Football season is once again upon us! The fall weather is here and our weekends are filled with football. We watch at least two games over the weekend, but it takes a lot to impress my wife when it comes to football. Generally, she thinks it looks like the players run into each other and fall down. To her credit, if the wrong play is called or the runningback misses his slot or the offensive line can’t move the defense, that’s exactly what it can look like. If the play isn’t followed or executed correctly, it all falls apart and can look like a mess. I was reading through Colossians 3 this week and noticed something: we men haven’t always followed God’s playbook, and when we don’t, things fall apart and can look like a mess.
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)
I don’t think men do a great job of this. When you clothe yourself in something, you are covered in it and it’s what everyone sees when they look at you. It’s the image you project to the world. Do people see love when they look at you? For a long time, I think men have clothed themselves in power, authority, toughness, ruggedness, humor, seriousness—any number of things—but not love.
We’ve let ourselves believe the lie that it’s more feminine to be loving and to show love openly, and this has plagued men for generations. Wars have driven affectionate love out of men and boys have grown up in homes where love hasn’t been shown from their fathers, so they in turn have had a hard time showing it to their kids and before you know it, a cycle has formed. Jesus openly showed His love for His friends and talked about how He loved them often. Love was the central theme of His ministry. He was always teaching us how to love.
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (…) If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?” (Matthew 5:44, 46a)
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Try every morning to clothe yourself in love. Make it a goal that when people see you, they see the love of Christ in you.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Do you believe peace rules your heart? Christ gives us peace but do we allow it to rule in our hearts? I think in this pursuit of a tough or authoritative masculinity, men have replaced peace in their hearts with frustration or anger. We are in a constant battle between our sinful nature and the nature of the Holy Spirit, and when we try to fight the battle ourselves, or when we don’t try at all, we allow the sinful nature to win. When that happens, conflict, frustration, anger, and irritation rule in our hearts. We must surrender to Christ and let Him fill us with His peace.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
When we give it all over to God, when we pray about everything in our lives and tell God what we need and give Him thanks, then we will experience the peace that comes from Him. If you want peace to replace your anger or frustration or irritation, surrender everything over to the Lord. Tell Him everything and always be thankful. Try to start your morning thanking God for all He has done for you and telling God everything you need for that day.
“Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” (Colossians 3:19)
Husbands, we have all failed at this one. Never treat your wife harshly. There are no circumstances that allow for it. No excuses. This may seem like a tall order—and it is. We can’t reach it on our own. We need Jesus. We need to clothe ourselves in love and let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts. If we do that, if we follow the playbook, we’ll be well on our way to ridding ourselves of that harshness.
“Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
This word “aggravate” is a Greek word, ἐρεθίζετε which means “to irritate by exacting commands and perpetual faultfinding and interference for interference, sake.” The word was also used frequently when someone was being provoked to combat. Don’t look for faults in your children or interfere just for the sake of interfering. Don’t provoke your children to fight. Don’t push their buttons or try to get a rise out of them. Why? Because if you do they will become discouraged. It’s interesting that the consequence for doing this to your children isn’t that they will fight back—they may at first, as that’s the natural reaction when someone is provoked to fight. However, fighting eventually stops. The consequence given in Scripture is what remains when the fighting is over: “or they will become discouraged.” This was a Greek phrase that meant “a loss of hope” or “a broken down spirit.” If you are perpetually finding faults or provoking your children to anger, you’re going to crush their spirits. That’s the ultimate and lasting consequence. If you have children, please take these instructions seriously; I’ve seen what happens to families and relationships when fathers don’t follow these instructions, and it’s like the football player who doesn’t follow the play call: it ends in a mess.
God has given us all instructions to follow throughout Scripture, and we don’t always do a good job of following them. Often, we listen to the world instead of the Word. But we have a gracious God whose mercies are new everyday and He offers us forgiveness when we confess our sins. Men, step it up, study the playbook, so when the time comes, you are equipped to follow God’s instructions.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.