Summary: Having a healthy marriage
Last week we talked about a problem we are facing in America: Marriage is being undermined by a force of enemies coming against it. I hope in the wake of the Senate discussions that you have taken the time to call your Michigan senators and let them know how you feel about the definition of marriage as between one man and woman.
Marriages need help! My marriage needs help! And so does yours! Now, there are some here today who can say “I need help getting married!” - and this sermon will not directly relate to you. But I’m sure that each of us, whether married or single, faces many opportunities to come alongside of others who are married and offer encouragement and counsel. Our marriages need help. And fortunately we have been given help by the one who instituted marriage.
We come this morning to God’s word, to seek his instructions. Join me as we look in the book of Ephesians. As Paul writes to this church, the Christians at Ephesus, he calls them in 4:1 - “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” In 4:17 he tells them “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. So, instead of hard hearts that ignore God and his teachings, we are called in 5:1 to “Be imitators of God.” It is God’s foundation that we need to build our marriages upon. In 5:1-16 we see what we are not to do if we want to imitate God. Then in 5:18 we are reminded that if we want to imitate God and follow his calling on our lives, we must “be filled with the Spirit.” He then goes on to talk about what Spirit-filled godly relationships will be like. He says in 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Godly, spirit-filled relationships are those where there is submission to one another. Now “Submission” is one of those “politically incorrect” terms that instantly cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. But while it may evoke all kinds of negative images, we have to admit this morning that it is God’s plan for our relationships. So, if we are going to be imitators of God and live up to the calling he gives us, we better understand this and choose to obey.
The idea of submission is “surrendering to a decision or action of another.” It really is a military term that refers to arranging troops under the command of a leader. It is a voluntary act of cooperation. Many times we get the idea that submission is just a man’s way of telling a woman that he is better than her. But that is not the scriptural idea. Rather it is the idea of filling a role of cooperation.
We find the same term in Luke 2:51 where Jesus left his parents and was in the temple. They cam and found him, and verse 51 tells us “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Jesus was obedient to his parents, not because they were better than he, but because they were the ones the father had placed in a place of authority over Jesus. They filled that role.
In Romans 13:1 we find this idea of submission again. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Submission is an act of obedience to God.
In an orchestra, the conductor helps keep everyone playing together. He fills a role to keep everyone cooperating together.
And in a marriage we need submission, the voluntary act of surrendering to the decisions of another, to keep the marriage healthy and well. A preacher named B B Lakin used to say, “When we got married, my wife told me, you being the husband, you’ll make all the big important decisions. And I’ll try to help you by managing the little distracting decisions. He said “it’s been 40 years, and there hasn’t been a big decision yet!”
God teaches us that unity in working together is how we honor Christ. It says in verse 21 that we submit “out of reverence for Christ.”
So, what does this mean for us in our marriages? That’s where we want to look this morning.
Read 5:22-33 - There are two main ideas in this passage - one for men and one for women. Men are to love their wives. Women are to respect their husbands. And by loving and respecting each other, we become the imitators of God that show the proper pattern to the world. Let’s pray that God teaches us today how better to reflect his pattern. PRAY