November 30, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 5)

Submitted by Wilson F. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 5:22-33    

  • How are husbands and wives to relate to each other? 

Recalling yesterday’s DT passage, the general principle is mutual submission: “…submitting one another out of reverence for Christ” (v. 21).  From today’s DT passage, we read that wives are to submit in everything to their own husbands, as to the Lord (vv. 22, 24), and to respect them (v. 33); and that husbands are to love their wives, with the standard of love being Christ’s love for the church demonstrated by self-giving sacrifice (v. 25), and to love their wives as their own bodies (v. 28).  So in the Christian household, the husband is to love his wife in humility and sacrifice, and the wife is to respect her husband.

  • What conventional wisdom regarding husband and wife relationships have I picked up from my family or the culture around me? 

[…]

From the surrounding culture, the conventional wisdom I have picked up is that a husband and wife are to get along as much as possible for as long as possible.  When a couple announces that they have been married for over twenty-five years, the response is that of applause, in recognition of all the preserving love, labor and commitment required to sustain that relationship.  But on the flipside is the staggering statistic of the number of divorces in our country – somewhere in the ballpark of 41% to 50%, with the rates higher in subsequent marriages.  People without the guidance of Scripture only have their personal preferences and desires as well as examples from family and society to guide them, and so they are left guessing on how to make a marriage work.  In the pages of the Bible, God offers a clear prescription for how husbands and wives are to treat one another – which has translated to a lower divorce rate among Christians, closer to 31% to 35%.  That it is not down to zero speaks to the need for us to actually follow these commands…

  • To what extent have I embraced the biblical picture of how husbands and wives are to relate to one another?

While there is the temptation to copy and paste verses 22-24 into an email and send it to my wife, I need to take to heart the fact that Paul writes disproportionately more in his address to husbands.  This passage is actually the text that Pastor Ed shared with us during our wedding service, and as I look back at the past six-and-a-half years of marriage to Becky, I have come to appreciate the beauty and rightness of this biblical picture of how husbands and wives are to relate to one another.  When it comes to loving my wife, the standard is loving her as I would love my own body – to protect her, to care for her, to provide for her.  It is to be selfless, offering myself in humble service, placing her needs before my own.

With her chronic health condition and the treatment she receives for it, which render her tired and weak frequently, I try my best to help out with the kids and around the house as much as I can.  In 1 Peter 3:7, it reads, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  She is strong and competent, and she is superior to me in many ways, but in terms of moving my body and serving, I can do so much more.  Still, there are too many moments in which my primordial self-entitled expectations of her waiting on me hand-and-foot come to me, and I get frustrated and disappointed, even bitter at times because she is not doing as much as I want her to.  And in those times, I am not loving my wife, but imposing my selfish demands upon her.  The example of Christ compels me to repent of my complaining heart, deny myself, push through my fatigue and battle through my laziness so that I can show her concretely how much I care for her.

Another way in which I can love Becky as my own body is to offer her up to the Lord’s service, just as I have done with my own body.  There is the tendency to be over-protective, to not want her to do anything, to take things easy and just relax.  However, “we are members of his body” (v. 30), and we each have a mission to carry out.  So I can love her by releasing her to serve God and supporting her, instead of holding her back.  Certainly, that is what Christ does for the church – empowering her for works of service.  With Becky not working, she is available for ministry and for behind-the-scenes operation of our church – and she is busy advancing God’s kingdom and discipling her staff and students.  As her husband, I want to love her by encouraging her, praying for her, co-laboring with her so that we may “stir up one another to love and good works” (c.f. Hebrews 10:24).

Submitted by Becky F. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 5:22-33    

  • How are husbands and wives to relate to each other? 

Wives are to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ.  They are to respect and listen to their husbands, conceding their preferences ultimately to their husbands’ authority.  Just as believers as part of the church submit to Christ and His authority over all areas of their lives, wives are to submit to their husbands in everything too.  In the end, wives are to respect their husbands as having authority over them, in trust that their husbands love them and are looking out for their wives’ interests.

Husbands are called to love their wives in the same way Christ loved and died for the church!  They are called to be responsible for their wives and take care of them as part of themselves, to sacrifice and give up their preferences in order to love their wives.

So both husbands and wives are called to relate with one another in this way of submitting their own so-called rights and preferences and desires, expressed as submission and respect toward their husbands for the wives and sacrificial love for the husbands.

  • What conventional wisdom regarding husband and wife relationships have I picked up from my family or the culture around me? 

Even though I have been a Christian for 13.5 years and married for 6.5 years, I still see and need to catch and root out the conventional wisdom and ideas of my family and our culture and just my own stubborn ideas about husband and wife relationships and just my mentality towards life.

When I was growing up, I picked up the notion that I need to look out for myself, that I cannot depend on anyone even my own husband.  I needed to study hard, do well, take care of myself.  Conventional wisdom in my family and in the world, in my past older coworkers even who counseled me from their own sad divorces to be secure in my career because you never know what will happen with your spouse, pit a little space and distrust of your husband as still a separate entity.  And just the world says to trust myself, that I know better, to insist on my way.  It was funny, the other day even my mother-in-law urged me to speak up and try to change my husband her son in a little matter, to insist on my way.  It’s not that I distrust my husband, but this just encourages thinking in this individualistic, looking out for myself mentality, that cuts against recognizing that I am not separate and actually cannot secure the best for myself, that God is looking out for me and will take of me, so that I can let go of my way including with my husband.

All this and my own stubbornness pushes me away from the biblical way of relating with my husband in humility and submission, and just the basic Christian stance of relating with people in humility and submission, and trusting God instead of trying to secure things for myself, including when insisting on my way.

  • To what extent have I embraced the biblical picture of how husbands and wives are to relate to one another?

I know this in my head and see that it is right and good, but I need to embrace this in the thick of things with my husband, in daily life when I am tired, stressed, worried, etc., and especially when I think I am right.  My role as a wife is to submit to my husband, to bring up my opinions respectfully and discuss things, but ultimately to submit to him and not insist on my way.  I think part of this is connecting that it is a matter of obedience and trusting God too, that His ways are better than mine, that He knows best, including in how I was meant to relate to others, especially my husband.  This has been true to my life experience too, especially when I get emotional, that afterwards I was wrong to insist on my way and perspective or in the manner I brought up my opinions, and the good and honorable and loving way was to obey God’s boundaries and design.

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