• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 99 -Relationships In The Kingdom Of God

(Colossians 3:18-4:1 NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. {19} Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. {20} Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. {21} Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. {22} Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. {23} And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, {24} knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. {25} But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

The Kingdom of God is a place of respectful, loving and fair relationships. These relationships have a certain order that is intrinsic to them. When this order works well there is joy and peace. When this order goes wrong we sense it very deeply and call it either "disrespectful" or "abusive". Disrespectful relationships include rebellious and contentious wives, disobedient children and lazy, pilfering servants. Abusive relationships include harsh unloving husbands, domineering fathers and exploitative bosses. They are all covered in the above verses.

Behind all these relationships lies God. The Lord is impartial, the Master of the masters and the rewarder of the slaves. God is the one that demands that wives submit to their husbands and that children obey their parents and masters treat their slaves fairly. These sort of relationships are often not covered by civil laws, and civil laws can even undermine them - granting too much power to employers or funding the disobedience of rebellious children. Regardless of what laws may or may not be in place God has an order for human relationships and expects us to obey it.

Submission and obedience are rather politically incorrect terms these days. In the Greek submission means to "dwell under" and is more about being a good team player than a robot. Wives are to be good team players with their husbands, not pulling this way and that, being argumentative or always demanding their own way.Husbands in their turn are to forgive their wives, love their wives and be understanding and tender in their regard for them.

The workplace requires a similar team spirit and an eagerness to do the job well, not slackly, and not " as little as possible". So Paul writes: "Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God." Throughout the OT and especially in Proverbs diligence and wisdom is praised along with hard work. There is a Christian work ethic and it involves a sincere desire to excel. But the desire to please the boss must not be just for flattery or promotion but out of self-respect and fear of God.

The same fear of God should place limits on our obedience at work. Even if your boss wants you to take bribes or fiddle the books, you must not do so. Paul takes pains to emphasize that we serve not men, but God. He says that: We are to work "fearing God" (v.22), to the Lord (v23), for we serve the Lord Christ (v.24) and we also have a Master in heaven (v.25)

The above intrinsic order in Christian relationships sets the Christian community into a proper and appropriate harmony. Paul uses the term: "as is fitting in the Lord" (v.18). The word fir fitting ("aneko") means to be appropriate and proper. God delights when the Christian community functions properly in respectful love. The obedience of children to parents is "well pleasing to the Lord". (v.20) and obedient servants do not go unnoticed by God. In fact their obedience to earthly masters has heavenly results - it will lead them to receive the reward of the inheritance (v.24).

Finally Christian relationships are to be hearty and full. "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." (v.23). Yesterday we saw that we are to do all things thankfully giving glory to God (Colossians 3:17). Today we see we are to do them heartily and energetically as positive people living full, thankful and joyful lives. The Kingdom order is never bland or insipid. Tepid, lukewarm living is repulsive to God: (Revelation 3:16 NKJV) "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." The apathetic, Lazy-Boy, Coke and chips world of the spectator Christian is not a New Testament lifestyle. We need to live fully, heartily, thankfully and positively with enthusiastic energy in our work and in all our Kingdom relationships.


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