In chapter three of Colossians, we see that Paul gives us the essential ingredients for a Christ centered family:
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged." Col. 3:18-21 (NLT)
First, I want to start out by saying that the Word tells us that there is a mutual submission component in relationships (Eph. 5:21), and a mutual equality (Gal. 3:28)!
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord." (v. 18) The Greek word for submit is "hupotasso." This is actually a military term, which means to arrange in order under. It implies a voluntary yieldedness to a recognized authority. For example, a soldier submits to his sergeant who submits to his master sergeant who submits to his lieutenant and so on. Therefore, a wife who submits to her husband demonstrates support for her husband's authority or rank, if you will, within the family. It also reflects her yieldness to his leadership position.
God created men and women as equals, but that does not mean that they occupy the same function within the family. Husbands and wives exhibit different roles. The wife, even though an equal with her husband, chooses to place herself under him to achieve order and functionality in the family. They embrace different responsibilities that God has ordained.
"Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly." (v. 19) This is not "eros love" which is a love based on physical traits, or "philos love" which is a love based on friendship. Both are good and obviously have their place, but in this verse, the Lord is talking about agape love. This is an unconditional sacrificial love. The word "agapao" is a verb and by its verbal nature calls for action. This kind of love is not an emotion but an action made by a willful decision. It is a continuous, habit forming and selfless Jesus type of love!
"...never treat them harshly." Pikraino is the Greek word used in this verse. It means to be embittered or to make bitter.
In speaking of communication between husband and wife, John MacArthur puts it this way, "Paul tells husbands not to call their wives "honey," and then act like vinegar! Husbands must not display harshness of temper or resentment toward their wives. They are not to irritate or exasperate them, but rather to provide loving leadership in the home."(MacArthur, J. Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos) Enough said!
"Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord." (v.20) The Lord approves when a child obeys his parents' authority! It ultimately reflects his obedience to the Lord's authority.
"Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged." (v. 21) "Don't provoke your children lest they become bitter or resentful." There are many ways parents can exasperate their children; being overprotecting, showing favoritism, lack of affection, and excessive discipline, just to name a few. Discipline and encouragement always go hand in hand. We don't want to crush their spirit.
As we lightly touched on these ingredients for a Christ centered home, it is comforting to know that the Holy Spirit within, enables us to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord! Be encouraged, He isn't finished with us yet!