“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” – Colossians 3:18-21
Scripture reading: Colossians 3:18-21
What is striking for me about this passage are the messages embedded in the text’s grammatical structure. Notice first how the callings of husbands and fathers, unlike those of wives and children, are restrained by the prohibition, “do not.” Husbands, love your wives and “do not be harsh with them.” Similarly, fathers, “do not provoke your children.” Because Paul recognizes that the positions of power husbands and fathers occupy are easily misused, he is essentially saying to such parties: “you’re susceptible to abusing authority, so restrain yourself!”
Notice secondly that the callings of wives and children, unlike those of husbands and parents, are uniquely described with reference to the Lord. Wives must submit to their husbands, “as is fitting in the Lord.” Children must obey their parents in everything, “for this pleases the Lord.”
Unlike husbands and parents, wives and children are in vulnerable positions. They are required to submit and to obey, respectively. Not better than their wives and their children, husbands and parents are not worthy of the submission and obedience they should receive. Though submission and obedience are part of an order the Lord has designed, they are never deserved and should never be given absolutely.
You can’t talk about submission and obedience, Paul is saying, without reference to the Lord. You’re not ultimately serving your husbands or your parents; you’re serving the Lord. When you submit or obey, remember who the Lord is: not your husband, not your parents, but Jesus. Your eyes must always be on Him.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that husbands and fathers (parents) would be prevented from misusing power/authority and that they would enable wives and children to live to honour the Lord especially.
Dr. Bill DeJong is the lead pastor of Blessings Christian church in Hamilton, ON and adjunct professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University in Ancaster, ON. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.