Colossians 3:21-25
Col 3:21 (KJB)
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Provoke - Excite, irritate, or embitter
Discouraged - Lose heart or be despondent
Paul now turns to the fathers who would be considered the spiritual head of the house. He is stating that the fathers and this could also apply to both parents as well, not provoke their children to the point of them losing heart or becoming despondent. We see this attitude today at sports events for young children. The parents sit in the stand and scream at their kid thinking that they have the ability to make a goal or hit a home run every time at bat. This places much pressure on the children and if they do not live up to the expectations of their parents, they could become despondent and may take other courses in life which may be self-destructive. This is the principle that Paul is laying down that the parents need to be guides to their children without attempting to pressure them into their mold. Christian parents definitely want to see their children become saved but that will not happen by constant pressuring because salvation is of the Lord and if they are the Elect of God it will happen in Godís timing. Children should not be pressured by their parents to fulfill what they could not in their life. For every life which God creates, He has a plan and purpose and parents should not seek to override this.
Col 3:22 (KJB)
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Servants - Slaves
Eyeservice - Rendered only under the masterís eye
Menpleasers - One who tries to please men
Singleness - Sincerity or purity of motive
It was estimated that one third of all those who lived in the Roman Empire were slaves. Now many of the slaves were very educated and held good positions in many households. Paul is telling them that they need to do their work in purity of heart, that is, they should not just do their work in front of the master putting on a charade. Paul is teaching that they must perform their duties in obedience to their masters whether the master sees them or not. This is like the employee who works very hard when the boss is around and then as soon as the boss leaves, they begin to slack off. Then there are those who try to be menpleasers which is trying to please their boss at any expense. They do not do it because they are doing it from the heart, they are doing it to hopefully gain some kind of advantage. (Jude 1:16 KJV) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. Jude wrote something similar that there are those who flatter to get something for themselves. Many of us have seen this situation on the job, where the best employee is never promoted and the worst is always elevated to a higher position. Paul then goes on to state that the slave must work for their master with singleness of heart, that is, they are to do their work for the purpose of accomplishing the task at hand whether the master is present or not. The Christian slave was to work in the fear of the Lord which meant that he or she was to do their work heartily unto the Lord. If one was looking for an example of this attitude it would be Joseph. He worked heartily unto the Lord and did not look at his situation. The Lord rewarded him with a good position in both the house of Potiphar and in the prison, and finally Joseph became Governor of Egypt which I like to call Vice-Pharaoh. Josephís heart was stayed upon the Lord and the Lord prospered him.
Col 3:23 (KJB)
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Heartily - From the Soul
Now Paul gives a general work principle to all Christians to prevent them from becoming menpleasers. No matter what we do or what task we have at hand, we must do that task from the soul. In other words, there is complete harmony between the soul and body in accomplishing the task or tasks that we have been given. This mindset actually has an effect upon any selfish desires by eliminating it. Whether it be a slave or an employee, if one takes on the attitude of working heartily unto the Lord, their total outlook changes concerning their job. (1 Cor 10:31 KJV) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. As Christians, no matter what we do in life it is to be done to the glory of God because if it is not, then it could bring shame upon the Lord and His people.
Col 3:24 (KJB)
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Knowing - Know fully or understand
Reward - Recompense or giving back in return
Here is where Paul is stating that the saved slave will receive their reward. On earth, a slave was the lowest social class and it was totally rare that they would receive any tangible recompense for their service. Paul is encouraging them that since they are serving the Lord Jesus Christ, they too will receive that reward of the inheritance. (1 Pet 1:3-4 KJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {4} To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, When we look at what the inheritance is, we see that it is the inheritance of Heaven. No longer would the slave be a slave but instead they would be Kings and Priests in the Kingdom of God. (Rev 1:6 KJV) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:6 makes this abundantly clear. On earth, the Christian who works for a living or was a slave to a master would receive very little or no compensation but in Heaven all of that will change and that is why Paul wants them to keep their eye focused on Christ because He is the one who gives out the true reward, which is eternal life. (Luke 18:29-30 KJV) And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, {30} Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Col 3:25 (KJB)
But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Doeth wrong - Injure, act unjustly, or hurt
Respect - Partiality
Here Paul is informing both the masters and the slaves that if either of them are doing wrong, that is, acting unjustly then they too will receive a reward for their actions accordingly. God does not take into consideration a personís social status but only takes into consideration whether a person is saved or not. Those who are unsaved and do wrong will be recompensed in the next world by being cast into eternal hell. Those who are saved and do wrong by either defrauding their employees or if the slaves or employees are defrauding their master or employer, will receive on this earth a chastisement because God will not tolerate dishonesty among His children. He must deal with it and He will. Just because someone is a slave does not mean they will be permitted to get away with something and conversely those who hold high social status will not escape either.