Summary: Husbands, wives, children, employees, and employers listen up!
Ephesians 5:22-6:9: Relating Righteously
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
November 16, 2008
Last time we left off with a verse that sets the tone for today’s message. Verse 21 of Ephesians 5 commands all followers of Jesus Christ to “submit to one another”. What is our motivation for this? The Word of God tells us that we are to do so out of “reverence for Christ”. Reverence for the Lord is a Holy thing. If we revere Him, we place him high up in our thoughts, regarding Him as holy, regarding Him as Lord of our lives.
Humility is needed in order to do this. Similarly, humility is needed in order to submit to one another. Humility is also needed for every aspect of relating to others that we shall study today. Now let’s move ahead into today’s passage of scripture.
(Read verses 22-24) Verse 22 makes secular feminists chafe and even rage. It conjures up images of a house slave wife who dutifully bring a drink, slippers, and a crisply folded newspaper to her lazy husband who is enthroned in his heated, massaging Lazy Boy recliner in front of the television. This wife really has no life of her own. The word in this passage that really galls these feminists is “submit”.
Unfortunately, there have indeed been people and whole movements who look upon this verse as teaching that very scenario. The reality, however, is something quite different. For starters, the word “submit” does not actually appear in this verse. In the original Greek, it reads “Wives, to your husbands, as to the Lord”. This changes the “slave” assumptions conjured up by the verse into something quite different. Here’s an important question which opens this up for us. Are followers of the Lord called to submit to Him? Of course we are! Submission is assumed in the original Greek text here because of the clause “as to the Lord”. The word submit was inserted by translators for the sake of smooth readability.
So how does this change the assumptions behind the verse? Simply in this: Jesus became Lord by loving us while we were actually his enemies. Let’s turn now to Romans 5:6-10. (Read it.) Now, with that in mind, the assumption behind this verse is as follows: The husband here is a true follower of the Lord. He has already been laying down his life for his wife, just as Jesus did for all of us. She is called to submit to such a man, as though He was the Lord, because he is following the Lord.
Now let’s read verse 23. (Read it.) It makes sense in the context of husbands who are true followers of the Lord; husbands who lay their lives down for the sake of their wives and families. Verse 24 makes lots of sense now. Let’s read it now. (Read it.)
Now husbands, let’s move on to you. (Read 25-27.)
The Christlike servant leadership which I have been referencing, is described here perfectly. Clearly, the Christian husband concerns himself with the spiritual growth of his wife. He delights in her growing spiritual radiance as time goes by.
He knows the scriptures, and knows the instructions contained in Titus chapter 2, that the older women are to teach the younger women to be godly and skillful in caring for their home and marriage. He does not begrudge his wife spending time with her godly lady friends. They help each other along in the Faith. He also plays a part in her growth in godly wisdom as we saw in verses 26 and 7.
Let’s continue now. (Read 28-30) Men, I have a question for you. When you are in pain, do you do something about it? When my back hurts terribly, I sometimes have to stop stacking wood or shoveling snow long enough to bend over and do some stretching and relaxing of tight muscle groups. Then I can continue with my work. In the same way, if our wife is hurting physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we need to notice it, and then stop what we are doing and minister to her at her point of need.
Nancy loves it when I rub her feet after she has worked all day. This is a small thing, but it serves notice that she, and her needs, are priority for me. Beyond that, I tell her every day, how proud I am of her growth in the Lord, and in how she cares for and thinks of the needs of the others around her, at home and at work over at school. I also pray for her often throughout the day as she comes to mind. Any husband who knows the Lord can do the same: driving the truck, on snack break at the factory, or wherever you are.