Robert Jeffress - Dads, Front and Center
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Last week we talked about Paul's thought-provoking statement to married couples. He wrote, "Wives, submit to your husbands". We'll start today with a brief review of what that really means. But I also promised that the conversation on submission wouldn't stop there. Men, it's your turn. And today we're going to talk about a husband's responsibility to his wife and to his children. My message is titled "Dads, Front and Center" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
"The test of a Christian is how he behaves at home," Billy Graham once said. The apostle Paul echoes the very same thought in the passage we're looking at in Colossians 3. If you have your Bibles this morning I want you to turn to Colossians 3. This chapter as you know is about how we become like Jesus Christ in our everyday attitudes, affections, and actions. And Paul says if you want to know whether you're really becoming like Jesus Christ, look at how you act at home, how you behave in the home. That is the first of two tests of whether you are really becoming like Christ. And in these four short verses beginning with verse 18 of Colossians 3, Paul outlines in a very simple way the four responsibilities every member of the household has.
First of all he addresses the wives. He said, "Wives, are you becoming like Christ? Here's the test for you," verse 18, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord". The test of a wife's Christ likeness is her willingness to submit to her husband. And we saw last time this word submit is not the word obey. The word submit has nothing to do with inferiority or superiority. It has to do, it's a military terms that means to place under rank. A wife voluntarily submits herself to her husband just as Jesus who was equal to God willingly submitted himself to the authority of God the Father.
And we talked last time about the fact that all of us are told to submit to someone in this life. All of us are under some human authority. Employees under their employers, citizens under the government, church members under the spiritual leaders of the house, children under their parents. God places every one of us under somebody's authority. Why is submission important not just for wives but for all of us? Remember last time we talked about the four benefits of submission. Submitting to authority teaches us how to submit to God. Let me tell you, if you are unwilling to submit yourself to that human authority God has placed over you, you'll find it very difficult to submit to the invisible God when he asks you to do something you don't like or agree with.
Secondly, submission provides orderliness in society. If everybody was the boss, in any organization where everybody's the boss, nobody's the boss. You have to have a chain of authority to keep orderliness in the home, in the church and in government.
Thirdly, we saw submission to authority frees us some unnecessary worry. When you obey that God-given authority over you, you don't have to worry about the end result. God is going to protect you. And finally we saw that submission is a way that God gives us direction. When we obey that person God has placed over us, many times God will direct his will for our lives through that person. Now you know submission gets a lot of bad press these days and I think one reason is husbands themselves are responsible for this bad attitude and reaction so many wives have towards the attitude of submission. My former seminary professor and friend Howard Hendricks used to say, "A lot of men run around their homes like frustrated drill sergeants, yelling, 'I'm in charge, I'm in charge'. And unfortunately, they are the only ones who believe it". No, the Bible says husbands have a responsibility as well. And so beginning in verse 19 Paul is now going to move to the husbands and tell them how they can know whether they're like Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 19. "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them". You know people who say the Bible is a chauvinistic document that denigrates women? They never read Colossians 3:19. Because let me tell you, this was a revolutionary concept in a world that did hate women when Paul wrote these words. The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews all treated women like third-class citizens. And when Paul actually addressed husbands and said, "Husbands, you have a responsibility in the home," the men woke up in the church and said, "What do you mean, we have responsibilities"?
You see, in the Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture, women had responsibilities, children had responsibilities, slaves had responsibilities, but not husbands. They were free to come and go as they wanted to. And yet Paul said no, you have a responsibility as well, and your responsibility is to love your wives. He expands upon that in Ephesians 5:25, 28 when he says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her. So husbands," verse 28, "Should love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself".
Now the test of a woman's Christ likeness is her submission to her husband. The test of a husband's Christ likeness is his sacrificial love for his wife, meaning quite simply his willingness to place her interests above his own. A willingness to make sure her needs are met instead of his own needs being met. That's what Jesus did for us, isn't it? Jesus, Philippians 2 said, didn't merely look out for his own interest but for our interest as well. Even though he was equal with God, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Just as Christ sacrificially gave his life for us, men, we are to sacrificially give our lives for our wife, and that means placing her interest above ours.
Now how do you go above doing that? How do you sacrificially love your wife? Men, let me give you three suggestions for a way to practically show sacrificial love to your wife, and ladies, this would be a good time to make sure your husbands have a pen and a piece of paper to write these down, okay? Make sure they write these down. Three practical suggestions, number one, do something nice and unexpected for your wife. Men, when is the last time you did something totally unexpected for your wife?
You say, "Well, I went to work last week". That doesn't count, okay? That's expected, you have a responsibility, we do, to provide for our families. I'm talking about something that is unexpected, something that is extra. Let me give you a couple of ideas about maybe something you want to do. Maybe you would say to your wife one day this week, "Honey, don't worry about dinner. I'm responsible for dinner. I'll cook dinner or I'll take you out to eat". Or maybe you would say to your wife, "You know, I've got a surprise for you. Next Tuesday I've hired a maid service to come in and clean the house. Not because the house is dirty, but I want to give you some time off. I'm going to hire somebody to come in and wax the floors and scrub the sinks and do the things that nobody wants to do". Or if you can't afford doing that, maybe you could organize your kids to do it. It might be cheaper to hire the cleaning service to come in, but just something unexpected. Maybe your wife has parents or siblings that are out of town that she hasn't seen for a while. Wouldn't it be nice for you to make the arrangements so she could go visit her family? Do something unexpected and kind for your mate.
Secondly, to sacrificially love your wife be concerned with meeting your wife's physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Make meeting your wife's physical, emotional and spiritual needs your priority rather than meeting your own. You know the fact is women have different needs than men have. That's true in every area of life. It's true for example in the physical realm. Women have different physical needs than men. I read a survey in Redbook Magazine. Don't ask me what I was doing reading Redbook Magazine, that's another story. But I came across this survey about women's attitude towards sex, and this survey asked 500 women a question. They said, "How would you rank the following seven activities according to which gives you the most pleasure"? The majority of women, 29%, said the number one activity that gave them the most pleasure was relaxing on a beautiful tropical beach. The second most pleasurable activity that got 28% was having a Romantic dinner with your husband or boyfriend.
Did you know only 9% ranked sex as the most pleasurable activity? In fact, it barely ranked about the next most pleasurable activity which was having a piece of chocolate cake with whipped cream and fudge. Now there is a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not brave enough to reach for it. But one thing I could say, if you took that same survey among men, I guarantee you the responses would be different, wouldn't they? Chocolate cake, sex would probably have tied for first place, not necessarily in that order. The idea is men have different needs than women, women have different needs from men, and that's why it's important that we understand those differences and our intent on fulfilling them. Women have different emotional needs than their husbands. I mean, men, you know what it's like. You come home from working outside the home and the last thing you want to do is talk, you know? To converse, you've been talking all day.
And yet if your wife's been at home alone or trapped with some pre-schoolers, she wants conversation. You want to sit and grunt in your chair and look at the newspaper or the news, she wants to talk. To meet your wife's needs means to be aware of those different emotional needs. Many times women have different spiritual needs than husbands. I remember in my last church there was a family that was visiting our church, husband, wife, three children, and the wife loved our church, the children were plugged into our children's ministry, but the husband, he wasn't so sure. He was looking for a church with a more contemporary worship style. So even though his wife was desperate and wanted to join, the kids wanted to join, he said, "No, we're going to keep looking around," and week after week they went church hopping, looking for the perfect church.
Let me give you a hint right now. If you're one of those looking for the perfect church and you happen to find it, whatever you do, don't join it, because you'll ruin it, okay? There is no perfect church out there. But you know what the wife needed? She needed stability, the children needed stability, the husband was placing his interests above those of his wife. If you're really going to sacrificially love your wives, it means putting their interests above your own.
Thirdly, learn to forgive your mate instantly. Notice back in Colossians 3:19 Paul adds this word. He says, "Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them". Now why does he add that? Because the fact is in any relationship there are going to be offenses. Just live with anybody for any period of time, they are going to do something to hurt you. That offense may be as traumatic as an extramarital affair, it may be as trivial as a forgotten birthday. But no matter how large or how small the offense, you have a choice about what to do about that offense. You can hold on to it until it grows up into a weed of bitterness and chokes out the love in your relationship. Or you can let go of it.
The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled". Any time you're hurt by another person, did you know God gives you an extra amount of grace to accept that hurt? But you have a choice, you can accept that grace or you can reject it and choose bitterness. That's why he says, "Don't come short of the grace of God that's been given to you". Our response should be that of Paul's in Ephesians 4:32 when he said, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you". That word forgive means to let go of, to release. And when those offenses come into your marriage, husbands, it is crucial that you teach your family forgiveness by modeling forgiveness, by letting go rather than holding on to the offense.
Now Paul says the test of a wife's Christ likeness is her submission. The test of a husband's Christ likeness is his sacrificial love. Now notice in verse 20 there's a third command here, and that is for children. I think it's interesting that Paul addresses children. Remember this letter was read aloud in the Colossian church, and so Paul, realizing there would be children there that Sunday morning, says, "Here's God's word for you". Many times we say, well, children and teenagers are the church of tomorrow. No, they're the church of today. They're a part of the church now and they deserve to be addressed as well.
Look at what Paul says in Colossians 3:20. "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord". And notice he uses not the word submit but obey. Why the difference? In submission, you have two equals, a husband and a wife, and the wife voluntarily placing herself under the husband's authority. You don't have that same relationship between a parent and a child. They are not equals. The child is to obey his or her parent in all things. But even though these are different words, listen to me, children, teenagers, listening to this message, they're the same benefits that accrue to you for obeying your parents that accrue to a wife for submitting to her husband. Obedience to our parents teaches us how to obey God. Obeying our parents keeps orderliness in our homes. Obedience to our parents frees us from unnecessary worry. When you obey your parents, you can leave the results to God, he will take care of you. And obeying your parents provides direction in your life.
As I said last time, God mainly is going to communicate his will for your life in some specific decisions you have to make through the parents he has placed over you. Even if your parents are not Christians, God can still work through them to provide guidance to you. And I want you to notice two things about this command to children, the command to obey your parents. I want you to write these down.
First of all, it is a command made to children, not adults. It is a command made to children, not adults. When he addresses children, he's talking about children who are still living in the home, children who are financially dependent upon their parents. You know, God's plan for children is they grow up and they begin homes of their own. In Genesis 2:24, God said, "A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh". God's plan for your children is that they grow up, leave home, and start a home on their own. Do I hear an amen to that? That's God's plan. Now as long as your child is living in your home, or even if your child is away at college but is still deriving their primary financial support from you, they are under your authority. And this is something that is addressed to children.
Now hopefully they will grow up, mature, and start their own homes. And when that happens, whether the home they begin is as a single adult or a married adult, they are no longer obligated to obey you in all things, but they are obligated to follow Ephesians 6:2. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the earth". It doesn't matter how old children become, we always have the obligation to honor our parents. What does it mean to honor your parents? It certainly means to respect them, it means to seek their council. After all, even if you're an adult with your own home and you're facing a difficult decision, why wouldn't you want to consult your parents? They know you better than anyone. They love you more than anyone. Certainly you'd want to consult their guidance even if you choose not to follow it. To honor your parents means that you care for them as well.
Many of you have elderly parents. If you have elderly parents, let me say this as clearly as I know how. You are the one who is responsible for the wellbeing of your parents. The church is not responsible for your parents. 1 Timothy 5 says, "Let not the church be burdened if an elderly person has children living". It is the child's responsibility to take care of their parents. It's not the government's responsibility to take care of you, it is your child's responsibility to take care of you. And we who have living parents, it is our job to take care of the physical, emotional wellbeing of our parents. You know, I hear people today whining. "I have my young children I'm trying to take care of, my teenagers, my college students, and on the other hand I've got these elderly parents. Woe is me, what am I going to do"? I say to that, boo-hoo cry me a river. So what? That's what families do for one another. They take care of one another. And that's what we're to do for our parents as well. Even though we don't obey our parents when we become adults, even though the relationship changes, we still have the responsibility to honor our father and mother.
Secondly, notice that this command must be qualified. It must be qualified. Paul says, "Children, obey your parents in everything, or in all things". He says that to say your obedience to your parents is not to be arbitrary. You're not to say, "Okay, I'll obey my parents when they tell me to do something I agree with. I'll obey those things that are easy to do". No, he says it's not selective obedience, we are to obey our parents in all things. Think about Jesus Christ. He's the perfect model of obeying his Heavenly Father. What if Jesus had said, "Father, I'll do anything you tell me to do, except go to the cross. That's the one thing I'm not going to obey you in". Where would that have left you and me? No, he was obedient to the father in all things, and so children are to obey their parents in all things.
Now, that phrase in all things again has to be qualified, just like submission. If there's ever a time, children, teenagers listening to this message, if there is ever a time your parent asks you to do something or not do something that clearly violates God's rules, God's law, you're to obey God, not your parents. You can refuse to obey in a respectful way, but you're still to refuse to obey any unscriptural, ungodly command that you receive from your parents. Jesus made that very clear in Luke 14:26. He says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple". Those are pretty strong words, aren't they? Jesus said, "To follow me you have to be willing to hate your family members". And what does he mean by that? When he talks about hate, he's not talking about emotional ill will toward another person.