Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Relationships in Order
Preacher: Tony Hunter
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 3:18-4:1 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Following Jesus, knowing Jesus, and accepting Jesus changes the way we interact with each other, and only for the better.
For the Daily Walk this week, I am going to start every single day with exactly the same sentence. I need to do this simply because we have a tendency to take this passage out of the context of Paul’s letter, the Second Testament, and the entire Bible. We make it say things it does not—no matter which version we read. Let me share two very basic assumptions that are foundational in understanding God’s plan for us. First, God is love, and second, God loves us. This might come out as a bit of a surprise to you, like finding out that ice cream is cold, or rain is wet, or the sun is hot. For some reason, when it comes to small passages in the Bible that have the potential to be abused (historical practice) we forget that God is love and that He loves us. But if we accept both of these precepts as true, we have to ask why He would inspire the Apostle Paul to write anything that is dehumanizing.
In the disciple Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry, he shares a moment when Jesus reminds a listening crowd that we are not always on point at giving gifts, especially compared with God, who loves us and knows us, who always delivers a deep blessing. This is very remote from the dehumanizing reality we see all around us today. Jesus even took on the form of a human to live as one of us—to defeat death and guarantee the promise of eternal life. God understands the perfect gift.
I wish I had that skill, but like you, the only way either of us can provide the perfect gift for someone is if we know them. If we are involved in their life and understand what they need, we can provide that perfect gift. I have been blessed to receive the most perfectly personalized gifts and also, at times, have also given the perfect gift to someone else. When this happens it is rather incredible. It is not about the cost or size of the gift but about the need and the intent. This is what we must not forget when we read this passage today. There is good in these words.
Recalibrate: Whom do you need to find the perfect gift for and what will you give them?
Respond: Thank Jesus for the gifts He has given you.
Research: Read the context of Matthew 7:11. What gifts has God given you?
Remember: “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
Open something new with your little one. It could be a toothbrush or a packet of breakfast cereal or whatever you have. Ask your child what should be done with this new thing. If they have seen you use a toothbrush, they will already know and will most likely put the toothbrush in their mouth. Imagine if they used the toothbrush to clean the sink or put the cereal in their bed? Our children learn how to do life by watching how we do life. Paul is opening something new with the church in Colossae—how to do life in love with Jesus. Today is a new day! Choose to open it in the wonder of God's love for us.
The Words to Remember for this week are, “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ICB). These words come from a passage that is titled Your New Life with Other People in the International Children’s Bible. You may be a kid or a grandma or a mom or dad or a hipster or even a rock star! Whoever we are, when we love Jesus, everything we do is as if we are doing it for Him. When we love Jesus we are all about loving other people. Jesus is all about sharing His love with other people. It is His way of finding out if we are interested in living and loving like He does. How can you live love? Make a list and keep it so you can add more things to your list as you come up with new ways to live love.
I don’t know how your school social scene operates, but back when I was in middle school, one of my biggest concerns was with trying to “fit in.” Fitting in for my school meant liking all the same things my friends liked so I could keep my spot at the lunch table. Part of liking the same stuff was wearing the trendy items the “cool kids” wore. Back in the day, the coolest item was the Adidas reversible 3-stripe jacket. It seemed like everyone had one but me! The problem was the jacket cost $150! My family never had money like that, so I was one of the few people at the table who didn’t fit in. Instead, I had a puffy denim jacket with a lame fleece liner that didn’t match with anything (or anyone) else.
Paul talks about this idea in Colossians 3:18. Now, he doesn’t talk about Adidas jackets (obviously), but he does use the term, “fitting in” when he says, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Now, before you get too confused, just know that I understand that these are different contexts. Paul is discussing marriage, and I’m talking about fashion. But this idea of fitting in is still the same, relatively. The pressure I felt to be “cool” by rocking a jacket everyone else had stemmed from the belief that my friends were the standard I was supposed to live up to. Paul, who is aware of problematic relationship dynamics in Colossae, is trying to get them to see that they should compare their relationships not to one another but to what is right by the Lord. See the similarities?
I don’t know what you’re facing today with the pressures at school, or in your wardrobe, or whatever else your peers might have that you think is necessary to fit in. But I am here to tell you that your goal is not to strive to be up on anything other than what is fitting in the Lord.
What do you think God cares about most in your life? How do you think you can start to concentrate more on what God sees rather than what is prescribed to you by today’s culture? What is the difference between the two?
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). For a little more insight on the same topic, here is Ephesians 5:25: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” So husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loved the church. Every last decision Jesus makes for the church or His people is with their best interest in mind. Every decision He makes, through communion with God, is for His people. Husbands are to always think of their wives’ best interests and to act and decide on that interest alone. They are to lay down their lives for their wives. They are to continually love them and fight for them as Jesus did for the church.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.