A Tall Order

Friday, October 17, 2014, 4:44 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:22-33 (ESV).

A Bit Daunting

A “tall order” is a task or a requirement that is difficult to achieve; impressively large; powerful; and overwhelming. Today the lesson is on the topic of marriage, between a man and a woman, but it is also on the topic of Christ and his church, and it parallels the two. Yet, what is being taught here can seem a bit daunting in that it seems like an impossible assignment to achieve. And, yet, we don’t have to do this in our own strength. For those of us who are in Christ Jesus by God’s grace through faith, we have the power and strength of the Spirit of God within us to give us all we need in order to do what this scripture says.

As To The Lord

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. ~ Eph. 5:22-24​

Many people hate that word “submit,” for it conjures up all sorts of images of abuse, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all, nor should it be. In fact, in the previous verse we read that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. So, what does it mean to “submit”?

The word “submit” basically means to “yield,” i.e. to yield to the authority, opinion, or to the will of another person. To “yield” means: “to surrender or relinquish to the control of another” (Merriam-Webster). I think of it a lot like a “yield” sign at a fork in a road, which can be taken literally or figuratively, meaning either a point at which a road splits in two, or “a deciding moment in life when a major choice of opinions is required” (Wikipedia). On the literal side of the meaning, think of how, when we are married, we become “one,” and thus we would be like the single road. But we are still two separate individuals with differing thoughts and opinions, and sometimes we might be divided, like this fork in the road. For us to continue to be “one” and in harmony with each other, one of us must yield and give the other the right of way. The wife or the husband could be the one to yield, but if the two cannot reach an agreement, scripture teaches that the wife is to yield to her husband.

But, here is the clincher. We, as wives, are to submit to our husbands “as to the Lord.” So, what does that mean? I believe it means that we are to submit to our husbands in the same way in which we submit to the Lord, meaning we lovingly yield to his loving authority. I believe it is critical that we understand that, because many wives have permitted abuse, even the abuse of their children, or have submitted to sin, thinking they were doing right. In other words, wives are not slaves, at least not here in America. God took woman out of the side of man to be his helper, not to be his slave, not that a slave should ever submit to sin.

The point here is that, as wives, we should never subject ourselves to nor should we submit to sinning, nor should we be party to our husbands sinning, i.e. we should not enable them to sin. So, if your husband requires you to do something you know is wrong, you can say “No.” Or, if he requires your participation and/or willingness to allow him to do what is wrong, you can also say “No.” Other than that, if it comes down to a difference of opinion, we should yield to our husbands, even if we disagree with them.

The Head

You cannot have two bosses. It doesn’t work. Someone has to be over the other. God designed it that the man is to be over the woman. Some women may not like that, but there is good reason for that order, and if properly understood and exercised, this should bring much security to the woman. On the other hand, there are men who do not want to have that duty and who shirk their God-given responsibility, and who place that burden upon their wives to make the decisions, raise the children, and lead the family spiritually.

So, what does it mean for the husband to be the head? Is he to be domineering, harsh, controlling, and tyrannical? No! – Absolutely not! Yet, some men think that is what it means, because they don’t understand the concept that they are to treat their wives like Christ loves and treats the church. The husband is to be the head of the wife in the same way in which Christ is the head of the church, his body, and he is her Savior. A savior is one who rescues, protects, and is “a knight in shining armor;” a deliverer and a redeemer. Jesus Christ willingly suffered and died for us so that we could be delivered from the curse of and the control of sin, and that is how a husband should be the head of his wife, too! He should love her more than he loves his own life, and he should willingly give himself and his rights up for her in order for her to be the woman of God whom God would have her to be.

As Christ Loved

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ~ Eph. 5:25-33​

Continuing on that same train of thought, Jesus’ purpose in dying for us was not just so we could escape hell and have the hope of heaven. He died so that he might free us from the punishment of and bondage to sin and that he might make us holy. What this means for the church is that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). He died so we would no longer be enslaved to sin but that we might now become slaves of righteousness (See: Ro. 6-8). He died that we might die with Christ to our old sinful lives, so that we might be transformed in heart and mind – away from sin and to God – and so we might have new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). To be holy means: to be separate (unlike; different) from the world and set apart to (like) God, and to his service.

So, how does that translate over into marriage? Jesus Christ wasn’t thinking about himself. He was thinking about us and what is best for us. That is why he died. He wanted what he knew was in our best interest, and so he sacrificed his own comfort, his own position in heaven, and he humbled himself in order to identify with us, to show us mercy and grace, and to give us freedom, peace, joy and hope. And, that is how we should all treat one another. And, yet, scripture designates this particular responsibility and obligation over to husbands to love their wives in this way, in sacrificing their own selfishness for the betterment, security, hope, joy, peace, freedom, happiness, fulfillment, and encouragement of their wives. As well, they should also be leading their wives to love and to serve Jesus.

As We Love

When we are born physically, we are born into sin. We have sin natures. So, we are selfish at birth. This is evident in the lives of children from early on, although some children seem to be more naturally selfless than others. What this means is that we naturally love and care for ourselves, though not all do. We make sure we are fed, clothed, provided for, etc. We think about ourselves, by nature, first and foremost. Yet, it is not entirely selfish to love and care for ourselves, for we are God’s created works, and as children of God, we are children of the King of kings. We are loved by God, so why should we treat ourselves less? Certainly we should be humble, but humility does equal self-abasement. Since we are instructed to love others as we love ourselves, we should love and care for ourselves.

Now, in a marriage, we are one person, although sometimes that is most difficult to comprehend or to achieve. So, we are one body, like the church is one body, which is another challenging concept. So, in a marriage, when we love and care for our spouse and we meet his or her needs, we are doing so as to our own body. The same is true if we abuse, neglect, mistreat or cheat on our spouse, i.e. we are hurting ourselves, too. I think if we could get this mental picture that truly we are one, perhaps it would help us to rethink how we treat one another. And, this applies to the church, as well, and I am not speaking merely of just our local fellowships, but of the body of Christ as a whole. We should love one another as we love ourselves, and regard one another as though we truly are one.

One Flesh

Scripture teaches that a marriage is between a man and a woman, not between two women or two men. Homosexuality is sin in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, our God, who is the Son of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (See: Ge. 2:18-25; Ro. 1:18-32; 1 Co. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:10-11; Mk. 10:6-9; Jude 1:7; Heb. 13:1-25; Matt. 10:15; 2 Pet. 2:6). God created woman to be man’s helper. This was his design from the very beginning of creation. As well, it is his design that man and woman should become as one flesh, meaning that they should not be united with others sexually, intimately, or romantically in any way. They are to be united in mind, purpose, will, faith, and commitment, etc. They are to no longer be under the authority of their parents, but they are to now become independent of Mom and Dad. A man’s and a woman’s devotion, heart, and desire should now be solely for one another.

Nonetheless, this teaching is to be understood also in relation between Christ and his church. Both men and women are considered to be the “bride” of Christ, with him as our husband. What this means is that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, it is a lot like entering into a marriage relationship, which includes the marriage vows of love, fidelity, and faithfulness, etc. As the church, we are to love Christ as a bride loves and adores her groom. We should long for him in the same manner, and desire nothing more than to be with him forever, beginning right now. We should become one with him in mind, heart and purpose, and we should yield to his will and purposes for our lives, because we love him, and because we want to do what pleases him.

As well, just as newlyweds want nothing more than to be together forever, to share their lives and experiences with one another, and to tell each other their thoughts, feelings, joys, pains and experiences, we should also want nothing more than to be with our Lord always, to spend time with him each day listening to him, talking with him, and doing what pleases him. We should give all the respect and honor which he so deserves by making him truly the Lord (master) of our lives. Wives, as well, should treat their husbands in a way that shows them that they are valuable, important and that they matter to them.

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.