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My husband taught on Colossians 4 this past Sunday and there were a few things I wanted to study further and comment on because of their great importance.  After his discourse on interpersonal and familial relationships, Paul begins chapter four with a few last commands and then mentions quite a few people.  Being that most of them have weird names and most of us generally gloss right over the closing salutations of epistles, I want to look at those people specifically and glean some wisdom as to why he does this.

Firstly, Paul tells the Colossians to pray.  He instructs them to be both watchful and thankful in prayer.  He asks them to pray for he and his companions who are in prison for preaching the gospel, and especially that they would have opportunities to share the gospel.  He also asks that they would pray that he would be able to convey the message with clarity.

Next, he tells them to be wise – especially toward outsiders.  He is speaking of those outside the faith, also known as unbelievers.  He instructs them to always speak with grace, tastefully, if you will.  The reason he gives is so that they will know how to answer everyone.

Now, before he closes his letter, Paul begins to name names.  He mentions more than a few individuals and a couple groups of people.  It is quite important that we consider these people, who they were, and try to understand why he does this.  Why are these names included in the sacred scripture?  Let’s see.

The first person mentioned is Tychicus.  Paul said he was sending this man to tell the Colossians how he was – to give a report on Paul who was, of course, in prison for preaching the gospel.  He includes a man named Onesimus with Tychicus.  He calls Onesimus a faithful and beloved brother and adds that Onesimus is “one of you.”

Onesimus.  Now here’s a guy Paul devoted a whole book – Philemon – to.  The whole whopping one chapter of Philemon is a matter of Paul vouching for Onesimus.  Why does he do this?  He does it because Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave.  Onesimus had run away.  He had been a slave.  He’d done wrong in his past.  But he had been converted to Christ and Paul had discipled him.  He had ministered to Paul in prison and Paul knew first hand that Onesimus was a changed man, that he was trustworthy, and that he was a true brother in Christ.  Paul also knew that Philemon would not take well to Onesimus’s return.  He knew that it was very likely that he’d be looked down upon, excluded from fellowship, and thought ill of when he returned to Philemon.  Therefore Paul sends a letter to instruct Philemon to accept this man.  He does so once again here in Colossians.  Paul goes to great pains to include and honor Onesimus in the church, even after all the failure of his past.

It is very important that we get this.  It is important that we understand why Paul did this.  Why was this so incredibly important to Paul – so much so that he makes special mention of this man not once, but twice in the epistles?

Paul was once like Onesimus.  You and I were once like Onesimus.  Lost sinners do wrong things to others.  When we become Christians, people do not automatically believe that we are changed.  Church people, on many occasions, do not feel particularly inclined to include us after we have just come out of grievous sin and rolled on into their fellowship.   They’re scared.  They’re proud.  They’re self-protective.  Paul knew how people are – even Christian people.  Good leaders understand the difficulty diversity brings.  So, instead of excusing the suspicion and prejudice he knew his buddies were going to have against this man, he takes special time to honor and publicly vouch for him calling them all to grace, peace, acceptance, and inclusion of this particular brother in Christ.

Barnabas did as much for Paul in Acts 9.  Remember, Paul was a murderer, a Christian hater, an abusive religious leader.  Not many Christians were real anxious to trust and include him just because he said he knew Jesus now.  But Barnabas stood next to Paul.  He did what Paul is doing for Onesimus here.  Paul knew how it felt to be the one under a cloud of constant suspicion and mistrust.  Therefore, he instructs his church to include this man.  What a beautiful picture of grace.

Matthew Henry says this: “The meanest circumstance of life, and greatest wickedness of former life, make no difference in the spiritual relation among sincere Christians; they partake of the same privileges, and are entitled to the same regards.”

Next, we have Aristarchus.  Aristarchus was just mentioned as a fellow prisoner.

Then we have Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.  Remember, at one point Paul had big issues with Mark.  Mark had deserted while they were preaching the gospel and went home.  The next time when Mark wanted to go on a mission with Paul, Paul absolutely refused to take him.  Here, though, we see great evidence that Paul and Mark were completely reconciled.  By making mention of Mark here, and even giving great recommendation and honor to Mark in view of the churches, Paul proves his forgiving spirit and that reconciliation was full and final.

This is what Christians are called to do even when disagreements are sharp and strong.  This is the gospel applied to our relationships.  Christians are not at liberty to stay at odds with one another no matter how severe the disagreement is.  We are called to reconcile – and reconcile to the point of previous peace or better.  This is a very important principle found in Paul’s mention of Mark here.

Next we have a man named Jesus who was called Justus of whom little is known and then Epaphras.  Epaphras is honored for his faithful prayers for the church.  He was actually the founder of the Colossian Church.  Then, we have Luke the doctor and Demas mentioned.  Demas later forsook Paul and in 2 Timothy 4:10. Paul calls Demas out by name for his sin.

Now this, remember is the same guy who just instructed his church to always make sure their conversations were seasoned with salt and full of grace – especially with outsiders/unbelievers – yet he writes his very public letter to Timothy that this particular guy forsook him and states his specific sin – loving the world.  The fact that Paul mentions Demas here with honor tells us that Paul had no personal issue with Demas before he called out his sin and his name individually for all to know.  There’s a lesson here.  It is not wrong to call out sin in leadership – even by name when necessary.  (See 1 Timothy 5:20)

Next we have Nympha.  Paul greets Nympha and describes her as one who has a church in her house.  Gasp!  A girl!  With a church!  In her house?!  What?!! Yep.  I think that greeting speaks for itself.

Finally, Paul mentions Archippus.  Here is an interesting instruction.  Paul tells the members of the Colossian Church to admonish this minister – their minister!  The people are called to admonish their leader and remind him to make certain he is working diligently for the gospel.  Imagine that.  Wow.  Kinda puts to rest some misconceptions of the religious rules we are indoctrinated with today, huh?

I don’t know about you but I am just amazed at the amount of wisdom found just in the listing of these names in this ending salutation.  There is great wisdom, instruction, and importance in understanding who these people were and why Paul takes the time to mention them.  They are thus:

  1. Your past should not dictate your future within God’s church.  You can do great things for God even if you were the worst kind of sinner in the lowest social position!  Good leaders will build up the lowly and call others to do the same.
  2. Your disputes with other believers, regardless of how sharp, can and should be fully reconciled.  Restoration among all believers is the gospel lived out.  
  3. Present good standing in the church does not excuse poor future behavior and sin.  There should be no good old boy system within God’s church!  Good leaders are never partial and they give honor and call out sin as needed no matter who is involved.
  4. Girls can have churches!  Churches can be in houses!  Hallelujah!
  5. Members can and should admonish their leaders. 

Lastly, Paul concludes with asking the Colossians to, “remember my chains.”  Think of me.  Pray for me.  Be faithful.  Remember my suffering for Christ.  Remember me and remember why I’m here.  We should all remember those who suffer and are persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ as well.  Amen.

 

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defense

Paul spends the better part of 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 “boasting.”  Why would he do that?  Why did he do that – even calling himself foolish and a madman as he did it?

False “brethren” – false “apostles” – more or less false “friends” had come into the Corinthian church.  They were not only maligning the gospel, but also pointedly maligning Paul himself.  Paul steps up to the plate to defend himself based on the facts of his own example.  He uses his hardship and weakness as his boast.  He speaks of all the right and reasons he had to be heard by his church.

The truth is, he never should have had to do this.  His church should have defended him when these false frenemies came to tear him (and them!) down.  If anyone was worthy of their loyalty, it was Paul.  No one loved them more than he did save Christ.  This man would have given his life for theirs.  How could they not see the truth?  How could they be so blind?

He begins by showing them that he has all the qualifications they use to disqualify people who do not.  He shares all the pain he personally had endured for the sake of the gospel and for them.  He talks about a persistent problem he deals with in his own life – his “thorn.”  These are his “boasts.”

In chapter 12 Paul tells his church that he has been a fool to elaborate on such things, but that it was they that “forced him to it.”  How so?

His reason for speaking so foolishly and boasting in his weaknesses was because his own church had forsaken him.  Consider that.

The Corinthian church knew Paul very well.  They knew he was qualified to lead them.  They knew what he had risked, endured, and lost for the sake of the gospel and for Christ.  They surely knew these facts well.  He feels particularly inclined to remind them because they surely should have loved him.  They should have listened to him.  They should have remembered him and his true words when false brothers came in and slandered him and the gospel itself.

Paul’s church did not defend him.  They listened instead to liars who they did not know from Adam.  They followed false men with a false gospel whose primary goal was to discredit Paul himself so that they could take control of the church.

Paul’s church did not defend him so he defends himself.  He’s talking crazy because their utter foolishness is making him crazy!  He’s saying, “Hey, guys!  Remember me?  The guy who taught you the gospel?  I am not inferior to these troublemaking false new best friends of yours.  I am noone special but, with God as my witness, I am a true friend to you and to God.  Did you see the signs he gave me?  I know you did.  I don’t want your money or your positions or whatever it is you think I’m going to take away from you.  I want your heart.  Show me your heart.”

“…for I seek not what is yours but you…” ~2 Corinthians 12:14

You guys think I’m here to take something away from you or hurt you.  I am not seeking what belongs to you.  I am seeking YOU!  Sounds like something Jesus would say…

“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” ~2 Corinthians 12:19

You think I am defending myself?  This foolish defense is for YOU!!! It is for your growth, church.  BELOVED church.  Please.  Please do not let me show up and see you unrepentant.  This is my third visit to you.  I warned you.  There are no more warnings.  Warning time is over.  Examine yourselves.  See if you are truly in the faith.  I want you to be restored.  Here is the only way that is going to happen:

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” ~2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Rejoice.  Restore.  Comfort each other.  Agree.  Live in peace.  Please.  Church, please.

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mercy

Consider a man with great religious knowledge.  Consider a man who is influential, intelligent, and intimidating.  Imagine he has twenty close friends exactly like him.  Now imagine that man coming to your house and threatening you and your three close friends.  Imagine him watching as his buddies kill your buddies and put them in prison…because he can and because he sincerely thinks he is doing the right thing.

Meet Saul of Tarsus, the Bible’s favorite miracle.

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him…Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Acts 9:1-3, 8-9

When the Lord came to Saul, he went blind.  I think I know why.

Saul was a guy who saw everything.  This is a very detail-oriented guy.  Think boss, leader, foreman.  Paul saw everything everyone did and did not do.  All. The. Time. He knew everyone.  He thought he knew everything, and, truth be told, he did know a lot about that which he was talking.  He had credentials, experience, and position to prove it.  So, needless to say, people turned into cockroaches when the lights come on when Saul stomped into their town.  No one wanted to be the target he chose.  Saul was feared because he had a keen eye to see anything and everything everyone did, as he saw it, wrong.

Furthermore, he had friends – a group of people who did the same, encouraged, and approved of him doing so.  The Pharisees saw everything, knew everyone, and, in their extreme self-righteousness, felt genuinely justified in every critical assessment they made about others.  They made their own laws.  They obeyed their own laws.  You better obey their laws, too…or else.

Interestingly, God chose to make Saul blind when he saved him.  Such a man would have more trouble than most with blindness. When you see everything all your life and feel it is your responsibility to say exactly what you see, blindness is death.  Daily death, perhaps?

…Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing…

Saul saw nothing.  Oh, but in that nothing was something very important.  For the first time in Saul’s self-governed life, he saw himself.  When Saul could see nothing, he began to see everything.  When he could not see anyone else or their issues, his own issue became crystal clear to him.  A wise man once said we ought to pray that, “our sin becomes the only thing we see.”  When Saul saw the heavenly light, he went blind, but when Saul went blind, he saw the heavenly light.  The light of Christ showed him his sin and he had but one need: mercy.

Once upon a time, another light shone from heaven.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:8-11

In our first instance, God brought man’s sin to light.  In the second, God brought his unmitigated mercy to all men.  Thank God!

The Lord was extraordinarily merciful to Saul.  He changed him into, quite possibly, the most influential man in the Bible, save Jesus.  The means by which that happened was quite interesting, too.  He called upon a specific Christian named Ananias and told him to go to blind Saul and lay hands and pray over him.  Do you know what Ananias said?

No way, God.  Don’t you know who he is?? He is a monster.  He will kill me.  He even has the authority to kill me.  Really?

I chose him, Ananias.  Go.

Ananias went and prayed for Saul.  The Lord restored his sight.  Next, the disciples hung out with him.  He began to preach.  The Christians could not believe it and the Jews were confused.  The Jews sought to kill him and the Christians were terrified of him.  God knew it would take another miracle to change Saul’s bad reputation into Paul’s new identity in the eyes of everyone else.

The miracle God chose to use to accomplish Saul’s conversion was a heavenly light and an audible voice heard only by Saul.  The miracle God chose to establish Saul’s new identity and character was an earthly man’s (Ananias) laying on of hands and praying and another earthly man’s (Barnabas) friendship and reference.

To that end Paul spends the rest of his life in great effort and defense of the gospel.  No longer preoccupied with taking others to task, Paul had a new task: taking his own sin to task and sharing his own struggles as a springboard for the gospel message.  Saul’s shouting had turned into a song about his own sin and Christ’s great mercy toward him.  That song steered the rest of his life and God saved (and continues to save!) more men than stars in the sky though Paul’s salvation and subsequent suffering.

His song is my song, everyday forever. I heard it yesterday upon entering the Doctor’s office.  Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison – a short, repeated invocation used in many Christian litergies, especially at the beginning of the Eucharist or as a response in a litany.  Literally, “Lord, have mercy.” Let it not be Greek to me any longer. 

 Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

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unity

As a mom of three girls, it is a rare day when no sibling unrest occurs.  Despite the conflicts, usually they play without needing my assistance for some time.  They often figure out how to reconcile their differences alone.  Yesterday, however, was not one of those days.

Somewhere between dragging them to the phlebotomist with me and grabbing school supplies, two girls were fighting.  One was being selfish, the other self-righteous.  One was crying, one pouting.  It occurred to me after much repeated correction (this went on for some time)  that once the issue was over and the cosmic balance of our home had been restored, I had not made it a point to sit down with either of them and just talk about what had happened.  Between the busyness of the day and the struggle to call an effective cease-fire, by the time it was over I think we all just wanted to forget about it.

I feel like I forgot to be a parent.  Comfort and convenience have a way of producing selective memory.  Maybe we will revisit World War 3 today…

Anyway, Paul does not seem to have this problem with churches.  Paul never forgets to parent God’s church.  First, he instructs and corrects.  Correction is almost always followed up by exhortation.

In the closing of Colossians, Paul’s final address stresses the importance of inclusion and unity.  He mentions ten specific people, including himself, as well as an entire church body.  He urges the people in the Colossian church to “welcome” and accept them.  Consider his words.

“Tychius...is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.  I have sent him

Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner…

Mark, the cousin of Barnabus…welcome him…

Jesus who is called Justus.  These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God and they have been a comfort to me…

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Jesus Christ…for I bear him witness...

Luke the beloved physician greets you as does Demas…

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house

…I, Paul…remember my chains.”

Why does Paul name these people?  What is the point?

Doubtless, this is a father managing his children.  He is saying, “Hey guys, I’m not there but here comes your brothers and sisters.  Here’s how they’ve served me, you, and the Lord faithfully.  These people are part of God’s kingdom.  Welcome them.  Accept them.  Treat them as your own.  Consider their sacrifices for the gospel and include them as your own when they come to you.  It couldn’t be more clear what Paul is saying here.

Why would Paul close his letter this way?  What reason would he have to tell them these things and name these individuals?

Paul spent his efforts on this letter making sure the Colossians knew who not to listen to.  Perhaps he does not want them to get conveniently confused.

Tychius was a fellow minister.  Onesimus had been a poor slave who’d been converted from a particularly wicked lifestyle.  Mark had been at odds with Paul previously.  Epaphrus prayed fervently for these people.  Jesus, now called Justus had changed his very name out of respect for the Redeemer.  Luke was a doctor.  Nympha was a woman who held church in her home.  Archippus was of the of the ministers in Colosse with them.  Paul himself was a prisoner for the gospel and an overseer of the churches.

Surely the temptation was to exclude certain types of people from the church.  Little wonder why Paul does this end of letter name dropping.  These mentioned are very different types of people.  There is no doubt Paul mentions them by name so that the Colossians make no mistake.

These are your people, church.  These – the pastors as well as the paupers.  Those from the wrong side of the tracks just the same as the doctors.  The women as well as the men.  The ones who have had differences with me and you as well as the chum buddies who’ve been serving alongside you.

Welcome them.  They are all beloved.  They are all your brothers.  They are all faithful.  They are all of you.  Greet them.  Hear them.  Include them.  Welcome them.

Remember me.

~Love, Dad

“The meanest circumstance of life, and the greatest wickedness of former life, make no difference in the spiritual relation among sincere Christians: they partake of the same privileges, and are entitled to the same regards.”  ~Matthew Henry

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bird

I’ve been thinking on Paul’s final imperatives to the Colossian church for several weeks now.  I probably need to think on them for at least several more weeks considering the leanness of my prayers and the largeness of my mouth on most days.  Why does it seem so easy to talk about everything and so hard to pray about everything? Oh, right, I’m a sinner.  I bet the Colossians had the same issue.

As Paul began in chapter 1 thanking God and praying for these particular people, he completes his instructions to them by asking them to do as much for him.  Paul leads by example teaching that we must never ask our leaders to do for us that which we are not also willing to do for them.

Not only are we called to pray diligently, thankfully, and continually, but we must make it a priority to pray especially for those who teach and lead us in the church.

Paul’s main concern in his prayer requests is that of the gospel message.  Paul is not so much concerned with himself and his own needs – which were doubtless very great – as he is that he would be given opportunities to share the truth and share it clearly and effectively.

For a man in prison for nothing more than being faithful to God, we should consider his requests, or perhaps, his lack thereof.

Paul could have asked people to pray for his release, his ease, his health or his freedom and been entirely justified.  But, no.  Paul asks only that Christians would pray for God to use him and give him open doors for the spread of the gospel.

What men pray for often proves what is foremost in their hearts.

Paul concludes his formal instructions with an exhortation to be wise towards those outside the church.  His commands are to use our time wisely and to take care to speak with grace on every occasion.  The former cannot be done apart from the latter.

The truth is that it does not matter how much time we spend defending the truth or how well-versed we are in apologetics if our communication of that truth is unkind or unnecessarily harsh.  With the world accusing before we ever open our mouths, we can rest assured that if our speech is not pristine, any attempt to share the truth will be in vain.  It makes no difference how unkind and unbecoming the world is when it speaks to us.  Those ones do not have Christ.  That type of communication is their way.  We, however, have a different Way.  The Way we follow teaches us to speak to all people in a spirit of grace and truth; love and truth; kindness and truth.  We can speak all the truth in the world, but if it is void of grace, love, and kindness, Paul rightly implies that we will not know how to answer anyone properly and will surely be wasting both our breath and our most precious commodity, time.

 Little wonder why he stresses the importance of wisdom.  Christians never look more foolish than when we misspeak truth in brash, condescending, self-righteous cloak.

Notice that Paul speaks on the importance of prayer first, and the importance of speech, second.  More often than not, we cannot rightly speak to others until we have first spoken to God on their behalf.

I speak to myself when I say, pray.  Pray constantly.  Pray for your pastor.  Pray for the spread of the gospel.  Then get out of the way of the harvest by always being wise, gracious, and kind with its truth in your speech.

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flowers

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Husbands are called to love, that is, to show love in their actions and speech towards their wives.  Their natural tendency and temptation is not to.  Paul wouldn’t have specified this if it were not so.

This, the second instruction given by Paul for human relationships, is obviously not for me.  But I do know something of what he is talking about.  I don’t really like to focus on things that God instructs others to do because I feel our priorities lie in searching out the things he instructs us to do.  But I can tell you what a loving husband looks like.

Despite my undeservedness, I have a husband who tries very hard to show love.  He works hard and provides for our family.  He apologizes when he is wrong.  He buys me flowers for no reason.  He sacrifices his precious little time for me and for our kids.  He says good things of me.  He asks me what I need.  He prays for me and with me daily.  He compliments me.  He tells me he loves me.  He takes care of me when I am sick or tired.  He tries to do right.  He follows Christ.  He forsakes things that cause me pain or fear.  He forgives me.  He treats me as an equal.  He is growing out of harshness and replacing it with patience, kindness, and love.  He does good to me every day and I could not be more thankful.  God has richly blessed me with a husband who proves to look more like Christ every day.

Just as my failure or success in the area of submission and respect toward him can make it easier or harder for him to love me well, his obedience to love me well can make the difference in how difficult it is for me to submit to him.  Neither is responsible for the others’ obedience, however, regardless of the other’s failure or success.  In other words, just because your spouse is not obeying God in these instructions, it does not get you off the hook as responsible for obeying God in these instructions.  Obeying might just be the catalyst for their repentance.

If your husband is not loving, do not give up.  Obey God and respect him.  If he is harsh, answer kindly.  Try not to react.  Stop expecting him to change and instead expect God to work.  Pray.  The Lord will honor your obedience and fill up where your husband lacks.  If you are a husband, find out how to love your wife.  Ask her.  She will tell you.  Obey God and trust him even when your spouse fails.

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submission

Here’s Paul:

Dear Church,

Here’s the gospel – what Jesus did.  Here’s what to reject as a false gospel – what certain leaders say you have to do.  Here’s your responsibility – what you will do if you believe.

Honing in on Paul’s instructions on responsibilities, Colossians 3 leaves little room for error.  He’s told the Christians things like don’t lie or envy, avoid idolatry and anger, be kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, thankful, accountable, prayerful, and unified.

But Paul doesn’t stop there.  Paul puts the flesh on.  He knew we sheep would need more information.  So what does kindness, patience, and forgiveness look like?  Where and when do we most need to be humble, accountable, and prayerful?  Paul targets specific human relationships – namely the most common ones.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord.

Submit.  What does that look like?  I don’t believe Christian women go into marriage thinking of ways to disrespect their husbands.  But somehow we often find ourselves doing just that.  This is our natural tendency and biggest temptation.

Submission goes hand in hand with respect.  Respect is asking my husband before I make purchases and listening when he vetoes.  It is placing his priorities for my time above my own.  It is speaking respectfully to him and about him.  Submission is following my husband’s lead even when I think he is wrong.  It is giving him the reigns and trusting God for the outcomes.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed in this area despite vowing to “honor and obey” him.  But I can tell you what I’ve learned.

Submitting is better than refusing, even when I disagree with my husband’s decisions.  God says this is my responsibility.  In order to obey God, I must obey my husband.  It is my husband’s responsibility to make God-honoring, wife-loving choices.  If he fails, I may indeed suffer.  But I will not suffer as one who has disobeyed God.  That kind of suffering is never in vain.  If, on the other hand, I choose to usurp my husband and do as I think is better, I will suffer and be disciplined for my own disobedience to God.

Perhaps there is a reason Paul chose to start with wives.  Our influence and attitude matters immensely.  It effects how easy or how difficult it is for our husbands to love us well.  Our submission is not weakness, it is strength.  It does not mean we are inferior, it means we trust God’s design more than our own ideas.  It means we trust God’s order more than we fear our husband’s flaws.

I aid my husband’s ability to love me well when I surrender to God by submitting to him. This is God’s will for those he calls to be wives.

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