Love and Respect

November 12, 2007

While summarizing the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s life, the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:21 that Christians are to submit themselves one to another in the fear of God. On the surface, this appears to say that every Christian is equal to all other Christians and all should submit in the same way to each other. But the Bible continues to tell us how we are to submit to each other in the basic positions we find ourselves as Christians. Ephesians 6:1-4 addresses how fathers (parents) and children submit themselves to each other.  Ephesians 6:5-9 tells us how masters (employers) and servants (employees) submit themselves to one another.  But the first and most lengthy description of complementary submission is in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Here, husbands and wives are told what submission to each other involves.  Now, we must understand that these commands to us are necessary because we are naturally (read, in the flesh), opposed to working this way in our marriages.

In my short experience, I have found that we naturally do what our spouse is commanded to do, i.e. husbands respect and wives love. But in order to have a godly marriage we must obey the Bible’s commands to each spouse.  These are explained in this passage and summarized in verse 33, which says,

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Here, the way a husband submits to his wife is by loving her.  And put shortly, he loves her in all the ways Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.  And I must include that Christ’s love was not unemotional.  So the man must recognize that while he admires his wife, if he doesn’t love her as he does himself, he is disobeying the Lord.  We also see that the way a wife submits to her husband is by reverencing him.  All the emotional, “loving” things a wife does for her man are worthless to the strength of their marriage if she does not respect and reverence her husband.  Wives must do more than obey their husbands; they must reverence them.

Christian mother, if your children only obeyed your instructions outwardly, would you accept that as godly obedience?  I think not!  So it is with your relationship to your husband.  The Bible demands more that strict obedience to your husband.

Christian husband, do you take care of yourself?  Do you ever lack?  Do you think often of what would make your life simpler and easier?  “…no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it.”  You must think and care for your wife at least this much.  “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”  The implication is that if you don’t love your wife in this way, you won’t get the benefits that you think taking care of yourself will give you.  You see, this is related to the biblical principle of losing life.  When we seek to preserve “our life,” we lose what we wanted to keep.  When we give ourselves up, we gain what we thought we would not receive.

I once heard a sermon for couples titled, “Submission, submission.”  The text was Epesians 5:21-33.  The premise that I remember was that wives could get what they wanted from their husbands by showing some submission to them.  I could have gotten the point of the message wrong, but if I didn’t, the message was in error.  Now, if a wife’s desire is a godly marriage, then she’ll submit by reverencing her husband.  A wife who submits to manipulate her husband has NO respect for him at all.

The world today has great fear of manly leadership, and rightly so.  Man fell and is a supremely selfish being.  When an ungodly man leads, the results are disastrous.  But godly ladies should have no fear of godly male leadership.  The Bible does not teach egalitarian or equal roles in Christian homes.  Ephesians, particularly, tells us how husbands and wives complement each other.

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  1. Sunnymom
    November 19, 2007 at 6:04 am

    I have also heard submission taught as a method of manipulation, and not as a heart attitude of respect and honor. It is usually phrased as “Treat him like a king and you’ll be queen.” Ugh.

    However, it is also true that we often do things for how they will benefit us. Even in areas obedience and submission to the Lord, we obey in order to 1) avoid chastisement 2) reap rewards. How often are we reverencing God *just because* we love Him? Not as often as we should, I’ll wager.

    Many women have a hard time honoring a husband who does not act honorably. However, I learned to reverence my husband at a time when he was seriously backslidden. While tears dripped into the dishwater, I told God that I had not gotten married so that I could be a slave- no love, no companionship, verbal abuse, drunkedness, infidelity- none of the things a woman desires from her spouse. God spoke to my heart in His tender voice, and told me that He would be my husband, but that His representative was my earthly husband. I submitted to that, and began to serve my husband as unto the Lord. From that day forward God worked on my husband’s heart (without any input or interference from me). Progress was steady and upward, and today, six years later, I have a husband who is a joy to submit to.

    Thank God for the miracles He can work in our lives when we trust and obey. I appreciate the focus that Jackhammer has chosen this month.

  2. November 19, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Thanks Sunnymom.

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