Husbands love your wives
Have a look at our society today. Is it functioning well? Are people kind and considerate to each other? Do people agree with each other?
The world is just emerging from a global financial crisis - or perhaps it isnt yet emerging we dont yet know. What brought on the financial crisis? Greed people borrowing to have things that they cant afford, and others willing to lend to get a short term profit. And because of that the whole world from New York to Timbuctoo, from China to Brazil, from Australia to Outer Mongolia, has suffered as a result.
Weve just had an election where one of the major issues was boat people - people risking their lives to flee from one country to another. There are millions of refugees around the world today.
And on a smaller scale, in the area of families we are seeing family breakdown. We are seeing kids born out of marriage, or born in marriage and then the marriage breaks down and then being brought up with only one parent or by people besides their parents. And I know this touches on many of us here today. And even in families where the parents are still together, there is often discord, fighting amongst the parents. Our basic building block of society the family - is not in a very good condition. Our world is certainly not trouble free, not perfect.
But on the other hand, it isnt in complete chaos. Or perhaps better said, not all of the world is in complete chaos all the time. In our country we do have law and order. Even our families, although there is a lot of brokenness, there are still many families that are together, and even though many children are being brought up with only parent, although it is harder, many of the children are brought up fine.
Why is this? Why is our world hovering between order and disorder? Between structure and chaos with both existing at the same time? Most of the world maintaining some sort of order most of the time, but always seeming to be on the brink of disorder and chaos?
The answer is this: God has set up the world with authority leadership structures in place so that there is order and not chaos. He gave us the institution of the family - a man and women, who have kids. He gave us government, leaders to rule over us, and provide order to society. He gave us each other, in relationship with each other. And in Genesis 1 and 2 we see that. God created the world. He created a man and a woman. He gave them the ability to have children. He created society, an ordered society, where the man and woman related to each other as God intended, and the man and woman related to God as God intended.
But then in Genesis 3 it all went pear shaped. The woman and then the man defied God, they disobeyed God, they cut off fellowship with God, they said, Get lost, God. And as a result of cutting off fellowship with God, they also distorted their relationship with each other, so we also say get lost to each other.
So why is the world today the way it is? Why do we have order and structure, but also chaos and disorder? It is because the order, the structure that God created is still there. Thats why we still have a semblance of order in society. But the reason it doesnt work too well, is that order and structure is based on relationship, relationship between us and God and between each other, and that relationship has gone wrong.
So now our society runs like an out of tune car, a badly out of tune car whose engine misses all the time. That barely works. And in some parts of the world, even here in Australia in some families, it has broken down completely.
We people caused the problem, but we cant fix it. And in the last several months, weve been looking at the book of Ephesians, which talks about Gods plan - and not just His plan, but Gods action to fix the problem. That action was in the sending of Jesus Christ His Son. And weve been looking at that. We looked at Ephesians 1:3-10, where we looked at the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. We looked at Ephesians 2, where we looked at how we were dead - spiritually dead and heading for a Christ-less eternity, but God through Christ brought us to life. That is those who believe and trust in Christ, and that this is through grace. That is it is a gift. In Ephesians 3 we looked at the mystery of the Gospel revealed. How through Christ, God has broken down the barriers that existed between us and each other, and that believers from all different backgrounds - Jews, Gentiles, Aussies, Africans, Asians - lawyers, doctors, chippies, sparkies, students, pensioners, the unemployed - White Aussies, Indigenous Aussies, Asian Aussies - all who believe in Christ, are brought together in Christ. In chapter 4 we looked at the unity we have in Christ, that we have in the church. The church, the wonderful new society, that is Gods society.
We looked at all those things. They are wonderful things and I hope you appreciate them, Spiritual blessings. Eternal life. No longer estranged from God but united with Him. The church, Gods new society. Wonderful things. Especially wonderful considering we didnt deserve it. Considering it wasnt God who broke the relationship. It wasnt God who distorted the society He set up. Tt was us. Our sin. Our selfishness. Our distortion of relationships. Our greed. Our wanting to use others, thinking only of ourselves, not caring for others, and ignoring God. Tt was us who did that. But it was God who provided the answer. And how did He do that? He did it through Christ. Jesus Christ the Son of God. God Himself. God the Son, Who came to earth as a man and lived like we did in all respects except one - Jesus never sinned. Not only did He live with us, like us, but He died a death more horrible than we can imagine. A death on a cross. Shamed, hanging their stripped of His clothes, despised, rejected. Why? Because He loved us. Because He wanted the relationship to be restored. So He could create for Himself a new society, a new people, Who would be His. This new society, He called the church.
Turn with me to Ephesians 5:25b-27
Eph 5:25b Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Arent those few verses amazing? Christ loved the church us - so much, that He gave Himself up for her. For us. This love so amazing, so divine, redefined the word love! You see the Greeks had several words for love. Eros the erotic, romantic love that seeks pleasure. Philia the love of relationships but often involving obligation. The obligation to love because of a relationship. Agape a vague word for love used by the Greeks, but taken over by the early church. To take a blank slate and redefine what love is. A love so strong, so powerful, that is not a love of desire, not a love of fulfilling a mutual obligation, not a love that thinks of itself, but a love that purely thinks of the other. The love so aplty demonstrated in the love of Christ, who it says here loved the church so much that He gave Himself up - gave Himself up to a shameful death on the cross.
Why? Why would He do this? So that He could sanctify us - the church. Sanctify - what does it mean? It means to make holy. In other words - to take away our sin, the very thing that impedes our relationhip with God, the very thing that brings the judgement of God on us. Christ died to take away that sin, to sanctify us, and as it says here, to cleanse us. Cleanse us - how clean? In verse 27 it says, so that we the church - might be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Totally holy. Totally, and without blemish. Thats what Christ did for us.
It is so amazing, so divine, that it is difficult to comprehend. So difficult in fact, that remember, earlier on in Ephesians, in 1:18, Paul prayed that we would be enlightened so we can fully understand the hope to which He has called us, His church. In Ephesians 3:18-19 Paul prays again:
Eph 318 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
This love is so wonderful, so amazing, so divine, that we need a revelation to comprehend it. So that, as it says here in verse 19, we may be filled with all the fullness of God. Thats the sort of love that Christ loved us with. And if you are here, and you dont know that love yourself, you dont Christ and His love, if you are still lost in your sins, you need to turn to Jesus Christ, believing, trusting Him, asking Him for His forgiveness from your sins, and eternal life with Him. If thats you, come and talk to me after the service. This love of Christ is so amazing, so divine, that somehow it brings us so close to Christ, to us that is the church is so close to Christ, that we become part of His body. Thats what is says in Ephesians 5:30:
Eph 530 because we are members of his body.
Thats extraordinary. That we, people, the church, the body of believers that trust in Christ, that we become part of Christs body. We are brought into union with Him. Love so amazing, so divine! And how did this happen? What did Christ have to do for this to happen? For our redemption from sin? For our being made clean, made holy, cleansed of sin, made to be without blemish, spot or wrinkle or any such thing? To be made so close to Christ that we became part of His body, the body of Christ the church. How did it happen? There was a price to pay for it. Christ died, He gave Himself up for us. That is how Christ loved us. And in so doing so, He redefined what love is.
Husbands. Husbands. Husbands, the scriptures are speaking to you to us husbands.
Eph525 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Fellow husbands, I dont know exactly what you are thinking now, but if you are like me, you are now thinking something like this: Thats impossible, how can I love my wife like Christ loved the church? Its too hard. And yes, it is hard. And I know, Im a husband too. I know I dont love Marcela like Christ loved the church. I know I dont love her as I should. But the impossibility of it all, the impossibility of it all in our finite human state, should not cause us to lose sight of the goal to love our wives that way. Thats what we are aiming for.
We know that although saved by grace, taken from death to life. We are told by God to leave the life of sin behind, but we know that we still struggle with that. Back in Eph 4:22-24 we were told to put off our old self and put on our new self, and we know that all our lives we will still stuggle with the vestiges of our old self trying to rear its ugly head. But we must be always putting on the new self, and husbands - that means loving your wife as Christ loved the church.
But how can we do that? First - we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, who as we learned, sanctifies us and changes us. But also, we need to understand who our wives are. Why does Christ love us? Well, He just does. But He loves us so much that we are part of Christs body. Husbands, you love your wives because your wife has become part of your body. Paul quotes the first marriage - the marriage between Adam and Eve:
Eph531 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
When a man and a woman marry something profound happens, something incredibly profound. They become one flesh. On one level this no doubt refers to the sexual union between a man and woman in marriage. A few weeks ago we talked about sexual purity. We talked about Gods standard. That is, sex is good, but only
only only only, between a man and a woman who are married to each other. And we can see why here, because when you have sex with someone, you become united to that person. You become one flesh. So young people - actually all of you - sex is not something to be played around with, because it unites you to the person you have sex with and that should only be to your spouse your husband and wife.
But this unity, this unity between husband and wife, this one flesh, is more than just sexual, but something profound, something mysterious, whereby you become one entity. What affects Marcela, affects me. What affects me, affects Marcela. We are one flesh, one entity. So husbands, how can we love our wives? Why should we love our wives? As it says in verse 28:
Eph 528 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
We love our own wives because we become one flesh when we marry, and so loving our wives is like loving our own body. It is like loving ourself. It is loving ourself, and as it says in verse 29
Eph 529 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.
Now remember last week, we talked about wives submitting to Christ. Now I want to spend a few moments on talking about how this fits in with husbands loving their wives. You see when Christ came to earth He did a lot of things. A lot of things were accomplished in His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead. But a lot was also accomplished in His teaching and in the example He lead. Christ restores our relationships to the way they ought to be and He also restores the authority structures in the world. If there was no authority in the world, no structure in society, there would be chaos, anarchy. We still do have some structure in society, some order, and that is because we still have the order, the structure, instituted by God. But it doesnt work properly anymore, because of our sin. As I said before, it is like a really old car whose engine is missing, barely going, and indeed,sometimes the order, the structure of this wold, breaks down completely. Then we have war, anarchy, terrorism. We have things like World War Two. We have civil wars, we have genocide such as in Rwanda in 1994 and ongoing in Dafur. We have failed nations like Somalia where anarchy rules. And Afghanistan and Iraq, still embroiled in conflict and the government struggling to exert control.
But those are distant, far away - although real to the people involved. What about our society, here in Australia? Well our society also isnt running so well - perhaps better than some others, but the basic unit of society, the family, is under attack. Why? Because the relationship, and the authority structure, as God intended it to be is not being followed. Wives submitting to husbands. Husbands loving wives. But why isnt it being followed? In large measure, because the authority of the husband in the marriage is not being excersised in a loving way. You see, when we think of authority, when the world thinks of authority, it thinks of superiority. It thinks of value, of worth. It thinks of subjugation, of using those under them for their own purposes. We have distorted the authority structures that God put in place and instead of excersing authority in a loving way, we oppress and subjugate. When we lived in another country overseas you could see that in the governments there, the sole purpose of wanting to be in government was to be in a position whereby they could oppress people and through corruption you wouldnt believe, siphon off billions to bank accounts in offshore tax havens. They didnt love the people. They used them.
And in the marriage that has also occurred. Men have seen their right to rule as the right to oppress. To have a servant, someone to wash, to iron, to bear children. The root of the problem is we have distorted what it means to be in authority. But when Jesus came, He changed all that. Once His disciples had an argument among themselves over the whole issue of leadership and this what Jesus told them:
Matt 2025 But Jesus called them to him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
What a radical departure from what we often think of when we think of leadership. The leader is a servant. Not just a servant but a slave, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. This applies to all areas of leadership. It ought to apply to the government, but we know that is a human institution we have little control over - at least for the next 3 years. But one area we can control is the church. The Bible tells us the church leadership is over the church, eg
1 Thess 512 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.
So even though I and the diaconate, and hopefully elders when we get them, are over you in the Lord, that doesnt mean we lord it over you. I dont use my position to get my own way for my own selfish purposes. I use it, or ought to use it, to serve you. And so too in the marriage. When a marriage is working well, the husband rules. He is the final arbiter when the husband and wife cant come to agreement. But, the husband is excersising His authority with his wifes well being in mind. In fact, not just with his wifes well being in mind, but with his wifes well being as the priority. When it is like that, then it ought to be easy for the wife to submit. When the husband is truly loving his wife as Christ loved the church. When the husband listens to his wife. then she will find it easier to submit.
Now husbands, when you make decisions, dont just assume you know what your wife wants. Ask her opinion, talk to her. God gave you a human being with a brain made in Gods image as your helpmate. So ask her talk to her listen to what she has to say. Consider what your wife has to say, and then take leadership, decide, with your wifes well being in mind. Even at the cost to yourself and your own well-being, because, after all, the two are one - one flesh. So what is good for your wife is also good for the husband.
The husband ought to nourish and cherish his wife - as it says in verse 29 - like his own body. When the husband is truly loving the wife, and the wife submitting to her husband, things go well. And remember last week what submitting means: it means to yield to the authority of another in obedience. It means to yield to the husbands decisions, and to obey him. But it is easy to obey someone who listens to you and who has your best interests at heart. And when the wife and husband are doing as they are supposed to do, there will be a harmonious relationship. There will be order and stability in the home. There will be love and respect. And where there are children, they will be growing up in the best environment. And when the husband and wife are communicating with the husband considering the wife, it will actually be very rare when the husband will have to overule his wife in a decision.
So thats the ideal. What about the non ideal?
What if you are a husband, and your wife isnt a Christian, or she is but she isnt co-operating, she isnt submitting, she is making life difficult? Do you still have to love? Well let me ask you a question. Does Christ only love us, the church, when we are co-operating, submitting? No! He loved us while we were still sinners. Although these commands in Ephesians assume that both parties will do what they are supposed to do, they arent contigent on it. That is, husbands you must love you wife, whether or not she submits to you. Of course, its better when she does submit to you, and if you truly love her, I think shell find it easier to submit to you. But even if she doesnt, you need to love her, do whats best for her.
And wives, we touched on this last week. Its certainly easier to submit to a husband who loves you. But even if he doesnt, you still need to submit. And we talked about that quite a bit last week, and if you werent here last week, you really need to get last weeks sermon. Read it or listen to it on CD, bring in your flash drive or get it off the internet.
And finally, a reminder of what I spoke about last week. Dont be like Marcela and I were when we listened to a CD series on these verses a few years ago. After listening to the CD, all I remembered was what Marcela was supposed to do, and I nagged her to submit. All Marcela remembered was what I was supposed to do, and she nagged me to love. And we had an argument.
Remember husbands, this passage is not telling you to make your wives submit. Its not. Your instruction is:
Eph525 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
And wives remember, your instruction here is not make your husbands love you.
Your instruction is:
Eph 522 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Each of you, each of us, let us make sure that we follow the instructions that were given to you, and worry about that. And as we do we will restore the order that God set in place, the authority structures that God set in place, so that our marriages work well, they are not barely sputtering along like a car well overdue for a service but they are running on all cylinders. And we will have happy, fulfilled marriages - an example to our kidsand an example to to the world. But for that to happen we must do what the last verse in Eph 5 says:
Eph 533 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.