Sermon – A Gospel for All of Life (Colossians 3:18 – 4:1) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 15 of 16

A Gospel for All of Life

Tom Sweatman, Colossians 3:18 - 4:1, 21 January 2024

In Colossians 3:18-4:1, Paul distinguishes between two types of teaching—an elevated false gospel, and the true gospel accessible to all aspects of life. In this passage we see that the gospel affects our everyday relationships, shaping how wives submit to husbands, husbands sacrificially love and practice self-denial, and children honour their parents to please the Lord. How can embracing the true gospel transform our relationships, encouraging selfless love in our lives?

Colossians 3:18 - 4:1

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4:1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

If you've got a hard copy of the Bible, we're gonna turn to colossians chapter 3. And we're gonna read verse 1 to 4, and then we're gonna read from verse 18 to chapter 4 verse 1. So Clashians chapter 3 verse 1. Since then, you have been raised with Christ set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of god.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. And then verse 18, 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. Father. Do not imbitter your children or they will become discouraged. Slaves.

A bear your earthly masters in everything and do it. Not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the lord, not for human masters. Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the lord as a reward. It is the lord Christ you are serving.

Anyone who does wrong will will be repaid for their wrongs and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair because you know that you also have a master in heaven. Good morning, everybody. Nice to see you this morning. And, if you are tuning in online, it's nice to have you joining us if you are here for the first time, it's great to have you.

My name's Tom, and I'm 1 of the pastors here. And, we have been working our way through this letter, this book of colossians, and, it's what we try to do mainly here at Cornerstone. We do occasionally from time to time have more thematic series, where we pick various themes from the bible, but our normal pattern is to work our way through, verse by verse chunk by chunk And, so if you are joining us for the first time, we have made our way here to colossians, chapter 3, and our folks us is gonna be these verses here mainly verses 18 to 21. And as we come to them, shall we bow our heads and ask that the lord would speak to us. Father as we come to this word, we thank you that it is your living word.

We thank you that it's a word that stands true and has proved to be true, across all times and in all cultures. We thank you Holy Spirit that this word that you inspired to be written, is still with us today and that we can open it freely. And, we pray please that you would speak to every single 1 of us in this room this morning. We pray that whether we are single whether we are workers, whether we are married, whether we are children or parents in whatever situation, We currently find ourselves. We pray that you would have a word for each 1 of us this morning.

Speak to us we pray in Jesus' name. Our men. Well, Charles spurgeon, who was a, a great Victorian preacher. He, during his ministry, had a a college for for preachers and teachers that he would train and he would get them together quite regularly in order to encourage them. And to give them opportunities that they may be trained in this ministry of the word.

And, in 1 of, his book, which is called lectures to my students. Some of those lectures which he gave in his preachers college, have been written down and, and recorded. And in 1 of them, he says this to a, a young group of preachers. He observes that a farmer 1 day after he had listened to a simple sermon, which was the very opposite of what he generally heard, exclaimed Oh lord, we bless you that the food was put into a low crib today so that your sheep could reach it. Some brothers put the food up so high that the poor sheep cannot possibly feed it.

I have thought as I have listened to our eloquent friends that they imagined that our lord had said feed my giraffes. None but giraffes could reach the food when placed in so lofty Iraq. Christ says, feed my sheep. Place the food among them. Put it close to them.

And I think that serves as a really helpful introduction into the 2 types of teaching that we have seen in this letter to the colossians. There was a group of teachers who had made their way into the church and they were trying to feed giraffes. They were coming with this lofty super spiritual high brow teaching that none but they could really understand. In colossians 2 verse 8, and, thanks Rudy for putting that up. Paul describes it this way.

Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. That's how he described their ministry. It was high sounding nonsense. In other words, you would have turned up and listened to 1 of their sermons and you would have gone away feeling very inadequate about your own spirituality you would have thought that it all sounded very impressive that there were heights there that you would love to ascend to, but you would have gone away really not knowing How any of that applied to your life or made a difference to the relationships that you found yourself in? I don't know if you've ever heard something like that.

It sounds impressive, but then someone says, what did you like about it? What did you learn? And it's, well, Well, it's hard to say exactly, but, it sounded great. You know, that was 1 type of teaching that had sadly made its way into the church. But Paul's ministry and Paul's preaching was altogether different.

He did have a very high and wonderful gospel. About the lord Jesus Christ, the glorious son of god, crucified and risen, and that all who believed in him can be united to him and raised up to the heavenly realm. There's there's high sounding beauty there, but that gospel to him was always an earthy gospel. It was a spirituality that actually made a difference to the people who heard it and to the lives that they that they led. You see, these false teachers, they would have talked all about the religious feasts and the importance of those.

Paul was more concerned about the family dining table and what happened around there and how Christianity was worked out in the family dining table. The false teachers would never dream of addressing children because what could they possibly know about spiritual things? What could they have to teach us? Whereas Paul not only recognizes that there are children in the church. But he dignifies them.

He speaks to them. He calls them to a certain type of life. This is a spirituality for real people in their real relationships working in their real jobs. And isn't that just so important to us? Because if the truths of chapter 3 verse 1 to 4 have nothing to say to the person who is working 45 50 60 hours a week in an office.

If they have nothing to say to the person who is working all day laying bricks on a building site. If they have nothing to contribute to the to the stay at home mom who's working raise a family and look after kids. If they don't mean anything to those people, then that's hopeless, isn't it? Because that is where I am going to spend a very large portion of my life doing those things. And if this gospel of Christ makes no difference, then then what what is it for?

But just look at Paul's take in these verses. Look down with means we scan the verses. 3 verse 18. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as is fitting in the lord. Verse 20, Children do this for this pleases the lord.

Verse 22, slaves do this with sincerity of heart and reverence for the lord. Whatever you do verse 23, do it as working for the lord. Verse 24, you will receive an inheritance from the lord. It is the lord Christ you are serving. 4 verse 1, masters.

You also have a master in heaven. These are not the mundane, irreligious parts of our lives. But these are rather the stages on which the drama of the gospel unfolds and is played out. This is what it's for. You notice how he soaks all of those different categories in lord language.

Everything can be done. Do for the lord. Think of the lord. That's how he sees it. And I think that presents us with both a a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity.

The challenge is this for better or worse, who we are in these settings is who we really are, isn't it? This is the Christian life without a filter. How I am at work with my colleagues and how I am with my wife when no 1 else is watching and how I treat my children when I know you're not observing. This is often who we are for better or for worse life without a filter. That's the challenge.

The opportunity is that these are the areas where we can represent the lord Jesus Christ to the world and to those who watch on. Just have a look at colossians 3 verse 17. Look what he said. We we thought about this in our home groups particularly this week. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the lord Jesus.

Whatever you do or say, in whatever relationship you find yourself in, do it as a representative of. The lord Jesus giving thanks through him to god the father. And that is worth remembering as we come to this section. Wives submit yourselves to your husbands because when you do, you represent the lord Jesus. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

And in so doing, you will represent the lord Jesus. Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the lord and you in your own little way will be a representative of the lord Jesus Christ. Father do not emitter your children lest they become discouraged because you need to represent Christ to them. You're a representative of Jesus to them. And so you see great challenge, but also a great opportunity.

To represent Christ. And so we're really going to look now at these different relationships in the first few verses 18 to 21. We're gonna look at just 2 pairings, wives and husbands, and then we're gonna look at fathers and children or parents and children And then in our home groups this week, we're gonna spend time looking at the other pairing, which is slaves and masters. Now, I should say that if you're not in a home group, but would like the study notes for that session or the questions for you to work through during the week, then please come and let me know. I can make sure you get those so you can have a think about this week.

But for this morning, we're just gonna look at these first 2 pairings and we'll start with wives and husbands. 3 verse 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands. And what he says there is as important as what he doesn't say. Wives, submit yourselves to any man. Doesn't say that.

Wives, submit yourselves to any husband. Doesn't say that. Wive submit yourselves to the perfect version of your current husband. Because they say that. Why submit yourselves to a version of your husband that you once knew?

Doesn't say that. Wives submit yourselves to the husband that your current husband could become if only he worked a little bit harder. Doesn't say that. See, we very easily can play with these commands, can't we? We can say, Lord, I've got no problem with what you say here, And if you will just give me a man who is the perfect combination of Ryan Gosling and the Apostle Paul, I will gladly submit to him.

It's not a problem with the command lord. I'm so I love your command. It's just the man you put here with me. That's that's the problem. It says submit yourselves to your husband's, the 1 you've actually got.

That 1. And here's the reason for it and I think in our cultural moment, this is so important. So important to understand the reason here. Wives submit yourselves to your husbands because you are inferior to him. Wive submit yourselves to your husbands because he is superior to you.

Wive submit yourselves to your husbands because you are less gifted than him. Well, I've submit yourselves to your husbands because he is more able than you. Wive submit yourselves to your husbands because you are less intelligent than him. Wive submit yourselves to your husbands because he is brighter than you. None of those things.

None of those things find a place in this sentence. What is the actual reason that is given? Wives submit to your husbands, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the lord. As is fitting in the lord. In other words, because it corresponds to a heavenly design and a heavenly picture.

If we were to go back all the way to the beginning of the Bible, to the book of Genesis, we would see something so important in that first chapter. That when god makes man and woman, he makes them a hundred percent equal. He makes them equal in dignity. He gives them equal worth. They both bear the image of god in an equal way they are both gifted differently and wonderfully they are equal in the eyes of our creator.

And yet he gives them those distinct roles. Adam is to take a lead. He's to bear a responsibility for the creation work for the cultivation of the world and Eve with all of her gift and dignity and value is to help him in that glorious task which God has given him. Or if we look at the relationship between the father and the son. When the lord Jesus Christ became a man, when he took to himself a true human nature and came to live upon this earth.

How did he relate to his father? He lived in glorious submission to his father. Now, here's a question. Did that make him less god? Did that make him inferior to his father?

Was he any less glorious. No. It was his glory to submit himself to his father. It's important that, isn't it? Is the submission of the lord Jesus Christ to his heavenly father a sign of his weakness?

Is it a sign of his inferiority? Is it an ugly thing? Or is it rather his glory and his strength? That he chooses to submit himself to his heavenly father. Well in the same way, Paul says that 1 way Christian wives can serve the lord Jesus Christ is by honoring the role which God has given to their husbands.

To use their own gifts and their own abilities and their own insights and their own minds not to embarrass him or undercut him or to compete with him, but to help him shoulder responsibility for what he has been called to do. Not just to blindly obey him This is nothing like that old doormat illustration. You just whatever you say, sir, whatever you say just blindly do, it's nothing like that. But rather to gladly respond to him as the leader whom god has called him to be. Now I know that when we hear things like that in our particular culture, there are a number of ways that people can respond.

And there's a couple of important observations that we should make. Firstly, there is a limit to all authority here on earth. And if a wife finds herself in a situation, where a husband in the name of being a leader is commanding a wife to do something that is ungodly or putting her in a situation which is either mentally or physically or sexually abusive. And asking her to submit to him in that abuse, then that is not for a moment. To be submitted to or even tolerated.

And if a woman finds herself in a situation like that, then at the first possible opportunity, She is to seek help from trusted organizations, from trusted friends, from church leaders, from charities, from anyone who can help. There is a limit to this authority and that's worth saying. Another thing that's worth saying is that this command is only a few verses, but is incredibly flexible when it comes to being worked out in the home. So in our home, particularly, it would be true to say, I'm not just saying this because she's here. It would be true to say, that Laura is far more efficient and competent than me in many, many areas, like the management of the home and knowing what the family ought to be doing.

And looking after the family diary. And it would be simply mad for me in the name of being a leader to try to seize the reins of the family diary and gather us off into who knows where we we we would end up. Rather than allowing her to use her wonderful gifts in order to bless our home. And you know, if you talk to any Christian couple and there's loads of them here who've been married a few years and you go to them and say, how do you guys work this out in your home? You will get a different answer for every single 1 because couples work these things out differently and they talk and they communicate and they play to each other's strengths.

So none of this is to say there isn't great flexibility and joy in working out how this how this might look. The other thing that's important to say is that this is about the gospel and it's not a it's not just a harsh law. You see, if we hear this as, oh, here we go, there's that god of Christianity again imposing more inequality and inferiority upon the world. That just what he's into. Another law isn't this a burden, then what we will do is reject it and we will go looking for alternative laws in the culture.

But if we rather see this as gospel, if we see this as an opportunity to display the glory of Christ to the world and to imitate Christ in his relationship to the father and to represent him and to serve if we see it as gospel for freedom rather than just a law we gotta comply to. I think in that we will find and we will see its its beauty. It's beauty. And so for Christian wives, before we move to the husbands, here's a question for you to to think about, to go away and think If you if you were trying to do this or if you believe that this was important to do, Would your husband know about it? And if he would, how might how might it look?

It won't look just 1 way. That's for sure. It will look all kinds of ways. But if you were trying to do it, if you believed in it, how might he see it? In the context of your own marriage.

Wive submit yourselves to your husbands as is fitting in the lord. But then husbands, husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them. And again, it's interesting just to pick up on what he doesn't say. Doesn't say husbands lead your wives. And do not be harsh with them.

Although as we've seen, that's important. It's just not where the emphasis falls, is it? Husbands love your wives. Certainly doesn't say husbands demand obedience from your wife. Insist that she obeys you at whatever cost.

It doesn't say that. It says husbands love your wives. And who are they to love? Husbands love your wife. Don't love another man's wife.

Husands love your wife. Dream about your wife. Think about how to please your wife. That's who you were to love. Again, if we were to go back to those first chapters of Genesis Genesis chapter 3.

And again, we can be so creative in what we do with these commands in order to escape them. You remember when the the lord comes to Adam and he's sinned and he's run off and the lord goes to find him and he he he says to Adam in the original Hebrew. What the heck are you doing? You know, where where where where are you? What have you what have you come?

And he says, lord, it was the woman you put here with me. It's not your command, lord. I'm very willing to love my wife but the woman you put here with me, she makes it really hard. She makes it really hard to obey you in this area. Well, that justification is missing from verse 19, isn't it?

Husbands love your wives and what sort of love is this? Well, if we were to look at the corresponding passage in Ephesians 5 25, we'd we'd see this. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ, love the church. And gave himself up for her. And that love word there is that special love word that is used of god's affection and god's love for us.

It is a sort of love which involves laying down your own life and giving yourself for the sake of another. And so does it include the love of friendship? Yeah, it does. And does it include the love of intimacy, physical love? Yeah, it does.

But over all of those things, and defining those things and coloring those things is this sense of giving self for the sake of another. You see, it's true, isn't it? That if a husband is only ever intimate with his wife or only ever physical with his wife, or only ever tender with his wife when he wants to have sex with her. If that's the only time he ever touches her when he wants to have sex with her. Then that is out of sync with what he's saying here because who then is that affection for?

It's not for her own sake, is it? For my sake. It's for my sake. He says husbands love your wives. Let the love of Christ be the thing that colors your love for your wife.

Here's a quote that I picked up. We can read this passage and think that Paul means husband be kind to your wife. Or husband be nice to your wife. There is no doubt that for many marriages, this would be a huge improvement. But that isn't what Paul writes about.

What he really means is husband continually practice self denial for the sake of your wife. Husbands love your wives in that way and then he qualifies further and do not be harsh with them and do not be harsh with them. Now, what does he have in mind there? Well, it obviously rules out, doesn't it? Any aggressive behavior of any kind, whether that be physical aggression or verbal aggression or a sort of passive aggression to put her in her place.

It rules out any harshness of that type, but there are other ways that husbands can be harsh with their wives. 1 way I was thinking about this week is a lack of thankfulness in the home. A lack of thank. To live in an environment without gratitude is a harsh environment in which to live. It's interesting if you just look back with me to 3 17, this is the verse and remember these these chapter divisions weren't there in the in the original.

And whatever you do whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the lord Jesus, giving thanks to god the father through him. Wives submit to your husband's love your wives and it struck me this week that the relationship between husband and wife is 1 area in which gratitude can easily be eclipsed by resentment. It is very easy for us to be thankful to the waiter or waitress in the restaurant who serves us, to be thankful to the person who looks after us at church, to be thankful to the bus driver when we get off the bus We can be very forthcoming with thanks in lots of areas, but in the home, how easy is it for the gratitude for all that wives do for us to be eclipsed by resentment. I wish she'd done it earlier. I wish she'd done it better.

Why has she done it that way again? You see how that can happen? This life or Thanksgiving is replaced by a life of resentment. That's a very harsh environment. In which to live.

Another way that we can be harsh with our wives is if we resent them being the person that they actually are. Instead of the projection of our own hopes and fantasies. That's harsh, isn't it? Here's who you are, my wife, here's who I wish you were, here's who you could be, If only things were different, here's who I might have had if my life had worked out different. Here's who you are, and because you don't meet that, I resent you.

I resent you. I wish you were something other than what you actually are. A different type of better at less than. That's 1 way that husbands can be harsh with their wives when they cover that she, like them, is a sinner, and that they are not merely there just to be their fantasy or their dream wife, to resent a wife or being who she actually is rather than who you wish she would be is harsh, harsh behavior. And so he says, husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

And here's the thing about harsh behavior. If we are harsh with our wives, we might win their submission. But we will not win their affection. We might do enough to get them to comply with what we would like to happen. But we will sense that their affection and their gladness in us has fallen away.

And yet if you think about the way the lord Jesus Christ loves us, it's altogether different, isn't it? Do we submit to him and bow the need to him? Yeah, we do. But how does he help us? He wins our hearts, and he wins our affections, and he makes us understand, and he makes glad to submit to him.

We love to do it. That's how he wins us over and woos us, isn't it? Not just demanding us to bow, but by winning our hearts for him. Harsh behavior can bring 1 type of submission but it will leave affection missing. And so look, all of this is to say that there are hundreds of different ways that husbands and wives will work out this gospel drama together but Christ like submission and Christ like leadership, those are the non negotiables that he calls us to.

Okay? That's husbands and wives. That's the first pairing. Secondly, he moves to children and fathers, children and parents, 3 verse 20, children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the lord. And again, just to remind you of how counter cultural this actually is.

That Paul takes a moment in this letter to speak specifically to the children in the congregation. Isn't that wonderful? But he does that. He doesn't just acknowledge that they exist. He doesn't reach over their head and say, mums and dads of kids, here's what I want your kids to do.

He looks them in the eye through the nib of his pen He looks them in the eye and he says children, I've got a special calling for you. I've got a calling for your life I'm gonna deliver something exciting to you. If Christian children want to please the lord and serve the lord. How can they do it by obeying their parents in everything? From a very early age, we often talk to kids or they will talk to us about what they wanna do when they grow up.

And what they wanna be? Do they wanna write books or be on stage or be mechanics or look after gardens or be lawyers or nurses? What do you wanna be? What what do you think about doing? But for Paul that the most exciting vocation at least in their early years is to be a child who obeys their parents in everything.

What an exciting career ahead of you, young person, at home, abear your parents in everything. And so I know that it's true moving from being a child to a dad I know that it's true. That it that it often feels like pet our parents just don't get it. That they don't understand us that they're a million miles away from the culture that we live in. That they still think TikTok is just a noise that a clock makes.

And that's the extent of their understanding of that phrase. And I know that But broadly speaking, it is true that most parents want to fill the home with encouragement and happiness. I know some don't, and I know some get it very wrong, but most parents want an in home environment that is encouraging and happy. But when that is met with constant disobedience. It's just really hard to do nice things.

It's really hard to do nice things at home when that happens. And so Paul says to these children. This is how you can serve the lord. You can obey your parents You can please the lord that way. And not only will it please the lord, it will bring life to your whole home environment.

That's what he says. And then he turns to the fathers, but applies equally to mums as well. Fathers verse 21 do not emitter your children or they will become discouraged. Fathers do not emitter your children or they will become discouraged. And maybe the reason that he does pick on fathers particularly there is not just that they have that leadership role in the home but maybe this is a temptation that they're particularly prone to, embittering their children and discouraging them.

The word means provoke. Love them or or be a father in a way that provokes them or irritates them. Is what happens when they're subjected to constant discouragement and they become a shell of what they ought to be. Husbands do not fathers rather do not embitter your children. Now how how might how might that happen?

How might we do that? Well, 1 way I think we can embitter our children is when we make obedience to our rules really, really hard. Obedience is not easy. For them. We make it really, really hard.

I don't know if you've ever done the the high jump. When I was at secondary school, I used to love the high jump It was 1 of the, only sort of athletic activities I signed up for at sports day. And, I was actually quite good at it. And, I only but I only won silver. You know, there was a boy called Anthony who was always better than me.

Would mean, if you're watching Anthony, you, you know, I remember that, but well done. You know, and, I remember when you're trying to hit that that final height and you're doing your run up and you've got 3 goes to clear it, and you're trying as hard as you can, and you're running as fast as you can, and you're jumping as high as you can, and you're trying to manipulate your body into the right position to clear it and you just keep you just keep knocking it down. And no matter how hard you try, you just can't clear the standard. You run and you just knock it down again and you watch it fall and you knock it down again. That's that's embittering is the name.

It's really hard when children find themselves an environment where obedience is not easy. They can never do it. They're always knocking the barrier down and they just can't clear it. That's 1 way that we can embit them. If you wanna go to that party next week, You mustn't put a foot wrong between now and then.

You got 6 days before your friend's party. If you wanna go, you gotta Do everything me and mom say between now and then? Well, not even you can keep that standard. Not even you can do that. Harsh, shouldn't it?

It's embittering when obedience is really hard work. It's also embittering when there's no standards or correction or guidelines at all, isn't it? That that's that's really provocative when children are growing up in an environment and they've got no idea what they should do because mom and dad have never bothered to tell them What's right for them, or what's wrong for them, or what they should avoid. That's like doing the high jump, and there's no safety mat, and there's no poles, and there's no height, and you've just, you gotta know what you gotta do. But some judge is watching on and he's gonna judge you and he's gonna either pass you or fail you, but you've got no idea what you're supposed to be doing.

That's exasperating, isn't When you find yourself thrown into a sport or trying to write an exam and you've got no idea what the rules are or what you should be writing about. How provocative, how irritating to not have any loving clarity about what is right to do and what is wrong to do. That's that's embittering. That's embittering, isn't it? How else can we do it?

By comparing them with the neighbor's kids, with their siblings over and over and over again. Why can't you just be like? Why don't you look at her and learn from her? Come on. You the neighbor's kid can do it.

Why can't you do it? Now look, I know as a parent, Those are the type of things that we say from time to time. And we might turn around in the car when there's a massive racket and chairs are being kicked and drinks are being spilt. And you might say to 1. May, look at your sister.

She's not doing it. Why do you have to do that? You know? I don't know sometimes that is just how we talk in life. That's normal life.

But if there is a steady diet of you're not as good as you should be more like than that is embittering. That's embittering. And you know, often, that flows more from our own insecurities as parents than anything else. Because what we really want is for them to make a statement about us. We're less concerned with who they actually are and what they're doing, but how do you make me look?

Why can't you be more like your brother? He makes me look really good when we're out and about. You make me look terrible. Don't do that. Be more like him so that I look better.

Isn't that right? Comes from our own sense of insecurity more than more than anything else. See, if you are a child of god, the question is how does he treat you? Does he subject you to constant belittling? Does he leave you to navigate life for yourself?

Or rather does he love and encourage and guide guide you. That's what we want to be, isn't it? As fathers and mothers to be rich with encouragement. You see encouragement is an act of creation, isn't it? When somebody encourages you, doors open in your mind, and things become possible which otherwise weren't.

And you think, I've done that well or I'm good at that. Maybe I could do that next or maybe I could go here and all sorts of doors pop open in your brain when you're encouraged. But when you're discouraged, doors close and you just think about what you can't do or what you're failing to do or what you won't be able to do unless you pass this exam and that kind of discouragement just just closes a closes us in on ourselves. And so Paul is saying to fathers and to mothers and to parents, look, we cannot guarantee that they will love Christ. We want them to, but we cannot guarantee that they'll love Christ, but what we can do is encourage them and look after them and guide them for who they are and for who god has made them to be.

Not who we wish they would be or what they could become if they worked harder but rather for who they are. And that is not in bitter bittering and it is not irritating and it's not provocative. It's life giving. It's life giving to grow up like that. So there we are husband's wives, children, and fathers, children, and mothers.

And just as we close, a couple of things to say by by way of summary. Sometimes I when we talk about relationships like this, And we talk about how things ought to be. We realize what we've missed out on. Or it might be that we're here, and as we've thought about all of that, you've been thinking about what you would love to have had. But for whatever reason didn't get or what you could have had if only you'd done things a bit differently.

And that's where we need to remember. I'm not wanting to give the impression it's straightforward or instantaneous. But that is where we need to remember those introductory verses that the lord Jesus Christ who is seated in heaven is our life and he knows every single 1 of our disappointments and he will be all that you need him to be. And in eternity's eyes as we stand before him, and survey something of his glorious plan for our lives. We will see that in the end, we didn't miss out after all, but rather every circumstance was for his eternal glory and for our everlasting good.

It may be hard to grasp hold of that in this life. But we look in faith to this 1 who loves us and knows us and understands us and will satisfy us eternally in every way that we need to be satisfied. And then with that knowledge, we realize the calling that we all do have. You see, it isn't an accident, is it? That before 4 verses, on husbands, wives, and parents and children.

There are 12 verses on church family. Before the 4 certain sentences on Earthly family, there's a whole chunk given over to church family, and being a father at church, and a mother at church, and a brother and sister, and an auntie, and an uncle, a church, and a grandparent at church, and being kind and compassionate, and humble, and putting sin to death and growing the unity at church. That is a calling that we all have and it gets the majority of the spotlight in this chapter. That is what we are called to do. And lastly, another thing as we look at these kind of relationships, is that these are often the areas where we feel our sin most sharply, aren't they?

Where we where we really see what what is left to do in our hearts. And I'm I'm right there with you on that. In fact, this morning, I knew I was gonna be preaching on husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. And I was thinking, I wonder if Laura is gonna be in for this. Because sometimes she goes out to soul and teaches at soul.

And so I said to her this morning in a discreet, you know, way. I was like, are you in this morning. And she was like, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I am. Yeah. I'm looking for, you know, I'm looking forward to it. And I was like, oh, great. You know?

Okay. You know, that's brilliant. To scrub that illustration, or you? And, and then I was thinking, and then I was thinking, this is what a pharisee I am, and then I was thinking, okay, I've re like, I've just really got to not muck it up in the hours before church because, if I if I'm harsh with her on the car in the way here, and then I preach this. This is gonna look really bad.

I mean, she sees the inconsistencies anyway, but how much more so if I'm gonna be talking about this? And then in the hours after church, if I can just, you know, try as hard as I can to sort of apply this in my life and show that I really believe it, then she'll be happy and the lord will be happy. And you know, that that's the sort of pharisee that that I am. And this is why we have to remember the gospel of of grace, isn't it? You know, it's so easy for us to invert verse 24.

It is the lord Christ you are serving. Okay, yeah, that's right. You know, I've gotta serve Christ. And if I fail as a mama, I've just gotta serve him more if he's gonna love me. And, if I fail at work again and I give my colleagues, a bad witness, I've got to serve harder, and then he's going to love me, and I've got to make it up to we so easily invert the gospel.

When rather we need to remember that church is for sinners and the gospel is for sinners and if you're a sinful husband this morning, then this place is for you. And if you're a sinful wife this morning, this place is for you. And if you're a sinful father or mother, this place is for you. This is where you need to come. It's good that you're here.

Because god saves you out of his free grace, he loves you, and he's adopted you, and he's your father, and he died for you, and he wants the best for you. And he's willing to wash away every wrong and prepare you for every right. And so we have to remember the gospel of grace because these are the areas where we think you know, I wish you know, I just you know, I'm getting this wrong but we this is why we need to remember the saviour. 1 last illustration as we as we close I was at a conference some time ago and there was a man talking up the front. He was being interviewed about his his life, and he was a children's evangelist growing up.

And, as a part of that job, he had to spend many weekends away from his wife and children. So he'd be on the road a lot, doing mission trips in other churches and evangelizing children. And the person who was interviewing him at the front said, And what was that like growing up with a dad like that? Who was around a little bit less and wasn't there every Saturday that you wish he'd been and you know, how did your mum take that? How was, you know, how was how was his wife in all of that?

And he said, he said, I'm not gonna pretend it wasn't it wasn't hard. At times. But here's what we always knew about that. This is what we knew about that. The lord was first but he never made us feel second.

And I think that's a great summary of all of this teaching when the lord is first whether we're workers or moms or dads or husbands or wives when the lord is first, nobody else in our life will feel second. Should we bow our heads? Take a minute of quiet and then Rory if you'd like to close us in a prayer. While we do, Thank you. That you have shown us these verses in colossians now.

We thank you that the lord Jesus Christ is a supreme example of gospel living. We thank you that He is the 1 who submitted himself to the the plan of you father that he was willing to obey and go to a cross to hang for us. So we thank you for that amazing example of submission, but we also thank you for the amazing example of love this is that Christ in love went to a cross, for us. What a glorious gospel of grace we have as Tom says. And we know father that so often we can get it wrong in our relationships, and we can get it so wrong as we live in this world, and we sin, and we then try and avert the gospel.

So we pray father that you forgive us for these times when we when we when we try and put it on ourselves or we or we try and we're too harsh or we're embittering or Well, we're not loving. So we do pray for your forgiveness, and we pray father that you will help us to, again, see, refix our eyes on Christ and what he has done for us. And we, and we pray that, that, last illustration will be true of us. That if you are first, no 1 else feels like they're second. And so far that we pray that you will give us such a vision of Christ.

And that he will be first and foremost in our lives that we will endeavor to live for him with all, all our energy and all our passion and with gratefulness in our hearts. And as we do that, we pray father that with 1 another, we will love And so we pray for your help with these things in Jesus' name, amen.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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