…

III. The Working Relationship (3.22-4.1)

exp.: read 3.22-4.1; Two points:

  1. This is in no way an affirmation of slavery by Paul, or by the Word of God. When one reads the book of Philemon, it becomes apparent that Paul isn’t for slavery at all. But it didn’t matter how he felt because… and this is my 2nd point:
  2. Christianity was birthed into a world where slavery was the law of the land. Historians estimate that there were some 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire at the time of this letter. This was a situation that existed and the Church had to deal with it.

Slavery was one of the ways the economy functioned. A person had the right to sell themselves into slavery for a period of time. Think of military service. A person could become a slave for a period of time – usually a pretty long time – and money would be then given to the family. I know not all of the slaves were this way, but there were a good many who were.

So, don’t think that Paul is approving of or condoning slavery. His relationship with Philemon and Onesimus (4.9) confirm his distaste for slavery. But, it was the law of the land and many new Christians needed to know how to deal with that situation.

Slavery is no longer the law of the land. In a situation where slavery does exist, it is abhorrent and wicked. That is a topic that should be addressed, but I’m not prepared to deal with it this morning. For time’s sake, let’s focus in on how we might apply this to our situation today.


app.: for sure, we can do our work without just giving eye-service or being people pleasers, but instead to perform our tasks with sincerity. We would do well to perform our work as to the Lord. In all of our work, we should work heartily, because it is indeed the Lord we’re serving. And, your life, your response, your actions with your employer and employees will communicate the Gospel to those who are watching.

Conclusion: But the context of the text is household relationships. These relationships have a purpose and a function.

I’m guessing most of us don’t even think one bit about how our family life communicates the Gospel to a lost and dying world. We probably don’t consider how our marriages and our families give credibility to the Gospel story.

For sure, we miss out on how much damage is done when the home doesn’t communicate the gospel.

The following is from Dr. James Dobson, Hide or Seek

He began his life with all the classic handicaps and disadvantages. His mother was a powerfully built, dominating woman who found it difficult to love anyone. She had been married three times, and her second husband divorced her because she beat him up regularly. The father of the child was with her third husband; he died of a heart attack a few months before the child’s birth. As a consequence the mother had to work long hours from his earliest childhood.

She gave him no affection, no love, no discipline, and no training during those early years. She even forbade him to call her at work. Other children had little to do with him, so he was alone most of the time. He was absolutely rejected from his earliest childhood. When he was thirteen years old a school psychologist commented that he probably didn’t even know the meaning of the word love. During adolescence, the girls would have nothing to do with him and he fought with the boys.

Despite a high IQ, he failed academically, and finally dropped out during his third year of high school. He thought he might find acceptance in the Marine Corps; they reportedly built men, and he wanted to be one. But his problems went with him. The other Marines laughed at him and ridiculed him. He fought back, resisted authority, and was court-martialed and thrown out of the Marines with an undesirable discharge. So there he was—a young man in his early twenties, absolutely friendless. He was small and scrawny in stature. He had an adolescent squeak in his voice. He was balding. He had no talent, no skill, no sense of worthiness.

Once again he thought he could run from his problems, so he went to live in a foreign country. But he was rejected there also. While there he married a girl who had been an illegitimate child and brought her back to America with him. Soon she began to develop the same contempt for him that everyone else displayed. She bore him two children, but he never enjoyed the status and respect a father should have. His marriage continued to crumble. His wife demanded more and more things that he could not provide. Instead of being his ally against the bitter world, as he hoped, she became his most vicious opponent. She could outfight him, and she learned to bully him. On one occasion she locked him in the bathroom as punishment. Finally she forced him to leave.

He tried to make it on his own, but he was terribly lonely. After days of solitude, he went home and literally begged her to take him back. He surrendered all pride. Despite his meager salary, he brought her $78 as a gift, asking her to take it and spend it any way she wished. But she belittled his feeble attempts to supply the family’s needs. She ridiculed his failure. At one point he fell on his knees and wept bitterly as the darkness of his private nightmare enveloped him.

Finally, in silence he pleaded no more. No one wanted him. No one had ever wanted him.

The next day he was a strangely different man. He arose, went to the garage, and took down a rifle he had hidden there. He carried it with him to his newly acquired job at a book storage building. And from a window on the third floor of that building, shortly after noon, November 22, 1963, he sent two shells crashing into the head of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the rejected, unlovable failure, killed the man who, more than any other man on earth, embodied all the success, beauty, wealth, and family affection which he lacked. In firing that rifle, he utilized the one skill he had learned in his entire, miserable lifetime. [James Dobson, Hide or Seek (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1974), pp. 9, 11. As told by R. Kent Hughes]

This is why we, as Christians, have been called into relationships – to demonstrate and communicate the Gospel with our lives. It validates what we say when we preach that Christ is the Messiah of the World!


  1. You cannot control others. Stop trying!
  2. You can only control yourself – so what are you going to do with this information? How will you respond to this?
  3. When you ‘control’ you, and apply the teachings and principles of God’s Word to your life, then you are living out the Gospel before others.
  4. Finally, It’s not too late for you and me! No matter what has happened in the past, God is gracious in forgiveness and compassionate in your circumstance. What a great opportunity for all of us to surrender every area of our lives to Him. Is there any area you haven’t surrendered? Is there something new you need to learn about? Give that to Him. Do you need to extend forgiveness to someone – a parent, a spouse, a child? Do you need forgiveness – from a parent, a spouse, a child?

I said last week, we are never more like Christ then when we forgive. I’d say that also goes well with the humility we display when we humble ourselves and seek forgiveness where we have failed. Humility – so Christ like. Those actions are the gospel on display before others.

Let’s pray…


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Filed under Christian Living, Colossians, Ephesians, Family, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

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