As we read the third chapter of Colossians, Paul reminds us of our position in Christ. We’ve been raised with Christ; that’s because we died with Him. So the sins of our old natures need to die, too. We need to put off the sins that we walked in before Jesus saved us. And we need to put on the new garments that Christ won for us on the cross. We are to be like Him — compassionate, humble, forgiving.
We’re to be like Him, even at home — the place where we feel most free to be ourselves — and in the work place. That’s where our study takes us today.
Assignment: Read Colossians 3:18-4:1. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and then, in your notes, divide a page into four columns. Starting at the left, label these columns “Person”, “Do”, “Don’t Do”, and “Why”. As you read this portion of Colossians 3, fill in the chart you have made. List the person being addressed, what he or she is told to do or not do, and why.
For instance, verse 18 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
In your chart, write:
- “Wives” in the Person column
- “Submit to own husband” in the Do column
- Nothing in the Don’t column (no negative commands are given)
- “As is fitting in the Lord” in the Why column
Continue to do this as you read the rest of Chapter 3 and the first verse of Chapter 4. Do your best to put each phrase somewhere in the chart, but don’t worry if it’s not always completely obvious which column is appropriate. This is just a tool to help you think and observe. You should be able to list six different general groups of people in the “Person” column, along with the corresponding commands given to them.
You should then be able to organize the six categories of people into three pairs. For example, husbands and wives are a pair. Each depends on the other. A woman is not a wife without a husband. A man is not a husband until he marries a wife. Draw a line that joins “husbands” and “wives” on your chart. (You might want to draw a line connecting their verses in your Bible, too.) Then draw lines to join the other two pairs.
Take some time to study your chart.
- What common factor exists in each relationship?
- Notice how both people in each relationship are instructed to behave. What sort of balance has God built into each relationship?
- What are those in authority encouraged to do or not do?
- What should motivate those who are under authority?
- What can you learn from this list? Most of the roles can be thought of in more general terms that apply to each of our lives.
For instance, mothers should also heed the command given to fathers. Employees and wives serving in the home can learn from Paul’s instructions to slaves. (Even though these people are not in slave-master relationships, they do have the responsibility of furthering the purposes and goals of those over them.)
Write down any of the following roles that you have:
- Daughter (and daughter-in-law, granddaughter, step-daughter, etc.)
- Worker (in the daily tasks you perform at home, plus any responsibilities and paid employment you may have outside the home)
- Overseer (managing your own household, overseeing children’s chores and schoolwork, any other authority roles you have)
Prayerfully review the commands in Colossians 3:18-4:1. What can you learn from these verses to will enable you to better obey God in each of these relationships? Write down specific things you can do.
Then go back and read the first 17 verses of Colossians 3. How do Paul’s words in these earlier verses relate to his instructions to the family and worker relationships later in the chapter? What can you learn from the beginning of the chapter that will equip and strengthen you to obey God in your roles as wife, mother, daughter, worker, and overseer? Add these insights to your notes.
What is one goal you can set to improve at least one of the relationships listed above? Write it down.
Pray over your notes. Ask God to help you obediently serve Him and others as you seek to apply what you have learned. Post notes around the house or share your commitments with someone else, if that will help you stay focused.