In this section, Paul gives insight to how Christians should behave in the major personal relationships of daily life. In 3:18-19, he speaks of husbands and wives, in 3:20-21 he speaks of parents and children, and from 3:22-4:1, masters and slaves, or today we would say employers and employees. If you think about it, we spend most of our waking lives in one of these relationships, at least most of us do.
We can easily sum up all of these relationships by saying that in each, we are to put others ahead of ourselves. This is certainly true in Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives, even though he uses language in verse 18 that isn’t modern. That wives should put their husbands first may not sound contemporary, but husbands are also to put their wives first. This might be a little clearer in the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:22-33.
The same thing is true of the relationship between parents and children. Both are to put the other first, giving honor where honor is due and giving love and nurture where they are due. In the case of master and slave, or employer and employees, we have again the idea that both are to consider the other, with workers doing their very best always “as working for the Lord” and the boss is told to always do what is fair and right “because you know that you have a Master in heaven.”
I think that what is really important in this passage is the principle of putting others first. This principle is at the very heart of “love your neighbor as yourself.” All too often, people approach the concept of love looking at what they will get out of it, but this is surely not what Jesus had in mind when He taught us that the first will be last and the last will be first. We love and serve others because we love Jesus Christ, not because we want something. In short, we serve others because we have been called to serve, and in doing so we are serving our God, because we love Him.
Yes, there are always some who will want to take advantage, but we know that we are serving the Lord, and that “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (v. 25)
One final thought, for some this is a hard concept to embrace, but it lies at the heart of Christian discipleship. It is all so normal to expect that we receive something from our efforts, be it money or appreciation or loyalty, and people often disappoint us. The key is that we are not merely serving the other person, we are serving our Lord, and He never disappoints. Seek His presence, seek His love, focus your thought process on your relationship with Him… and follow where He leads. He will lead you to serve where you should serve, and to avoid what should be avoided.
Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger.
I want to say that even the best of us find ourselves here without setting out or rather planning or even often realizing that we are right in the midst of this mindset. What?
Maybe we are not expecting NOR would we accept money for doing something for someone. Maybe we don’t want praise or adoration or even want to be in any sort of spotlight. Often I can find myself where I realize that I am wanting or desiring or have this often hidden deep within need for being appreciated for all I have given up for this person I lovingly wanted to help! We help with no one asking and give everything out of the love in our heart and compassion and ask nothing in return! THEN, maybe after a little time has gone by, it begins to creep in. We begin to feel wounded, a little forgotten. On the surface we may not realize what is going on but if we really look and ask God to search our heart it just might be uncovered. Oh yes, we feel a little UNAPPRECIATED. Maybe they have forgotten about what all I did for them. Forgotten what all I gave up for them.
Sure, we don’t want anything in return. The only thing we want is for that person to thank us for all we did over and over and over again for years to come. ☺ NO…NO… not me, I want nothing.
You know, it is a need of most people. We all want to know we are appreciated. Maybe we can turn that around and make sure we look at our own lives and let anyone that has helped us along the way, be it financially or a shoulder to lean on or maybe they simply always have the right word at the right time and are always greatly encouraged because of that. Drop the person a card, sent them an email or pick up the phone. “Hey, I have been reflecting on my life and I just want you to know how much your kind words over the years have meant to me. I want you to know that I love you and appreciate you! ” “Hey, I just wanted to let you know how that you have been a great mom! I recognize all that you have done for me regardless of what we had. I just felt the need to let you know how much I love you and how much I do appreciate you!”
If each of us took a minute to do that every now and then to people we are in contact with, can you imagine? Even the person at the Dr’s office who has answered the phone for the last 3 years and is always so pleasant! Just tell them! Tell them how much you notice and appreciate their upbeat and happy demeanor and it always makes my day when I call! ☺
Can you imagine if we all did that?
Don, this is a great post! I’m reminded of some key points I learned in my Spiritual Foundations of Leadership course at Colorado Christian University. We’re all called to serve in one way or another. It is wonderful when our “calling” or passion (that which God has gifted us or asked of us in service of His Kingdom) matches our actual vocation. Until it does, we’re to do all things as if unto the LORD. Bosses are only true leaders when they lead from the heart; when they are able to lead from a position of authority rather than power. God bless my brother.
Thank you for this reminder that we are serving our Lord and not merely the other person. I sometimes complain when asked to do something that inconveniences me and this is one of the areas the Lord is working on with me. Thank you!