Summary: God’s model for marriage, principles for parenting, and way in the workplace are explored in this practical message.
During the rehearsal for a wedding the bride was nervous and had trouble getting the details right on how to walk down the aisle. Her pastor took her aside to give her some advice. He told her when you enter the church tomorrow, you will be will be walking down the same aisle you’ve walked many times before. Concentrate on the aisle. And when you get half way down the aisle, concentrate on the altar. And when you reach the end of the aisle, your groom, Jim will be waiting for you. First concentrate on the aisle, then the altar, then Jim. Got it? That seemed to help.
The next day, the beautiful but nervous bride began down the aisle at the appropriate time. But the people along the aisle were surprised to hear her whisper with each step, “Aisle, Altar, Jim.” “Aisle, Altar, Jim.” “I’ll alter Jim.”
I’m not sure how much success she had at changing Jim, but there were probably several wives wishing her well that day. Today’s topic gets real practical this morning. I want to talk about relationships that work. Today’s text begins at 3:18 and goes through 4:1. But as we read I want to begin with verse 17. Notice how it sets the stage. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
There are three things I want to mention about relationships before we move into the text:
1. Relationships are to be routine. This is about home life and work life. Our faith must work in the everyday affairs of living and there’s nothing more routine than family life and work life.
2. Relationships have different roles. We are talking roles not rulers. Everyone has a defined role: Husbands and wives, Parents and children, employers and employees. But, everyone is of equal rank. Look back to Colossians 3:11 and, adding to Paul’s list from Galatians 3:28, Paul equates male and female. We are all equal in God’s eyes but life works best when we follow His roles for us.
3. Relationships are to be reciprocal. Husbands and wives reciprocate, or react to the actions of the other. Parents and children and employers and employees reciprocate. What Paul was writing in the first century was radical. Wives, children and slaves (for our discussion, employees) were looked down upon in society. But, Christianity elevated women, valued children and set things in motion to sabotage slavery. In our relationships we are to be loving, kind and fair. We will look at these pairs together as Paul gave them to us, as they are to relate to one another in everyday life.
I. GOD’S MODEL FOR MARRIAGE (18-19)
Ladies first, let’s get the hard part over with:
A. Wife, Submit to Your Husband (18)
1. The Requirement of Submission
What does it mean to submit? Submit does not mean to obey. Children are to obey. Slaves (employees) are to obey. But, nowhere in Scripture does it say wives are to obey their husbands but it is clear that wives must submit to their husbands.
Submission in the Bible does not mean slavery and does not imply inferiority. “Submit” literally means “to arrange one’s self under a delegated authority.” It comes from the military word where soldiers were to be in order under the direction of their officer. Wives are to be submissive to their husbands for the sake of living productive, harmonious and successful lives.
2. The Reason for Submission
“as is fitting in the in the Lord” (18b)
Another translation has it: “This is what the Lord planned for you”
You are fighting against the nature God placed inside of you when you refuse to be submissive. Are you happy in your relationship with your husband? If not, it could be the problem has to do with your lack of submission.
B. Husband, Sacrifice for Your Wife (19)
A. The Requirement
Men, it’s time for you to take a hit. Notice the verse says “Love” but what I said is “Sacrifice.” Why? Because the word used here for love is “Agape.” Agape love is not romantic (though wives wish they had more of this), it’s not sexual (eros), it’s not brotherly (philia), it is sacrificial.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; NKJV
The word, “Husband” originally meant “one who holds the house together.” Another image is that of a gardener who cultivates the soil and keeps the weeds out.
Ephesians 5, a parallel passage, gives twice the space on a man’s responsibilities as a husband as it does on women’s responsibilities as wife. Bad marriages are usually the result of the husband’s failure to love his wife rather than her failure to be submissive. Most women are willing to follow the leadership of her husband when he loves her unconditionally.