In Colossians 3, Paul writes about the dangers of sin and encourages us to pursue love towards one another. In this passage, he gives practical examples in the context of a family unit in his day and age.
First, he gives instructions to wives and husbands. For wives “submitting as is fitting to the Lord” was an unheard of concept in the first century. It meant they shouldn’t simply obey and do whatever their husband tells them to do if it doesn’t honor God. (A radical concept in the 1st century Roman empire). In Paul’s time, women, children, and slaves were essentially viewed as property to some degree. So to tell women that their husband did not have ultimate authority over them was a big deal.
For husbands, loving and being kind to their wives was also not a culturally expected stance to take. Legally they could treat their wives however they wanted. Yet as the legal representative of the entire household, Paul urges husbands to lead with compassion in the same way Christ has done for us.
He then addresses children (who had the same legal rights as slaves) and slaves. Both types of people had no real say in how they were treated, yet Paul addresses them both. Biblical scholar David Garland writes about how radical it was that Paul addresses women, children, and slaves:
“The idea that women, children and slaves could also act in an ethically responsible way is scarcely considered. The gospel in which there is no Greek or Jew, slave or free, male or female recognizes each individual as a full person and is concerned to protect each person’s rights, not to enforce his or her subordination. Wives are to be treated with love, children with understanding, and slaves as human beings deserving of justice in a time when slaves were not legally regarded as human. These commands also address wives, children, and slaves as responsible, moral beings, full members of the body of Christ. The commands acknowledge the authority of the husband, parent, and master; but those with power must exercise it with love, sensitivity, and justice, and must be willing to take the role of servant, just as Christ did.”
All of this to say, in order to do what God has called you to do, you must be who God has called us to be. Paul encourages us to be prayerful, thankful, missional, wise, and gracious, even when it can be hard.
Practically speaking, who you are guides what you do, and how we treat others is determined by who we are. In order to do what God has called you to do, you must be who God has called you to be.
It all comes down to this point: to be like Jesus you have to be with Jesus. If we want to love, forgive, and put others before ourselves, we have to be with Jesus. He gives us the strength and the power to love because He is love. Jesus is both our example and our strength, and if we want to be like Him we have to spend time with Him.
Devotionals, prayer, serving, and having community with other believers are all ways to help us become more like Jesus. What is a new or different spiritual discipline you could try to help you become more like Christ?
We would like to thank New City Church for providing this plan.