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VI. Kingdom People in the Home, on the Job, and in the Church (Colossians 3:18–4:1)

3:18 A Christian home is not just a place where some Christians reside; it’s where the authority of Jesus Christ rules the participants of a family (see commentary on Eph 5:22–6:4).

Furthermore, dads and moms need to teach their sons and daughters the spiritual motivation for their obedience: it pleases the Lord. This fact should be taught from an early age. Children who are taught to obey parents who love them will come to understand what it means to obey their loving heavenly Father.

3:21 Though children are to honor and obey both fathers and mothers (3:20; Eph 6:1; Prov 1:8; 6:20), fathers have the responsibility of taking the lead in disciplining their children. Biblical discipline is exercised in love for the recipient’s well-being. As Solomon declares, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:12).

Never does a loving father want to exasperate [his] children and cause them to become discouraged. When you correct your children, you want to break their will—their stubbornness—without breaking their spirit. The goal is to lead them to willing obedience and righteousness. God takes the same approach with us, reminding us that “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11). We need to know of the value God places on us. Likewise, our children need to know that they are significant and important and that we as their parents will love them and not place demands on them that they can never satisfy. Remember, rules without relationship lead to rebellion.

3:22 Paul instructs slaves to obey their human masters (see commentary on Eph 6:5-9), which is a principle we can apply to our own vocations. Ultimately, regardless of our occupations, we all serve God and are accountable to him for the quality of our work (see 1 Cor 10:31; Eph 6:5-6). Therefore, we should serve our employers wholeheartedly, rather than being people-pleasers who work only when being watched. You live before a sovereign God who sees everything you do. His rewards for your faithfulness are better than any raise you can receive.

3:23-25 Work like it is something done for the Lord (3:23)—because it is. Let your motivation be spiritual. Since you work for God, you are to produce excellence. Since you produce excellence, you should satisfy your earthly employer and your customer. Make no mistake: with God, nothing goes unnoticed. As a result of your faithfulness, you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord (3:24). But if you decide to be a wrongdoer instead, count on being paid back by the Lord for that too (3:25).

4:1 Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly (see commentary on Eph 6:5-9). As with 3:22, the principle is applicable today. Employers ought to treat their employees with dignity, justness, and fairness. That clearly excludes abuse and oppression. If you are an employer, remember that you too have a Master in heaven. And God will deal with your business and your life in accordance with how you deal with those who work for you. Your employment practices are to reflect the character of the God you serve.

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