In Laying a Foundation for Submission, Jesus sets the example of deferring to others, from his earthly parents, to those in authority over Him as he moved from childhood to maturity. In the culture of Jesus’ day women were second class citizens. This was not true of the way Jesus interacted with women. Jesus dealt with gentility and consideration with the people He met— women, children, lepers, the lame, the blind, the least, the lost. He challenged religious authorities where they fell short in their dedication to God and Truth, but He comfortably mingled with known sinners.
On the night before He died we see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, including the one He knew was betraying Him. Even as Jesus washed their feet, the disciples did not comprehend what He had done.
Then they (the disciples) began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.
Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
To recap—God put on skin and came to earth to serve and save. If Jesus was willing to serve, how can we insist on imagined rights? How can we refuse to serve others?
Ephesians 5—Relationships in God’s Plan
Ephesians 5 gives specific instructions about how we are to live especially in our relationships. Let’s let the Bible speak for itself (Ephesians 5, NLT):
- Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.(v. 1)
- Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (v. 2)
- Let there be no
- sexual immorality,
- or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. (v. 3)
- Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you.
- Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. (v. 4)
- You can be sure that no
- or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. (v. 5)
- Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. (v. 6)
- Don’t participate in the things these people do. (v. 7)
- For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (vv.8-9)
- Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. (v. 10)
- Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. (v. 11)
- It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret (v 12).
- But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. (vv. 13-14)
- So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. (v. 15)
- Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. (v. 16)
- Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (v. 17)
- Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (vv.18-20)
- And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (v. 21)
The opening verses of Ephesians 5 have given us specific instruction for how to live a life that honors God. Beginning with verse 21 we are directed to submit to one another. Why? Out of reverence for Christ. So the instructions in the following verses are also done out of reverence for Christ—who lived and died for us. The first relationship is the marriage relationship where, while the wife is to imitate Christ’s example of submission to honor Christ. The husband is to imitate Christ in loving in a sacrificial way even to the point of death. I believe the husband has the greater challenge. There is no lording it over either husband or wife in this type of relationship, but a relationship of mutual love, respect, support, and protection.
- For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. (v. 22)
Apart from Jesus’ becoming humble and submissive to the point of death, we might have a reason to be resistant to these attitudes but if God can live humbly and be submissive, then why shouldn’t we respond positively to His way of life.
- For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. (vv. 23-29)
- And we are members of his body. (v. 30)
- As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.
- So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband
The call upon your life to respond in these ways is voluntary. A wife cannot make her husband love her or a husband is not to force his wife to submit to him. God’s plan is ultimately functional—it works. The way we treat our spouse is a response to God—either honoring or dishonoring His standard.
The Lord treats His creation with respect. Consider all He has done for us in love. Treat others with the grace, love, and respect the Lord has demonstrated toward you—especially the person you are married to.
Next—More family relationships—parent to child and child to parent