Summary: Three secrets to apply to your relationships, from Ephesians 5 and 6

The Rules:

God-tested Secrets for Relationships

Scripture: Ephesians 5:21-6:1-9

Intro: I hold in my hands a book that has been much talked about since it first appeared in 1995.

Its critics call it hopelessly old-fashioned and unrealistic;

its fans say that it is a refreshing return to common sense in romantic relationships.

It’s called, The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right.

What are the rules? you might ask.

Well, I don’t want to give away any secrets;

after all, there are men in the room!

Still, I don’t suppose it would hurt to let you in on a few of “The Rules” for relationships found in this little volume:

For example, Rule #2:

“Don’t talk to a man first”

Rule #6:

“Always end phone calls first”

Rule #7:

“Don’t accept a Saturday night date after Wednesday.”

Rule #18 (let’s see if I can get any “amens” with this one!):

“Don’t expect a man to change”

and Rule #20:

“Be honest but mysterious.”

Those are just a few of “The Rules” that the authors promise will “bring out the best in you and in the men you date.”

Now, before anyone tries to run me down and pry this book from my fat little fingers, I have to tell you this is a library book, so it’s not mine to loan out or give away.

And, while it does appear to contain some wisdom,

there are books from a Christian perspective that do much the same kind of thing. . . .

IN FACT, today’s Scripture reading actually give us some divine rules for relationships, in a passage that not only concerns relationships but which also, in one way or another, applies to everyone in this room.

But I want to take a somewhat different approach this morning,

because rather than focusing on the rules, as we so often do in the church,

I want to point us

to what we can learn from the rules,

to the insights that are waiting to be discovered behind the commands themselves.

So if you would, please turn in your Bibles to the book of Ephesians in the New Testament. . . .

And, though I was asked to speak on Ephesians 6:1 9, I’m going to cheat just a little bit, and ask you to give your attention to Ephesians 5:21-6:9, as several of our brothers and sisters read that passage for us:

ALL: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

WIFE: Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

HUSBAND: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved

the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

CHILD: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honour your father and mother" —which is the first commandment with a promise— "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

DAD: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

EMPLOYEE: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect

and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

EMPLOYER: And masters, treat your slaves in the same way.

Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.

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