Throughout the Bible there are many teachings and examples of a marriage and a family that strives to serve God. Ephesians chapter 5 has a section that focuses on this idea. The beginning of the chapter was all about being an imitator of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then we reach verse 21
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Ephesians 5:21
This is a very important transition in the letter; it was vital for the understanding of this next section that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write “Submit to one another” right after instruction about being an example of God and His love to the world and before giving instruction to the family who wants to live a life glorifying God. The reason this is so important is that as we put off the old self and put on the new self with it’s righteous actions; we can easily slide into pride of our good deeds. As we grow in righteousness, because of Christ, we must grow in pride believing our righteousness has become our own. When this happens we must be willing to submit to one another in humility. This is a submitting to other’s who are called by God to help lead. We need to help each other grow in humility in Christ. We do this “out of reverence for Christ.” We must not fall into pride as we put on the new self. This is most common when we neglect to take off the old self first.
Today we are going to look at what it means to be a godly family; in light of verse 21! If we move on without an understanding of verse 21 we will misunderstand and misuse the teaching of the family leadership roles.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.Ephesians 5:22-6:4
In this passage there are distinct “jobs” in the family. The Father, the Mother, and the Children. I want to spend time looking these three roles and responsibilities in the family.
1. Wives Submit
Verse 21 instructs all Christians to submit to each other in love our of reverence for Christ. Then in the breakdown in the family we begin with the role of the wife. She is instructed to submit to her husband. It seems a little redundant after instructing all Christians to submit to one another, but it is clear that there is something more going on in the family.
16 To the woman He said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;Genesis 3:16
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
The curse that was put onto Eve and all women is for the desire for their husband’s position in the family. The New Living Translation translates it this way.
…And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”Genesis 3:16 NLT
The role a wife has in the family is to be the one who supports and gives control of direction to her husband. In a culture that has so poorly treated women, it is not a popular option for women to submit to their husbands. Because sin has distorted everything in such a great way; people have abused each other. However, the instruction here is not give full control and submit as a servant or slave would. Submitting to your husband is referring back to the curse in Genesis. This curse stems from pride and a misdirected authority. In a family there needs to be a head, just as Christ is the head of the church.
The wife, just like the church, has a strong leading toward personal authority because of sin. This is why wives are instructed to submit and respect their husbands. This is the opposite of the sin nature. It is a chosen behavior. Submission and respect are connected. Submission is not giving up of all leadership, but its a respecting of His leadership, vision, and direction from God. When respect is given husbands will lead with Love and confidence in Christ.
2. Husbands Love
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for herEphesians 5:25
Husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Just as the wife is instructed to respect loving is not in the sinful nature of a man. Men are wired with a bent toward respect or the idea of being even or fair. This idea that things should be balanced. As we look at God and our relationship with Him and what Christ did for us. There is nothing fair or even about what He did.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8
This is what unconditional love looks like. Even when there is NO balance or fairness of actions a full and complete giving of yourself.
Husbands are instructed to love their wives, and lead their wives in this way. That EVERYTHING that is done in word and deed is for the betterment of his wife. This means choosing to lay your own desires, comforts, wants, needs, and life down so that your wife is taken care of. This does not mean simply working and providing money and shelter. That is only a part of love. Jesus didn’t just die for us, but He taught us, He wants a relationship with us. A relationship that communicates, hopes, dreams, fears, joys, and sorrows. This is what it means to love your wife. Not to simply provide, but be there in mind and heart connecting. When this is done as you lead she will be willing and able to submit to your role and aid you in the leading.
When true and complete love is shown without strings attached; you will be able to fulfill the role of the head of the family as Christ is the head of the church.
3. Children Obey
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”Ephesians 6:1-3
The last role of the family is the learning follower; the children. In order to be great leaders, one must start as a great follower!
The role of the children is to learn to be followers. At this point they are learning to follow the instruction of parents. They are learning to lead through the example and testing as they obey their parents. The role of children is to learn to follow parents; so they are able to follow God. The nature of sin causes men and women to have conflict, but men and women begin as children. If parents are able to teach their children how to lead and follow they will be able to lead and follow through Christ when they are older.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.Proverbs 22:6
The way they should go is following Christ; but they cant follow Christ unless they have learned how to submit to His authority and love unconditionally. Their role is to obey, through learning.
Are we teaching our sons to Love? Are we teaching our daughters to Respect?
With these three roles in the family what do must we do to be a family that serves God with our family?
Be counter cultural and wives respect in submission to your husbands and husbands love your wives even if you don’t want to.
Serve each other our of a desire to better the other person.
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the churchEphesians 5:26-27
Submitting to his authority in the house means giving yourself to him so that he can take care of you. Your needs must be FULLY met by him. Just as a man takes care of their own body he must take care of her with the greatest care. Husbands as you attempt to lead and care for the family you must make EVER decision out of the desire to “make her Holy” or make her better; at any cost to yourself. If you treat your wife or Children with contempt or harshness you become an example of the opposite of Christ; the Anti-Christ. It is vital that we love and respect in a marriage; so we become a family devoted to Christ.
This also gives us the ability to…
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Ephesians 5:21
The Best Leaders are the Best Followers!