Some Rules for Christian Living
18 A wife must put her husband first. This is her duty as a follower of the Lord.
19 A husband must love his wife and not abuse her.
20 Children must always obey their parents. This pleases the Lord.
21 Parents, don't be hard on your children. If you are, they might give up.
22 Slaves, you must always obey your earthly masters. Try to please them at all times, and not just when you think they are watching. Honor the Lord and serve your masters with your whole heart. 23Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your earthly master. 24In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know he will reward you. 25 But Christ has no favorites! He will punish evil people, just as they deserve.
1 Slave owners, be fair and honest with your slaves. Don't forget that you have a Master in heaven.
“Honor Christ and put others first” (Ephesians 5:21). This is the principle underlying this passage. In our desire to please God we are to live out our personal relationships by placing the other person ahead of ourselves. This is how it works in the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us we are to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and that many who are last shall be first (Matthew 19:30). And so we too are to put the other person first, no matter the cost.
Wives are to put their husbands ahead of themselves. Husbands are to love their wives and not abuse them. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving up his life for it (Ephesians 5:25). To be sure, these are high demands, but the Holy Spirit is alive in us, helping, encouraging and enabling.
Children should always obey their parents, as this is pleasing to God. This comes with a promise: “…and you will have a long and happy life” (Ephesians 6:2). Likewise parents are to not be too hard on their children, to stave off discouragement.
In the case of the Colossians the principle applied to the relationship between slaves and their masters. Slaves in their desire to please God were to seek to obey and please their masters always, even when out of sight. Masters were to be fair and honest – they too have a master in heaven who judges righteously. In today’s world, employees should work diligently and honourably for their employers. Likewise employers should consider the needs of their employees and act in their best interests. God is watching. The bottom line is a secondary consideration.
In all of our relationships, we are called to place others, whose lives intertwine with ours, ahead of our own needs and interests. This is the way of the kingdom of God. As we seek to please God by being good citizens of the kingdom, let us call on him for the help we need.
Father God, putting others ahead of myself is so hard. I want to be a good kingdom citizen today and please you in all I do, say and think. Today, please fill me with the Holy Spirit to show me the way and give me the grace and power to act beyond my own self-interest. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.