Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. The Right Questions…

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, Thank you for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. I look forward to continuing in Ephesians 5:21-33. As we have made our way through the passage, I have been expounding on all the ways that the Apostle Paul wrote concerning how married couples are to submit to one another in the fear of God (Vs 21). To this point, we have been looking at how a wife is to submit to her husband. Today men, it is time for the direction of the spotlight to shine on us.

As I mentioned last week the focus of verses 25-28 are how the husband is to submit to the wife. You may remember about a month ago when we began this study I introduced Romans 12:10 into the conversation. There we read the instruction phrased to prefer one another. The content and context of that scripture and Ephesians 5:21 is quite similar. I shared that the words prefer and submit have incredibly close definition in these two scriptures. I bring this up again because as we move into verses 25-28 husbands are called to consider their wives as more important than themselves. In other words, the command to us men is to prefer our wives above ourselves.

Ephesians 5:25-28 says 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

Just as I did with the verses that spoke of the responsibilities of a wife, I am going to break down this passage one concept at a time. Today we will focus on verse 25. When we looked at the instruction to a wife, it began with the phrase Wives submit to your own husband. This verse begins with Husbands, love your wives. Just as we discovered that the word submit means to voluntarily place oneself under the authority of another, I hope to illustrate that in this context, the command for the husband to love his wife has much the same meaning. On the one hand, husbands are instructed to love in a specific way. They are to do so just as Christ loved the church. Husbands are not free to love their wives in any fashion they choose. They must submit to loving their wives just as Christ loved the church. This requires submission to Christ in the sense that we adopt His lead in terms of how to love correctly and authentically. God is love, and if we are going to love our wife as He intends, then we must do so His way. If a husband is going to truly love his wife, He can do no better than to willingly pass along or be a conduit of God’s love for her. That requires that husbands submit to being used by God to transmit His own immense and intense love for their wives.

Additionally, to love his wife correctly, a husband must submit to her. The example given is that a husband love His wife in a very specific way. He is to love her in the same manner that Christ loves the church. Paul wrote that the evidence of Christ’s love for His bride was that He gave Himself for her. Obviously, this means primarily that Christ died for the church. Many husbands, in their desire to be seen strong and courageous think they are rightly following Christ’s example by declaring that they too would die for their wife if need be, all the while knowing the need to prove themselves sincere will likely never arise. Yes, Christ died for the church, and if necessary as husbands, we should be willing to sacrifice our lives in the place of our wife or children’s lives. However when Paul was inspired to write the phrase “and gave Himself for her” there is much more to the love Christ had for us beyond going to the cross, that was but the culmination of far, far more.

When Christ came to earth as an infant, that was not His beginning. Jesus has always been. He says of Himself, “I am the beginning and the end”. The Apostle John wrote that In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3). Furthermore, it is recorded in 1Pet 1:19-20  19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Jesus coming to die for our sins had been the plan since before He laid the foundations of the world. What does all that have to do with a husbands love for his wife? Christ’s love for the church was all encompassing. It was not manifested in some things, but not others. It was totally complete, lacking nothing.

Jesus came from heaven to earth. He left a place that was heavenly and came to a place filled with difficulty and pain, much of it He endured personally. He did not plan for eternity past and then actually come and die for our sin because He had need to do so. No, Jesus came and endured the cross because we had need of Him to do so. It cost Him in every way. It hurt Him physically to be whipped and endure an agonizing death on a cross. It hurt Him emotionally to have those He was treating with love scream for His execution. It was spiritually excruciating. His Heavenly Father had been eternally inseparable from Him. But in that moment, The Father looked away from the Son in disgust. Our sin was covering Jesus and the result was that Christ was now intolerable to the Father. His pain at this recognition was evidenced by His outcry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus could not have done anything more to illustrate that He had decided that we (the Church…His bride) and our needs far superseded His own.

Men, that is our example. That brand of love is the exact kind we are to have for our wife. The instruction to us is to make our wife’s every need more important to us than ours are. We must lay down our desires to meet her needs. If our decisions are to be correct ones as they pertain to our wife, then they must be made out of the purest of selflessness just as Christ’s were in terms of the church. Is it possible for a wife to take advantage of that kind of love and care? Of course it is, as possible as it is for a husband to take advantage of her submission to him. The righteousness of something is never determined by how it is received…only in how it is offered. The brand of love shown to the church by Christ’s action required His preference of us. When we do the same for our wives, we are preferring them as we have been instructed to. This is one of those things that I like to say is difficult but is not complicated. It certainly is not easy to choose someone else above yourself in every instance and at every opportunity. However, it is not complicated at all to determine that a selfless choice is always superior to a selfish one.

Next week we will resume by discovering the reason why we should go to such lengths to put all of our wife’s needs above our own.

Questions to answer:

  • Gentlemen – Most husbands are totally on board with the idea of a submissive wife, what are your thoughts about being a subservient husband?
  • Ladies – In light of this scriptural instruction to your husband, does it impact your thoughts about the instruction to you to be subject to him in all things?

Actions to take:

  • Discuss how these two commandments; That wives are to be submissive, and husbands are to be subservient, interact with each other.
  • Consider together if you think they go hand-in-hand or counteract one another, additionally talk about your thoughts of their dependence upon one another.
  • In a judgement free manner, talk about how the two of you do well or need to improve in these two areas.
  • Pray together and ask God to help both of you make these commandments of His a priority in your marriage.

So now men, choosing to make your wife’s needs your priority just like Jesus did for you…Go be Awesome!

Jesus found it necessary to do two things for these Pharisees to help them have a better understanding of what they were asking. First He chose to take them back to the beginning. So often as was the case with these men, we want answers to our questions. What we don’t realize is that our questions are flawed due to our skewed perception and so an answer to our question as stated will simply propel our flawed thinking. Jesus understood this. The Pharisees were asking a question about divorce. Divorce is a result of flawed thinking, therefore any primary answer to that question would have served only to keep the conversation headed in a flawed direction. Jesus first had to correct the direction of the conversation and did so. How? He answered their question about divorce in terms of marriage. He made an attempt to steer the dialogue into a much more profitable direction by talking with them about their marriages. The second thing Jesus did here was to reorient the Pharisees in terms of their skewed thinking about marriage. They were looking at marriage as a temporary condition; Jesus reiterated that God, the inventor of the institution, saw it as a lifelong covenant.

Jesus illustrated for them in terms they well understood (the Old Testament scriptures) that marriage was intended to take two people and make them one, duplicating what had been done by creating Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Adam and Eve were one flesh from the word go. Jesus was pointing out that through marriage, God re-creates that situation for every man and woman who marry. Jesus also made it a point that it was God who had married them to their spouses, and what God does we can’t figure out in our limited ability how to undo.

The analogy I like to use is that of a loaf of bread. The baker starts out with separate ingredients. Though he may add more ingredients than oil, water, yeast and flour, those are the necessary ones. After the ingredients are mixed and have had time to rise, the dough that is formed is thoroughly mixed through the process of kneading. The baker does this with great care until the dough is just right, a compliment of just the right amount of the incorporated ingredients. That dough created just as the baker wanted, with informed intent he shapes it into loaves and places it in the oven. A short time later, the dough emerges something new…bread. In the same way the baker has taken the multiple ingredients and made them one thing that we can’t figure out how to successfully separate again, what God has joined, no one should try to separate.

We may have difficulty understanding our “one flesh” condition but it is our reality none the less. Paul certainly recognized this and called it a great mystery (Ephesians 5:32). Jesus said it though, “They are no longer two, but one flesh.” When we are walking comfortably in our new reality we have little problem accepting it, we experience trouble however when we see our oneness as a restriction instead of a blessing. In those times we can think, even if only momentarily that it would be easier if we were able to live, act and move singularly again. That is however no longer reality, nor is it even correct. Ecclesiastes tells us clearly that two are better than one. Learning to walk comfortably in our oneness with another at all times is what is best, and to some degree the learning curve is what God intends. He desires that as we learn to be one with our spouse, we will learn what it truly means to be one with Him.

Questions to Answer:

  1. What does being “no longer two, but one flesh” mean to you and your spouse?
  2. What ways do you feel as though you and your spouse are one?
  3. In what ways do you wish you noticed more oneness in your marriage?

Actions to Take:

  1. Pray together that God will help you to have a fuller understanding of your oneness and that you will be open to all that means.

So now, looking to Him to complete your understanding of the oneness you share with your spouse…Go be Awesome!