“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” – Colossians 3:18-21
The Apostle Paul in our passage above addresses family relationships. These verses serve as a manual for family living and are repeated by the Apostle Paul as he also wrote to the early church at Ephesus (Ephesians 6:1-9). But what is interesting to note is that these words of instruction seem to fall into natural pairings. First, coupled together are words of instruction about the marriage union between a husband and wife (vs. 18-19). Our second pairing addresses the relationship between parents and children (Vs. 20-21). These words about family life should carry great significance in the life of each and every believer. These particular earthly relationships involve the Christian attribute of faithfulness; a faithfulness that should also be reflected in the believer’s relationship with the Lord.
First, let us consider what Paul says about the marital relationship between husband and wife. We are told that a wife should be submissive to her husband. Unfortunately, this verse has been misused and abused by many people. This most certainly does not suggest that a man is to arrogantly ‘lord’ things over his wife or that the wife should be a slave to the husband. Quite frankly, it is disturbing to hear some of the gross misinterpretations that have been birthed out reading this particular verse in isolation. Verse 18 must be seen in light of verse 19. God has called the man to be the spiritual leader of the home. This is a great responsibility that cannot be taken lightly; for he is God’s ordained spiritual leader for the home. This leadership involves a deep love for his wife, a love that emulates the love Christ has for His own bride, the church. A godly wife should have no reservations in submitting to a man who loves her with such a pure and passionate love.
Secondly, Paul addresses the parent child relationship (Vs. 20-21). In these particular verses, we see a reflection of how our relationship with the heavenly Father ought to be, and how we are to respond to Him through obedience as His child. God has placed children under the authority of their parents, and children are to obey their parents. This reminds us that we are to submit to our Heavenly Father. Yet these verses also remind us that parents are under the authority of God. Parents should not expect their children to submit to their parental authority if they are not actively submitting to the authority of God.
How do all of these family matters relate to the Christian virtue of faithfulness? For starters, Paul has already driven home the fact that we are to be faithful to the Lord in all things (Vs 17). Such faithfulness involves a submission to the authorities God has placed in our lives. If we are not faithful in our earthly relationships, how can we expect to faithfully serve God who is our heavenly Father? When we show a faithful respect for the authorities that God has placed in our life, whether it be a husbands authority (Vs 18; I Corinthians 11:3), or parental authority (Vs 20; Ephesians 6:2), we are faithfully honoring God.
God loves a godly home, and He actively desires for your home to be a home fully committed to Him (Joshua 24:15). Undoubtedly, such a home will be laced with a faithfulness expressed through family relationships.