The Lord's Household

Or, On Being More Mindful That Families Matter to Our Master

Scripture: Colossians 3:18-4:1

Date: September 3, 2023

Speaker: Sean Higgins

Download a copy of the handout for this talk.

Before any civil government, and long before any institutional church, God established the household. It’s not whether you’ll be part of a household, but what kind it will be, good or bad, godly or ungodly, fruitful or selfish, blessed or judged. It’s an inevitable institution by God’s doing, and after the Fall, it’s inevitable that sin will wreak damage, on any given day (and any room in the house), and sometimes with consequences for generations.

Also because it’s universal it’s easy to take for granted, it’s easy to think it’s natural, it’s easy to not give it attention. Thankfully there are more secondary resources available to us now than ever, not just due to the internet, but due to revived Christian interest (and see Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17). At TEC we’ve held multiple church seminars on family subjects, there have been numerous exhortations related to household relationships, and Titus 2 and Men to Men are never far away from the topics. Why another set of talks?

It’s mostly because we can never be too mindful about how much the household matters to the Lord. The things we do every day, the mundane things, are easy to be mindless about. But if we are to be complete in Christ, we should learn to care about all the things He cares about, and that includes our household roles and responsibilities.

  • Husbands and Wives
  • Fathers, Mothers
  • Children - teething, toddlers, teenagers
  • Grandparents
  • Generational Living
  • In-laws
  • Dating/Courtship
  • Adult Singles (Young Men of Marriageable Material)
  • Finances
  • Hospitality
  • Church/Home Spheres

So tonight I’m starting the mindful reminders, with four broad observations on Colossians 3:18-4:1 and then some starter questions for discussion.

Mindful of the Lord’s Interests

Not every epistle to every church refers to household responsibilities, but both Paul and Peter have instructions for spouses, and Paul wrote two extended treatments to the Ephesians and Colossians. The fact that God inspired such explicit exhortations means He cares, and the fact that two key passages were written to local churches means the church has instruction for families, even if it isn’t the authority over each house. In fact, a qualified elder “must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4–5 ESV)

In particular, in Colossians 3:18-4:1, note on the handout the far right column. “Christ” is mentioned by office once in this passage, but “Lord” is used six times, and “Master” translates the same Greek word in 4:1 as well. Each of the three relationships (spouses, parents-children, master-slaves) has reference to the Lord. The Lord cares about the household. It is not “private,” He watches.

Mindful of the Lord’s Resources

Colossians 3:18-4:1 comes after an exhortation to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (3:16) and to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks” (3:17). The parallel passage in Ephesians 5:22-6:4 comes after an exhortation not to get drunk with wine but to “be filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always and for everything” (5:18, 20).

Specifically, the Lord has given us His Book of instruction and His Spirit to illuminate the meaning of the Book and energize our following of the Book.

The baseline for home behavior is Christian behavior. Disciples are related to Christ regardless of their family, and yet discipleship to Christ should have first impact in our family relations.

Be controlled by the Word, where the Word is at home in your heart and your house. Let teaching and admonishing in wisdom, with divine and edifying lyrics, be always on your tongue, and all from a heart of thanks. When we walk without the Word we are walking without a map. The Lord provides for households.

Mindful of the Lord’s Priorities

The first relationship in Colossians (and Ephesians) is between the spouses. The marriage covenant establishes the household; vows between husband and wife create the context. The relationship between spouses sets the tone, it is the lynchpin for the rest.

Of note is that the wife is mentioned first (Peter also addresses wives before husbands in 1 Peter 3:1-7). For all the talk of male headship (explicitly stated in Ephesians 5:23), why not put the man first? I think it’s because the submissive role comes first each time: wife to husband, children to fathers, servants to masters.

We ought to retire the phrase: “when momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” and rephrase instead: “when wifey ain’t submitting, nobody’s singing.” And, when husbands aren’t loving their wives, and are harsh or embittered against them, it’s bad-bad, all the way down.

That said, if there was one relationship to fix first, or to maintain with greatest vigilance, it would be between spouses. If you’re old enough to reproduce, you’re old enough to be responsible to repent first.

Mindful of the Lord’s Pleasure

The Lord loves hierarchy, and especially submission. There is a way that is “fitting in the Lord” for wives, a way that is “well pleasing to the Lord” for children, and a way to serve “for the Lord” and look to reward “from the Lord’ for servants. These are ways of submission, obedience, hearty work as one is told.

It is interesting that the last verse in Ephesians before addressing the wife’s call to submit says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The Lord loves submission.

You can see how much of the paragraph in Colossians is written to the slaves (four verses compared to every other role’s one). It’s because Philemon lived in Colosse, so that congregation had special interest in that relationship. There are many ways that it maps onto business/work, to employee/employer relationships, though there are also and obviously some significant differences. But it doesn’t change that productivity is “for the Lord,” so our work and productive property relate. Even that productivity is “working heartily for the Lord,” in submission to Him.


Any way we can increase our mindfulness of the Lord’s mindfulness about our households is good. May He keep growing us and helping us to realize that we serve Him as we serve one another.


What other household roles and responsibilities would you like to have addressed?

Why does the Lord care about individual households and not just “the household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15)?

Do you feel like your problem in your household is more that you don’t know what to do, or that you’re not consistent to do with what you already know (or at least that you know where to get resources/help)? What tactics heighten your mindfulness?

What are the similarities/differences between submission (wives) and obedience (children/servants)? What is “mutual submission” (Ephesians 5:21) and how does that fit—in particular—with “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23)?

What to you think are the biggest concerns/needs for our households at TEC?

See more sermons from the The Lord's Household series.