The Master's instructions about everyday life. Colossians 3:18-4:1.
Genesis records God planning family life right at the beginning of human history. The mankind He created was male and female (1:27). He commanded them to reproduce. Woman was created as a suitable helper for man (2:18-25). God gave the man and the woman to each other and
then He entrusted them with the care of their children.
In Exodus 20 two of the Ten Commandments are specifically to do with the family. Both refer to faithfulness within the family: ‘Honour your father and your mother’ (v.12), and: ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (v.14).
Many Proverbs are intended to give guidelines to families even in this day
and age. For example Proverbs 24:3 speaks of wisdom, understanding and
knowledge being blended together to build a home.
The New Testament pastoral epistles point to the family home as one of
the proving grounds for church leadership. ‘If anyone does not know how
to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?’
(1 Timothy 3:5). If the true church is to be known as ‘the family of God’
then it follows that Christian family life will influence the spiritual
resources of any local congregation.
As a Christian child you carry before God a responsibility to be the kind
of child He wants you to be. The most concise teaching on the respective
roles for Christians within their families is found in Colossians 3:18 – 4:1.
It will help you to fulfil this role if you recognise that you are a reward
from the Lord for your parents (Psalm 127:3); you are a reason for God
bringing them together (Genesis 4:1-2); and you are a responsibility they
have before God (Ephesians 6:4). Try and see your relationship from
their side as well as your own.
To honour your parents means that you should respect them. You should
listen to what they say and place due weight on their advice. God was not
taken by surprise when you turned up in their family. They are given to
you as much as you are given to them!
To heed your father’s instruction means that you should not be quick to
reject what you are told. You should rather receive what you hear and
reflect upon it (Proverbs 13:1).
Hypocrisy is to be studiously avoided. How often do you hear the phrase,
‘Actions speak louder than words’? In the Bible it is used to discourage
double standards, even in children (Proverbs 20:11).
God wants your parents to help you to please Him and He wants you to help
your parents to please Him. He commands your parents to discipline you
and He says that this is an expression of real love (Proverbs 22:15;
Hebrews 12:5-11). It is not possible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ
without submitting to His discipline. The learning ground for this
submission is the home.
As your parents looked after you at the beginning of your life, so the
Bible teaches that looking after them in their old age is part of your
Christian service (Matthew 15:4-6; 1 Timothy 5:8). The phrase: ‘Obey
your parents in the Lord,’ is best understood by reading: ‘Obey your
parents as part of your Christian responsibility.’ God wants you to serve
Him by being a good son or daughter to your parents.
What kind of child would you like yours to be?
Discussion guide on ‘Living as a Christian Child’
Reading Colossians 3:18-4:1.
1. Since Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 teach the responsibility
parents, especially fathers, have before God, how should we
children treat our parents?
2. What do you think “honour” means in Exodus 20:12? The Hebrew
word includes the thoughts of ‘preferring’, ‘giving weight to’,
‘acknowledge the position of’. These may help you form your
understanding of the Bible verse. Define the word, in relation to
your attitude to your parents, in one short sentence.
3. Look up these Proverbs and from them form a sentence or small
paragraph of advice on how to be a Christian child.
Proverbs 13:1; 20:11; 22:15; 24:3; 29:15,17; 30:17.
4. Consider Timothy. What do we learn about his own family
upbringing from these verses?
2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 4:12; Acts 16:1-3.
5. How was Timothy made ready to serve God?
6. Consider our Lord Jesus. What do we learn from Him that helps us
to be Christian children?
Luke 2:39-40, 51-52; Matthew 10:37; 15:3-9; John 19:26-27.
7. Does your responsibility as a Christian child change as you grow
older? Discuss your answer for each of these stages in life:
• Under 16 years old
• 16 years plus, but still living in the family home
• 16 years plus, living away from home (at university etc.)
• married and living close by the parents
• married and living far away from the parents
• married with children
• when one parent has died
• when both parents have died.