COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 15
Colossians 3: 18 – 4: 1
Theme: Evangelical metamorphosis
It is always interesting to see the way most of the NT letters were put together. They are always structured in a certain manner.
It will never commence with instructions and injunctions. It always starts with the Good News of the grace of God in Christ – the redemption in Jesus and the Christian-believer’s inclusion with Jesus – yes the new life that the child of God has received as a free gift from God.
Then follows the injunctions and instructions that are based upon the assurance of the salvation. The result of the salvation-by-grace is that your practical life will start to look such-and-such …
If the sequence does not work like this, and instructions come first, one could easily imagine that there are certain things that a sinner should/can do in order to gain God’s favour or to remain in His good books. .
But no, Paul is clear: The salvation by Jesus’s death on the cross is by grace and without human merit. And, out of thankfulness for this salvation, comes a practical LIFE of obedience (as fruit of the Spirit).
In the first part of Colossians, the Apostle expounded GRACE. And now – based on that – he comes to practical matters. It is concerned particularly with what a Christian’s life looks like by comparison to that of the person who is not saved in the Lord Jesus. What does the already-saved’s marriage look like, the role of husband and wife respectively. What does the saved’s parent-child relationship look like? What does the relationship between slaves and masters (actually: employer-employee) look like? Because Christians’ marriages and family life and employer-employee relationships are DIFFERENT to that of unsaved people.
The essence of the difference is clear in this passage. And it is the following FOUR truths spelled out in verses 23-25:
TRUTH NO 1: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” >
The unsaved person’s entire life is primarily self- and man- and world-focussed. It is all about myself, about others and about the world. In contrast to that the saved person’s focus has in principle turned about and become Christ-focussed. The unsaved person’s heart is continuously asking: “What about ME and what about THEM”. The saved person’s heart asks: “What about HIM”? To the child of God it is in the first instance about the Lord and not about the world and their opinions.
TRUTH NO 2: “You will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” >
The Lord will reward all those who belong to Him. That is written throughout the Bible. The reward will be to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant!” To receive praise out of His own mouth while millions are watching. We are driven by this future hope. We have a future to live for. The Lord is faithful, He will keep His promise. There is a grace-reward waiting.
TRUTH NO 3: “It is the Lord Christ you are serving” >
The Christian-believer is someone who has a purpose and aim in life. A purposeful life – filled with meaning. Why? Because the true believer is in the service of the Lord of lords and the King of kings. His/her life is no longer a senseless life and concerned only with self and temporary earthly life which will come to a dead end the moment of death and will end in hell. The person in Christ has been redeemed from this type of senseless existence (1 Pet 1:8). You are eternally free from a senseless, depressing earthly existence. Just think how immensely great this truth is.
TRUTH NO 4: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favouritism “
Not repaid in the sense of eternal damnation. Paul is talking to and about Christian-believers who are redeemed from eternal destruction and judgment.
With “repaid for his wrong” the Apostle does not mean condemnation, but correction and discipline. The same as any father and mother would discipline their child when necessary.
Should a child of God can do wrong or live self-centred or fall into whatever condition of sin, and when there is no repentance and turning away from that sin and returning back to the Lord, the Lord will not just allow it to continue. He will apply discipline.
When we allow the light of these 4 basic truths to fall upon the relationships between marriage-partners and family-members and employers-employees, then it has the following effect:
1 HUSBAND-AND-WIFE within marriage: The one sets the other ABOVE him-/herself! That means that the husband sets his wife’s interests ABOVE his own and that the wife follows the husband’s captaincy in the marriage. Marriage is like a team of players where the players are all on the same level, but one is the captain and takes the lead. The Lord determined that the husband must do it in the marriage/family. And the wife must honour that. But it is not an effort or a burden for her, because her husband puts her interests first!
2 CHILDREN-AND-PARENTS-WITHIN-THE-FAMILY: Father and mother set their children ABOVE themselves and the children set their parents ABOVE themselves. That has the result that the children obey their parents and the parents do not oppress or belittle their kids or cause them to become embittered and discouraged.
3 EMPLOYERS-EMPLOYEES: Keep in mind that the slaves of that time had various professions. Yes, they did have owners who looked after them, but many of them were teachers, overseers, clerks, etc. The problem was that some owners treated their slaves very badly. But still it was an employer/employee relationship.
But now look how the Holy Spirit is working: The Christian-employees who are treated unjust, must not become rebellious, but they must do their work conscientiously and obey their owners/employers and work with sincerity of heart and in reverence for the Lord, and not for the praise of men.
And the Christian owners know and realize that they themselves belong to a Divine Owner who treats them fairly and just and consequently they will treat their slaves in the same way. They will behave towards their slaves in the same way their Heavenly Father behave towards them.
Can you see how totally DIFFERENT matters become when a person’s heart is transformed by the almighty Holy Spirit of God? To be a Christian is a supernatural business. To be a Christian is a very practical matter. It is impossible to be a Christian and your practical life remains unchanged.
Translated by Marthie Wilson