— The Preaching and Teaching Ministry of Kevin A. Pierpont

Loving God, Loving People – Part 7, Love at Home – Colossians 3:18-21

Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church

A mother put her son to bed on the eve of his fifth birthday. She was trying to communicate that birthday idea to him. “John,” she said, “this is the last night of your fourth year. Do you understand that?” John was ready to communicate with his hands. For a full year, he had shown people four fingers for his four years, and now he was ready to add a thumb. Seeing his four fingers, his mother nodded, and said: “When you go to sleep tonight, you’ll still be 4-years-old. But do you know how old you’ll be in the morning, when you wake up?” John nodded enthusiastically, added his thumb to his four little fingers and said, “Tomorrow, I’ll be a handful!”

Every mom knows that a child can be a handful at times. Being a mom is not an easy job. We love and appreciate our moms and that’s why we have a special day set aside to recognize and honor them. The role God designed for a woman in the home is of great importance. The work a mom in the home does day after day often goes unrecognized but its value is of great worth.

Ilion Jones writes that, “On the great biographer Ida M. Tarbell’s 80th birthday, someone asked her to name the greatest persons she had ever met. She responded, ‘The greatest persons I have ever met are those nobody knows anything about.’

“Once the New York Times was asked to help a group of club women decide on the twelve greatest women in the United States. After due consideration, the editors replied, ‘The twelve greatest women in the United States are women who have never been heard of outside of their own homes.’”

Jones concludes, “I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note which said, ‘Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.’ Mrs. Edison wrote back, ‘You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself’. And she did, with results that are well known. (Morning Glory, January 8, 1994)

The impact a mom has on her children is priceless.

“A cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post showed a young boy about five or six years old talking on the telephone, saying, "Mom is in the hospital, the twins and Roxie and Billie and Sally and the dog and me and Dad are all home alone." (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 376.)

When mom isn’t around to keep the household running smoothly it doesn’t go unnoticed. There is just no one quite like mom. The role of a mother is unique and special and was designed by God. Her role is of vital importance to the family. God created families. He is the One that designed marriage and established the home. Fathers and children have special roles in the family as well. We need strong, Godly families today. Billy Graham once said,

“Let your home be your parish, your little brood your congregation, your living room a sanctuary, and your knee a sacred altar.”

This morning we’re continuing in our series, Loving God, Loving People and we’re going to consider the importance of love in the home. A crucial element of loving others begins at home. The home is the place we need to start loving others. And if we’re going to have loving relationships in the home then it’s important that we begin by following the order God established for the home. Let’s do that by going to Colossians 3:18-21.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. v21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

You noticed that this passage addresses wives, husbands, children and fathers. And instead of singling out mothers, I want you to see the importance of the role each member of the family plays. You’ve heard the saying, “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody’s happy”? Bad grammar aside, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. I believe that if husbands are doing their part and wives are doing their part and children are doing their part, to follow God’s commands, then the home is going to be a happy place (and momma’s going to be happy).

Carolyn sent our mothers each a little gift for Mother’s Day in the mail this week and after my mother received hers she sent a nice note of thanks by email. Part of her note said,

“The best gift that you have given me is your life for Christ.  I am so thankful for you testimony and your desire to honor the Lord with your lives.  That means everything to me.”

The best gift any of us can give our mothers today is a life that is lived for the Lord. Living for Him means following His commands and obeying God’s clear instruction in His Word.

Do you want to honor your mother today? Be the husband God intends for you to be. Be the children God intends for you to be. Be the wife God intends for you to be.

God has a pattern for the home and by choosing to follow His design and embracing the roles He’s given to each of us, we’ll have the basis for loving relationships in the home. How much good is it if we love others but we don’t love our families like we should?

Loving people begins at home. Our homes need to be marked by love for one another. If we are going to love one another in the home as we should then we need to make sure we are following God’s order for the home.


Wives are addressed first in verse 18.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

One commentary notes that the emphasis in this passage is not on rights but on duties (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary). Now we live in a culture that emphasizes individual rights. The emphasis that the Lord places on our duties in the home run counter to what the world tells us. Wives submitting to husbands is a terribly unpopular concept in society at large. Our fallen nature cringes at the word “submission.” But Godly submission by a Christian wife is a beautiful thing. Christ set the example by submitting Himself to the will of the Father. When Jesus agonized in the garden of Gethsemane over the prospect of paying the penalty for the worlds sin He prayed, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. (Luke 22:42)”

We all have areas of authority in our lives that we must submit to. If we were to examine other passages this morning we would see that husbands are to submit to Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). The Church is to submit to Christ (Ephesians 5:23). As citizens of the United States we submit to governmental authority. Children must submit to parents. Employees must submit to employers. Children submit to the authority of their teachers and principals.

If we didn’t have authority structures in society everything would be in chaos. God has ordained government. He has also ordained the family and He has established an order to be followed in the home and it’s important that we follow it.

Someone has to lead and have the ultimate responsibility in the home and God has placed the man as head of the home. God requires that the man be responsible for the spiritual leadership in the home. It’s a serious responsibility and God will hold each of us accountable. But it’s a two-way street—a submissive wife will allow her husband to lead in the home. The Greek word for submit in this verse means “to subject oneself.” The idea is that the submission is voluntary. The wife must voluntarily submit to her husband. She does this “as is fitting in the Lord” or in other words, it’s the right thing to do. It is the order God has designed.

There may be times when a husband and wife disagree but a decision needs to be made. The final responsibility lies with the husband and the Godly wife will follow his lead. No man is perfect and there are times when his leadership may result in a poor decision being made. God can use those mistakes to teach the husband. A wise wife will allow her husband some room for failure. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t ever offer her opinion or advice to her husband on decisions he is making. It just means that she allows him to lead the family even at times when she’s uncomfortable with the direction he’s taking. 

There are some homes where the wife is clearly in charge. Instead of allowing her husband to lead and cultivating a submissive attitude that is supportive of his leadership she runs the show. That kind of an attitude in the home is dishonoring to God just as a man who fails to lead is dishonoring to God. Both are outside of God’s design for the family.

I think we need to make one thing clear and not overlook a very important phrase. The verse says, “wives, submit to your own husbands.” Don’t miss that! Submit to your own husbands. That means you need to know your husband. Your submission to your husband may look very different than another woman’s submission to her husband. It’s very easy for us to make a little checklist and say if you’re going to be a submissive wife here’s what to do.

You need to study and know your own husband. God created woman to be a helpmeet for her husband. As a wife if you want to be the most helpful to your husband, ask him what he finds most helpful. Some women may manage the finances because that is helpful to the husband and maybe she’s better at it than he is. The key is that you are submissive to your own husband, not submissive by some other woman’s idea of what submission is.


In the next verse husbands are addressed and we see the balance to a wife’s submission.

19  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.

Husbands the command here is to love your wife. This is important considering the context in which this statement was made. According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,

“The ancient world was a man's world, and even among the Jews the wife was often little more than [personal property]. Paul's counsel in the present passage is in striking contrast to this.”

The word for love here could be translated, “keep on loving.” (John MacArthur) Husbands are commanded to keep on loving their wives. It’s the kind of love that will last for a lifetime through the good times as well as the bad. It’s a deliberate act of the will that seeks the good of the other and is not self-serving. If a husband is loving his wife in this way, it makes submission much easier for the wife. Listen to Ephesians 5:25…

Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

The example of Christ who loved the church by giving Himself is the example that husbands are to follow. We are to love our wives sacrificially.

Husbands are also instructed not to be bitter towards their wives or as the NIV puts it, “don’t be harsh” with your wife. We shouldn’t be gruff or mean in the way we treat our wives. We need to talk lovingly and kindly to our wives. We need to treat them lovingly and not be harsh with them.

I know from personal experience I can easily allow myself to come home and be gruff with my wife and children after the stress of a day. It’s sin and I must confess it and ask forgiveness and ask the Lord to help me rid that kind of selfishness from my life.

Men—we can’t afford to allow this kind of unloving attitude to go unchecked.  It can destroy and bring great sorrow to our wives and families and is counterproductive to the loving and healthy environment God intended the family to be.


We also see the responsibility of children in the home stated in verse 20.

Colossians 3:20  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Children you are commanded to obey your parents in all things. Notice the phrase, in all things. Your obedience to your parents is something you should practice at all times. You can’t pick and choose when you want to obey. You are to obey your parents in all things. The reason you are to obey is because it pleases the Lord. Obedience to parents is established by God and it pleases Him when children obey.

The term for children here is not specific to any age but refers to children still living in the home and under the care of the parents.

Be in the habit of obeying your parents, young people. God has commanded you to obey your parents. It pleases Him when you do. If you do you’ll be in good practice for the rest of your life. You will have to obey the laws of this land. You will have to obey the orders your boss gives you. You have to obey your coach’s instructions. You have to obey your teachers and other authorities at school. When you go to college you will have to obey the rules of the school and the requirements of your professors. If you join the military you’ll have to obey orders. It’s important that you learn to obey by obeying your parents right now in all things.

The most important reason to obey is that you always need to obey your Father in Heaven. And the best place to learn obedience is in the home. Practice obedience to your parents now and it will be so much easier to obey God throughout the rest or your life.


Note also the word to parents in verse 21.

Colossians 3:21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The word here for fathers could be translated parents. In Hebrews 11:23 it is translated parents. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says the following about this,

The specific mention of "fathers" suggests that the father as head of the household has a special responsibility for training the children. No slight toward the mother is intended. Paul would surely have recognized her rights and the power of her influence in the home. It is possible that "fathers" as used here has the broad meaning of "parents." [Heb 11:23, translates the same Greek word parents.]

My children are under the care of my wife a great deal of the time while I am working. But ultimately I am responsible for what goes on in my household and it’s a responsibility I better take seriously, but both my wife and I are involved in the training and discipline of our children.

I think the instruction in this verse is applicable both to the father and mother. We are not to provoke our children because if we do we may cause them to become discouraged.

How do we provoke our children? I believe there are a variety of ways. If we’re inconsistent with them it’s going to provoke them and ultimately discourage them. If little Tommy gets away with something twenty times in a row and then on the twenty-first time you explode because you’re having a bad day and what he’s doing is irritating you and you spank him, he’s going to be provoked. He’s going to confused and exasperated get upset that suddenly what he’s been getting away with is now punishable.

We can also provoke our children by being too lenient. I think there are a lot of angry, discouraged young people out there today who have never had firm guidelines established in their lives. Their parents haven’t set any boundaries for them and they get frustrated and angry by the lack of parental guidance in their lives. Our children need instruction and care and discipline.

We can also provoke our children by being too harsh with them. We can be too demanding and too critical. We may yell at them or nag them. Aren’t you provoked by that kind of treatment? Wouldn’t that discourage you?

We need to make sure that we are training our children in a way that is honoring and pleasing to the Lord. We need to make sure our discipline glorifies God. If we aren’t applying God’s Word to raising our children, we can easily provoke them and cause them to be discouraged.

We’ve discussed briefly the roles and responsibilities of the different members in the home today. Obviously, much more could be said about each of these areas. There are many other passages in God’s Word that address the family. What’s critical that I want you to understand from our study is that if we’re going to love God and love people then we must be practicing love at home. And if you want loving family relationships then it’s imperative that you are following God’s design for the home.

If we love God we are told that we will keep His commandments. He gives us clear instruction for the family in His Word. Are you displaying your love for God in the home by following His pattern? Are you loving one another in the home as you should? If we want families that display our love for God and our love for one another, then we need to make sure we are following God’s commands for the home.

Wives do you have a submissive attitude in your home? Do you allow your husband to be the leader? It’s easy to say, “well if he loved me like he should, then I’d submit to him.” God says submit and he says submit knowing you aren’t married to a perfect man. Keep your focus on yourself and do your part. Your obedience shouldn’t be contingent on your husband’s obedience. You be faithful to obey the Lord by displaying submission in your marriage and let God work on your husband.

Husbands how about you? Are you loving your wife? Are you careful not to have a bitter attitude toward her? The same thing applies to you. Your obedience doesn’t hinge on whether or not your wife is submissive. You are commanded to love your wife even when she is difficult to love. If we practiced the kind of love with our wives that God commands us to, we’d sure make it a lot easier for them to submit to our leadership. By implication that a wife is to submit, we are called to lead, men. Are you actively involved in leading your home? It’s so easy to just bring home a paycheck each week and not get involved with our wives and children as we should. We need to be concerned about the welfare of our homes and show some leadership. It’s our responsibility. We shouldn’t pass it all off on our wives. Be willing to lead your family. Don’t be a passive bystander.

Young people how are you doing? Are you obeying your parents in all things? Obedience isn’t optional. God has commanded children to obey their parents. You can’t be selective in your obedience either. You must obey in all things. Are you obedient? It doesn’t matter if your parents are imperfect. God commands you to obey knowing full well that your parents are flawed. It doesn’t matter if you think your parents are too strict. God says to obey.

Parents how are you doing with your children? Are you bringing them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord? Are you training them in ways that honor God and don’t provoke and discourage them?

You see—if we are going to have loving, Godly relationships in the home then we all need to do our part. Are you doing your part? Determine to be faithful to the responsibilities God has given you in the family whether or not the other members of your family are doing their part. If we’re all doing what God commands, momma will be happy and so will everyone else. And what’s even more important is that our lives and families will glorify God and direct others to our Savior.