God’s Idea Of Marriage And The Family: Part 6 – The Role of Parents – Transitioning Teens

Grace For The Journey

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2Sept  Over the last couple of blogs in our study of Colossians 3, we have been concentrating on what Paul says about the family and the role that each member within it has before God.

Every member needs to fulfill their role

If the family is going to be successful

At its God ordained purpose of glorifying Him

And raising up the next generation to be responsible adults.

It is much easier for Christians to fulfill these roles when they are living as those who have been raised up with Christ.  Putting aside the previous, sinful ways of life and developing the characteristics of being a new creation in Jesus Christ allow a person to live in godliness and fulfill their purpose in life.  Non-Christians and those still walking in immaturity of the faith will find it difficult at best to do what God requires of them within the family.

Wives are to be “be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).  A wife is to follow the lead of her husband as a suitable helpmeet who shows him respects and thereby enables him to be successful in life. Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

Husbands have the responsibility to “love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:19).  This is the love that sacrifices itself for the best interest of the other.  A husband that will do that and not be selfish will enable his wife to fulfill her role. A husband has the additional roles of leading, providing and protecting the family, and God will hold Him accountable for what he does.

Children are to “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).  Paul adds in Ephesians 6:2-3 that this is from the 5th commandment in Exodus 20 and is the first command with a promise that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.  Children who are in rebellion against their parents are also in rebellion against God and will reap the consequences of their sin.  Obedience is foundational for learning all other skills.

We have already spent three blogs on the role of parents pointing out general principles as well as specific commands.  I will probably repeat several of those in this blog, but I want to specifically deal with the last part of active parenting in this sermon.

It is helpful to see parenting as a three-fold process . . .

1) When your children were very young, your goal was to train them to obey.

If that is done correctly, most children should be obedient the first time and right away by the time they are 5 or 6 years old.  This is the easiest part of parenting.

2) The second period of parenting is characterized by training their hearts to follow God.

This is the pre-adolescent stage.  You are establishing in them moral reasoning by which they will be able to discern for themselves what is right before God and follow Him.  If that is done correctly, a child of 12 or 13 should be primarily motivated by their own walk with God.  Their obedience will have turned into submission because of their desire to please God rather than fear you.

3) The last part of parenting is helping youths become responsible adults.

It is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood, from dependence upon you as the parent to independence as adults who can stand on their own and establish their own family.  In many ways this can be the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable and satisfying period of parenting.

Modern conventional wisdom in America expects teen rebellion.  Teen rebellion is a phenomenon of modern western society that has developed as it has abandoned the Biblical guidelines of parenting and even the common sense of ancient parenting practices.

For the rest of this blog I want to point you to this Biblical way so that you can make the most of the teen years and establish your youths as responsible, young adults.

Youth Culture

If you want to understand what the Bible says about teenagers, you will have to look for the word, “youth.”  There are several Hebrew words and one Greek word that are translated that way, and they cover quite a range of ages.  Context will give you the clues to how old a youth might be.  For example, Genesis 37:2 specifically states Joseph is 17 years old and calls him a “youth” (naar) when he was pasturing his father’s flocks.  He is still called a “youth” (naar) several years later when Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembers him as one who could interpret dreams.  King Josiah was a “youth” (naar) of 16 years when he began to seek God (1 Chronicles 34:1-3).  However, the same word (naar) is used for Samuel when he was only a few years old (1 Samuel 1:22).  At the other extreme, the same word is used in reference to young adults that are married (Proverbs 5:18), though it must be remembered that in that culture people generally married at a much younger age, often in their teens.

But this brings up the next point about youth in the Bible compared to youth culture in the United State.  In our society there are some extreme assumptions that have become too common that are contrary to what the Scriptures state.

The first is that teens are wise enough to make their own decisions without parental involvement.  This extreme lets teens do what they want with little to no accountability.  It will vary with each parent, but the mindset is that because they are 14, 16, 18 years old, they can do what they want.

The Weakness of Youth.

In the case of children who have been trained well in godliness, they may be able to handle such independence and do well even from an early age, but several scriptures point out that there is a weakness in youth that they must be very careful about.  One of the purposes of the book of Proverbs is to “give prudence to the naive, and to the youth knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:4).  Even a very intelligent youth lacks the years of experience needed to have the needed knowledge and discretion.  That is a why a wise youth will seek out counsel from those who are older and have wisdom.  That begins with the parents (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1) and extends to others for, the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to counsel (Proverbs 1:5).

The tragedy is that there is a strong tendency, especially in American youth culture, to follow the foolishness of Rehoboam who rejected the counsel of his older and wiser counselors in favor of the counsel of his peers who told him what he wanted to hear (1 Kings 12:6-11).

No teen has gained enough knowledge to make all their own decisions without the counsel of those who are older and wiser.  It is interesting to note that Luke 2:52 records that even Jesus, after he was 12, “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Parents need to be very involved with your teens as they continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom.  They are in need of your counsel and guidance.

Another indicator of the weakness of youth are the many passages that refer to the “sins of my youth” showing the indiscretion that can easily mark that period of life because the character of the person is still developing to overcome both temptations and trying to please other people.  Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1), yet he also remembered the iniquities of his youth (Job 13:26).  David cried out to the Lord in Psalm 25:7 that He would not “remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions.”  Timothy had already proven himself as a man of God, but Paul still warned him to “flee from youthful lusts” (1 Timothy 6:11; 21 Timothy 2:22).

The tragedy in our own culture is that so many in the entertainment and advertising fields are evil and specifically target teens to entice them toward sin.  The very adults that should be helping to protect them are instead exploiting them.  For some, it is simply a way to make a quick profit.  Others are more sinister and want to entrap them in a sinful life-style that will allow them to continue to be more easily exploited.  Parents, are you protecting your teens from such influences and teaching them how to deal with them including the guilt that comes after falling to them?

Another weakness of youth is lack of proper confidence.  Jeremiah freely acknowledge his fear of the Lord’s commission because he was a youth (Jeremiah 1:6).  Paul had to encourage Timothy because he was timid because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:12; cf 1 Corinthians 16:10).  Both young men were called to serve the Lord, but it would take time to walk with the Lord enough to overcome the natural fear of the unknown.  Youth needs to be encouraged and put in situations in which they learn to trust the Lord.

The Strength of Youth.

There is also the opposite extreme in which parents refuse to let their children grow up. There is a high and thick wall of protection that is built which prevents them from making decisions for themselves and learning to trust the Lord.  They continue in perpetual childhood because they do not learn to take on adult responsibilities.

Consider some of the things that Scriptures record that were accomplished by various “youths.” As already pointed out, Joseph was only 17 or so when he was sold into slavery in Egypt.  Yet, his character was such that his master developed trust in him so that he quickly rose to the position of being in charge of all that was Potiphar’s household.  After being wrongly accused and thrown in jail, he still had the character to rise up to the point that the chief jailer put him in charge of all the other prisoners.  He would have been in his early 20’s when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and became second in command of all of Egypt (Genesis 39-41).

David had kept his father’s sheep as a youth and his encounters with lions and bears prepared him to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  More important than his ability was David’s confidence that came from the trust he had in the Lord that had developed over that time.  He was outraged that the army of Israel was letting “this uncircumcised Philistine” taunt them.  He told King Saul, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  David told Goliath, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts,” and that “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you”  David’s confidence was in the Lord, and that trust marked the rest of his life.  We should want our sons and daughters to learn such a deep trust of the Lord

Daniel and his three friends were all youths when they were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C.  All of them stepped out in faith to do what they knew was right before God and leave the results in His hands.  God honored them and they became important officials in Nebuchadnezzar’s administration (Daniel 1, 2).  This prepared them for remaining firm for the severe trials that came upon them later because of their faith.  They did not waver and God honored them for it (Daniel 3, 6).

While parents of youths do need to be protective in many respects as already noted, they also have to teach their teens how to stand firm for God despite the dangers they may face.  If we want them to grow up to be like these great heroes of the faith, we will need to help them walk with God grounded in their own faith in Him.  It is your responsibility to challenge and enable them to take on increasing responsibilities by which they will learn to walk in trust of God.  Youth are capable of doing a lot more difficult things than most adults think possible.  They are no longer children and they need your help to become adults.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy, and one that occurs much too often even among professing Christians, is when both of these extremes meet.  The youth is given freedom to make choices as he or she desires, but then they are protected from the negative consequences that result from those decisions.  This teaches them to be irresponsible and selfish.  This can be something as simple as letting them waste their time to the neglect of their chores, then doing their chores for them when they run out of time.  This occurs when they don’t do their homework and get a low grade in a class, but you excuse it and blame the teacher instead.  This becomes very serious when they break the law and get arrested, but you bail them out and hire a lawyer to get them off the hook.

Giving freedom without responsibility is a sure way to destroy them and make them burdens on society instead of blessings.  Proverbs warns that parents that will not discipline their children hate them (Proverbs 13:24; 19:19).  How much worse is it when the parent also intervenes to diminish God’s chastening of them, and I have seen parents do just that.  Negative consequence is the teacher of the naive, the proud, and the sinful.  Don’t remove the lessons of this teacher of last resorts.  All of us have learned some lessons by this teacher, and they are usually learned very well indeed.

The Importance of Purpose

What is the reason for such poor parenting and the tragic results at the expense of our youth?

Primarily it comes back down to purpose and philosophy.

Those who do not understand their own purpose in life

Cannot help their children find theirs.

Those who refuse to follow Biblical principles

In their own life will not be able to help their children do so.

Those who think themselves to be wiser than God will prove their foolishness at their children’s expense.  Those who will not overcome their innate selfishness to love their children and seek their good, will ensure their children’s suffering.

As I have mentioned before, you cannot ensure that your children will become genuine Christians, for that is a matter for the Holy Spirit.  However, you can ensure that they will know all about God, His character, what He has done and His commandments (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) and have been trained to keep those commandments.  You can also ensure you are an example of how to live a godly life.  These figure directly into your purpose and goals in this stage of parenting.

Since the goal is to produce a wise adult, then you need to be one yourself.  Again, your example will teach your children much more than your words.  In fact, if you give wise words that you will not follow yourself, your teens will consider you to be a hypocrite and generally will not listen to you.  This does not mean that you have to have lived a perfect life.  Do not fall into that trap.  I have run into parents who didn’t think they could correct their teen about things even as bad as drug use or premarital sex because they had done that when they were young.  If anything . . .

The regrets you have for your past sins

Should be the strongest warning possible.

Don’t excuse the behavior or your teens saying you did the same thing at their age, instead, rebuke and warn them because of it.  While it may be true that you overcame those things and eventually did well, do not assume the same will be true for your children.  First, they may succumb to even worse sins instead of overcoming them.  Second, do not presume on God withholding His judgment on them, for His patience and longsuffering varies from person to person.  That was part of Jesus’ warning in Luke 13:4 about those killed by Tower of Siloam – that all need to repent immediately for they are in likewise danger of perishing.  In addition, I hope you love your children enough to want them to do better than you, so warn them about the things that have been detrimental in your own life.

Also be careful of falling into the trap of thinking you have to have it all together to either correct or give wisdom to teens.  That mindset would lead you to either become a hypocrite or neglect their training.

All you need to do is live

An honest and humble life.

Some of the best examples you will give them will be in your own pursuit of overcoming sin and walking in holiness.  Those are lessons they want to learn in their own lives. You will also find that as they get older, they will become helpful to you in your own walk with the Lord.  Wisdom and encouragement can flow in both directions.

Since the goal is to raise a wise adult, then your parenting practices must reflect the continued pursuit of that goal.  I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping the focus on your purpose.  In raising your children, you will have to decide whether it will be according to the wisdom of this world or according to the wisdom of God.  If your goal for your children is worldly success – material wealth, fame, power and pleasure – then you will raise them accordingly and reject what the Word of God teaches; for its definition of success is the opposite – contentment, being humble, meekness, and servant-hood.

The goal of worldly wisdom is

Man’s glory and fulfilling human desire.

The goal of godly wisdom is

God’s glory and fulfilling His will.

A pastor friend made this very insightful comment concerning this, “I think for most non-Christians and many Christians, the goal they have for their children is to make sure they can ‘fit in’ or be able to comfortably live in today’s society – be good citizens, know how to handle situations, work with everyone, do well (and be recognized by the world for it) and just ‘be nice.’”  These parents care about making sure their kids can live as “stress-free” in the culture today as possible.  That would be considered their blessing and their teaching.  Of course, that necessitates compromise of godly values, character and wisdom.  This kind of thinking is most unfortunate and unhealthy.

My friend’s insight is tragically true and so makes even stronger the emphasis on keeping the proper purpose of parenting in mind.   Will you raise them to be wise by God’s standards or the world’s?  Raising godly kids takes a lot of effort and it is not for the faint of heart in an increasingly ungodly society.  You will have conflicts with your children since they come into this world as sinners.  You will have very challenging conversations with your teens as they come to grips with what they really believe and what you have taught them is being challenged by every worldly influence that is brought to bear upon them – school, peers, entertainment, government, employers, etc. You will also find yourself in conflict with other professing Christians who are not at the same place in their walk with the Lord – this will be good when it is done by those who challenge you to think more deeply about your walk with the Lord, and it will be frustrating when it is by those who are in reality just trying to defend their own immaturity and continued bent toward sin.

This brings it back once again to this point . . . What is your purpose?  What is your goal?  What do you want your children to be like when they are grown?  It is the responsibility of the parents to train their children to become wise, responsible adults who can stand on their own convictions even when the world turns against them.

I recently read the book, Lady Jane Grey, Nine Day Queen of England by Faith Cook. She is a good role model for youth.  By the time she was 16, she had already developed such a deep understanding and strong walk with God that she was able to stand firm on her convictions though it meant her death.  If she would convert to Roman Catholicism, her life would be spared.  Instead, in a debate forced upon her by the Queen Mary’s personal chaplain, Dr. Feckenham, a leading Roman Catholic apologist, she not only held her own, but caused him to confess that despite all his learning, it would have been more appropriate if he had been the disciple and Jane the teacher that day.  She died the next day under the headsman’s axe bearing witness that she would die as a true Christian woman who looked “to be saved by no other means, but only the mercy of God, in the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ.”

O that such would be the faith

And strong conviction of all our children

That by the time they reach their mid-teens

They would stand firm against all

The pressures the world can bring upon them.

We need to be raising our children in such a way that they will be those who will influence others instead of the world influencing them.

Becoming Responsible

How then do you transition them from childhood to become such wise and responsible adults?  Prayer, hard work, patience, and diligence in living and teaching God’s Word.

  • Prayer, because ultimately their lives are in God’s hands.
  • A persistent surrendered walk because it takes that to fulfill the responsibilities God has entrusted to you.
  • Patience, because kids never learn as fast as you would like.
  • Diligence because there is always another lesson to teach and an earlier lesson to repeat.

These are also character qualities you want to instill into your children.

There is no magical age when you are done with all of your parenting responsibilities. They learn over time as your child becomes a youth and then becomes a young adult. As they take on more responsibilities, they become more independent of you eventually setting up their own household, and even then, there will still be things to teach them as their most trusted counselors.  The age and rate at which children mature will vary by family and by individual child.

You be the responsible parent who trains your children to become mature and responsible adults themselves.

Proverbs 8:32, “Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways.”

Proverbs 23:24, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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God’s Idea Of Marriage, Part 5: The Role of Parents In Raising Children – Proverbs on Parenting

Grace For The Journey

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2Sept  This morning I want to continue on the subject of parenting.  The importance of this issue is obvious to those who are busy rearing their children, but is also important for everyone else too.  Why?  Primarily because . . .

If we can understand what the Lord

Wants us to teach our children,

We will also understand what

The Lord wants in our own lives.

And to remind us that everyone

Has some affect upon children.

That may be through either direct involvement

Or the indirect involvement of your example.

How you live does have an affect upon other people,

And children are the ones who are most easily influenced by that.

Over the past two blogs I have sought to lay out some foundational principles concerning parenting.  Two days ago I stressed parental responsibility.  We live in a society that tries to shift responsibility for the care and the outcome of raising children. However, God’s commands concerning bringing up children are given to the parents, not the government, school district, counselors, doctors, or church workers.  Other people can help, but the responsibility belongs to the parents to direct their care and to make sure the Lord’s commands concerning them are carried out.  While Ezekiel 18:20 makes it clear that parents cannot be responsible for the sins of their children, nor the children for the sins of the parents, it also makes it clear that each is responsible for their own sins.  The child will be affected by the sins of the parents, but each bears the responsibility of their own sins.  The solution for the guilt that comes with sin and failure is repentance, confession, and forgiveness, not shifting the blame.

Godly people will diligently strive to carry out the Lord’s commandments while being humble to seek godly counsel and freely admitting failures and seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.  They are also careful of their example knowing that it will influence others and especially children.  Since God requires children to obey their parents, godly parents will teach their children to obey the first time, right away and without complaint or agruing lest they teach their children to sin in behavior or attitude.

Yesterday, we examined some additional general principles of parenting arising out of Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4. There are both prohibitions and prescriptions for parents.  Parents are to avoid provoking their children to anger or exasperating them and causing them to lose heart.  There are quite a few things parents need to be careful about or they will affect their children in those ways.  These would include such practices as physical or verbal abuse, being inconsistent, selfishness, favoritism, excessive expectations, discouragement, and using affection to manipulate.

On the positive side, parents are to be careful to bring up their children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord.  As described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, parents are to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul and might and then diligently teach their children the ways of the Lord by talking about Him and His commands in all the various situations of life – when you sit in your house, walk by the way, lie down and rise up.  Parents are to set into the minds of their children how to walk with God and other people.  Wise parents will use the Scriptures extensively to accomplish this because according to 2 Timothy 2:7 the Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Use the Word of God to teach your children the path of life, to reprove them when they get off that path, to correct them back to the path and instruct them on how to stay on the path.

That is what I want to concentrate on this morning . . .

Using the Word of God to help

Your children walk the path of life.

Before I get to those specific Bible passages, let me quickly remind you of the two primary goals in parenting . . .

As much as I would like to say that it is to raise Christian sons and daughters, the reality is that you cannot save your children.  That must be the work of the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin, righteousness, and judgment so that they may personally repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  However . . .

You can and are to lay the foundation

For this work of the Holy Spirit,

And you will do so if you follow

God’s commands concerning them.

As we have already seen from Deuteronomy 6, it is your first goal is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might and to diligently teach your children the commandments of the Lord by talking about them in all the various situations of life. When you “sit in your house and when you walk by the way” encompass the daily activities of life.  What are you doing when you “sit in your house” – having a meal, reading, playing a game, being entertained?  When you “walk by the way” encompasses all the activities when you are away from home since you have to travel to them.  When you “lie down” refers to this being the last thing you are doing before you fall asleep.  When you “rise up” refers to this being done from when you first get up in the morning.  In all your activities and in all your waking hours you are to be looking for, creating, and taking advantage of opportunities to teach your children about God and what He desires and requires in all the subjects that come up in the course of life.

So then . . .

While the first and foremost desire of Christian parents

Is that their children will also become genuine Christians,

Your actual primary goal can only be to teach them

All about God, what He is like, what He has done

And what He commands while modeling this

Supreme love for God in your own life.

That goal can only be accomplished by being diligent to teach them throughout the course of daily life. Then by praying fervently that the Lord will draw your children to Himself and save them.

The next great goal of parenting should be true for all parents, Christian and non-Christian alike, and it is complimentary to the primary goal of Christian parents.  That is that your children will grow up to be wise adults.  This is the purpose of the book of Proverbs and why we will spend the rest of our time there this morning.

Proverbs 1:2-6 states its purpose, “To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.

Wisdom, Its Origins & Attainment

The first questions that arise are what is wisdom, its origin, and how can it be attained? The answer to those two later questions results in very different understandings of what is wise.

The Hebrew word for “wisdom” (chokmah) has a root meaning “of skill” and refers to the ability to skillfully apply knowledge.”  The Greek word for “wisdom” (sofiva / sophia) is similar in meaning.  A wise craftsman such as a carpenter knows all about his craft and can skillful apply that knowledge to create and build something useful and of high quality.

A man who is wise about life

Skillfully applies his knowledge

Of it to make choices that

Will result in fulfilling the

Purpose and meaning of life.

It is the differences in what is thought about the purpose and meaning in life that separate godly wisdom from worldly wisdom.  This point is crucial to understand in parenting, for it takes you back to your goal in parenting.  Too many Christian parents have raised or are raising foolish children because they are following the wisdom of the world to fulfill the wrong goal.

Paul brings out the contrast between the worldly wise and the godly wise in 1 Corinthians 1. The Corinthians, being Greeks, were of course enamored with Greek philosophy which by its very human nature is contrary to God’s revelation.  Paul had run into this much earlier on his second missionary journey when he was asked to speak to the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens.  They listened until he brought up the major emphasis of the gospel that God had raised Jesus from the dead.  At that point most of them began to sneer at Paul and only a few followed Paul to find out more and came to believe.  For the most part the Corinthian people responded in a similar manner considering the word of the cross to be foolishness, but to those being saved it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24).  Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:14 in verse 19 that God would destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever.  Paul then begins to contrast worldly wisdom and godly wisdom in verses 20-31, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

In raising your children,

You will have to decide

Whether it will be according

To the wisdom of this world

Or

According to the wisdom of God.

If your goal for your children is worldly success – material wealth, fame, power and pleasure – then you will raise them accordingly and reject what the Word of God teaches for its definition of success is the opposite – contentment, being humble, meekness and servant-hood.

The goal of worldly wisdom

Is man’s glory and

Fulfilling human desire.

The goal of godly wisdom

Is God’s glory

And fulfilling His will.

With that in mind, what is the origin of wisdom?  The answer is giving in Proverbs … Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  And Proverbs 15:33 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor [comes] humility.”

It all begins with a proper and healthy fear of the Lord.  Your children must learn about God, His character, His works, His authority, as well as His commandments.  They need to know that God created them and will hold them accountable to keep His commandments, and it is this fear of the Lord (a reverence and respect toward that leads us to respond to Him as we should) that will keep them away from evil (Proverbs 16:6) and in fact cause them to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).  The fear of the Lord also prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27) and gives a strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26).

How then can wisdom be attained?  Proverbs 2:1-8 answers that question, “My son, if you will receive my sayings, And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord, And discover the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth [come] knowledge and understanding.  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; [He is] a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.”

You must seek wisdom like you would silver, but it is the Lord that gives it.  And though you are to search for wisdom as for hidden treasure, that only describes the strength of desire you are to have to gain wisdom for wisdom is not hidden.  Proverbs 1:20; 8:1, and 9:3 all personify wisdom and portray her as shouting in the streets and calling out to the naive to turn aside and learn from her.  Wisdom is available and attainable to all that will hear and heed, but few are those that will.  Most men think they can get by just fine or even better by their own intelligence.  They refuse wisdom’s call, neglect her counsel, and reject her reproof because they do not choose the fear of the Lord and so hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:24-30).  Parents . . .

Be diligent to

Teach your children

The fear of the Lord

And

To seek after the wisdom

That comes from Him.

If they grow up to walk in foolishness, you can be sure it is because they have rejected wisdom and not because teaching it to them was neglected.

It is important that we consider three traits of immaturity that children need to trained to overcome . . .

Childishness, Foolishness, and Correction.

Since we all come into this world as sinners (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12), the major task of parenting is dealing with the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child while directing them toward wisdom.  Keep in mind that foolishness and childishness are very different from each other.

Childishness is inability due to ignorance and lack of physical ability.  A toddler spills his cup because it is difficult for him to hold it.  A child strikes out because it takes practice to develop hand – eye coordination to hit the ball.  A young child that reaches for a hot pan is curious and does not yet know it is dangerous.  A math student gets the problem wrong the first time because he does not understand the concepts yet. Childishness is overcome by teaching them knowledge and helping them gain the necessary physical strength and coordination.  It is never appropriate to punish for childishness.  You continue to teach and warn as well as encourage and help them gain the knowledge, strength and skills needed.

Foolishness is the rebellion that is in the heart that prods him/her to do things his own way regardless of instructions and warnings received.  A toddler that is told to stop playing with his cup, but then continues to do so and spills it is foolish.  A child that strikes out because he refuses to hold the bat as instructed by the coach is foolish.  A child that is warned about the danger of a hot pan and still tries to grab it is foolish.  A student that fails the math test because they refused to do the homework that would have enabled them to master the needed concepts is foolish.  The consequences for foolishness will include correction and some form of punishment.

Correction.  For young children, the foolishness is generally going to be exhibited by outward actions.  The major task is to bring their behavior into obedience to the parents or other authorities.  This is largely done through verbal correction and physical chastisement.  Proverbs has a lot to say on this issue starting with Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”  I am well aware that many psychologists reject such physical discipline, but that is precisely the point at which you have to decide if you will follow God’s wisdom or worldly wisdom.  Proverbs 13:24 states, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”  Proverbs 19:18 adds, “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.”  To withhold the proper discipline is to hate your child for it leaves him on the path that leads to death.  Proverbs 20:20 states, “He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.”  Proverbs 20:17 declares, “The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.”

I want to remind you that you are never to discipline your children in anger for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19).  Calm down and make sure of your reasons for chastening and that you do it properly.  The discipline also needs to be related to and appropriate to the offense considering factors such as the child’s age, general behavior, frequency of the offense, and the particular circumstances.  It is appropriate to slap their hand if it is a hand offense – common among very young children.  It progresses to a slap on the thigh and then chastisement on the buttocks with an appropriate instrument – something firm, but flexible and not something rigid like a wooden spoon or paddle.  Why?  Simply because the goal is to cause a sting painful enough to deter the behavior without physically damaging the child. If you are causing bruising, your hitting too hard or with the wrong thing; but at the same time, if there is not enough pain from the sting, it will not deter the foolishness.

It is important to take heed to Proverbs 229:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”  It takes both verbal and physical correction to bring about wisdom because . . .

The long-term goal is to train the heart,

Not just gain outward obedience.

Behavior is the easy part. The heart must be trained in wisdom through moral instruction as part of daily life in teaching them about God and His commands, and it is further trained when the moral reason is reemphasized when giving correction. As the child gets older and outward behavior is gained, physical chastisement is replaced with more talking and other types of correction depending on the particular type of foolishness, its frequency and the child’s general character. This could range from just a warning, to a gentle swat as a reminder, to isolation so they can think about their actions, to loss of privileges related to the offense. If there were natural consequences to their foolishness such as a broken toy, skinned knee or loss of a friend, there is no other correction needed except explaining the correlation between their foolishness and the consequences experienced.

If you want wise children that will bring you and others joy and not foolish children that will cause you grief and shame, then you must train them in God’s ways. Though we just talked about the correction of their foolishness, the major work in training your children is to be through positive instruction, reinforcement and warnings and not negative correction after they have sinned. If a child is trained properly, they will generally have their behavior under control by around 5 or 6 years old, and by the time they are 12 or 13 they should be controlled internally by their own heart for the Lord and keeping His commandments. Such children can become friends and peers by their late teens or early twenties.

You will want to teach them the breadth of Scriptures about God and His commands, but Proverbs is a great place to find pithy statements about the moral lessons you want to instill into their hearts. These will be in both positive statements about what they are to do as well as warnings about what to avoid.

Let me go over a few of them as a framework on which you can build.

There is nothing more important than

Teaching your children about God.

We have already seen that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but Proverbs also says much about a lot of other things concerning the Lord.

We are to trust the Lord.  

Proverbs 3:5-8, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.”

Proverbs29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”

Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.”

The Lord is in control.

Proverbs 26:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 21:2, “The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

The Lord cares for the righteous.

Proverbs 10:3, “The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will thrust [aside] the craving of the wicked.”

Proverbs 10:29-30, “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity.  The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land.”

Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

The Lord knows your heart.

Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.”

Proverbs 17:3, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests hearts.”

Proverbs 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”

The Lord’s desire for you.

Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice.”

There are things the Lord especially hates.

Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness [who] utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”

Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”

The discipline of the Lord is a good thing.

Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord , Or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.”

Family

Proverbs address issues of the family – marriage, husband, wife, parenting, and children.

Encourage your daughters to be wise like the woman described in Proverbs 31:1–31 and your sons to find such a woman for a wife.

Proverbs 31:10 “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. . .”

Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.”  And girls, find a man of integrity.

Proverbs 20:7, “A righteous man who walks in his integrity – How blessed are his sons after him.”

But warn them about being foolish or finding one.

Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

Proverbs 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames [him] is as rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 21:19, “It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and vexing woman.” That includes foolish men.

Proverbs 12:15a, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”

Proverbs 14:17, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.”

Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of man subverts his way, And his heart rages against the Lord.”

Proverbs 29:11a, “A fool always loses his temper.”

Proverbs 21:20, “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up.”

There is blessing when parents and children are wise, but tragedy when either is foolish.

Proverbs 10:1, “A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”

Proverbs 13:1, “A wise son [accepts his] father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”

Proverbs 17:25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.”

Friends & Neighbors

Use Proverbs to explain some of the characteristics of true friends.

Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” It also warns,

Proverbs 27:14, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him.”

Proverbs 28:5, “A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.”

Proverbs gives a lot of counsel on relationships with neighbors.

Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Proverbs 25:17, “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Lest he become weary of you and hate you.”

Proverbs 26:18-19, “Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, ‘Was I not joking?’”

The Tongue

James 4:2 tells us that a man that can keep from stumbling in what he says is a perfect man. Proverbs tells us a lot on the use of our tongue. Here are a few of its statements to teach your children.

Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

Proverbs 18:10, “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”

Proverbs 10:31-32, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.  The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked, what is perverted.

Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wie makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.”

Proverbs 20:19, “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.”

Proverbs 17:4, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Wouldn’t all of us be better off if we were all careful to heed this wisdom?

Wealth & Work

Our society places a premium on wealth, but Proverbs gives a better perspective on the source of wealth and what is important in life.

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Proverbs 10:22, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.”

Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”

Proverbs 15:16, “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure and turmoil with it.”

There is also much warning about it too.

Proverbs 23:4-5, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration [of it.] When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For [wealth] certainly makes itself wings, Like an eagle that flies [toward] the heavens.”

Proverbs 28:22, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him.”

Proverbs 13:11, “Wealth [obtained] by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases [it.]”

Proverbs 24:33-34, “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” then your poverty will come [as] a robber, And your want like an armed man.”

There is of course much, much more in Proverbs concerning these issues and many more topics.  It is a good book to teach your children that they might have wisdom in many areas, and a good book to continually review yourself for the same reason.

The bottom line of godly parenting is teaching your children about God, His ways and works, and His commands.  As they learn to see the world from the Lord’s perspective, they will be able to discern what to do in any situation that comes upon them.  Teach them to obey and have proper respect for the Lord, for you as your parents, and for other authorities in the lives.  In addition, teach them to have respect for others because people are precious to the Lord.  He created them and Jesus died to redeem them, and so we are to also treat them as being precious and that includes treating their property with respect too.  Finally, teach them to treat nature with respect too.  God has given man dominion over the earth, but He created it all and will hold man responsible for the stewardship entrusted to him.

It all does boil down to the two great commandments – to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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God’s Idea Of Marriage, Part 4: The Role of Parents In Raising Children

Grace For The Journey

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2Sept  Today’s blog will be the fourth in this section of Colossians 3:18-4:1.  This passage deals with family relationships and arises as the direct application of all that Paul has talked about in Colossians 3:1-17.  These verses are Paul’s commands to the immediate family, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.  Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.”

Your ability to fulfill your role

Is directly related to how well

You are walking with the Lord

As one who has been

“Raised up with Christ”

(verse 1).

While it is possible for a non-Christian wife to willingly submit to and respect her husband, that is difficult.  While it is possible for a non-Christian husband to sacrificially love his wife, that is difficult and it is impossible for him to actually love her as Christ loves the church.  It is required that all children obey their parents; but for wife, husband, and children it is a lot easier to fulfill these roles when they have the Holy Spirit within them to direct and empower.

As you set aside the habits and attitudes

That characterized your life prior to salvation

And put on the habits and attitudes

That belong to the new creature

You have become in Christ,

Then it is no longer difficult to fulfill these roles.

The same is true for parents which is the subject we will address this morning.

The Colossian Command.

Paul’s command here is interesting from the standpoint that it is only from the negative, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  Parenting would be a lot easier, if all we had to do was avoid this one danger zone, but Paul and the rest of the Scriptures have a lot more to say both positive and negative about the responsibilities of parents. The parallel passage in Ephesians 6:4 includes this negative “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,” but it also adds the positive, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  Paul’s command here is only an additional specific instruction to parents that compliments all the other commands he has given to believers in verses 1-17.

Godly parenting requires that

You put off the evil and put on good

In both your own practice and

In what you require of your children.

Your own example has to match the instructions you give your children, or they will see the hypocrisy and reject your teaching.  In fact, your example will have a greater effect upon them than anything else you do.  When a disciple (student) is fully trained, he will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).  If you are characterized by walking in the flesh with attitudes and actions of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech (Colossians 3:8), then don’t be surprised when your children exhibit the same characteristics.  The same is true of immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (Colossians 3:5).  If the evil practices of the old self characterize your life, then they will also characterize the lives of your children unless the Lord intervenes to save them despite your negative influence.  At the same time, if your life is characterized as walking in the new self with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing one another’s burdens, forgiving each other, being loving with the Word of God richly dwelling in you, then your children will take on a lot of those characteristics even if they are not saved.

In recognition of the importance of parenting and that there is so much more in the Scriptures concerning it than this one passage, I want to look at the more general principles of parenting, and then tomorrow we will concentrate on some of the more specific commands including this one in Colossians 3:21.

Before I do though, I want to point out that most of the Biblical commands, including this one here in Colossians, are directed specifically to the “fathers,” but the command is to be followed by both parents, not just the dad.  The reason these commands are addressed to the father is because God has placed the husband as the head of the household, so he is also the one that is going to be held responsible for making sure the family carries out God’s commands.  The practical reality is that a large portion, if not the majority, of the teaching of children will be done by the mother since she spends the most time with them in their daily care.  The father has the responsibility, but the mother fulfills a large portion of it.  Another reason for the importance of the wife submitting to the husband’s leadership and the husband actively leading.

The Importance of Biblical Instruction

God has given us plenty of instructions on how to raise our children, but as American society continues its flight away from Biblical values and to the vain philosophies and wisdom of men, then the family continues to disintegrate.  When people reject the Creator and His design, they prove the Scriptures true that they have been blinded by Satan (2 Corinthian 4:4) and that in professing to be wise they have become fools (Romans 1:22).  As society has paid more attention to supposed experts than the Bible, the problems with children and youth have only escalated.  Hard to believe, but among the top ten problems among High School students in the 1950’s was chewing gum in class and boys not tucking in their shirts.  Compare that to today’s High School environment with metal detectors, undercover narcotics officers, and sexually transmitted diseases being common.

To take this one step further, a supposed expert on parenting whose own children are out of control is not qualified, yet that is the common situation.  If your wisdom and advice does not work for your own children, why would it be expected for it to work on the children of other people.  We need to both know and follow God’s instructions concerning the family, and the instructions for parenting children begins with the role of the husband and wife.  You cannot be a better parent than you are a spouse.

The Importance of the Marriage

As we saw in our study of Colossians 3:18, the wife is to be in submission to the husband.  Ephesians 5:15-33 explains that this submission is first to the Holy Spirit and then to her husband and that she is also to show him respect.  If she does not do this, she will resent her role and risk having her husband rule over her from a negative standpoint as part of the curse of sin (Genesis 3:16).  In any case, she will not be the woman she could be and should be.

The role of the husband is to lead his family in godliness through a sacrificial, servant-minded, and sanctifying love.  This also arises out of his own walk with the Holy Spirit, for it is impossible for a man to love someone else as “Christ loves the church” without the work of the Spirit of God.  This sacrificial love includes leading her, protecting her, providing for her, and helping her to become holy and blameless.

Parents, let me stress again that your ability to properly raise your children is in direct relationship to your ability to be a godly spouse and that is dependent on your walk with the Lord.  If you are unwilling to submit to the Holy Spirit and follow the Scriptures in your role as a spouse, you will not do so in your role as a parent.  You have already decided that you know better than God and that same basic belief will control your parenting.  If you want to raise good and godly kids, then you need to work at having a good and godly marriage.

But, you say, your spouse is not a believer or you are divorced and raising the kids by yourself.  Again, submission to the Holy Spirit is primary.  How do you treat your unsaved spouse or ex-spouse?  Does your example and attitude toward them reflect godliness and the love of Jesus Christ?  If it does, you will be a positive influence for Christ on your children despite your spouse.  1 Corinthians 7:14 explains that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving spouse and the children.  If your example is ungodly, then you will fill your children with that ungodliness that is in your heart – whether that be resentment, bitterness, pride, revenge, or anything else ungodly.

The Importance of Obedience

When we studied Colossians 3:20 yesterday we saw that God requires children to obey.  This is the first principle of parenting.  We are to require our children to obey us in the Lord.  You are teaching your children to sin if you do not require them to obey.  Obedience is to be the first time, right away, and without complaining and arguing.  Anything less than that is disobedience for obedience encompasses both actions and attitude.

Why is it important that the child obey the first time you tell them?  Let me give you two reasons.  The first will be theological and the second will be practical.

First, failure to obey the first time is delayed obedience and that is disobedience.  

The tragedy is that this is totally controlled by the parent.  Why do I say that?  Because a child will obey you when they know you are finally serious.  That can be either the first time or at whatever point you finally mean it.  That may be after you have said it three or more times depending on your normal practices.  It may be when your voice reaches a certain pitch or tone.  It may not be until the arteries in your neck stand out as your blood pressure skyrockets.  You, not your child, have determined the point of obedience by what you actually require of them and when you require it.

Perhaps this scenario will sound uncomfortably familiar. You tell your child, “Junior, please put your toys away and get ready for bed.” Five minutes later you say, “Junior, I thought I told you to put those toys away and get ready for bed.” Five more minutes go by and you say, “Junior, I know I told you to put those toys away and get ready for bed, now please do it!” Another five minutes goes by before you say, “Look, I am not telling you again. Put those toys away and get ready for bed or your going to get it.”  More time passes and now with your face read and your volume hitting 100 decibels, “This is the last time. Do what I said or I am going to spank you!”  At this, Junior finally obeys for now he knows you’re serious.

This may not seem very important, but it is very important.  When you do not require a child to obey right away the first time, then you have put them in the position of being the judge of what is and what is not important.  That right does not belong to them – it belongs to you.   You have actually trained them to disobey.  Your children need to obey you the first time and right away otherwise you teach them to sin.

At the same time parents must also consider what the child is doing and be sensitive to that while giving their commands properly and clearly.  It borders on being cruel to tell children to stop their game and go get ready for bed when they are only a couple of moves from the end.  Neither is it very nice to tell them to wash up and come to dinner five minutes before the end of a program they have been watching.  A loving parent will be sensitive to what the child is doing and take that into consideration when giving instructions.  This is part of what Colossians 3:21 is talking about.  We are not to exasperate or frustrate them with such things because it causes them to lose heart.

The second reason to require first time obedience is simply safety.

There are too many situations in which the safety of your child is dependent on them doing what you say immediately.  Only their immediate obedience will prevent them from injury or even death.  No one wants to go through the grief of saying, “if they had only listened.”  Teach them to listen and obey the first time.

We also need to require our children to obey without complaint or argument.

Children that grumble, complain, or whine may be outwardly obedient to your commands, but they are rebellious in heart.  Do not allow or accept it.

I cannot stress enough that in parenting

It is the heart that you are

Trying to train, not just behavior.

Remember that God’s punishment of the children of Israel in the wilderness was because of their continued grumbling.  They would grumble and complain and God would chastise them – plagues, poisonous snakes, the ground opening up and swallowing Korah and his followers, and then forty years of wandering until that whole generation had died off.  I am not saying that if your child whines you should put a snake in their bed, but I am saying that you should not accept or tolerate grumbling because it is a form of rebellion.

Obedience is the schoolmaster

That gives the child the skills

To pursue both Godliness and success,

But do not stop with outward behavior.

Frankly, outward behavior is the easy part and that should be largely accomplished by the time they are between 4-6 years old.

Go beyond that to also instill

Within them the principles of God’s Word

And train their hearts so that they

Will be internally guided rather

Than outwardly conformed.

The real goal is that by the time

They are 12 or 13 years old that

They understand and are following

The principles and precepts of God’s Word

So well that their primary submission is to the Lord.

When that point is reached, the obedience to parents becomes secondary to submission to the Lord.  They should have a willingness and desire to follow the parent’s guidance because it is right and best before the Lord and not because it is forced.

The Responsibility of Parents

Ephesians 6:4 describes the responsibility of parents very succinctly, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  As I said in yesterday’s blog, our children arrive in our homes as sinners and we have a responsibility to teach them discipline so that the bent toward sin does not overwhelm them.  I also said that it was the job of children to learn and the job of parents to teach them.  The most important lessons we can teach our children are those related to teaching them about the Lord and how He wants them to live.  But that is no easy task.

When Harry Truman was president, he had a sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here.”  It seems there are few that have that mindset.  Most people will follow the example of our ancestors Adam and Eve and just pass the buck along.  Adam told God that it was the woman’s fault.  Eve told God it was the serpent’s fault.  People are always trying to figure out where to shift the blame.

Moms and dads, you need to understand that there is a dual responsibility in how your children turn out.  Both you and your child bear a responsibility in what kind of adults they become.  This does not mean the child can blame you for the sins they commit, for regardless of how good or bad were the child’s parents, the individual bears full responsibility for himself.  Why?  Because God’s call to everyone is to repent from their sins and follow Him.  God’s grace is sufficient to change anyone that will do so. Remember, all of us were dead in trespasses and sin, but it was God who made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2).  The effect of sin may have people in different stages of decay and corruption, but dead is dead.  However, when we were made alive in Christ we became new creatures.  The old passed away and the new was put on (2 Corinthians 5:17).

No one will ever be able to stand before God and blame their parents or anyone else for the sins they have committed.  Ezekiel 18:20 states this truth very clearly “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

Don’t ever let yourself get caught in the trap so prevalent in modern psychology that passes the blame along to someone else or to “society” in general for all the problems you have. Throughout the scriptures we find this truth that God holds each of us individually accountable for our own sins. God’s judgment of us will be impartial and will be based on each man’s deeds – (1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 20:12-13).

Parents, understand that God is not going to hold you responsible for you children’s sins, but He is going to hold you responsible for your failures to raise them according to His instructions.  How your children turn out is a reflection on how you parented them. What you do in raising your child will greatly affect what they believe to be true, what they believe to be important, what life is all about, what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, and how they feel about themselves and others.  How you raise them will reflect in how they turn out.

This does not mean that you are responsible for their salvation.  That could never be because no man can save another.  Salvation is the work of God Himself as the Holy Spirit brings the individual to conviction of sin, repentance, and regeneration that they will believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving from Him pardon for their sin.

No parent can guarantee the salvation of their children, but the parent is to . . .

Set the stage for the Holy Spirit’s work.

They are to teach their children God’s laws,

That sin is failure to keep God’s laws,

That sin’s punishment is eternal death.

Parents are to teach their children

About God’s love and especially as

Demonstrated in Jesus Christ and

His substitutionary death and resurrection.

We are to teach our children about the life

That God can give to us through

Forgiveness of sins through

Christ and following after Him.

The reality is that no parent can really say they have done everything they could have done for that would require perfection and no parent is perfect.  The solution for guilt of failure is not in trying to pass the buck, but rather in confession and receiving God’s forgiveness.  Don’t let your pride get in the way.  If your children are grown and are not following Christ, then there are two key things you need to do in further ministry with them – confess and intercede.

1) Confess.  As the Lord brings your past failures with your children to your attention, confess and ask God’s forgiveness.  His promise is that He will forgive (1 John 1:9).  You may need to do this with your children as well.  Such humility and repentance can go a long way in restoring or maintaining a relationship with a prodigal child as well as point to them the way they need to deal with their own guilt and failures.

2) Intercede.  Plead for God’s mercy upon them that the Holy Spirit will yet bring them under conviction of sin and draw them to Himself.

For those who still have your children at home, your confessions of failure need to be as they happen and that may include setting your pride aside and asking your kids for forgiveness too.  It also sets a wonderful example for them about how they should respond when they do wrong.  There are no perfect parents, but all parents are responsible for their children since the Scriptures declare it to be so.

Children are a gift from the Lord and they are to be a blessing (Psalm 127), and they will be if we follow God’s instructions concerning them.  There is no responsibility or privilege you will ever have greater than raising your children, but no parent has it all together.

The major points of this morning’s sermon. 1) Children will generally become like their parents, so your example is crucial including your marriage. 2) The proof of good parenting will be the child, and good children are the result of following God’s commands. 3) God requires children to obey their parents, so parents need to require it or they teach their children to sin. Obedience needs to be the first time, right away and with a good attitude. 4) There is a dual responsibility for how a child turns out as an adult. The child is fully responsible for his own actions and attitudes. The parents are fully responsible for carrying out the Lord’s commands with the child being a reflection of how well they have done at that. 5) The solution for guilt is confession and forgiveness.

Tomorrow we will continue on this subject and expand on what the Bible says about both the positive and negatives of parenting.  There are things parents are to do and things they are to avoid.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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God’s Idea Of Marriage, Part 3: The Role of Children

Grace For The Journey

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27Aug  Over the past couple of blog posts we have examined the roles that God has given to the wife and to the husband.  As I have pointed out in each of those studies, . . .

The ability of the husband and wife

To fulfill their roles will be

Dependent upon their

Walk with the Lord.

What Paul commands in Colossians 3:18-19 is dependent on what he has said in the previous seventeen verses.

If we live as those who have been raised up with Christ,

Which includes putting off the practices

And attitudes we had prior to salvation

And putting on the new practices and attitudes

That are in keeping with walking with Christ,

We can fulfill our roles in marriage

And so bring glory to God.

Colossians 3:18-4:1 is the context of our current studies.  A rereading of these verses is helpful, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.  Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.  Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who [merely] please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.  For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.”

The wife has the supporting role.  This is by no means an inferior position for she has equal value before God.  It is only a recognition that God has given her different gifts, abilities and responsibilities.  A woman needs to be careful about whom she marries for she will need to willingly submit to her husband’s leadership while demonstrating chaste and respectful behavior to him even when he does not lead as he should (1 Peter 3:1-6).  Submission is an act of her will and not something coerced or forced.  Her submission demonstrates her love and trust of God through her service to her husband.  Her submission is first to God and then because of that she secondarily submits to her husband.

God has placed the husband as the head of the family which means he has the responsibility of leadership.  He is commanded to love His wife in the sacrificial manner that Christ loves the church and cherish her the same way he cherishes his own body.  This love includes being her provider and protector.  The husband is also commanded to lead his family into sanctification that they may be holy and blameless.  God will hold the husband accountable for how well he fulfills his role and responsibilities.  He is also responsible to make her his life’s study as he seeks to know and understand her while giving her honor as a joint heir of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).  This is true even though she is extremely different from him in her emotions and the way she thinks, but that is part of the challenge, so be a man and rise up to the challenge.

Today we come to the role of the children.  It is easier for children to fulfill their role if they know the Lord and are walking with Him by the Holy Spirit, but Paul does not place that expectation upon them since even the children born to Christian parents come into the world as unsaved sinners.  Until the child comes to personal faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, they cannot live as one who has been raised up with Christ, for that has not yet happened.

The role given to the children is actually very simple.  The Bible says here, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”  In Ephesians 6:1-3 he adds a similar statement the Old Testament command and promise that goes with it, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Children are to obey their parents, yet, in view of actual practices within our society, and those practices exist within the church as well, we must conclude that this scriptural directive has been either forgotten or confused by most parents.  There are two extremes within our society, and we do not want to fall into either one.  We want everyone in the family to follow the Lord’s commands and fulfill the role God has given to each – wife, husband, children and parents.

1) Open Fields

The first extreme I want to mention is the one now most prevalent in our society.  I call this open fields because while there may be boundaries somewhere, they are so distant they are hard to see. This is the result of a basic change within our society in its understanding of children.

When Americans were a Biblically literate people, it was commonly understood that people did evil things because everyone is sinful by nature.  Evil actions are the result of a sinful heart.  Evil was held in check by holding each individual responsible for what they did and then dispensing the appropriate punishment for the sin committed.  It was understood that children were born as sinners and discipline would be needed to hold that sin in check.  The only real cure for the sin problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ because through faith in Jesus and His atonement, sin could be forgiven and the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration could change the heart.

As America has slid from its moorings in a Biblical world view, the philosophy behind secular psychology has made a fundamental change in how people understanding themselves.  Society now views people – and especially children – as naturally good instead of sinful.  This is accomplished by a couple of methods.  The first is to redefine what is good and what is evil.  This allows people to do whatever they want and not feel guilty about it.  The second is to blame something else when evil does occur.  Responsibility is always shifted to something else.  It could be environmental factors, societal failure, or psychological trauma caused by someone else.  People, and again, especially children, are no longer seen by a large portion of society as being responsible for their own actions.

Consider some of the following erroneous excuses prevalent in society.

  • Crime is caused by poverty – a surprise to the generation that suffered through the Great Depression.
  • Alcoholism is a disease – if so, it is the only one that must be continually self-induced to keep it going.
  • Aggression is caused by spanking and is a reason that some people become serial killers – yet it is the children without discipline that are the most aggressive and studies of violent criminals keep showing a stronger link with a childhood that was without discipline rather than one having too much.
  • Freud said that improper potty training leads to “possessiveness, retentiveness, aggressiveness, pronounced messiness or tidiness, punctuality and shame . . .”, or as another simply described it, “bad potty training results in emotional constipation.”

Sounds more like just another way to blame it on your mother and refuse to grow up and take responsibility for yourself.

The basic philosophical premise in society now concerning children is that kids are innately good and will grow up to be good adults as long as the parents don’t mess them up.  The so-called experts warn us that we must provide children with the right environment, give them freedom to explore, and do not inhibit their efforts to express themselves.  We are told that if the parent does not satisfy every whim of the child, the child will turn out psychologically damaged.  This is the philosophy behind Dr. Benjamin Spock’s famous quote, “You can’t spoil a baby.  His wants are his needs,” which has resulted in the baby becoming the center of the family, and for everything focuses on meeting the baby’s desires.  That mindset and practice then continues into childhood. The truth is that you can spoil a baby and children, and children arrive messed up and it is the parent’s responsibility to rear them to be good.

What is the result of this liberal philosophy?  Children who are out of control in private and in public.  I think most of us have seen parents chasing children up and down store aisles because the kid refuses to stay with the parent.  We have all seen children who defiantly refuse to do what their parents tell them.  I have also seen children who call their parents names and tell them to shut up.  The word that described such children when I was growing up was “brat.” I have been in homes where the walls were heavily marked with crayon as high as the child could reach.

If this mindset continues the problems increase as the child gets older resulting in teens that remain immature and self-centered.  Cheating, stealing, lying, and hurting other people does not bother them as long as they get or do what they want.  You see them and know that they are on the path to jail or worse.  In the worst cases they become sociopaths with no concern at all for others.  The Proverbs prove true:

Proverbs 30:11, There is a kind of man who curses his father, and does not bless his mother.” Proverbs 20:20,“He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.”

Proverbs 19:26, “He who assaults his father and drives his mother away Is a shameful and disgraceful son.”

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 30:17, “The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.”

2 ) Restricted Stall.

The other extreme is not as common anymore, but it can still be found.  The child is not in an open field, but is confined to a restricted stall.  In this view children are not the center of the family, but somewhere on the outer edges.  The dad views himself not as the head, but the king. The mom may or may not be the reigning queen, but in either case the child is more of an object than a person.  Loving care and nurture take a back seat to keeping family law.  Punishment is swift, but does not always match the crime.  Scripture might even be quoted a lot in such a home, but that does not mean it is quoted completely in context or applied correctly.  Other Scriptures dealing with the parents’ responsibilities are usually left out.

In this type of home the child exists for the benefit of the parent, so when the child intrudes on the parents’ life through childishness or misbehavior, there are severe consequences.  The child’s main motivation is fear.  Fear of the parents, fear of God, fear of all authority figures.  Children of such homes develop what is called a prohibitive conscience.  Life is viewed in terms of what is restricted – You shalt not do this, You shalt not do that.  Guilt and the fear of potential guilt controls them.  The freedom and motivation to do good is stilted or crushed by fear of violating some rule.

The child’s outward behavior is everything, and while they may exhibit exemplary discipline and manners, the heart of the child may be very far away or completely lost.  These children learn a very distorted view of God which is why the Bible warn parents to “not exasperate [them] that they may not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21) and to “not to provoke their children to anger” (Ephesians 6:4).

Some who grow up in such a home end up rejecting what they had been taught.  This is a common reason “good kids” go “wild” in college.  The restrictions have been removed and they go to the opposite extreme.  Others live lives controlled by fear and guilt.  They do what they believe is expected of them, but there is no joy in doing it.  If this was a Christian home, they become legalists.  Spirituality is defined in a list do’s and don’ts and mostly don’ts.  They do not understand grace, forgiveness, or freedom in Christ.  Serving Christ to them is more of a responsibility and duty than a privilege and opportunity.

The Balance.

How then do we keep it balanced?  We must understand the purpose and role of children in the family.  Let me start with several purposes . . .

1) Continuation of mankind.  In Genesis 1:28 God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . . .”  Mankind is always just one generation away from extinction.

2) Continuation of the knowledge of God.  Israel was to pass their knowledge of God from one generation unto the next – Deuteronomy 6:4-7, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Psalm 78:5, “For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, [even] the children [yet] to be born, [That] they may arise and tell [them] to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandment.”,

Ephesians 6:4 – “. . . bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Certainly people can come to know the Lord regardless of the beliefs of their parents just as have many of you.  That is what the Great Commission is all about.  We are to proclaim the gospel message to everyone, and the Lord in His graciousness saves people.  But I hope you parents realize that your first priority in evangelism and discipleship is to be your own children.

One of the great tragedies I have seen are pastors who think that if they take care of the church that Christ will take care of their family.  The children turn away from Christ because dad has not been around long enough to model Christ to them.  Such men are actually unqualified to be pastors according to 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1.  Jesus said He would build His church.  While He uses people to accomplish that goal, the priority He has placed upon all of us including pastors in raising our children in His nurture and admonition.  We will talk more about that in tomorrow’s blog, but understand at this point that one of the reasons that God has given you children is so that you can pass on your knowledge and understanding of God to them to build upon.

3) A third purpose of children is to be a blessing.   The Bible says in Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

Children are a blessing from God.  They bring so much into our lives.  Certainly there are the heartaches and tough parts of raising kids, but they also bring such joy.  Their love for life, wonder at the world around them, and happiness over simple pleasures.  But more importantly from the eternal perspective, they teach us a lot about trusting the Lord and walking with Him. They prod us to think less of ourselves and learn to love sacrificially.  They reflect us and we see both the good and bad in ourselves which prods us on to greater holiness.  Their very presence causes us to be more careful how we act, what we say, and even how we think.  Children are a great blessing from God to us.

The Role of Children

What then is the role of children within the family?

To put it simply,

They are there to learn.

The parents’ responsibility is to teach them and theirs is to learn.  Children are not the center of the family and neither are they somewhere on the outskirts.  They are part of the family.  You and your spouse became a family when you married.  A family of just two people, but a family. When your first child came along your family simply expanded to three and with each child your family circle simply got larger.  Each new life added to your family is another precious soul for you to guide and direct to know Jesus and live for His glory and honor.

Husbands, remember, Paul has already commanded you to lead your wife in sanctification so that she might be holy and blameless.  The same is true for your children.

Their role is to learn

From both of you

Who God is,

What He is like

And how to have

A personal relationship

With Him.

Your role is to teach

And their role is to learn

And learning begins with obedience.

Obedience is the schoolmaster needed to help shape the child’s behavior, character, and belief system.  Proper obedience leads to the freedom of living positively out of a love for righteousness instead of fear of doing wrong.

A child’s first and foremost responsibility in the family is to obey and honor your parents.  God’s commandment to all children is “obey your parents” … “honor your father and mother” and our text adds that this is to be “in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:1 says, “for this is right.” Children, it is right and it is pleasing to the Lord for you to obey and honor your parents in all things.

The word “obey” here literally means, “to hear under,” and so includes the idea of hearing and responding positively.  Attitude as well as action is important in obedience.  If you grumble or whine about what you are asked to do, you are not obeying or honoring even if you do what you were told.  As the Proverbs 6:20 states it; “My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother.”  This is not some conspiracy against you so that your life will be miserable, but rather this is God’s commandment so that there will be order in the home and your life will be filled with blessings.  Learning obedience to your parents is the first step toward learning obedience to the Lord and toward gaining self-control and being considerate of the interests of others.

Self-control and considering the interests of other people are both vital to your getting along with others and becoming successful as adults.  Self-control is the foundational skill for all learning. This is both mental and physical.  Without mental self-control you will not be able to focus your attention to read, study, or analyze, and solve problems.  Every subject you will ever study takes concentration – math, history, language, art, science, and understanding your Bible.  The better your mental self-control, the better you will do in all your studies regardless of your IQ.  Without physical self-control you will never gain the skills needed to perform any kind of job.  It takes a lot of practice to learn to control your fingers so that you can color between the lines or nimbly use a keyboard to operate a computer.  If you cannot control your hands you cannot drive a nail and you would be dangerous with a power saw.  Even the ability to speak requires precise control of your vocal cords, tongue and lips.  Clear communication requires the addition of a controlled mind otherwise what you say will not make sense.

Obedience is also the foundation to being considerate of other people.  Obedience combats selfishness because it requires placing your will under the authority of someone else.  It demands you to place yourself in a secondary position.  If you continue in selfishness and do not consider other people you will have relationship problems all your life.  Let me show you the importance of this by a simple question.  Do you like being around someone who is self-centered and gives no consideration to your thoughts or feelings?  What is your response when you run into someone whose only interest is in what you have and getting it for themselves.  For a child that may be a toy – other children that come over to play only because they want to play with your toys.  In the business world it is the fake friendliness of the salesman who is only after your money.

Obedience to your parents is also the place where you start to learn obedience to God Himself.  It is from your parents that you learn your first lessons in consequences.  Children, when you disobey your parents you have also broken God’s commandment to you and that is sin.  Parents, when you let your child get away with disobedience to you, then you are training that child to sin.  That means you are also in sin.  Disobedience brings punishment while obedience brings blessings.  A child that will not learn to obey simple instructions from a parent who is physically present will not later obey more complex commands from a God they cannot physically see and touch.  It is better to learn this lesson when the consequences are at worst a spanking or removal of privileges rather than the wrath of a holy and just God.  The eternal consequence of disobedience is separation from God and eternity in Hell.

The vast majority of all parents love their children and want what is best for them.  Parents are also wiser.  That is why children need to obey them.  God uses them not only to protect and provide for them, but also to guide them in how to live life.  However, the statement here to obey them in “all things” is not without qualification.

As with all authority there is a hierarchy that starts with God and then descends from there.  For children, as with all people, God is to be obeyed first and above anyone else.  After God, children are to obey their parents next, and then any other sources of authority as is fitting to the particular situation – government officials, teachers, coaches, etc.  Children, you cannot violate any of God’s commandments in trying to obey your parents or others.  You cannot lie for them. You cannot steal for them.  You cannot assist them in committing sin.  You respectfully decline to obey in those circumstances and willingly suffer any punishment they give you, and in doing so you are like the apostles and prophets who also suffered for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10-12).

The tragedy is that parents do ask children to lie and steal for them sometimes without really even thinking about what they are doing.  Rare are the cases of parents purposely sending their child into a store to steal something, but how often do parents tell children to lie about their age so that they can get a discount?  That is stealing.  How often do parents tell children to lie when they answer the phone and tell the caller they are not at home?  Don’t ask your children to do that, and children don’t do it.  Say they do not want to be disturbed at the moment and ask them to call back.  Children you are to obey your parents, but you obey them in the Lord.  You have to obey God first, and then your parents.  This is what God declares is right and just before Him.

Honoring Parents

I want to conclude by looking at the other biblical teaching of “honoring your parents.”  The command to obey your parents arises out of the commandment in Exodus 20:12.  Paul expresses that in Ephesians 6:3-4 and adds that honoring your father and mother brings the promise that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.  There are blessings in obeying the Lord.

This particular promise is both general and specific.  It is general in the sense that a person who has learned obedience has also learned the skills needed to have a good life.  For example, self-control and consideration of others are the keys to good relationships with others and decent jobs.  In general, the natural consequence of honoring your parents and the skills learned from doing so lead to a good life, and a good life is also generally a long life.  Sin characteristically shortens life while virtue extends it.  Similar promises are also made to those who are just in their business dealings (Deuteronomy 25:15), who are wise (Proverbs 3:16) and who generally keeps God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 4:40; 32:47).

This promise is also specific in that it is a direct promise of God to extend a blessing to those who honor their father and mother.  This does not mean that God cannot have a different plan for specific individuals even if they do honor their father and mother.  For example, believers who are persecuted for their faith in Christ.  But this is the general case of the specific promise. Obedience to God in honoring your parents brings His blessings.

What then does it mean to honor your parents?  Primarily it means “to place value upon” them. It is demonstrated in respect and consideration.  This is something that all of us are to do regardless of age.  Young children honor their parents through their obedience to them.  Older children honor through submission which is willingly following the instruction and advice of their parents.

When you become an adult and live independently of your parents you are no longer under their authority.  The obedience and submission are no longer required because the authority structure has changed.  Men, you are to leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife (Ephesians 5:31).  Ladies, your husband is now your head and not your father (Ephesians 5:23).  But even so, as adults we are still to give honor to our parents.  This is done by showing them respect.  If the parents have done their job properly and the children are walking with the Lord, this arises out of the love of devotion.  It will be joyful to show respect and appreciation, ask advice, and care for them as needed.

But some parents have been bad.  Their children suffered at their hands.  The past is full of pain, trust has been broken, and the current relationship is strained at best.  But regardless of the past, you are still responsible before God to honor them.  At minimum this means not speaking evil of them, slandering them, letting them go hungry, or ignoring them in time of need, for at worst they are still your neighbor which we have been commanded to love as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  What will be missing will be the joy.  Honoring them will be a difficult duty instead of a joyful devotion.  Even so, you can still honor them out of your love for Jesus Christ and desire to be obedient to Him.

Parents, will your children honor you out of love or duty?

Children, obey and honor your parents now and learn those lessons that will bestow on you God’s blessings throughout your life.

When Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4), wives submit to their husbands, husbands love their wives, and children obey their parents.  But that comes from our verses today.  When Christ is our life, fathers will encourage their children.  In verse 21, the Bible says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  The word “fathers” here can be understood to include both parents.  Both moms and dads are often guilty of “provoking” their children.  What does this mean?  The parallel passage in Ephesians 6:4 helpful, “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  The idea seems to be that parents should not discourage their children to the point of exasperation.  When we fail to encourage our children, they may feel they will never live up to our standards, never make us proud,  never please mom or dad.  Pparents may also be guilty of exasperating their children by passive parenting.  They may not “be there” for their children or may fail to discipline them.

Often children rebel and push back in an effort to determine whether they are truly loved by their parents.  They may even behave this way unconsciously, rebelling and pushing boundaries because deep down they yearn for the correction that a loving parent provides.

Verse 21 goes on to caution fathers to not “provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  The primary idea seems to be the ongoing criticism of children that leads to their frustration.  Fathers, your sons and daughters may not choose the path you think they should choose.  They may make mistakes.  Lots of them!

You can raise your children according to the latest book on godly parenting, dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s, but your children will still grow to make their own decisions.  You may well “train your child up in the way he should go.”  If so, you have done well.  Your child grows and makes his or her own decisions and may even stray from the faith for a season.  If he or she strays, it is not a judgment upon your parenting abilities.  If that were so, there’d be a lot of godly Christian teachers and preachers who have failed: Billy Graham and John Piper chief among them.  John Piper held family devotions and wrote beautiful poetry for his wife, but even Piper had a rebellious grown child.  To quote the headline from an article in Christianity Today a few years ago: If It Can Happen To John Piper, It Can Happen To You,” “I don’t mean to alarm, but rather to remind that you and I have no control over anyone or anything.  We trust a sovereign God, who always does what is right.”  So heed the warning of the opposite error: just as the bad behavior of straying children raised in godly homes is not a condemnation of your “inferior” parenting skills, so the good behavior of non-straying children is not a commendation of your “superior” parenting skills.

If you’ve got kids who have never strayed, never pushed the envelope, and always did the right thing, you’d better get on your knees and thank God above that He saw fit in His grace to give you – undeservedly – a low-maintenance bundle of joy!  And if God in His grace has given you a child that challenges you at every turn, then praise God for that child as well.  God is good and He knows what He is doing.  He has entrusted your child to you that you may raise that child well.  So do it.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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God’s Idea Of Marriage, Part 2.

Grace For The Journey

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27Aug  In my post I noted that marriage is an institution created by God.  It is His idea.  We also noted that marriage takes more than two people.  It takes three: Husband, Wife, and the Lord.  We pick up today in our verse-by-verse study of the third chapter of Colossians, reading again in Colossians 3:18-19, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”

The text consists of two main teaching points, the first for Christian wives and the second for Christian husbands.  We are looking at “God’s Plan For Marriage” which consist of a wife, who is to demonstrate biblical submission to her husband and a husband who is to demonstrate faithful adoration to his wife.

Yesterday we addressed the role of the Christian wife in; we turn now to the role of the Christian husband from verse 19, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?   Love your wife and do not be bitter toward her.  In Roman society it was not uncommon for men to rage against their wives and demonstrate remarkable anger and bitterness; always ready to explode, like a can of soda that has been shaken and suddenly opened.

Men may become bitter towards their wives when they fail to understand them.   Sometimes a man’s wife is merely offering help, caution, or warning, but men may be too self-engrossed or too self-focused to appreciate their loving counsel.

Paul says, “Love your wives.”  In the parallel text of Ephesians 5, he elaborates on the kind of love a husband is to show his wife.  He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Jesus Christ demonstrated a sacrificial love.  He loved the church and gave Himself for the church.  He died for the church.  Christian husbands are to love their wives sacrificially – to the point they are even willing to die for their wives.  That’s a deep, real love.  And it is a love made possible by the new life we have in Christ.

It is so important to recall the greater context

Of Paul’s teaching here in Chapter 3.

These two commands for wives and husbands

Are commands couched in the context of the new life in Christ.

Paul is addressing those who have already dealt with their most basic, fundamental problem: the problem of sin.  He is writing to those who have “put off” the old self and “put on” the new.  He is writing to people who have been converted; people being renewed daily in the image of the One who created them.

When Paul is writing here about the matter of marriage, he is not writing to just anyone.  He is writing to Christians.  He is writing to Christian wives and Christian husbands; those who are “seeking those things which are above” and “setting their minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

He is writing to those who have “died” to their old selves (Colossians 3:3), those for whom “Christ is their life” (Colossians 3:4).  He is writing to those who are regularly “putting to death” (Colossians 3:5) sins such as, “fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil desire,” and “putting off” sins cut as anger, wrath, malice and filthy language” (Colossians 3:8).

Paul is writing to Christian husbands and wives who are putting on, or “dressing” themselves with “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering” (Colossians 3:12); “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another even as they have been forgiven in Christ” (Colossians 3:13).

He is writing to Christian couples who, “above all things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection” or completeness in marriage (Colossians 3:14).  And he is writing to Christian husbands and wives who “let the Word of God dwell in them richly” (Colossians 3:16).

The context of all those preceding verses are vitally important to understanding what Paul says about marriage in verses 18 and 19.  I found it curious how many commentators wanted to make this section of this letter independent from what Paul had written in the prior verses, but it is not.

Our relationships with one another

Are dependent upon living as those

Who have been raised up with Christ.

Having minds that are set on the things above

Instead of the things that are on earth

Is not about neglecting the things here on earth.

That would result in people that are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.  It is rather having a proper view of life in the present because of having heaven as our destination (2 Peter 3:14).

Proper relationships in the family and in the workplace are dependent upon us putting off the old man and putting on the new.  Each of us are to “consider the members of [our] earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed” and put aside “anger wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.”  The old self is dead, so we should quit dragging around its corpse with its lying and evil practices.  Instead, we are to put on the new man and “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.”  We are to follow the example.  We are to let the Word of God richly dwell within us and encourage and teach one another accordingly.  Paul summed up his general exhortations in living the Christian life in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  That command includes everything we communicate and all our actions and behaviors.

It is on the basis of these general commands to all Christians that He now gives instruction to the various members of a family and in the work force starting with the most intimate relationship and working his way outward in three sets: wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters.

The Importance of Marriage

Paul begins with the marriage relationship . . .

For it is not only the foundation for the family,

But it is also the foundation of all of society.

If marriages decline so does the rest of society,

And tragically we are seeing that happen

In our own time in our own society.

As America continues its flight from God and godliness, it increasingly promotes sinful perversions and abominations.

The so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s is the direct precursor to the homosexual revolution of our current times.  Both are predicated on the false basic premise that the “pursuit of happiness” enshrined in the preamble of our Constitution means that there should not be restrictions on the hedonistic fulfillment of one’s desires.  That those desires are sinful before God and detrimental to themselves and to society are irrelevant to the mind entrapped by sin. As hedonistic selfishness gains a greater influence on society, its demands progress from tolerance, to acceptance, to equality, to superiority.  Constitutional freedoms of religion and speech are trumped by rights made up by legislation to allow the practice of sexual perversion with impunity.

We have already seen from our previous study that God established marriage in Genesis 3 so only He can define it.  We also saw from Ephesians 5 that marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church, so any advocation for marriage to be between anything other than a man and a woman is a perverse evil.  Those promoting such perversions need to repent and turn from their sin and receive forgiveness and freedom from sin that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are in serious danger of the Lord turning away and leaving them condemned in their sin for eternity as explained in Romans 1:18-32..

God is also the only one

That can define the role

Of the husband and the wife.

Those advocating roles different from what He has declared are also promoting perversion and evil and need to repent.  Sadly, there are many professing Christians that do not fulfill the role God has given them within marriage either due to ignorance, immaturity, or selfishness.  It is time for them to become wise, walk in maturity, and become selfless in serving their spouse according to God’s design.  While that will appear to be scary to some, it is the only way to glorify God and have a truly fulfilling marriage.

I already talked about the role of the wife in last Thursday’s post, so I will not repeat that here expect to encourage wives to fulfill that role of being submissive to and respecting your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.  Ladies, do not fall for or continue in the mindset of feminism that has had such a negative effect on our society.  You can have a much better life and marriage by living it God’s way than their way.

Today I am going to address the specific role of the husband in marriage, however everyone else reading this post also needs to pay attention.

  • Wives need to know how to encourage their husbands to fulfill his role.
  • Unmarried men need to know God’s expectations if they do get married.
  • Unmarried women need to know what qualities they should be looking for in a husband if they get married.

The Role of Husbands

Paul makes two commands concerning husbands in verse 19. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.”  There are additional instructions in other passages, some of which we will look at, but these two are contrasting and all encompassing.  If the husband will do these two things, then the commands to the wife will be easy for her to fulfill.  It has been generally observed, and I think accurately, that what women desire the most is to be truly loved and what men want the most it to be genuinely respected.  It is not hard for a woman to genuinely respect a man that truly loves her, and neither is it hard for a man to truly love a woman that genuinely respects him.  Those are the very commands God gives to each to fulfill.

However . . .

Fighting against this happening

In the marriage is the curse of sin.

Men and women are both innately selfish so instead of giving of themselves freely, they seek to get from the other want they want.  But . . .

True love cannot be gained by manipulation

And neither can genuine respect

Be gained through oppression.

Like two leeches they seek to gain life from the other but only manage to suck the life out of the marriage leaving a shell of what could and should have been.  However, when a husband and wife set aside their old sinful ways and walk in the newness of life that comes with following Christ, then there is a basis for each to fulfill their God given roles within the marriage and God can be glorified in and through them.

I cannot stress enough to you husbands

That you must walk with Christ if

You are to fulfill your role in your marriage.

The first of Paul’s commands here is that you are to love your wife.

This is not a reference to either being physically attracted to her or a fond feeling of affection, though both of those should also be part of a healthy marriage.  The love commanded here is agapaô . . .

The love that arises from the will

And sacrifices itself for the

Best interest of the one loved.

This is the love Jesus has for us.  This is the love that we are to have for one another. This is the love a man is to have for his wife.  This love is contrary to the sinful bent of mankind because it seeks to give instead of get.

Ephesians 5:25-33 gives further description to this love.  In that passage the husband is commanded three separate times to love his wife.  Verse 25 commands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  That is complete sacrifice. And that is the kind of love we are to have for our wives – a sacrificial love.  Until you have died in the place of your wife, you have not loved her to this extent.  That means that every husband still has room to grow in his love for his wife.

Verses 28-29 commands and explains, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one every hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.”  Here there are two examples given: 1) The first is to love her with the same consideration you give to yourself. Treat her with the same kind of care you give to your own body, and lets face it, everyone seeks to treat their body with the utmost care.  Even when we vigorously exercise it is for the good purpose of keeping out body fit.  It takes time, money, and thoughtful planning to do all the things that are part of caring for our bodies – feeding it, cleaning it, exercising it, making it look good, health care for it and pampering it to make it comfortable.  Husband, do you give that kind of consideration to your wife?  2) The second example is harder for Christ is the example and His care for the church is complete and sacrificial.  His care for the church is actually better than our care for our own bodies because He does know what is best while we guess at that.  Yet that is still the example set for a husband to follow in loving his wife.

Paul also points out the pragmatic aspect of this too – this kind of love is not only a sacrificial love, it is a serving love.  A husband is to care for his wife because she is part of him.  We may not understand all of what it means in the quote from Genesis 2:24 repeated here in verse 31, but there is definitely some aspect in which the two individuals have become one flesh in marriage.  In marriage the husband is part of the wife and the wife is part of the husband.  So even from a more selfish point of view, for the man to love his wife is really to love himself – as Paul states at the end of verse 28.

Think about that a moment men.  Is there anything that you could do for your wife that would not ultimately come back to you for your benefit?  Certainly there are some exceptions in women that are so self-centered that they are not fit to live with, but in general, is it not true that if you treat your wife well, she will also treat you well?  If you give consideration to her, she will also do the same for you.  If you lead her in all godliness, she will be a more godly woman. If you love her as the scripture says here, she will be much more easily able to fulfill her role in submitting to your leadership and showing you respect. If you demonstrate sacrificial love to her, she is much more apt to sacrificially love you too.

Love your wife as Christ loved the church – have sacrificial love.  Cherish her as you cherish your own body – have serving love.

Paul’s third command to love your wife is in verse 33 – “Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself.”  The arguments here are really the same.  Everyone loves themselves.  We do what we can to build ourselves up in the eyes of others.  There is no lack and has never been a lack of self-esteem in the human race.  Instead it is just the opposite.  Humans are by nature self-centered and proud.  We love ourselves.

The Bible uses that fact as a prod to get us to understand that we need to love others. The general command given by Jesus in several different passages is that you are to love your neighbor as yourself.  Here Paul applies that directly to every husband.  You are to love your wife as you do yourself.  The type of love that the Bible is teaching here is a sanctifying love.  Instead of focusing on ourselves and seeking to build ourselves up, husbands are to have the kind of love that will lead them to do all they can to build up their wives and help her become all that God wants and needs her to become.

Let me now give you a couple of examples to prod your thinking about applying these commands in practical ways.

1) Your wife calls you to dinner and you find that she is actually serious about making the family diet more healthy, and if it tastes like it looks you will be losing a lot of weight very quickly.  What is your reaction?  A) Grateful for her service to you and care about your health, B) Irritated you didn’t get something you like C) Making plans to go out and get a burger later

2) You have been planning an event with your friends for sometime – fishing, hunting, watching an important game, etc. and when the day arrives your wife has the flu.  She looks and feels like death warmed over.  How do you feel about the prospect of staying home and taking care of her and the kids? A) What an opportunity to prove how much I love her. B) Why is God punishing me? C) Maybe her mother can come watch her and the kids?

3) Your busy reading the paper or watching your favorite sporting competition and your wife sits down and says, “honey, I have a problem.”  Do you A) Get excited that she thinks so highly of you that she wants your help, B) Want her to go away and come again some other day, or C) Get a chill running down your spine that you could be in trouble?

4) You have listened to your wife’s problem and given her a very intelligent and logical solution, but she keeps talking about it.  Do you think: A) Why doesn’t she just thank me and leave me alone now, B) Uh oh, she’s a bit dense today or C) Wow, this problem has really affected her.  I wonder how else I can encourage her and let her know that I care?

Gentlemen, to love your wife the way Christ loved the church, to love her as your own body, to love her as you love yourself will require you to sacrifice yourself for her.  Let me quickly add here that this includes the idea of protection.  You place yourself in harm’s way in order to keep her safe.  There is a price you will have to pay in order to love her in the manner God commands.  You will have to be humble and learn to put her best interests over your own, but isn’t that what we are called to be as Christians anyway?  Philippians 2:3-4 commands us to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Back in Colossians 3:19 we also find that Paul commands husbands to not be embittered against their wives.

The word embittered is pikrainô.  The root of the word means “to cut, prick due to being sharp, pointed.”  In reference to smell or taste it is disagreeably pungent.  The word is used in Revelation 8:11 in reference to the waters being made bitter.  It can also refer to a sour stomach as it does in Revelation 10 when John’s stomach was made bitter from the little scroll he ate.  The noun form is used in James 3:11 as a contrast to sweet water, but more often the cognate forms are used metaphorically in reference to attitudes that are bitter, sharp, harsh, angry, jealous. Peter wept bitterly after denying the Lord (Matthew 26:75).  Those lacking wisdom have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their hearts (James 3:14).  The unrighteous have mouths full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3:14) and a root of bitterness causes trouble and defiles many (Hebrews 12:15).

Why would Paul have to warn husbands to not let such bitterness rise up in their lives against their wives?  This command is the contrast to the command to love.  If the husband and wife are properly fulfilling their roles he will not become bitter against her, but if either fail to do so, then bitterness could rise quickly.  Paul’s command is to keep that from happening.

Even a man that generally does walk properly with the Lord can respond sharply to the wife he claims to love if he is caught off guard, over stressed, or momentarily selfish.  A man who is not diligent to walk with the Lord can easily turn against his wife and become harsh or even respond in anger if he is not getting what he wants.  That can happen even when she is trying to do the right thing but is misunderstood, but it is nearly a given if she is disrespectful or he senses she is trying to manipulate him for her own advantage.

Bitterness may be sharp, but it does not have to expend itself all at once like anger.  It can also burn slowly over a long period which is why a root of bitterness can cause so much damage.  It continues to fester and smolder for longer periods causing damage long after the initial spark that set the fire going has faded away.  Such behavior ought not to be and so Paul warns against it.  Love should and will prevent it, but at those points when love is lacking or he finds his wife especially irritating for whatever reason, he is to heed the caution and not allow bitterness into his life.

Paul contrasts wrong and right behavior and attitudes in Ephesians 4:31-32 saying, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Bitterness is an attitude and action of the old man and so it should be put away from you as you walk in the new man.  It should not even show up in your speech much less your actions.  You are not even to let an unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such words as are good for edification according to the need of the moment that it might give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:31).  There is no room in the Christian husband’s life for jokes and comments that disparage his wife.

Peter’s command to husbands in 1 Peter 3:7 is helpful in preventing any bitterness from arising. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman’ and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  An “understanding way” is literally, “according to knowledge.”  Your wife is to be your life study.  Yes, she is very different from you because she thinks very differently than you.  You both should praise God for that.  It is your responsibility to study her and learn how she thinks, reasons, and why she feels the way she feels.  Her reasoning and emotions do not have to make sense to you, but you do need to strive to recognize them and respond accordingly.  Too often men make it a one-way street demanding their wives figure them out and change accordingly, but it is actually a two-way street with the greater responsibility placed upon the man.  Older women are to teach the younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2:3-5), so they do have a responsibility to learn about you, but the greater responsibility still lies on you men to do this.  Why?  Because you are the man and she is the woman who is a weaker vessel.

Feminists recoil at Peter’s statement here that women are weaker vessels and there is much debate about exactly what Peter means by the statement.  However, Peter points this out as a reality and why men need to take on this responsibility.  I do not think this is a reference to women being weaker physically.  While women generally lack the upper body strength of a man, they often show much greater physical stamina.  Hence the old adage that a man works from rising to setting sun, but a woman’s work is never done.  Like the Eveready Battery Bunny she keeps going, and going, and going.

Nor do I think that this refers to general intellectual ability since women often prove themselves to be equal to and sometimes even superior to men in various fields of study.  My personal opinion, for which I think I can make a scriptural case, is that this refers to her emotional makeup which can lead her astray.  Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:14 the reasons he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over a man was the order of creation and that it was Eve that was deceived, not Adam.

The husband then needs to take on the responsibility to strive to understand his wife and live with her accordingly, granting her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.  She is in no way his inferior.  The husband and wife simply have different gifts and God given roles.

 There are a couple of other roles that husbands have in the marriage that I want to mention briefly.

The first is leadership.

The Bible states in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself [being] the Savior of the body.”  It adds in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”  The man has a responsibility to lead his wife as her head.  This is not license for him to do anything he wants at her expense, but rather to take the responsibility to direct his family in the ways of the Lord, for Christ is his head.  Men, you are under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and that is regardless of whether you even profess faith in Him or not.  Notice in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the statement that “Christ is the head of every man” is without qualification.  The Lord Jesus is your creator and He will hold you accountable and judge you for how well you have followed His commands in leading your family.  An additional sobering truth is that a leader has the responsibility for the decisions made in the family including those made by his wife or children.

That leadership will encompass many areas of life, but a primary one is leading in holiness.  In Ephesians 5 the example of the love of Christ is that He sacrificed Himself for the church so that He might sanctify her.  He wanted her to be all that she could and should be, without spot or wrinkle, being holy and blameless.  Husbands are responsible to love their wives with the same goal in view.  He is to lead her into holiness.  Husband, what are you doing in lead your wife into holiness?  The priorities and example of your life will answer that question – your own church involvement, personal Bible study, family devotions, personal integrity.  All of these are part of it plus your encouragement for her to take the time and be involved in her own personal devotions and in ministry for the Lord.

Your example is even more important if your wife is not a Christian.  Your walk with the Lord and how you treat her should do one of three things: 1) Attract her to salvation in Christ; 2) Drive her away because of her rejection of Christ – again be sure it is Christ in you that drives her away and not you; 3) She thinks you are a fanatic but she stays with you anyway because she knows no other man would treat her as well as you do.

Leadership also encompasses an element of protection from the physical danger and moral evils that exist all around us.  Decisions regarding even things such as where you live, the jobs you do, the friends you keep, the activities you participate in, and even entertainment choices will have major influence on the way in which you live.  If you do not lead your wife into holiness then you will be leading her away from it, and that will wear even on a godly woman.  Protect her from evil influences by your godly leadership.

The last responsibility I want to mention this morning is being a provider.

The Bible states in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household , he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever”  The context of this verse encompasses not just your wife and children, but also widows in the extended family when necessary.

Providing is not about how much money you make,

But rather about your own trust in the Lord

To do things His way knowing that

He is the one that actually provides.

Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6:33 is crucial to being a godly provider – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  God will provide the food, shelter and clothing you need and by which you should be content if you put Him first.  And remember that 1 Timothy 6:8 makes it clear that we can be content in just having food and covering.  If these truths do not direct your efforts to provide, then you will be caught in the trap of materialism and coveting will lead you into all sorts of evils.

There are couples that live together but remain unmarried because it gives them a financial advantage in taxes or income.  There are many more that purposely disobey God’s commandments and compromise their moral convictions in order to take or keep a job.  There are even more that fail to keep the priorities God has set for the family in order to pursue gaining lots of stuff in the false belief that is what it means to be a man and provide.  Many men who work 60-70-80 hours per week consistently and unnecessarily and often have their wife working too in order to have a big home, luxury cars, fancy meals, exotic vacations, and lots of toys and gadgets.

What your wife and children need is you,

Not the abundance of stuff you can provide.

Live in a smaller home with less stuff, drive an older car, eat simply, and provide your wife and family with what they really need – your sacrificial, servant-minded, and sanctifying love, time, and godly leadership.  That is the true role of a husband.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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God’s Idea Of Marriage

Grace For The Journey

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27Aug Ever heard the expression “It Takes Two To Tango?”  Or maybe you’ve heard that “Marriage Is A Two-Way Street.”  Both expressions mean, of course, that both husband and wife have a role in making the marriage work.

A marriage consists of two people

– Husband and wife –

Each working together,

Working with one another,

And for one another,

But

Never against one another.

It may “take two to tango,”

But it takes more than two

To make a marriage work.

It takes three to make a marriage work because . . .

Marriage is inherently a biblical institution.

The family is the first institution

Created by God.

Marriage is God’s idea.

So . . .  It takes three:

Husband, Wife, and the Lord.

We pick up today in our verse-by-verse study of the third chapter of Colossians looking at Colossians 3:18-19, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  Remember, the Apostle Paul is writing to Christians so he has God’s definition of marriage in view.  We’re talking about . . . “God’s Idea of Marriage.”

In order to understand the commands that Paul gives in verses 18 and 19 it is critical that we understand the context for them.  Over the last week, we have studied these and the radical changes that occur when a person places their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation from sin and becomes a Christian.  A Christian is redeemed and regenerated by Jesus so that he is reconciled to God.  Before we came to Christ, we were entrapped in Satan’s dominion, but God through Jesus has transferred us to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14).  We were dead in our transgressions, but we have been made alive together with Jesus and raised up with Him (Colossians 2:13; 3:1).  Jesus has reconciled us to God by His death on the cross for our sins so that we now have peace with God (Colossians 1:22).  The person we used to be has died with Christ and been replaced by a new man that is chosen of God, holy and beloved (Colossians 3:3, 12).

The result of these things is that we are to put to death the vices of our old way of life such as immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (Colossians 3:5).  We are to set aside our old ways of thinking and their consequential actions such as anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech (Colossians 3:8).  We are to then put on Christian virtues such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other and love for they reflect Jesus living through us. (Colossians 3:12-14)   In addition, the peace of Christ is to control our hearts and we are to be thankful letting the word of Christ richly dwell in us so that we can teach and admonish one another in song, hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:15-17).  Yesterday we examined Paul’s final general exhortation in that section that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  That command includes everything we communicate and all our actions and behaviors.

It is out of this context

That Paul now makes

Specific application of

These principles

To particular groups

In regards to the role

They are to fulfill

In their relationships

With others.

Today we will examine the role of the wife, and in future blogs we will look at the role of the husband, the children, the parents, employees, and employers.  This will takes us from Colossians 3:18-4:1.

Let me begin by making some preliminary comments in preparation for examining what the Bible says about the role of the wife.  I would like to both warn about improper application of this verse and avoid some cultural land mines if possible.

First, be careful about your response to each of these studies.  Each one will be directed at a particular group, today it will be those who are wives, but those who are not part of that particular group also need to pay close attention so that you will understand the role of others and know how to encourage them in fulfilling it.  Also, be very careful about using this information to attack and criticize others.  We are to seek to build one another up, not tear one another down.  Those who are quick to criticize others will usually have a lot more about their own life that can be criticized.

Second, be aware that due to the prevalence of feminist thought in American culture that the subject of the role of the wife has become controversial even within the church. When I say feminist thought, I am not referring to just the radical views of the feminist extremists such as those in N.O.W. whose touchstone issues are abortion for any reason and lesbianism.  I am referring to the general view of women and their roles that have come to be accepted by most Americans including professing Christians.  You will know what I am talking about when you start feeling uncomfortable by what I will be discussing today.

Third, be aware that many preachers are fearful of speaking on this issue because they do not want to risk the possible backlash.  I heard of one preacher that even succumbed to the silly argument that he was not qualified to speak on issues concerning women because he was not a woman.  If it was a matter of personal opinion that might be true, but is not a matter of opinion but of declaring what God has said.

Everyone is obligated to bring

Their thoughts and opinions

Into alignment with what

The Lord says about every

Subject He addresses.

He is the Sovereign Creator and knows the truth even about women.  My responsibility as a pastor is to faithfully explain what God has revealed in His Word, and as much as I would like to avoid having any women here upset at me, I am much more concerned that I am true to what God has said.

Colossians 3:18 simply states, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  That command fits into the wider context of God’s commands concerning marriage, so before I discuss the idea of wives submitting to their husbands, I want to make sure you know God’s design for marriage, for the wife’s role must fit into that design.

Paul is led by God to explain in Ephesians 5:31-32, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  Verse 32 is a quote from Genesis 2:24 where God brings Adam and Eve together and institutes the first marriage.  Verse 33 is an explanation of the purpose of marriage.

Marriage is not so much

About the individuals involved

But about the glory of God.

Marriage is to be

A picture of Christ and

His relationship to the church.

Your marriage is to bring glory to God.

This is the primary reason that the continuing talk about marriage being anything other than between a man and a woman is not only nonsense, but is wrong.  God is the one that instituted marriage, so only He can define it, and He did so when He created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs and then gave her to him.  In addition, since marriage is to glorify God as a picture of Christ and the Church, then anything other than a man and a woman is a perversion of what God intended.  Those promoting such perversions need to repent and turn from their sin to the forgiveness and freedom from sin that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are in serious danger of the Lord turning away and leaving them condemned in their sin for eternity as explained in Romans 1:18-32.

Because marriage is a picture of Christ and the church,

There is always hope even for marriages that

Are in turmoil and in danger of breaking apart.

God is much more interested in the marriage

Than anyone else for He has a larger

And more important purpose for it.

Any two people that are willing to follow God’s design for marriage can have a wonderful and joyful relationship because that is always the side benefit of doing things God’s way.  The marriage will still take a lot of work and there will be hard times, but God will use even those things to mold each one into what they are supposed to be. There will then be purpose and meaning in life because the reason for existence is being fulfilled.

There is no such thing as an irreconcilable marriage, just individuals that refuse to be reconcilable to God and their spouse.  When a husband and wife will not follow God’s design, then the marriage will be at best a hollow shadow of what it could have been, but more often, the marriage will flounder into just two people living separate lives under the same roof or it will fail completely and break apart.

While it only takes one spouse to destroy a marriage by a refusal to follow God’s design, there is good news for the spouse that does strive to follow God’s design for their life.  They can still bring glory to the name of the Lord and be a blessing to others.  We are told in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing spouse.

Remember, marriage is more about the glory of God than it is about the two people that are married.

The purpose of marriage

Has a divine objective.

That objective can still be met, but ever since Adam’s fall every marriage starts out with a strike against it.  If husband and wife each take a swing at marriage in their own wisdom and power they will strike out, but if Jesus Christ is the focus of the marriage and they let the Holy Spirit be the one that guides and empowers them, they will hit a home run.

Now let’s look at . . .

The Role of the Wife

The institution of marriage begins in Genesis with Adam and Eve.  Genesis 2:18-25 records, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helpmate for him.” (Someone called alongside to complete, complement, and assist). And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought [them] to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.  And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, (Isha – female man) Because she was taken out of Man.”  For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

The scenario God used here set Adam up to know his lack of companionship and his need for someone who would be his compliment.  God then made Eve from out of Adam’s rib.  Paul comments on this in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 saying, “For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

That verse is repulsive to feminist thought and is the reason that Christian women who have been affected by feminism tend to think of Paul as a male chauvinist and not worth listening too.  The truth is that Paul elevated the position of women for women in many of the ancient societies and in even within much of Jewish practice at that time were treated little better than farm animals.  Paul emphasized a woman’s equal standing and worth before God in verses such as Galatians 3:28, but Paul also understood what God had said from the very beginning and made clear statements about the proper role God has given to women.  Paul did not compromise on the truth and neither should we.  God created the woman specifically to be the helpmeet, the perfect completion and compliment, for the man.

If this truth that the woman was created for the man’s sake bothers you, then you have a two fold problem.  First, you are in rebellion against what God has done, and second, you have also failed to understand the incredible importance of the role God has given to women.  You have been deceived into the absurd lunacy of feminism that places premium value on those characteristics which are typically male rather than female. There is very little that is feminine in feminism.

Eve had no problem with the role that God gave her, but that role became a curse when she and Adam fell into sin.  Prior to that, Adam and Eve were completely open with each other.  The word, “naked,” in Genesis 2:25 means “without impediment” and is actually a mental concept.  It is a lot more than just not having clothes on.  The very same word is used in Genesis 3:1 to describe the serpent as “crafty.”  Adam and Eve were not selfish.  They were not sinful.  They were completely open with each other and willingly served one another in the roles God had given them, but sin brought a curse upon them.

In Genesis 3:14-19 God places a curse on the serpent, Eve, and Adam.  The aspect of the curse on Eve at the end of verse 16 relates to our subject this morning, “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”  While there is some controversy over the exact meaning of “desire” here, I believe the case is very strong for it to include the idea of wanting to control her husband, for the contrast to it is him “ruling over her.”

Rather than being a compliment to one another,

They were now in competition to one degree or another.

Selfishness desires what it wants and

Demands from the other leading

To conflict that easily becomes

A power struggle in the marriage

Over the responsibilities and resources.

God’s design for marriage is against this curse of sin.  It moves both the husband and wife back into their proper roles within which they again compliment one another rather than conflict with each other.  Paul explains here Colossians 3 and in Ephesians 5 what is necessary for a husband and wife to live in this manner.

The Issue of Submission

Many shudder when they hear that word “submission.”   The word annoys and stuns some people.   So . . . Before we do anything else, let’s make sure this is not the “Word of Terry,” but the “Word of God.”  Look carefully at Colossians 3:18 and read it again, making sure this is what it teaches: “Wives, submit (there’s that word) to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  Don’t miss the key phrase at the end of this verse.  It literally reads, “as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.”  In other words, biblical submission is expected on the part of those who “belong to the Lord.”

Okay, but what does “submit” mean?

First, it is nearly always as helpful to know what a term does not mean as well as what it does mean.  So . . . Let’s look into that first.

  • Biblical submission does not mean that a wife is in any way inferior to her husband.  She is not inferior morally, intellectually, or in value.
  • Submission also does not mean that a wife has no say in decisions in the relationship.
  • Neither does submission mean that a wife is to be treated as a doormat, someone to be walked upon, ignored, or walked over.

So . . .  What does it mean?

Biblical submission simply means “to follow the lead of one’s husband.” That is pretty much it.  Follow the leader.  Think about it: if more than one person is involved in anything, someone has to be the leader.  Have you ever been in a group of people at work or school, and everyone’s just standing around?  An assignment is given, but everyone is just standing there.  Someone has to lead.  Imagine a tour group and everyone is huddled together, but not going anywhere.  Finally, a leader emerges and says, “Okay, everyone.  Here we go.  Follow me.”  Someone has to lead.

God creates the family and assigns the primary leadership role to the husband.  This is called “headship.”  The husband is the “head” of the family.  Headship does not necessarily mean the husband is smarter, wiser, or in some way morally superior to his wife.  He is simply the leader.  His wife “submits” by following his lead.  She yields voluntarily to the leadership of her husband.

I believe the relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity is helpful to our understanding the relationship of husband and wife.  In the Trinity, God is one.  God is one yet three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  So . . . God is one in essence.  Whatever is in the Father is also in the Son.  And whatever is in the Son is in the Spirit.  There is no difference in essence.  Father, Son, and Spirit are all one and the same in essence, nature, and worth.  Yet, the Persons of the Trinity have different functions, or differing roles and responsibilities: the Son submits to the Father and the Holy Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son.

In a similar way, the difference between a husband and wife is not a difference in essence, nature, or worth, but a difference in role, responsibility, or function.

The Christian husband lovingly “leads” his wife and the wife “yields” herself graciously and voluntarily to the headship of her husband.

The assumption in the text is that the husband is, in fact, a Christian, but if he is not a believer, the principle still holds.  A husband lovingly leads and a wife graciously follows – neither acting in a way that demeans the one nor exalts the other.

One of the reasons many bristle

At the very mention of submission

Is because of the unbiblical way

Many worldly men have

Wrongly understood the term.

The secular, non-biblical understanding of submission provides a stark contrast to the biblical teaching of submission.  And it’s not just the overbearing “neanderthal-like” men with warped minds who have wrong ideas about submission.  Faulty notions of submission are often discovered in literature, popular culture, art, comedy, and among the most gifted of musicians.

Have you heard the folk song by Shel Silverstein entitled, “Put Another Log On The Fire?”  The lyrics are about a simple country man who expects his wife to do everything for him.  It’s meant to be funny and is intentionally exaggerated, but is also unfortunately “too true” in that it captures the way many men wrongly think of marriage:

Put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
And go out to the car and change the tire.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.

You can fill my pipe and then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire babe,
And come and tell me why you’re leaving me.

Now don’t I let you wash the car on Sunday?
And don’t I warn you when you’re gettin’ fat?
Ain’t I a-gonna take you fishin’ with me someday?
Well, a man can’t love a woman more than that.

And ain’t I always nice to your kid sister?
Don’t I take her driving every night?
So, sit here at my feet, cause I like you when you’re sweet,
And you know it ain’t feminine to fight.

Shel Silverstein wrote the song as something of a parody of the ineptness of a man who can’t understand why his wife wants to leave him.  This is what has made the song so funny to so many men and women over the years.  At the same time, however, the song also depicts an unfortunate reality in many marriages.  Too many men neglect their wives, demean their wives, speak down to their wives, and then wonder why their marriage is in shambles.

Wise husbands love their wives and are grateful for their wives.  It was Solomon who wrote in Proverbs 18:22,“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” 

Look back at verse 18a again, “Wives, submit subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  The word translated “submit” here is, “A Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”.  In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”

With this understanding

It is easy to see

That the idea

In this passage

Is a voluntary following

And

Not a demanded obedience.

To submit is to

Place yourself under

Another through the

Surrender of your will

And

Rights to that other person.

Where can such a voluntary submission come from given the selfish and sinful nature all humans have and the specific curse women have upon them?

It comes from the change

That occurs when the

Wife becomes a Christian.

In Ephesians 5 Paul deals with the same subject of the family and makes the same command concerning the wife, but he gives more background and explanation for how to do it.

In Ephesians 5:15 Paul warns about . . .

The need to walk as wise men

And understanding the will of the Lord

In being filled with the Spirit.

The context in the passage makes it clear

That this means to be controlled by the Spirit

Since it is contrasted to being drunk with wine.

Out of being filled with the Spirit comes a joyful and thankful attitude and “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).  That is a command to all believers, not just the women.  In the next verse Paul makes his statement about the role of the wife, but the verb is supplied from verse 21.  A more literal translation of verses 21 & 22 would be, “and being submissive to one another in fear of Christ, the wives to their own husbands as to the Lord.”  All Christians are to be subject to one another, but in the marriage the wife is in particular to take on that role in her relationship with her husband.

The ability of a woman to do this will be dependent on her relationship to God and being filled with the Spirit.  In fact . . .

This cannot be done

Without the Holy Spirit.

Certainly, there are cultures where the women are subservient and obedient to their husbands, but that is out of fear, not love.  They are dependent on their husbands and fear losing their provider, their position in society, and even their children.

The submission called for here

Is based on a love for Christ

That is then extended

To the husband willingly.

She submits primarily for Jesus’ sake because it pleases Him and secondarily for her husband’s sake. The Christian woman needs to realize that her serving her husband as a godly wife is a major way in which she serves Christ, so it is a voluntary submission to him in the same way that she submits to Jesus Christ.

Paul states the reason for this submission in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself [being] the Savior of the body.

The idea of the husband being the head

Is one of position of authority and responsibility,

Not one of superior to inferior.

The wife may even have superior abilities and skills in many areas compared to your husband, but the question here is not one of ability and skill but of order and purpose.  Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that God the Father is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of a woman.  The headship of the man is not arbitrary, but follows the order of creation, as Paul points out in 1 Timothy 2:13.  And it also follows the purpose of our creation as we have already pointed out from Genesis 2.  The woman was created to be the compliment of the man, not the other way around.

In tomorrow’s blog we will see that God will hold your husband responsible for how he leads you in godliness, but God is going to hold you responsible for how you follow his lead in godliness.  Wife, it is God’s will for you to demonstrate your trust of Christ in your submission to your husband which Paul says in verse 24 is to be in like manner to your submission to Christ – “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives [ought to be] to their husbands in everything.”  The apostle Peter is even stronger in this than Paul.  1 Peter 3:1-5 says, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.  And let not your adornment be [merely] external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.  Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

Certainly this is easier if your husband is a Christian man who lives out the principles of the Scriptures, but notice from 1 Peter 3:1 that your submission takes place even if your husband is disobedient to the Word, so you are to do this even if he is not living as he should or is not a Christian at all.  No one says this is easy, in fact it is impossible unless you are filled with the Spirit.  Yet, this passage says that the way to win your husband is through your “chaste and respectful behavior.”  Your humble submission is what God will use to draw your husband to Himself.

Not let me quickly point out that this idea of submission does have limitations.  Paul says here in our text in Colossians 3:18 that wives are to be subject to their husbands “as is fitting in the Lord.”

Here then are some qualifiers to that submission . . .

1) Your submission is primarily to God, then to your husband.

You cannot submit to anything He may ask you to do that would violate any of God’s commandments.  Ideally your husband would fulfill his role in helping you be holy and blameless, but there are many men that would lead you in the opposite direction.  As Peter and John said before the Sanhedrin, “we must obey God rather than men.”  The same must be true of you.

2) Submission does not mean you are to allow your husband to abuse you.  In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul says, “. . . the wife should not leave her husband, but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband.”  Separation is the Biblical alternative to an abusive marriage.  That is the wake-up call for the man to get his act together.  I will add here that physically abusive men need some jail time for two reasons. 1) The God given role of government is to be an avenger of evil and it needs to carry out that role; 2) More importantly, the loving thing to do is make the person aware of the seriousness of their sin that they may repent and walk in holiness.  A little jail time on earth to be what wakens him up to the need for salvation is much better than eternity in hell; 3) Submission does not mean that you have to coddle an unbelieving husband so they will not leave you.  I Corinthians 7:15 states, “yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”  You are to live a godly life with all humility and with all righteousness.  If your spouse cannot stand to see Jesus Christ living in you, then you are free to let them leave.  Just be sure it is righteousness of Christ in you that causes them to leave and not you driving them away by your own sinful manipulations.  I remember a man asking me in all seriousness if God would approve him leaving his wife and going to live in the desert since Proverbs 21:19 says that is better to live in the desert than live with a contentious and vexing woman.

The Issue of Respect.

Looking back to Ephesians 5 we find verses 25-33 all deal with the husband’s role.  That gives you an idea of who gets the most instruction; and who needs to most instruction; but the very end of verse 33 has one more command to the ladies, “and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”  I believe few women really understand the importance of their influence on their husbands.  Sure, there are a lot of jokes about her changing his wardrobe and manners into something more socially acceptable, but I am referring to accomplish anything significant in this life.

The saying that “behind every great man is a good woman” is more than a cliche.  It is a general truth.  Remember that you were created to be his help meet – his complement and companion that would enable him to function properly and accomplish something with his life.  The Proverbs 31 woman enabled her husband to take a position of leadership in the community (Proverbs 31:23).  For all their bravado, men are generally fearful and insecure.  He may never admit it, but he wants and needs someone to believe in him and encouragement to succeed.  God has given that role primarily to you wives.  You treat your husband with respect and he will try to take on the world.  If you belittle him, you will either lose him or watch him shrivel up into a shadow of what he is supposed to be.

But you might say there is much about your man that you do not respect.  The Bible does not say he has to be perfect for you to respect him.  Start in the areas you do respect him and then learn from there to treat him with respect.

The Issue of Resistance.

What is the major reason that women struggle in submitting to and respecting their husbands?  Many times it is because their own walk with the Lord is lacking so they are not filled with the Spirit.  This lack leads to very poor marriage choices resulting in difficult marriages.  Those who are single need to be very careful about who you agree to marry.  After marriage, the continued spiritual lack results in selfishness and pride and therefore resentment of being called to play what she thinks is second fiddle to her husband.  Why should he get the glory?  Why does he get to do all the important things?  Why should he hold the reigns of power?  Why do I have to do what he wants? etc. etc. That brings me back to my major point.

If you are to fulfill

Your God-given role

As a godly wife,

You must be controlled

By Holy Spirit first.

You must see your life

The way God sees it and

Learn to value what He does.

We place too much importance on doing what we think is important rather than on being what God says is important.  It is completely up to God what position he puts us in, what gifts He gives us, and the extent to which those gifts are used.  That is as true in the church as it is in the family (1 Corinthians 12).

What God wants from us

Is simply humble service

To Him from our hearts.

The Lord values faithfulness, not “success” as the defined by the world.  The importance of the position God has given to women is incredible and should never be underestimated by either men or women, so don’t you do that.  Do not be jealous of other people including your husband.  You just be the most godly wife you can possibly be and know that it is pleasing in the Lord’s sight.  Put off the vices of the old nature and put on the virtues of the new.  Submit to God, fulfil your role, and watch Him work in your life and in the life of your husband.

And a wise husband knows his wife will help him as he leads.  She will be supremely helpful to him in decision-making, often providing counsel and even warning.  She may see or sense something that he fails to see or sense.  And generally, where a husband and wife are walking hand-in-hand – each for the other and both for the Lord – they will be in agreement on most decisions.

But the ultimate responsibility for leadership falls to the husband.  We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Living For The Savior

Grace For The Journey

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26Aug  In today’s blog we come to the culmination of Paul’s general exhortations to the Colossians to live according to the new nature they received when they became Christians.  Paul will continue his exhortations in the next section of this book, but they will be more narrowly focused on particular groups of people within the church – wives, husbands, parents, children, workers and employers.

Paul began the chapter by pointing out . . .

The radical change that occurs

When a person places their faith

In the Lord Jesus Christ

And becomes a Christian.

The old self has died with Christ and the new self has been raised up to newness of life with Him. The result is that the believer is to set his mind and seek the things above instead of the things that are on earth.  Christians have a wonderful security in Christ because our lives are hidden in Him, and we have a wonderful promise for the future because we will be glorified with Him when He returns.

Because the Christian

Has been

Redeemed,

Regenerated

And

Reconciled

By the Lord,

The old patterns

Of life

And ways

Of thinking

Are to be

Changed.

As Paul states in Colossians 3:5-11, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, [and] abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its [evil] practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – [a renewal] in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

The old man may be dead, but the new man has to live in the same old body with the same old mind, and so it will take some work to break the old evil habits and be transformed by a mind renewed through the washing of the water of the word.  It will also take some work to put into place the new godly habits that demonstrate a change of nature.  Paul gives general exhortations to the Colossians concerning these Christian virtues in verses 12-17.

When I first outlined how I would divide up the text for a sermon schedule, I was planning to cover all of these virtues in just two sermons. One sermon on the character of the elect from verses 12 and 13, and then in the second sermon the actions of the elect from verses 14-17. Instead, we have found such rich material in these verses that it has taken six sermons to cover them – and even then we could have spent even more time plumbing the depths of the truths contained here.

Starting in verse 12 Paul exhorts us, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

While the non-Christian can mimic

Some of these virtues in particular situations,

Only those who are chosen by God,

Holy and beloved,

Have any hope of carrying

All of them out with all people.

The reason?

Only by the power of

The Holy Spirit

Dwelling in you

And

The Lord Jesus Christ

Manifesting His life

Through you

Can any human

Have these attitudes

And behave in

The manner described

With all people

Including enemies.

As Jesus pointed out in the Matthew 5:43-48 in the Sermon on the Mount, the follower of Jesus is to love his enemies and even pray for those that persecute him.  Even the tax-gatherers could love those who loved them.  The believer is to do much more than that by pressing on to be perfect as a reflection of God, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

You cannot do that on your own.

It must be God working in you.

Such as Paul explains in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  It is ultimately God’s work, but at the same time we must do our part in not dragging around the corpse of the old man by continuing in old habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking. We are to put those things to death.  We are to lay them aside.

We are responsible to put on the new man and step forward in the obedience of faith in following Christ.

  • We are to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and even bear with one another.
  • We are to go beyond that and forgive one another in the same manner that Christ has forgiven us, and He is the one that initiated everything to bring about the reconciliation.
  • We go beyond even that by loving others in the same way that God has loved us with a sacrificial commitment to the best interest of the other person.

God’s greatest demonstration of this was Jesus Christ dying as the sin sacrifice in our place to redeem us and offer the possibility of being adopted into His family.  The result of living out these virtues is having the peace of Christ ruling our hearts.  The way we think and our view on life is radically changed so that we are in actual harmony with God.

As I pointed in my last blog . . .

The more the Word of God

Richly dwells within us,

The greater we will change

And live out these virtues.

It is out of a knowledge of His Word applied by the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit that we know right from wrong and shun what is evil and embrace what is good.  Those without this knowledge walk around in ignorance thinking they are doing what is right before God, while in actuality they live contrary to His Word and often even bring shame on His name.  That is why is it important that the believer is actively involved within a body of believers who will help them know and apply God’s Word.  We are to teach and admonish one another – instruct in righteousness and warn against unrighteous attitudes and behavior.  We are to do that even in the music we listen to in the daily course of life.

For the past few days, we have been conducting some “exploratory heart surgery” as we have studied the character of the new Christian in Colossians 3:15-17.  From these verses we noted two actions of Christians with new hearts:

We Learn To End Strife – Verse 15.

and,

We Love The Scriptures – Verse 16.

Today’s post focuses on the culminating action given in verse 17 and teaches us that  . . .

We Live for the Savior.

Verse 17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

This verse begins with a subjunctive clause that is stated as an independent nominative (also called a nominative absolute).  What that means is that the phrase “whatever you do” supplies the subject and verb for the next part in the sentence which does not actually have a verb.  The “whatever you do in word or deed” is without limit for it is the “all” that is to be done in the name of Christ.

Tragically, that is definitely not how the vast majority of professing Christians live, and especially so in western cultures. There is a strong tendency for westerners to partition their lives into sections which may or may not be interdependent upon each other.  Most Christians in western culture tend to divide their lives according to what they regard as either secular or sacred.  They may acknowledge some overlap between the two, but for the most part they remain separated from each other.  There seems to be little application of what they learn in church to what they do at work, at home, and in recreational activities.  Worse, there seems to be little understanding that what they profess to believe about God should be applied to how they live their lives outside of church.

This appears to be another factor in the reason why there is so little statistical difference between the vices of self-professing Christians and non-Christians.  For example, there should be a huge difference in the divorce rates of Christians verses non-Christians, but there is not.  In fact, the Christian rate is slightly higher, perhaps because those willing to identify themselves as Christians are more likely to bother to get married.

I have run into this myself and heard many comment about the same thing about people they work with, go to school with, or have some other association in which the person claims to be a Christian, but behaves in ways that are very overtly unrighteous.  They can keep their mouth clean at church, but it is foul at work.  They present themselves as humble at church, but they are self-centered braggarts at school.  They portray themselves as thoughtful and caring at a Christian fellowship meeting, but at home they are selfish and demanding.  If you question their behavior and ask about their profession of being a Christian, they always have some excuse for it, claim they are okay with God, and challenge you about being judgmental.  The technique often works and we give up on talking to them about their actions and words.  The result is that they cause the name of Christ to be blasphemed and it becomes much harder to witness for Christ because of the hypocrisy the non-Christian sees in this self-professed Christian.

This verse destroys this dichotomy between secular and sacred.  For the Christian, there is not to be any such division in life.  Everything you do is to be done with God and glorifying Him in mind.  Everything?  Yes, every word and every deed.

Now before I go on to expand on this phrase, I want to emphasize what is to control our communications and actions.  They must all be all done “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and they must be done “with thankfulness.”  What exactly these phrases mean?

“In the Name of the Lord Jesus”

For many people in our society, a name is not all that significant.  It is just a label by which you refer to some particular individual.  That was not true in the ancient world and it was certainly not true of Jesus.  Notice that in this verse that Paul uses Jesus’ name. If Paul just wanted to make a reference to Jesus, he could have used one of His many titles such as Lord or Christ as he commonly does even here in his letter to the Colossians.  In fact, Paul uses the term “Christ” 23 times in Colossians and the name “Jesus” only 7 times.  Paul uses Jesus’ name because it is much more than a label used to identify Him.  His name represents His very person, and it was very particularly chosen to signify His identity, all that He is and all that He would do.  In Matthew 1:21 the angel of the Lord told Joseph specifically, “And she [Mary] will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus , for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”

In Acts 4:12 Peter boldly told the Sanhedrin, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”  Jesus made it clear that an individual’s salvation is dependent on them believing in His name, for they are the ones that receive Him and have the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  Jesus said in John 3:18 that those who believe in His name are not judged while “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  In the future, it will be at the name of Jesus that “every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10).

The command here is similar to the command to pray in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14).  Just as we are to pray according to Jesus’ will if we are to be confident in receiving what we ask (1 John 5:14-15), so in everything we do in word or deed, we are to do them in such a way that they would be according to Jesus’ will.  The things we communicate to others and the deeds that we do are to be consistent with what Jesus would communicate and what Jesus would do.

Obviously then the greater the Word of God richly dwells within you the easier it will be to carry out this command.  The greater my understanding of Jesus and His commandments, the greater will be my ability to live according to what He wants.  That is the essence of statements by Paul such as Galatians 2:20 that Christ lives in him and that the life he was now living in the flesh was lived by faith in the Son of God or Philippians 1:21 that “for me to live is Christ.”  To do all in the name of the Lord Jesus is to pursue His interests in your life instead of your own.

The attitude of fulfilling this command is simply this.

I want others to see

The Lord Jesus Christ

Living through me.

I want Jesus to

Manifest His life

Through me

In what I say,

What I write, and

The deeds that I do.

I want my light to so shine before men that they will glorify my Father who is in heaven because that light is reflecting Jesus.

“Giving Thanksgiving”

The other attitude addressed in this command is one of thanksgiving. Obviously the two are inherently connected because the one who is living as Jesus desires will also be a person who is expressive of their thankfulness to God in all situations even as Jesus was thankful.  He is our perfect mediator enabling us by the blood of His cross to come to the Father to worship and even present our petitions before His throne of Grace to receive His mercy (Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 4:16).

Thankfulness to God is one of the hallmarks of genuine Christian faith.  Hebrews 13:15 tells us, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” According to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are to “give thanks in everything.”  

That can only be done

If our hearts are correctly

Set on the Lord

So that we seek

To understand life

According to His direction

And trust Him

For the future

Even when we do not

Understand the present.

As we come to understand the will of the Lord and are filled with the Spirit we will bear the fruit of “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:17-20).  The refusal to honor God or give Him thanks is a mark of the unbeliever (Romans 1:20).

Now that we have a general understanding of the command in this verse, let me expand on the idea of “whatever you do in word or deed.”  “Whatever you do in word” covers everything you communicate by means of language.  It covers both the spoken and written word.  it is not only what you say with your lips, but also what you write out for others to read.  That would also include sign language or use of symbols.

I did a study recently on James 3:1-12 and the dangers of the tongue because it is so powerful, yet it is so difficult to control.  Only the perfect man is able to control it, and while the mature man will do better, even he will slip on occasion until the Lord returns and glorifies all of His disciples so that we are perfect.  James makes several analogies about how small, yet powerful, the tongue is.  Like a bit in a horses mouth, or a rudder on a ship, it is small but can direct something vastly greater by proportion.  It is small, but like a spark, it can set a whole forest on fire.  It is small, but very dangerous.

James 3:9-10 sums up the real problem, “With it we bless [our] Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come [both] blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”  When we are actively thinking about what we are supposed to do and put the proper effort into it we will bless the Lord.  When we are not so diligent we will say what comes to mind in the heat of the moment and will curse.  It is easy to praise the Lord when you gather for a worship service.  The combination of the music, Scripture reading, and message help us to focus our mind so that we can truly bless the Lord with your tongue from your heart.  But what happens when you get into the car and head home and someone cuts you off and nearly causes an accident?  It is easy for angry thoughts to slip off your tongue.  James tells us this may be the reality of daily living, but it should not be.  We need the wisdom from above so that we are continually putting off our old sinful ways and putting on the ways of righteousness including how we speak.

(By the way, I have a little acronym to help you when you get angry at someone.  I am told it helps two ways.  First, by the time you remember it, you have calmed down. Second, when you do remember the word and its meaning it will remind you of the truth you need to apply . . . The acronym is . . .

P erson

I n

N eed

O f

G race

A – nd

M – ercy

Proverbs has a lot to say about the use of the tongue often contrasting wise use and wicked use.  Here are some of them . . .

Proverbs 10:20-22, “The tongue of the righteous is [as] choice silver, The heart of the wicked is [worth] little.  The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.  It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.”

Proverbs 10:31-32, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.  The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked, what is perverted.”

Proverbs 12:18-19, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.”

Proverbs 15:1-2, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.”

Proverbs 15:4, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from trouble.”

Proverbs 28:23, “He who rebukes a man will afterward find [more] favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.”

And one of the good qualities of a godly woman is found in Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

Jesus also had a lot to say about what comes out of our mouths. In Matthew 15:7-11, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their criticism about the disciples neglecting their tradition about ritual washing of hands. Jesus told them, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.  ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’  And after He called the multitude to Him, He said to them, “Hear, and understand.  “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth , this defiles the man.”  Jesus then later explained to the disciples in verses 18-20, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

A major problem with our speech is that reveals what is in our hearts – what we are actually thinking and how we view the world.  It is evil beliefs that result in expressions of evil and evil desires.  People will say something cruel and then try to excuse it saying they did not mean it and so they add a lie onto what they have already done wrong.  Of course they meant it.  That is what they were thinking and that is why they said it.  Don’t fall into that trap yourself.  Be honest and instead of trying to excuse or diminish your wrong, acknowledge, repent, and ask for forgiveness.

Jesus gives a strong warning about being careful before you speak in Matthew 12:35-37, “The good man out of [his] good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of [his] evil treasure brings forth what is evil.  “And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment.  “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”

Everything the Scriptures say about the use of your tongue also applies to what you communicate by writing.  Since a letter or note has to be written by hand or typed and then hand delivered or mailed, there is usually more thought put into what is written and caution before it is sent for delivery.  Electronic communication through things such as email, instant messaging, phone texting, blogging, and social networks have exponentially escalated the problems with written communication in several ways.

First, written communication lacks the nuances of emotion that occur in spoken speech and especially when you can also see the person.  Written messages sent electronically are notorious for their use of contractions, acronyms, and code words and symbols.  It is even more difficult to understand the message itself.  I have had to intervene into a few rifts in relationships caused directly by the unclear meaning of the messages sent back and forth.  Be careful that what you write can be clearly understood by those receiving it.

Second, modern electronic communications can send out what you write instantly.  That can be a great advantage in many situations, but it can be a great disadvantage when you respond quickly without thinking carefully about what you are going to say.  A harsh response only stirs up more anger (Proberbs 15:1).  A harshly written letter had the advantage of a delay from writing to delivery so that it could be either torn up or rewritten before being mailed.  You cannot do that when hitting the send button on your computer or phone.

Third, modern electronic communications can broadcast your message widely in an instant.  Again, that is an advantage in many situations, but a disadvantage if you are not careful about what you write.  There are horror stories about people hitting the wrong button and sending an email to the wrong group of people.  And it gets worse if the message is forwarded.  Social networks and blogs have caused all sorts of problems because what is written is available to a lot more people than the writer intended to see it.  Don’t use your Facebook page like a diary.  If you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it where the world can see it.

Perhaps Paul’s statement in Ephesians 4:29 is a good summary of this principle. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such [a word] as is good for edification according to the need [of the moment,] that it may give grace to those who hear.”

If it does not glorify the Lord

Or at least is in keeping

With His character,

Then don’t say it or write it.

Seek to be a positive

Witness for Jesus

That will build others

Up by what you

Say and write.

The word for “deed” is also translated as “work, action and behavior.”  It is referring to all the various actions of your behavior.  All the general principles that apply to whatever you do in word also apply to whatever you do in deed.  Your behavior also communicates and sometimes louder than what you say.  As one person quipped, “I can’t hear you because your actions are shouting too loudly.”  People can get away with lying until their actual deeds become known, for then their behavior proves their words are simply empty rhetoric.  Why pay attention to anything said by anyone whose actions prove them to be a liar?  Your words and deeds must correspond and they must be in keeping with Jesus’ character and will.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that inherent in our salvation is the fact that we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  The Bible adds in Titus 2:14 that Jesus redeemed us in order to “purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” While we cannot be saved by our righteous deeds (Titus 3:5), we are saved to walk in good deeds.  We are to perform those deeds in such a way that others will see them and glorify our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16), and we need to be in relationships with one another to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

What good deeds?

Whatever you do and

That means everything.

This is not just church work,

Religious deeds or spiritual actions.

This includes everything.

Your behavior at work, school, social events, and recreational activities.  It includes the activities of daily life including how you drive your car, your behavior while shopping, cooking, and eating.  It includes your behavior while doing all your chores whether sweeping the floor, dusting the furniture, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or taking out the trash.  It includes the mundane things of life too including taking care of your body, dressing yourself, and personal hygiene – you should even brush your teeth in a God glorifying way.  Do a good job and clean up after yourself.

All that we do is to be done

In the name of the Lord Jesus,

That is, we are to live our lives

In a manner that is consistent

With His character and will.

How can you live in such a way so that all is done in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Apply the lessons we have already learned in Colossians . . .

1) Make sure you understand who Jesus actually is, His character, and work.

2) By faith, identify yourself with Jesus who has redeemed, regenerated, and reconciled

you to God.

3) As one who is raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above and set your

mind on the things above and not the earth.

4) Put to death the old habits and ways of thinking that belong to the old man.

5) Put on the virtues of the new man.

6) Strive to have the Word of God richly dwell in you.

Put another way . . .

Strife is Nullified

The Scriptures are Internalized

The Savior is Glorified.

If these things are being done, then you will also be striving to make sure that all that you do in word or deed will be done in the name of the Lord Jesus desiring to honor Him and fulfill His will which in turn will result in thanksgiving to God through Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

Love For The Word, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017 

24Aug  In today’s blog, we come once again to Colossians 3 and Paul’s description of the manner in which a Christian should live.  The characteristics described are impossible to carry out unless there is a radical change in the individual.  The person without Christ, including those who have a false profession, might be able to carry out some of these commands with the people they love or want to impress, but they cannot do it to all people as is required of the Christian.  The believer has to live according to these virtues even with their enemies.

Those who place their faith

In the Lord Jesus Christ

And His atonement for

The forgiveness of their sins

Are radically changed by God.

They are redeemed,

Regenerated and

Reconciled with God

Though the sacrificial death

And resurrection of Jesus.

Their old self dies with Christ

And a new self is raised

To newness of life.

Here in Colossians 3, Paul describes that as “the old man” and “new man.”  The old man is dead and needs to be put off, and the new man needs to be put on.  The new man occupies the same old physical body of the old man and has to contend with a brain that has been trained to think in wrong patterns and view the world incorrectly, but those things will change as the believer is conformed into the image of Christ.

The old man is dead and Christian needs to quit dragging his old corpse around.  His previous deeds and attitudes are to be put to death – immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed along with anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.  In their place . . .

The deeds and attitudes of the new man

Are being developed through

The cleansing of God’s Word,

The renewing of his mind,

And

The empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The believer’s character is changed so that he is marked by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other and agape love.  These virtues are not limited to friends and loved ones, but are extended to all men.  The result of this is a disposition of peace and thankfulness.  Because the believer has peace with God through Christ, he can be at peace himself and extend peace to others.  A peace that is not just the absence of conflict, but a peace of harmony in relationships.  Obviously, such harmony requires both parties involved to work at being at peace and it may not be possible if one of them refuses to do so.  That is why God only commands us to be at peace with all men so far as it depends on you. Such an effort would include living out these Christian virtues.

Let’s look at how we can love the Word of God . . .

1) The Indwelling Word of Christ.

I feel a need to concentrate one more day on verse 16.  This verse shows us another area of the work of God in our hearts that arise out of the change of character in the Christian faith in the Christ brings.

Verse 16 says, “Let the word of God richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

This is the only place that this particular phrase, the word of Christ, occurs.  This is one of the used to describe the Scriptures.  Another common phrase is “the word of the Lord.”  Every time it is used it refers to the communication that God has given to man so that man may know Him and His will.  In short . . .

It is a reference to the Scriptures, the Holy Bible, and reinforces the fact that the Scripture, both the Old and the New, place the emphasis on their teachings on Jesus Christ.

This parallels the phrase “the peace of Christ” in the previous verse and it would be an important emphasis to the Colossians.  Remember that throughout this letter Paul stresses the superiority of Jesus Christ in correcting the false teaching that was occurring there.  The false teachers were claiming that they were speaking the things of God.  They advocated such things as religious rituals, keeping holy days, worship of angels, self-abasement, and ascetic practices as the way to God.  Paul makes it clear that . . .

It is Jesus Christ and Him alone

That shows us the way

To live for God and

Have life in Him.

The Bible teaches that God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us in the kingdom of His beloved son, Jesus (Colossians 1:13).

  • It is in Jesus that we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).
  • It is Jesus that created all things in the heavens and the earth, visible and invisible including thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. All things have been created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15).
  • It is Jesus that holds everything that exists together (Colossians 1:16). He therefore is the architect, builder, possessor and sustainer of everything that has been created.
  • In addition, Jesus is the head of the church, the first born from the dead and preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:18).
  • It is in Jesus that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
  • Jesus is the one that reconciled us with God so that we have peace with Him (Colossians 1:20).
  • It is Jesus that makes us complete (Colossians 2:10) because it is in Him that we have been buried in baptism and made alive together with Him so that we are raised up as new men (Colossians 2:12-15; 3:1).
  • And finally, we will be glorified with Him when He returns (Colossians 3:4).

In view of all of this . . .

It is only reasonable

That His teaching should

Dwell in us so

That we will

Carry out His will.

The idea of “dwell” is for the teachings of God to reside within in us.

It is to live in us so that

We can live it out

In what we think,

What we say,

And in how we live.

Jesus Himself made the same point in John 15 when explained that He is the vine, we are the branches, so we must abide in Him to have life.  We are to abide in Him and His word is to abide in us if we are to prove to be His disciples.  David expressed this idea in Psalm 119:11 when he explained that the way to live a pure life was to hide God’s Word in his heart so that he might not sin against the Lord.

Paul adds here the adverb “richly” to describe . . .

The degree to which

This should occur

In the life of a believer.

It is to be within us

In abundance.

The word of Christ

Should direct every

Thought and decision

That we make.

We should be striving to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:15) so that we can make and live out decisions that will glorify Him.

The third part of the Great Commission is to teach believers to obey all of Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:20).  But . . .

None of this can happen

If you do not know the teaching

And truths of the Bible.

There is a knowledge base

That must be present

And that knowledge needs

To be present in abundance.

You need to know

God’s Word richly.

As important as this is, it is becoming increasingly hard to find professing believers that actually know even the basics of Scripture much less know it “richly.”  Is it any wonder then that there is little difference between the manner of life between most people who claim to be Christians and those that do not.  It is one thing to have little knowledge when you first become a Christian because it does take time to learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  But what can be said for those who claim to have been believers in the Lord Jesus Christ for 5-10 years and they still have only read a very small portion of the Bible, they are ignorant of major portions of Scripture, the number of verses they have memorized is minuscule, and they can hardly find a reference during a sermon – if they even brought their Bible with them.

How sad that some true believers are in this condition because that is the model of the Christian life they have been taught in their church.  But for others, this is no longer just ignorance, it is passive rebellion resulting in active sin because they still do not know God’s will for their life.  Perhaps that is why they desire to remain ignorant, and if so, there is a question about what they really believe about Jesus and salvation from sin.

I don’t think I am being harsh here in the least, and I am glad that in comparison with other churches the percentage of folks in our church that do know their Bibles and are striving to live holy lives as a result is high.  However, we should never rest on our laurels or compare ourselves to others.

We must continually strive

To have the Word of God

Dwell in us richly

Because we want

To know and

Live for Him.

I hold no illusions or expectations that others in this church should know the Scriptures as well as I do considering I have been able to spend so much more time studying it over the past 53 years since I first read through the entire Bible.  However . . .

I do think it is reasonable for me

To think that other professing believers

Should have a similar desire

Of wanting to know

The Word of God better.

What is your desire toward the Scriptures?  Do you want the Word of God to dwell within you richly?  The fact that you reading my blog today tells me you have at least some interest of this for that is our focus here and I commend you for it.  But I also want to challenge you to go further.  While devotionals like the Daily Bread are helpful, go beyond just the printed verses.  Pursue reading through the entire Bible.  Get involved in a small group Bible Study where you can interact with other believers about what you are learning so that you can help each other live accordingly.  Don’t let the distractions of this world keep you from learning the Word and gaining its riches.

Paul continues on in the remainder of the verse to explain a practical way that believers can help each other know the blessings of the indwelling Word . . .

2) The Blessing of the Indwelling Word to Others.

Paul states in verse 16 that in having the Word of God richly dwelling within us then with all wisdom we are to be teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and apply it to life.  There are many people who suffer from having a lot of knowledge but without wisdom.  The Lord wants us to take the knowledge we gain from His Word and apply it to life.  Not just our life, but also the lives of others because we are part of His body and we are to help one another walk with Him.

Again, that is the third point in the Great Commission.  We are to help one another walk in obedience to the Lord’s commands.  We are to apply the knowledge we have gained from the Word of God richly dwelling within us and help one another walk in a manner worthy of our calling by Him.

The word “teaching,” is the word from which we get “didactic.”  It refers to “instruction in knowledge.”  It is telling someone the facts and their relationship with each other. This is the positive side of imparting truth.  We pass on to others the knowledge that we gain in learning from our own study and from others also.

The word “admonishing,” has a root meaning of “to put in mind.” It can also be translated as “exhort,” “teach” or “give instruction” though it is focuses on “pointing out things that are wrong and giving warning about them.

We teach someone how do right

And

Admonish them about doing wrong.

We actually already saw both of these words in our study of Colossians 1:28 in which Paul states the goal of his ministry was that he might “present every man complete in Christ.”

His means for accomplishing that goal

Was to proclaim the Lord while also

“Admonishing and teaching

Every man with all wisdom.”

The Scriptures were written down for our instruction (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11) and Paul labored in teaching wherever he went (1 Corinthians 4:17).  While there are certain gifted men God gives to the church to teach and instruct as elders and pastors (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9), this responsibility also belongs to all those within the church.

Paul told the Romans that he had confidence in them because they were full of goodness and knowledge that they would be able to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).  He urged in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to, “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” 

Our goal needs to be the same as Paul

In desiring to present every man complete in Christ,

And we are to accomplish it by the same means

Of teaching and admonishing one another

Based on the Word of God which is to dwell within us.

In that way we share with others the blessings we have received from having the Word of God dwelling in us.

3) The Expression of the Indwelling Word to Others.

What is somewhat unusual in this passage is the particular means that Paul states we are to use in teaching and admonishing.  Obviously those activities are normal parts of preaching.  As already pointed out elders / pastors are to be instructing from both the positive and negative sides and Paul told Timothy to “preach the Word; be ready in season [and] out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).  Instructing and warning would also be normal parts of counseling someone.

But here Paul states that teaching and admonishing are to be done through the means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  There are several ramifications in this verse to our use of music within the church and as individual Christians which I want to expand on, but first I want to make some general comments about music in the church and explain the general meaning of each of these types of music.

There is a wide variety of passages that mention music in the Bible.

  • Music is often a response of joy to salvation and all its ramifications. The Israelites sang after their escape from Egypt (Exodus 15).  The Christian sings in response over the joy of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ.
  • Music has been part of the church from its foundation and it will be part of our activities in heaven where we will join in the chorus of praise singing the song of the Lamb (Revelations 15:3).
  • The various Psalms clearly indicate that godly music includes a wide range of subjects. There are many that are prayers of trust (Psalm 3 & 4) or petitions for protection (Psalm 5) or mercy (Psalm 6).  There are Psalms that focus on the majesty of God in various ways including His greatness displayed in the heavens (Psalm 8 & 19), His mighty works in Israel’s history (Psalm 68, 77) and in answering prayer (Psalm 66).  Psalms extol various attributes of God including His goodness (Psalm 92), eternity (Psalm 90), power and dominion (Psalm 97), omniscience and omnipresence (Psalm 139) and faithfulness (Psalm 99). There are Psalms of mourning over sin (Psalm 38) thanksgiving for forgiveness (Psalm 32, 51).  There are various petitions for deliverance (Psalm 59) and punishment of evildoers (Psalm 58).  There are laments over suffering (Psalm 60, 79) and calls to worship (Psalm 100, 148).

Ephesians 5:19 has almost the same phrasing as Colossians 3:16 to describe what should be the normal expression of being filled with the Spirit.  Those who are controlled by the Spirit of God demonstrate that by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

When we consider both of these verses together, we find five types of music: psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing and making melody.

Psalms refer primarily to the Old Testament psalms put to music.  But the term is also used of vocal music of any type and especially those accompanied by a string instrument.  We have already seen that Psalms has a wide variety of specific subjects, but primarily they are focused on God, His character, work, and petitions to Him.  Many of the Psalms as well as other Scriptures have been set to music in modern times.  In our hymnal I Will Sing of the Mercies is from Psalm 89, Thy Word is from Psalm 119:105, and Come Let Us Worship & Bow Down is from Psalm 95:6.  Others are adaptations of Psalms such as Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven based on Psalm 103 and A Mighty Fortress is Our God based on Psalm 46

Hymns center more on songs of praise and differ from the psalms only in that they specifically praise the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many scholars believe that certain Scripture passages such as Colossians 1:12-16 were used in this manner.  A Hymn would include songs such as May Jesus Christ Be Praised, Worthy is the Lamb, Our Great Savior and Majesty.

Spiritual songs were probably songs of testimony that covered a broad category of any music that expresses spiritual truth.  This would include many of our modern choruses as well as songs such as My Jesus, I Love Thee, He Touched me, Just as I Am, and Have Thine Own Way, Lord.

Singing simply means to make music with the voice.  You may sing well, you may sing poorly, but God wants you to sing.  It is to be part of your worship of Him. Ephesians 5:19 adds “making melody” to the types of music.  “Melody” comes from “psallo” and means specifically “to pluck on a stringed instrument” especially a hand harp.  The closest instrument we have to that now would be a guitar, but the word is also used for a wide range of other instruments.

As I close our study today, let me now expand on some of the ramifications of Colossians 3:16.  First, note that there is no mention about the quality of the music. While it is beneficial to have those with better ability performing special presentations for the congregation lest we drive people away, yet every believer is to be involved in singing whether you have perfect pitch or you can only carry a tune in a bucket.  The phrase “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” occurs seven times in the Psalms.  While there were special opportunities for the trained musicians and singers to make beautiful sounds as is detailed in the temple worship, there is also an important place for everyone to be involved.  This verse specifically states that music is to be used in teaching and admonishing one another which includes everyone, but this also points out the next ramification of this verse.

Secondly, a lot of new songs focus more on the “beat, rhythm, and volume of the music” and have no biblical content or message.  While there are new songs that are written in accordance with this passage, I am sure this verse would probably come as a shock to a lot of those involved with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) in its various genres for so much of it is just empty blather.  Many are repetitious phrases without any content.  Many others make allusions to something, but it is never made clear exactly what.  Todd Friel refers to one genre of these as “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs because you can’t tell if it is talking about Jesus or a boyfriend.  A classic example of this is You Light Up My Life which was very popular in CCM thirty years ago.  The song was supposedly about Jesus, yet contained the phrase, “how could it be wrong when it feels so right?”  That does not apply to Jesus, so the song is not about Him, yet the great ignorance of the Word of God gave cover for the delusion that it was a worship song.  It has only become worse since then.

Thirdly, I am amazed that a number of CCM artists are even called Christian considering that the use of any of the names of Jesus or of God the Father are very rare.   Who can tell what is really being sung about?  Why make allusions instead of telling it like it is?  You can sell a lot more recordings and become more popular if you write your lyrics in such a way that they can mean anything the listener would like it to be.  It is also the reason for such repetition of bland phrasing in so called “worship music.”  It is easy to “praise the Lord ” if nothing of substance is said about Him so that you can believe whatever you want.  Like tofu, which can be made to taste like nearly anything, much of CCM music has lyrics that can be flavored in any manner desired by the listener.  Such songs cannot offend because they say little and leave the truth about God and how He wants us to live to the imagination of the hearer.

Fourthly, added to this is the problem of Biblical ignorance on the part of the wider Christian community which accepts and propels songs and artists to the heights of popularity without discerning the actual message being presented.  “Christian” radio stations plays songs that are aberrant or even heretical in their theology, yet Christians of all stripes accept them as being Christian because they got air time on the “Christian” radio program.  The same thing happens with concerts because the artist is performing at a church.

Paul states here that we are to teach and admonish each other by the use of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

He is not referring to just

What is performed in a church

Or at a worship service,

But rather what should

Fill our days and

Fellowship with one another.

Before radio, smart phones, ipods, and the internet, people would sing to themselves and to one another while working and in gatherings for socialization and entertainment.

Paul makes the point here

That those should be seen

As opportunities to help

One another in

Walking with Christ.

The ability to fill our days with recorded music only adds to this command.  As a Christian you need to be thoughtful and careful about the music that you make part of your life.  I am not talking about the music you hear that you have no control over.  I am talking about the music you listen to and play for others when you do have a choice.  Do your musical choices help the Word of God to dwell richly in you?  Do they teach you about God, His character, His will, how to live a righteous life?  Do they warn you against straying from the narrow way that leads to righteousness?

I have observed within the greater Christian community that such discernment is increasingly rare.  Professing Christians freely listen to music that glorifies evil instead of warns against it.  The supposed “Christian” music they listen to is filled with tofu lyrics, have pablum for doctrinal content and may even have aberrant or heretical theology in them.  My fear, beloved, is that you can fall victim to this as well.  I challenge you to become and be discerning in your choice of music.

Now in saying all of this I hope you understand that this applies to all the types of music you listen to, not just what is supposed to be Christian music.  There is plenty of room in life for all sorts of music including happy songs, sad songs, ballads, instrumentals, songs about relationships, work, play and life in general.  There are even times when fun or silly songs can be appropriate.  Yet in all of them . . .

We must be discerning

That the message of them

Fits within the parameters

That God has set.

God is honored.

Righteousness is promoted.

Sin is admonished.

Songs that glorify sin or mock righteousness or disparage God are always out of bounds.

4) The Worship Arising from the Indwelling Word.

The final part of this verse brings in again the use of music in the worship of God.  We are to sing with thankfulness or grace in our hearts to God.  When the Word of God dwells richly within you, then there will be a proper response of worship to God for all that He has done.  The word “grace” here can also be translated “thanksgiving” because it is the response to God’s grace received that we respond with gratefulness in singing in our hearts to Him.

The idea of singing in your heart is not a reference to emotion or singing silently, though it is certainly fine to have a song in your mind that you do not express audibly.  This is rather a reference to a response of worship that arises from within your core of being with the heart being a metaphor for what you think and choose.  The origin of true worship is always internal.  Many people can sing with their lips or make skilled sounds on instruments, but if the heart is not included, it is not spirit filled music of worship and so will lack in its ability to truly praise God or be a spiritual blessing to others.  A non-Christian can sing a song about our Lord, as many of them do in singing Christmas carols or some popular gospel song, but it is not worship.  Only a true Christian redeemed, regenerated and reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ can fulfill this command to sing with thankfulness in their heart to God in true worship of Him.

Our motivation and protection against the subtleties of the world and the flesh is to have the Word of God richly dwell in us so that we are discerning about truth and error and what is actually edifying and what is detrimental.

Local bodies of believers can help one another become more knowledgeable about God’s Word and how to be obedient to all that Christ has commanded us.  However, it must be your own desire to have the Word of God richly dwell in you before it will actually happen.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Love For The Word, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

24Aug  In our previous study, we learned that when God gives Christians new hearts that they are “let the peace of Christ rule” in their hearts and they are to have a continual spirit of thankfulness.  Today we will learn that when God gives us new hearts it will lead to another new behavior . . .

We are to “let dwell the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  This phrase is an imperative and is used only here in the New Testament.  The phrase refers not only to the teaching of Jesus Christ, but also of all the Bible.  God’s Word should permeate our whole being so that we God-honoring and God-pleasing decisions and plans in our lives.

My Greek professor in seminary used to say, “As the rabbis later pointed out, ‘he who dwells in a house is the master of the house, not just a passing guest.’  Thus, we are to submit to the demands of the Christian message and let it become so deeply implanted within us as to control all our thinking.”  Many saved people cannot honestly say that God’s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take time to read, study, and memorize it.

This phrase is full of teaching (the imparting of truth), and admonition (warning against error).  The Word of God is the basis four our worship.  The “psalms” refers to the inspired Old Testament psalms.  The word implies that the believers sang them with musical accompaniment.  Hymns are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  Spiritual songs probably refer to expressions of Christian truth set to music.  Thankfulness to God is to mark our singing too (cf. Colossians 3:15,16).

Whether with instrument or with voice or with both

It is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart.

One of the first descriptions of a Church service which we possess is that of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, who sent a report of the activities of the Christians to Trajan the Roman Emperor.  In that report he said, “They meet at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as God.  The gratitude of the Church has always gone up to God in Christian praise and Christian song.”  It has often been noticed that the Colossian passage is parallel with Ephesians 5:18-20.  In the latter passage the hymns and songs are the outgrowth of the filling of the Spirit, while in Colossians they are the result of the deep assimilation of the Word of God.  In other words . . .

The Word-filled Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian.

An examination of the two passages would save us from a great deal of error on this subject.

Undisciplined emphasis on the Holy Spirit

Is accompanied too frequently by

Shallow grounding in the Word of God.

Christians with new hearts will follow the Bible’s teachings in Colossians 3:15-17, where we are looking at three actions in these three verses.  The first was that we Learn To End Strife And Be Thankful.  Today we will learn about how we will . . .

2) We Love the Scriptures. 

Christians love the Word of God!

Colossians 3:16 begins by says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .”

The “word of Christ” is shorthand for the entire Bible: the Scriptures.  Jesus taught that the Scriptures testified of Him (John 5:39).  In this phrase, then, Paul has in mind the Word of Christ as well as the Word about Christ: “Let Christ’s Word – the biblical teaching that points to and presents the person and work Jesus Christ – let this very Word dwell richly within you.”

The word, “dwell” is a word that means “to make one’s home” or “to be at home.”  And the sense is present and active and suggests, “Keep making sure that the Word of Christ is at home within you.”  Or put the opposite way: “Don’t treat God’s Word like an unwelcome guest” … Or even “an occasionally visiting guest.”  See to it that God’s Word is at home within you and that His Word continually dwells within you richly.

What do you enjoy dwelling within you richly?   I can tell you that I am happy to allow a number of things to dwell within me richly: fresh air, good homecooked meals with plenty of vegetables, aged cheeses, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, beverages like water, kombucha, and teas, for example.   These are things I enjoy “dwelling within” me.

In a very real sense, this is the same way we are to enjoy God’s Word, the Word of Christ.  The Bible is God’s food for us – and it is great food!  It is meant to be cherished as a singular delicacy.

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly means “let it get down deep within, savor it, enjoy it.”  We are to get the Word of God into our minds and hearts for spiritual food every day and watch it change our life for the glory of God!

Read the Bible every day.  Whether you use a Bible reading plan or some other method, just be sure to take time to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  Slow down.  Read a portion as carefully and slowly as you would eat something you really enjoyed.

Don’t eat without tasting it! Savor it.  You might start this morning with a psalm.  Slowly read Psalm 1.  Read it and re-read it.  Savor it.  Allow it to “get down deep” within you.

Paul continues in verse 16, “… in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Christians share wisdom with one another by “teaching and admonishing one another.”  Christians not only teach, but “admonish,” which means “to caution, to counsel, to help by warning; to reprove gently.”  If we love each other, we will admonish one another, even warning one another when our behavior does not “match” our identity, when we are wearing the wrong spiritual clothing.

It is especially interesting in verse 16 that one of the ways Christians teach and admonish one another is through “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Don’t miss the inference:

Worship music is to contain

Lyrics that teach Christians.

Christian hymns and Christian songs are to have a teaching quality about them; even an admonishing element about them.

I think this fact is more important than trying to figure out whether there is some kind of distinction between Paul’s understanding of psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs.  Volumes have been written on the supposed differences between and distinctions of these three musical offerings.

This much is clear . . .

While there is a variety of Christian music,

All of it should contain lyrics comprising the Word of God.

Songs should have words that teach the church

And songs that admonish the church.

Note also the “attitude of gratitude” in verse 16.  Just as verse 15 concluded with an element of gratitude, “and be thankful,” so verse 16 concludes with the statement, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  “Singing with grace” is singing “with thankfulness in your hearts” or with “gratitude in your hearts.”  Thankful people can worship God meaningfully.

This “grace” carries the idea of “gratitude, favor, pleasure, and joy.”  Thus, God is telling us here that when we sing we should sing with an attitude of happiness and joy in our hearts because of our gratitude to God.  In other words, our songs should pour forth from a heart that is filled with happiness and thankfulness.

Consider how this melody, or grace, is to be directed toward the Lord. Paul says that we are to sing with melody, or grace, in our hearts “to the Lord.”  Too often it seems that people sing the songs of worship without any direction or feeling behind what they are saying.  The songs that we sing are not just words that we select and arrange so as to “sound good,” or to just “make a noise;” these are songs that are directed toward God.  We should sing them just as though they are being said directly to God, because that is exactly what is happening!  When you sing, sing it “to the Lord,” because He is the one who needs to know that we want to be there.  When you can truly sing to the Lord in a way that you mean it, you will have no problem teaching and admonishing one another.

If you have received God’s forgiveness and you know what it is to be forgiven of sin, then your heart will sing the praises of God.  Paul writes, “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Don’t say you can’t sing.  You can.  You may feel that you do not sing well, but that is to compare yourself with others.  Don’t compare yourself with others … Sing with grace, sing with thankfulness in your hearts to the Lord.

Do you see the principle?  As we all the Word of God to dwell within us richly, we will have thankfulness and gratitude to God that others can see and be influenced and impacted by.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Exploratory Heart Surgery, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

GraceForTheJourneyThemeFor2017

20Aug  The Christian life is a song of thanksgiving, a glad and joyous hymn of praise to God. “Be thankful,” Paul admonished the believers at Colossae in our text today.

How would you describe the Christian life?

The New Testament describes it in many ways and under a rich variety of figures. It is, for example . . .

  • A race: A long and arduous contest, like an Olympic marathon, that demands all of our energies and requires great powers of endurance if we are to reach the goal and win the victor’s crown
  • It is a spiritual warfare: A fierce, unrelenting battle with the forces of evil that seek to destroy us.
  • It is a crucifixion and resurrection, a death to sin and self and a supernatural rebirth to eternal life in God.
  • It is a discipleship: A rigorous process of training and growth in Christlikeness of character.
  • It is a stewardship: A responsible management of all our powers and abilities, our time, our money, and our opportunities for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom on earth.

But it is something else.

The Christian life is

A song of thanksgiving,

A glad and joyous

Hymn of praise to God.

Paul admonished the believers at Colossae in our text, “Be thankful.”  He counseled the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jess for you.”  In his letter to the Ephesians, he told his readers to in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Then he proceeded in Ephesians 5:20 to indicate that a prominent mark of the Spirit-filled life is thanksgiving, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  A Christian should be thankful.

Let’s notice three things about this aspect of our life with Christ . . .

1) The Call to Thankfulness

We all like to be thanked.  When we give a gift to someone, when we help another person, when we perform an act of kindness for a fellow human being, we expect some expression of appreciation.  Our generosity or service may not be consciously motivated by any desire for recognition.  Our action may be prompted primarily by our love, or our compassion, or our genuine concern for the other person’s happiness.  But if there is little or no evidence of gratitude, we are hurt and offended, and at times grow indignant.

Our human desire for thanks is an echo from the heart of God.  He, too, wants to be thanked.  He expects us to show our gratitude for all His wonderful goodness to us.  The Old Testament, as well as the New, rings with the summons to thanksgiving.

Listen to the psalmist, as he cries out in Psalm 95:1-2, “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout  joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with songs of praise!”

Again, the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!”

In Psalm 150:1, the grand finale of the psalmist, is composed entirely of a chain of 13 commands to praise the Lord.  Verse 6 is a call to all living creatures to join together in a swelling chorus of praise to Him, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

In Luke 17:17-18, when only one of 10 lepers that He had healed returned to express gratitude to Him, Jesus asked, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  That note of disappointment at human ingratitude is as much a revelation of the Father’s heart as anything our Lord ever said or did.

God looks for and delights in the thanksgiving of His grateful people.  Should not you and I, then, delight to give it to Him?  Should we not assign to thanksgiving a much larger place in our prayers?

Notice further . . .

2) The Cause of Our Thankfulness

Psalm 103:2 declares, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  What a mighty impulse to thankfulness lies in those three words of the psalmist: “all his benefits!”  As the English poet Joseph Addison put it:

“Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ.”

I know of no better way to stimulate the spirit of thankfulness in our hearts and in our homes, than the regular habit of giving thanks to God for the blessings he gives.  Any such inventory of God’s goodness will certainly include the common blessings of life most of us are privileged to enjoy: health and home, family and friends, food and clothing, work and play, laughter and happiness, and all the wonder and beauty of nature that God has created for our pleasure.

As citizens of this great land, we should remember how highly favored we are.  While not all of us are rich and some – an alarmingly increasing number – are poor, we know nothing of the appalling poverty, hunger, and disease that are a triple scourge to millions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Every minute 24 people, mostly children, starve to death or die of extreme malnutrition.  By the time the average worship service is over, 1500 of our fellow human beings will died simply because they didn’t have enough food to keep them alive and well.  Each and every day, 35,000 men, women and children – 13 million a year – vanish from our planet, devoured by the dragon of hunger.

We Americans enjoy an affluence never matched by any other nation or generation in history.

  • Our material resources are incalculable.
  • Our forefathers have bequeathed to us an unsurpassed heritage of political and religious freedom.
  • Educational benefits and opportunities for cultural enrichment are available to almost everyone.
  • In this century of unprecedented global warfare, we have been spared the horrors of devastation.
  • Our national blessings are the envy of the whole world.

Beyond these and a host of other things,

Each of us has his own

Special reasons to give thanks.

But as Christians we should be

Grateful most of all for God’s

Gift of salvation in Jesus Christ

And the wealth of spiritual

Benefits that are ours.

Paul was a master of the art of language.  Whether he was preaching a sermon, developing a theological argument, debating with opponents of the gospel, rebuking men for their sins, settling disputes among Christians, appealing for mercy on behalf of a runaway slave, or defending himself against bitter accusers before a Roman tribunal, he was never at a loss for words.  But . . .

When he reflected on

His relationship with Jesus Christ

And all he owed to Him,

Paul found human language

Hopelessly bankrupt,

And could only exclaim,

“Thanks be to God for

His indescribable gift!”

(2 Corinthians 9:15).

If by faith we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, then . . .

  1. We have forgiveness of all our sins through His blood.
  2. In Him we are reconciled to God.
  3. Through Him we may come boldly to His throne of grace and power.
  4. We are heirs of His kingdom.
  5. He is our Father and we are His children.
  6. He is with us always
  7. He will provide for all our needs.
  8. He will protect us.
  9. He guide us through all our earthly journey.
  10. And at last He will welcome us to glory in His presence forever.

Whatever else we may or may not have, with blessings like these, our life, indeed, should be one unbroken hymn of thanks.

“Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, His praise should sing?”

Consider also . . .

3) The Characteristics of Christian Thankfulness.

How do we express our gratitude to God?  How can you and I tell if we are really thankful? Obviously . . . We praise God with our lips.  The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:15 that through Christ we should, “Continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to Him name.”

Words, nevertheless, are notoriously cheap,

And the gratitude that contents

Itself with “Thank You’s” to God,

However piously and eloquently

Phrased, is cheap and insincere.

Real Christian thankfulness is a life-transforming dynamic.  What, then, are its marks?  Let us look at several of the most important ones.

If we are thankful to God . . .

We will obey Him.

In nothing does Christian gratitude reveal itself more clearly than in obedience.  We tend to forget that God’s great purpose for us is not merely to rescue us from hell.  His ultimate goal is to mold us into the image of His Son, to make us altogether Christlike.

If you were to sum up

The character of Jesus

In a single word, w

Wat word would you choose?

Love?  Trust?  Humility?

Purity?  Self-sacrifice?

He, of course, embodied them all,

And in perfect measure.

But the word that best sums up

The character and life of our Lord

Is the word obedience.

He said to His disciples in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work.”  That was His life-motto.  With absolute truthfulness he could claim in John 8 29, “. . . I always do those thing that please Him.”

In everything He ever did, our Lord perfectly and completely fulfilled His Father’s will.  He obeyed to the letter all the demands of God’s law, so that no fault or blemish could be found in Him.  Then, in that same spirit of obedience to His Father’s will, He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

God has redeemed us in order to make us like Jesus.

If we are grateful for all that He has done for us,

Especially for our redemption through Christ’s death on the cross,

We shall express that gratitude by our obedience to His will.

Out of our gratitude will be born the determination

To live a yielded life, the desire to please God in all things.

A thankful Christian is an obedient Christian.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked by thankfulness in service.

To be a disciple of Christ is to be a servant of Christ.  If we live under the Lordship of Christ, you and I will devote our whole lives to Him and will labor steadily for His glory by ministering to the needs of others in His name.

The supreme motive for this service

Will be our gratitude to God for His

Undeserved favor and goodness to us in Christ.

What a wealth of opportunities for service our Lord gives us!

  • It may be teaching a church Bible Study class
  • Or leading a children’s Bible club or youth group.
  • It may be working in a church day-care center or preschool ministry.
  • It may be delivering meals to the homebound elderly, or running errands for them, or visiting in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • It may be helping with the physically handicapped or the mentally retarded.
  • It may be ministering to alcoholics or drug addicts, or befriending prostitutes or prisoners.

The forms of service will vary according to our individual gifts and calling.  But if we are grateful to God, we shall be busy in His service, ministering to others in the name of our Savior, and always seeking as we minister to share with them the Gospel of His redeeming love.

After years of bondage, a slave was purchased by a stranger and set free.  Falling down at the man’s feet, he sobbed, “I will be your slave till death.”  Thankfulness is the spring of the noblest service.  That is why Christian service is the finest service in the world.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked with a spirit of giving.

Wherever you find a grateful heart,

You are sure to find a generous hand.

A fine Christian layman called me one afternoon. “God has been especially good to me this year,” he explained, “and I want to share that goodness with others.”  He then asked me to recommend several Christian ministries which I considered worthy of his support.

The Bible says in Psalm 96:8, “Give to the Lord the glory due His name, bring an offering, and come into His courts!”  How comfortable would you feel to think that God measures your gratitude to Him by the gifts you place on the offering plate each week?  He does exactly that.

The key to balanced church budgets,

increased missionary support,

And larger benevolences

Does not lie in bingo,

Bazaars, and bake sales;

Nor in high-pressure

Financial campaigns;

Nor in a legalistic

Emphasis upon the

Duty of tithing.

It lies rather

In the cultivation

Of the Christian

Grace of thankfulness.

Her gratitude for all that Jesus meant to her prompted Mary of Bethany to anoint Him with her jar of ointment, a gift that cost the equivalent of a laborer’s yearly wages.  Paul boasted of the Gentile Christians of Macedonia who, though desperately poor themselves, out of gratitude for their spiritual blessings, eagerly gave beyond their means to help the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  Poor and affluent alike give joyously and generously when their hearts are filled with gratitude to God.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked by the thankful spirit is contentment.

We are inclined to think that contentment depends on things and circumstances.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  If that were the case, those who have the greatest abundance and suffer the least misfortune would be the happiest.  But often these very people are miserable and are some of the worst grumblers and complainers.

In his classic Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, a devout Christian, put these words into the mouth of his hero, “All our discontents spring from the want to thankfulness for what we have.”  Fanny Crosby, writer of many popular gospel songs, was stricken with blindness at six weeks of age. When she was just a child of 8, she wrote these lines:

“Oh what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be;
How many blessings I enjoy
That others people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t.”

The psalmist declared in Psalm 103:2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”  Grateful Christians do not grumble.  They find a happy contentment in their experiences of God’s goodness and love.

The crowning feature of Christian thankfulness is the desire for . . .

Deeper fellowship with God.

It is natural when a friend has done a great kindness to us, that we should draw still closer to him with greater affection and devotion.  The love he has shown to us stimulates and intensifies our love for him, so that our friendship becomes richer, more intimate, more precious than ever.

God created us for fellowship with Himself.  Nothing in the Genesis story is so beautiful as the immediacy and intimacy of Adam’s original relationship with God.  And nothing is so dark and tragic as the disruption of that relationship through sin.  The rest of the Bible records the gradual unfolding of God’s amazing plan to restore that relationship through Christ.

When we think of all the goodness and mercy

God has shown to us who deserve nothing

But His wrath and condemnation,

The faithfulness of His providential care,

The gifts without number He has lavished upon us,

And above all, the salvation He has purchased

For us through the death of His own dear Son,

How can we fail, if we are truly grateful Christians,

To place Him at the center of our hearts and lives?

Surely, more than anything else . . .

We shall long to know Him better

And to live in glad and loving

Fellowship with Him forever.

“Would you know,” asked William Law the mystic, “who is the greatest saint? He is not the man who does most, or even prays most. He is the man who is most thankful.”

Judged by that test, what kind of Christian are you?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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