Colossians 3:18-4:1 – A Faithful Household

Read Colossians 3:18-4:1

two sets of folded hands as if praying

When we’re spending time with God, we’re generally focusing only on our own relationship with God. Here we’re given counsel on best practices for us in interacting with other relationships with have in our lives. Our households. The world would be a lot friendlier place if we took better care of our loved ones in these simple ways.

For fear of sounding a bit “old-fashioned,” I fondly remember the days when family dinner time was sacred time. Whether it was a fancy meal or just something quick, spending time with each other is what was important. We connected. We shared lives together. It was so much easier to be mutually submissive, loving, encouraging, etc.

Much of what Paul is saying makes up a faithful household is pretty simple stuff. Love and respect are two ways we should ultimately treat everyone in our lives. These verses have brought up lots of strife for some people who read them literally and miss the intended meaning.

I can say from experience with my first husband that his idea of “submitting” was not the Biblical one intended. I like how The Message paraphrase puts it. “Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.” Alternatively, what The Message says to the husband is also a bit different than other translations. “Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.” As a wife, that sure sounds appealing. Imagine if every wife felt that special being loved like that?

This passage in the Bible is helpful for us in many ways other than helping build strong relationships. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” While this was an attitude check for the slaves in our passage, it’s a good one for us, too. When we work with a different focus, imagining God as our boss, it changes the way we work. That was the idea for slaves, but it’s great for us, too. It makes doing menial, repetitive kinds of tasks (like folding clothes for me) have a lot more appeal.

Regarding the slave/master relationship Paul deals with here, remember this interaction was more common practice back then. I suppose it is helpful to have a picture of what being a slave might look like. In present day, my housekeeper calls me “Jefa” which is “Boss Lady”. These verses speak to me a lot differently they did back in the States when I did everything myself.

Fun fact: My Bible study notes indicate that when Paul talks of the slave/master relationship, it is very likely he is thinking of Philemon and Onesimus. Philemon was a slave owner in the Colossian church. (See book of Philemon.)

The bottom line seems to be that we are called to “get along.” Back to those two words: love and respect. Both go a long way. Take some time today to reflect on whether you are loving and respecting others like you should. That is, in a way that honors God.

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray … Lord, help me not to just read these words and agree but live them. Thank you for how you always give us just the right message at the right time. Continue to speak to my heart as I read your word and grow closer to you each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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