STUDY | Spend the week studying Colossians 3:18–21. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | A godly home is built on the character of Christ.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
A Pew Research survey about the American family revealed that two-parent households are on the decline while divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise in the United States.1 You don’t have to look far to see these trends played out in real lives around you. You see broken homes. You watch a family torn apart by divorce. You know a single parent who faces the daily challenges of work and raising kids on their own. Perhaps you know these realities because they are part of your story.
Yes, it’s easy to look at these trends and be discouraged. But what if we saw them as a great opportunity for the Church? The gospel has the power to change individuals and communities. A changed community begins in the home. This week your group will discuss Paul’s instructions to family members in the Colossian church on what it means to build a godly home.
Q: What are the blessings of family and marriage? What are the challenges?
Q: Explain why change in a community begins at home.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
WIVES AND HUSBANDS
In this passage, Paul addresses two sets of relationships in the home: (1) wives and husbands, and (2) fathers and children. First Paul tells wives, “Submit to your husbands in a way that reflects Christ.” At first glance, it might seem like he’s telling these wives to simply obey their husbands. After all, that was the custom in his day. But the word “submit” has a deeper meaning. Paul is calling wives to respect the God-given leadership role of the husband over his wife and the family. A wife coming under the authority over her husband doesn’t mean she’s inferior to him. It’s her way of serving Christ.
Then Paul instructs husbands to love their wives and not be harsh with them. This was revolutionary in Roman culture, because husbands were prone to bouts of rage and the mistreatment of their wives, whether verbal or physical.2 But Paul gives these husbands a different standard: A husband should show the self-sacrificing love of Christ for His bride, the Church, in the way he delights in his wife, cherishes her and does whatever possible to promote her well-being and satisfaction.3
READ: Colossians 3:18–21. What makes submission to someone difficult at times?
Q: Describe someone you know who loves his or her spouse sacrificially.
CHILDREN AND FATHERS
Next, Paul addresses children in the home. “Children, you should obey your parents in every way because this pleases the Lord.” A child learns to obey God and respect His authority through his or her parents. Parents have authority over their children and are to exercise it in the best interest of their children. Children respect their parents’ authority by obeying them. This is how God designed a healthy family to function.
Then Paul commands fathers not to provoke or discourage their children. Rather than dominate or check out, a father is to be patient and encourage his child toward maturity.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received on raising godly kids?
Q: What are some specific ways you can encourage your children?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
NOT A SOLO PROJECT
Maybe you’ve got a few home improvement projects around the house. You want to stop that leaky faucet. You’re getting estimates on replacing the fence. You’re looking at paint samples so you can repaint the guest bedroom. Paul’s instructions in Colossians 3:18–21 show us that the most important home improvement project you can focus on are the relationships in the home.
Building a godly family is a project that takes more than one person to complete. It’s a team effort. Husbands and wives work together. Godly husbands don’t dominate their wives and children. They don’t lash out in anger or go silent. Instead, they lead and speak into the lives of their wife and children with love. They use their strength to protect. Godly wives don’t bristle and buck against their husband’s authority. They don’t nag their husbands or manipulate them to get their way. Instead, they honor his leadership with their support. They help him bring wisdom, beauty and grace into the home.
Parents teach the things of God from His Word to their children. They create boundaries. They give instruction and lead their children with love and patience along the path to knowing God. A child needs discipline but a child also needs encouragement. They don’t belittle or ignore their children. They give their children incentive to obey by their encouragement.
Q: How can you help your spouse or family member in a way that encourages their growth in weak areas?
Q: Why are boundaries and encouragement essential in a child’s development? What happens if they lack one or both?
BEYOND THE HOME
While these instructions are directed at specific family members, they can also apply to a variety of relationships in your life. It’s our natural tendency to look at relationships like a business transaction, but the gospel challenges us to see our relationships differently. They aren’t based on what we can get but what we can give. This is the kind of love Jesus shows us and calls us to show others.
Q: How do we relate to people when we see our relationship with them like a business transaction?
Q: Where in your life do you need to shift your view of a relationship?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
IN THE LORD
We see the character of Christ in Paul’s instructions. Jesus was sent on a mission by the Father, and Jesus submitted to His Father’s will for Him. He showed us that a true leader is one who serves and cares for others. He was obedient every step of the way to the cross. He was patient and understanding with His disciples, even though they often didn’t get it and stumbled along the way. He taught them and spoke vision into their lives with encouragement of what they could become.
Do you want to build a godly home? Do you want to see change in your relationships? If so, you must begin with Christ and His character. Let His life be your guide in how to build a godly home that leaves a lasting legacy.
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to love and serve someone?
Q: Describe the kind of legacy you want your family to leave for future generations.
Pray for your family. Ask God to help you live out Christ’s character in the way you relate to others in the home and outside of it. Pray for God to give you a love that serves and sacrifices.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read 1 John 4:7–21 and reflect on ways to express love in your home.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Instructions to the Ephesians
Paul expands on his instructions for members of the Christian household in Eph. 5:22–6:9.
Against the Grain
“Paul is not enjoining the wives to follow the prevailing cultural patterns of the day but to live as is fitting in the Lord. Seven times in these nine verses (Col. 3:18–4:1) Paul roots his instructions in ‘the Lord’ or an equivalent term, thus stressing the importance of evaluating everything in light of Christ and his teaching.”4
What About Singles?
More than half of Americans ages 18 to 49 are single and putting off marriage until later in life.5 While most churchgoers are married, less than a quarter of them are single.6 This is a significant group that needs attention in God’s family. Joyce Chiu from the Barna Group writes:
We who are active in and committed to the church—married or not—must come up with better ways to incorporate singles into leadership in the church, better ways to integrate marrieds and singles, and better ways to notice and serve the lonely. The Church is not made up of husbands and wives, but sinners and seekers. Therefore, let us call on the entire Church to love better and more effectivelythrough caring for the singles we already know, as well as the ones we don’t.7
1. “Parenting in America: Outlook, Worries, Aspirations Are Strongly Linked to Financial Situation,” Pew Research Center, December 17, 2015, https://www. pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/12/2015-12-17_parenting-in-america_FINAL.pdf.
2. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), Kindle edition.
3. Richard R. Melick, Jr., The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1981), Kindle edition.
4. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), Kindle edition.
5. Joyce Chiu, “A Single-Minded Church,” Barna Group, February 9, 2017, https://www.barna.com/single-minded-church/.