WEEK FOUR, DAY FOUR, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK FOUR THEME: SERVICE
DAY FOUR THEME: GIFTS FOR SERVICE
SCRIPTURE: COLOSSIANS 3:17-4:6 (CEB)
“Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, submit to your husbands in a way that is appropriate in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don’t be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because this pleases the Lord. Parents, don’t provoke your children in a way that ends up discouraging them. Slaves, obey your masters on earth in everything. Don’t just obey like people when they are watching, instead obey with the single motivation of fearing the Lord.
Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ. But evildoers will receive their reward for their evil actions. There is no discrimination.
Masters, be just and fair to your slaves, knowing that you yourselves have a master in heaven. Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us also. Pray that God would open a door for the word so we can preach the secret plan of Christ – which is why I’m in chains. Pray that I might be able to make it as clear as I ought to when I preach.
Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: This is certainly a passage you don’t want to just pull one piece from and use it as, “THE WORD OF GOD”. Wives have laughed often about this “submission” part. Without reading further, it feels like a very onesided text, written in a very male dominant world. But when you go on and read how husbands are to love their wives, then that speaks to a reciprocal, mutual love, a love from God’s order. When God created Eve, he took a rib from Adam’s side not for him to lord over her or she him, but they would work through life together side by side. Every wife is on board with that!
This whole segment speaks to the point that every person, regardless of their “place” in life (male, female, master, slave, child, parent) – every person is to be first treated with dignity and respect as a child of our God – therefore as our brothers and sisters. We simply cannot claim God as our Father and treat any other person as anything less than our sibling, ourself. They may still be on their way to learning about God’s unconditional love for them, and as a child of God, we are to be the vessels to assist in developing that most percious relationships – no matter their’s or our place in life.
In order to keep order, we must keep in check with our Father. Obvious sins of the past have shown up when one takes oneself and their “place” to seriously. Satan is always looking for a place to interrupt God’s order, and when we see ourselves in a position of being “larger than, bigger than, elevated”, then our egos may take over and we will feel free to move onward by our own rules rather than God’s rules to do harm. This has shown up all throughout history with those who lose touch with their Heavenly Father and start running things their own way. Pretty soon they are abusing those who they deem “less than” themselves humiliating them and destroying them. Such abuse leads to a downward spiral of great harm and it will not let go.
When “masters” – bosses, famous people, rich people, privileged people – see themselves first as God’s child put in a place of great influence for the Kingdom’s sake, then their egos are in submission, and they realize that their influences can make a world of differences and they treat all fairly and resource them to do well. This upward spiral brings healing and peace and gives dignity to each and every walk of life. Even those with a harder road to walk see themselves as “working unto the Lord”, not edifying their “masters”. This is the Kingdom of God – a place of reciprocal respect and love without any hierachal mania.
In this scripture, Paul – a follower of Christ and a missionary to the world – is in chains and imprisoned for having preached Christ. Yet he longs for more and more opportunities to do that very thing again and again and with more and more purity and clarity for those who are seeking to know the Father. The underscore here, the common denominator, the main thing is to keep on lifting Christ up to the world of people who are in every place and station of life and in need of their Savior both in word and in witness – our example of how we are to treat each other each and every day.
The Kingdom of Heaven is obvious where love abounds and hierarchy dissolves. We are all gifted in differing and varying ways to serve our call of Christ. But never are we “above” or “below” another in our walk. Our failures will certainly look different, because we are different people, but each failure or sin looks the same to God because He never changes. He doesn’t want to hold on to sin or examine it or rate it, he wants to free us each from it in individual and personal ways.
God does all the work. He calls us and empowers us through His Holy Spirit that He freely and abundantly equips us to do those things that He wants us to do. He even sent Jesus to show us, physically, exactly how to do all that He calls us to do. There is not one gray spot when it comes to our serving our Lord. You go with it. You lean into the call of Christ no matter how unfamiliar or unusual it may seem.
As we look Godward in all our relationships, fears deflate and the power of love and understanding enlarges and the Kingdom of God is strengthened. To simply “be” God’s child – in whatever bodily form He has given us in whatever societial place He has placed us – through His power, we are able to bloom and grow and pollinate for the Kingdom’s sake.
Praise God who never leaves us nor forsakes, but goes ahead of us and behind us all the way!