Submit, Love, Obey & Encourage
"Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." - Colossians 3:18-21 NIV Submit, love, obey and encourage.
Depending on our particular identity within these passages we can either be encouraged or discouraged. For example, if I think of the instruction to love or encourage given to husbands and fathers it sounds quite positive. Meanwhile, ideas such as submit and obey given to wives and children respectively, often carry very negative connotations. However, in light of all that Paul has written up to this point, in light of the character of the God he's proclaimed, in light of the love Christians are called to have for one another, not one of these instructions is intended as negative. Take submission first. When we delve further into scripture, we discovered that the word submission doesn't mean subjugation. Rather, it connotates complete trust. Godly wives often model, with their husbands, the exact trust all Christians are called to have in Jesus. Observing a truly Godly wife is a blessing to the church. Likewise, is our second idea love. When interpreted through a worldly filter love reveals itself to be quite negative or at least superficial and selfish. Whereas the biblical act of love, which lays down its life for another and puts others interests before its own is truly positive! Next, we have obedience. Obedience for no purpose is just that, pointless. Sticking to a pointless obedience isn't easy either, it just doesn't last. But when we learn that obedience is God's call and that it pleases our Lord, it changes everything. Lastly, encouragement. To encourage biblically goes way beyond the platitudes of our culture. When understood properly as building courage into someone, we actually want to encourage our children and those around us, as opposed to embittering them. These four actions: submit, love, obey and encourage are among the greatest things we get to do as Christians. Oh, and by the way, the whole of scripture shows us that each one of us husband, wife, child, father, etc. are called to walk in each and every one of them throughout our lives! Questions to Consider: What are some of the negative images that come to mind when you hear words like submit and obey? How does having a biblical definition of these and other words set your mind at ease?