Vs. 18 “Wives, be subject to your husband as is fitting to the Lord” Vs. 19 “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.”
As we continue our study it is worth noting that these two verses are not suggestions but directives given to enable married couples to enjoy happy fun-filled marriages. Even though they are simple and straight-forward, they are impossible to comply with in the power of our flesh. That is why the apostle Paul began his epistle by reminding us of who we are and whose we are. It is why he said that we must put aside anger, wrath, and malice and put on the new man. The old nature hindered wives from being subject to their husbands and it hindered husbands from loving their wives as Christ loved the Church. However, we who have been born of the Spirit are no longer encumbered by our old nature. Romans 6:6 declares, “Our old man (nature) was crucified with Christ.” Our spiritual rebirth gave us a new nature, a new heart, and a saved soul. Going forward, our part is to renew our mind with the Word of God (Rom. 12:2). Only a renewed mind has the power to keep our fleshly desires in check. That is why the apostle Paul wrote, “I buffet my body (flesh) daily” (1 Cor. 9-27), and so must we. Wives, if you want your husband to become more like Jesus then treat him like he is Jesus. Husbands, if you want to love your wife as Christ loves the Church, then daily lay aside the old man that was self-serving and see your wife as the greatest marvel of Christ’s creation. He created her to be both graceful and loving, submissive but strong, secure but wanting protection, wise but desirous of Godly wisdom, and desiring her husband’s affections yet needing agape love even more. Man of God, when you come to a place where you truly love your wife more than yourself, you will also see her as the weaker but most precious vessel. You will also discover that bitterness can no longer find a place in your heart.
Vs. 20 “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
Parents, would you like some sound advice and wisdom? Here it is: “Train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it ” (Prov. 22:6). Our children must be trained in the ways of the Lord and in His word. Training is done by repetition, but the single most important repetitive training they receive is daily watching how their dads and moms speak and treat each other. Wives and husbands who adhere to the roles God has given them will in overwhelming number have children who are obedient, loving, and desirous of pleasing their parents.
Vs. 21 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children that they may not lose heart.”
It is interesting that Paul speaks to the fathers and not the mothers. Dads, he did so because He not only gave us the role of providing for and protecting our families but of instilling meaningful purpose as well. That is not to say that mothers don’t have a huge role to play in the raising of children, because they do. Moms are the glue while fathers tend to be the builders. Words are the best builders that a father can use when raising children because words are powerful. Words build up and they tear down. Paul is saying, “Hey dads, build your children up in the love and admonition of the Lord, build them up with powerful words of encouragement and don’t be afraid to hug them and tell them you love them.” When dads fulfill their roles of leadership their children aren’t very likely to look for love in the wrong places. Neither are they as likely to be lured into the world of alcohol and drugs. Discipline your children when needed but remember that the best way to discipline them is with the Word of God. It works!
Vs. 22 “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters here on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”
Paul not only gives instructions to slaves in this epistle, but in Ephesians and Philemon as well. Each time he gives them the same heads up: Be obedient to authority and give your best. Why didn’t Paul condemn slavery? You will have to ask him that question, but the instructions he gave to slaves was sage advice. In 1 Cor. 2:2 he said, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Christ Jesus, and Him crucified.” Paul knew that the best way to change a system was by allowing the gospel message to resonate in men’s hearts, knowing that it would affect the way they treated others. Submitting to authority is huge if we ever want to have authority. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt and remained so for thirteen years. Even so, his obedience to authority and faithfulness towards God allowed the Lord’s favor to not only free him, but to raise him up to the next highest in command over all of Egypt.
Vs. 23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men.”
Do you know who an employer looks upon as his most valuable employees? Those who are faithful, cheerful, do their jobs, and don’t run over an unsuspecting person standing in the doorway when five o-clock comes. Those are the ones he is willing to pay more and do more for.
Vs. 24 “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Galatians 4:1 “As long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is the owner of everything.” Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is reminding the Elect that the Kingdom we were transferred into (Col. 1:12-13) is not impoverished or empty, but it may seem that way to those who don’t know how to speak God’s blessings and promises into their lives. There is a difference in a greedy heart and prosperous mind. III John 11 says, “Beloved, (us) I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul (mind, will, emotions) prospers. God has promised that our greatest reward will be in heaven, but He wants us to live prosperous and abundant lives while we are here on earth.
Vs. 25 “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong he has done, and that without partiality.”
Let’s keep this in context. Paul is saying that those who withhold what is due to others and refuse to be bountiful will in time find that their own lives are lacking and barren. Perhaps not in money but in joy, health, purpose, and peace of mind. The law of sowing and reaping is always at work and it always works the same for everyone.