Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 January 13, 2019
This week, after somewhat lengthy hiatus, we return to our punctuated series through Colossians. Let us rehearse some key points from this letter. First, Jesus is enough. Nothing need be added to Him—in fact, nothing can be added to Him. For salvation, for eternal life, for eternal happiness with God, we need Jesus as Lord and Savior—and we need nothing else. Second, let us who are united with Christ—by grace, through faith, put off the old man with its deeds and desires and put on the new man. We continue to put off the old and to put on the new as we examine the relative duties enjoined on us here in today’s text. We have a fuller expression of this in Ephesians 5:22-6:4, but our text today instructs us adequately and to spare. Let us hear it—that God may have His glory and that we may have His intended benefit for us.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We have before us today various relative duties in the home. We come first to those duties in Christ which exists between wives and husbands. The Lord, through Paul, speaks to wives first, commanding each wife to submit to her husband. This act, be it ever so difficult, both acknowledges the husband’s divinely-ordained leadership in the home and defers to it (and to him) out of reverence for Christ. Such, Paul says through the Holy Spirit, is fitting in the Lord—that is, such is proper before God and, by implication, morally right.
There are difficulties for any wife to overcome concerning this, to be sure. There may be difficulty on his side. Simply stated, he appears to be a man unworthy of deference due to his bearing or conduct, considered both generally and toward his wife especially. Some of this we’ll look at when we come to the husband’s duties toward his wife. There also may be difficulty on her side; she simply may struggle to submit to her husband. This may be due to a highly controlling, yet God-given, personality—such as the choleric personality type described by Florence Littauer in her book Personality Plus. This also may be due to abuse: either in her girlhood or within her marriage. Let us be abundantly clear: No wife need submit herself to an abusive husband—whether the parties be Christian or not. Rather, may her husband hear and heed his duties—along with the rest of us.
Husbands are to love (Greek agapao [agapaw]) your wives. This is the love that we heard about last week from this pulpit. It is the high, sacrificial, other-centered love that the Lord has for Himself within the Trinity—and for us. Paul states an explicit way a husband can love his wife. He can avoid harshness with her—the Greek reads literally here make ye not bitter to them. An embittered wife is a painfully sad sight—yet how much she will flourish in her marriage and home if, in place of harshness, her husband substitute gentleness (Galatians 5:23)—a lovely thing coming forth from the fruit of God’s Spirit. Just as it was true here nearly three years ago, it continues true today: Men, the onus is on us.
With the relative duties between husbands and wives now listed and enjoined, we come, second, to the relative duties between children and parents. The Spirit, through Paul, speaks first to children. Children must obey parents in everything, but Scripture elsewhere (Acts 5:29, e. g.) conditions this command to obedience in everything lawful. Children must not obey parental directives conflicting the Word of God—and parents must not issue such directives. Yet in things enjoined by God’s Word—or even in matters indifferent—children are to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. It also pleases God. We aim to please Him in all things (2 Corinthians 5:9), and subjection to parents is early training for subjection to God. This is a good thing indeed.
Paul then turns to speak to fathers. Interestingly, he does include mothers explicitly, but by reasonable inference this instruction applies to her too. Provoke not your children, says the Lord through Paul’s pen. Cause them not to feel resentment toward you—either by your conduct generally or by your ill treatment of them particularly. If children are provoked unduly, Scripture says here that they become discouraged—or disheartened. A disheartened child, too, is a sad sight. He lacks motivation. He will be listless in striving to glorify God and enjoy Him, and he will be this way in walking rightly before parents. The likelihood of this sad occurrence can be reduced greatly if fathers—and, by extension, mothers—provoke not their children.
Billy Graham once said, in essence, “You can tell what kind of person a Christian is by what kind he is at home.” Many of us find ourselves nodding in agreement—for the home may be the truest litmus of our Christian mettle. Yet, once again, we have help from God via His Word on the matter—for we have, once again, the relative duties in the home enjoined upon us. May we, by the strong Spirit of God, put these into practice—and may we do these increasingly over time. May our homes show the blessed difference, and may God, in Christ, be glorified in this—as in all things
 Florence Littauer, Personality Plus (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1983).