How to Build the Best Relationships for Christ
Christ is my master, therefore I serve Him and others. Whatever I do, I do for the name of Jesus. Every relationship matters because I belong to Jesus.
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17, CSB)
No matter what time of relationship I have to other people, I still ultimately serve Jesus Christ. I may work at something, or perform a role, but I serve Jesus. If Jesus is who I am serving, then He wants me to serve in various roles, building the best relationships with other people.
What are the seven types of relationships who should serve Jesus Christ? You may fit into one or more of these relationships. All of these relationships have defined expectations. Yet, Jesus still expects me to serve Him through these roles and relationships.
All of these relationships spiral out from my central relationship with Jesus. These seven types of relationships serve Jesus. Each flow out of a relationship with Him. If I have multiple roles, then each of these relationships is further apart as I spiral out from my central relationship with Jesus.
7 TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS WHO SHOULD SERVE JESUS CHRIST
In physics, the law of entropy says that all systems, left unattended, will run down. Unless new energy is pumped in, the organism will disintegrate. Entropy is at work in many areas other than physics. I see it, for instance, when I work with couples whose marriages are in trouble. A marriage will not continue to be good simply because two people love each other, are compatible, and get off to a fine start. To the contrary, marriages left to their own devices tend to wear out, break down, and ultimately disintegrate. This is the law of entropy. So to keep our relationships working, we must constantly pump new energy into them.*12
1. Wives (Colossians 3:18)
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18, CSB)
Here, we have the two sides of the same coin. This is the marriage relationship. The wife respects the authority of the husband and submits to him. Paul says it is fitting to the Lord.
Why is a wife’s submission fitting to the Lord? It is fitting because you belong to the Lord. God expects you to honor your vows to your husband because you made them to not just your husband but to God as well.
2. Husbands (Colossians 3:19)
“Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.” (Colossians 3:19, CSB)
The other side of the marriage coin is to love the wife. If the wife should respect the husband, then the husband should love the wife.
In Ephesians, Paul shares the responsibilities of loving the wife. The husband is the spiritual leader of the home and he is expected to teach his wife. He is expected to model Christ-like behavior.
Here in Colossians, Paul shares that the husband should not be bitter. It seems that Paul may be addressing a conflict between the husband and the wife. Here, I think Paul is suggesting that the husband should forgive his wife.
A husband learns two important skills in marriage that help him. You get these two skills right, and your marriage will be a long and happy one:
1. You learn to say: “yes dear.”
As a husband, you may be right, but you are still wrong. The sooner you learn to accept that, the better your marriage will be.
2. You learn that what you have is never yours.
A man thinks that he earns money that he gets to use for himself. That’s a lie that if he is smart, he will learn to deal with. I earn money and my wife spends it. It’s as simple as that. You have to accept that reality. I think this is part of what Paul means when he says that husbands should be bitter toward their wives. It is the fact that I have to learn that God has given me a wife as a responsibility and a gift.
3. Children (Colossians 3:20)
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20, CSB)
In the Old Testament, it says that when children obey their parents that it will increase their lifespan.
“Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, CSB)
Yet, Paul makes the point that it not only brings long life but that it makes God happy. The reason is that it brings stability to the family.
4. Parents (Colossians 3:21)
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21, CSB)
You will notice that one parent is missing in the Colossian list of the household – mothers. What about the mothers? Although this section only addresses fathers, I think it applies equally to parents. Parents are expected to be positive role models to their children. Paul says that parents can be in danger of angering their children which could lead to the child’s discouragement.
When one thinks of the parent and the form of discipline, many times we think of the parent getting angry and that the children could discourage the parent, and make him or her disappointed in them. However, giving destructive discipline in this way actually damages the child. It is one thing to be firm in discipline. It is quite another to be authoritarian.
5. Workers (Colossians 3:22-24)
“Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:22–24, CSB)
Slaves (or people who have to work with people in authority – workers). Although this section addresses slaves, I believe that the principle of relationships that we are addressing here aptly applies to our work environment. There are instructions given here for slaves that would apply to every worker, even paid ones. No matter who you work for: the government, the church, the private sector, you too can be a great worker. Here are three tips to be a great worker that Paul reveals to us.
THREE TIPS TO BE A GREAT WORKER
Be hard at work
“Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22, CSB)
You don’t work just for your boss. You don’t work so that it benefits you. Instead, you work as if God is watching you as your Boss, because He is watching you. Therefore, you work hard. The Bible encourages a Christian to work hard. Paul was a tentmaker. He worked hard at what he was doing. He also helped to plant churches. By this time, Paul was a prisoner.
“so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ.” (Philippians 1:13, CSB)Paul was imprisoned and held by the Praetorian Guard. This group consisted of veteran military men who could be trusted as the Emperor’s personal guards; these guards were also in charge of those awaiting trial by the Emperor. For two full years while under house arrest Paul had many visitors and preached the gospel boldly. Paul considered it important work, even though he was in prison. These guards surely noticed Paul’s Christ-centered life and that the only real chains that bound Paul were the chains of love that bound Him to Christ. gospel messengers are never without this work to do.3
He saw it as his work to speak to others about Jesus, even as his main work was to be a prisoner. Your workplace may feel like a prison, but you are not a prisoner to your work. So be hard at work.
Enjoy your work
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people,” (Colossians 3:23, CSB)
But don’t just work hard, enjoy your work. If you don’t like your boss, then work like you are working for the Lord. If you don’t like your work, then adjust how you think about the purpose of your work. Do you clock in just for a paycheck? Or is there a higher purpose to your work?
See the joy in your work. Notice that there is a joy to completing the end of day’s work. Enjoyment comes through patience. If you quit a job too early, you may never see the satisfaction that comes from enjoying the work you do now. Enjoy the work you do now, instead of worrying about the work you don’t yet get to do.
This contentment can only come because of your relationship with God. Your boss at work will never instill contentment and commitment out of you. God can only do that. Sometimes He does that by keeping you in a job long enough to test your patience and test your resolve.
Work like Jesus is your Boss
“knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:24, CSB)
So work like your present employer is just a supervisor. Jesus is your Boss. Your employer may give you benefits that last for this life: heath insurance, retirement, Social Security. Yet, Jesus gives you rewards and an inheritance that lasts for eternity. You serve Jesus who is the Lord.
6. Wrongdoers (Colossians 3:25)
“For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong he has done, and there is no favoritism.” (Colossians 3:25, CSB)
In contrast to a great worker, Paul reminds us here that there are people who work with wrong motives. They use their work as an opportunity to do wrong to others. You know that there are people at work who don’t work right. They do things wrong. They mistreat people. Paul uses the same word when he writes his letter to Philemon:
“And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Philemon 18, CSB)
There, Paul is talking about a slave that has wronged the master Philemon. It would be like an employee who takes advantage of the boss or employer. What are some modern examples of wrongdoers?
FOUR KINDS OF WRONGDOERS
The first kind of wrongdoer is someone wants favoritism in their job. Favoritism by the employer is also wrong. Paul addresses that in Ephesians:
“And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” (Ephesians 6:9, CSB)
You know, the one who gets favored for the job because their know the boss real well. Maybe there is nepotism at work. You know – relatives of the boss who get the cushier, easier, and more well-paying jobs. That’s favoritism from the employer. Paul addresses workers here about this very problem:
“…and there is no favoritism.” (Colossians 3:25, CSB)
Here, Paul is addressing people who benefit from favoritism as an employee. These are workers who are doing wrong things at work to get a better paying job.
The second kind of wrongdoer is the bully. There are bullies at work. People who push their own agenda and go against other workers. People who think that it is their way or the highway.
3. Sexual Harassers
A third kind of wrongdoer are people who sexually harass other people. Men who sexually harass women. Women who seduce and harass men as well. In today’s world, we have same-sexual attraction harassment as well.
4. Religious Bigots
Finally, Religious bigots are another category of wrongdoers. There are people at work who will attack your faith. Since there is little respect for religious belief in today’s society, there will be people who will disrespect your faith, your church family, and the way you raise your family.
7. Bosses (Colossians 4:1)
“Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1, CSB)
Paul warns here that masters should not be wrongdoers. They are to be fair and just. Paul writes a letter to Philemon, which is all about how to treat other people who work for you fairly and justly. If you are a boss, a supervisor, or someone in the management of other people, you have an equal responsibility to sere Jesus at work. Your faith matters where you work as well.
Relationships matter. Building the best relationships for Christ is what matters in the end.
1* Alan Loy McGinnis, The Power of Optimism (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco, 1990), 45.
2 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 529.
3 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2006 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 172.