Jan3MonJanuary 3, 2022
Happy New Year Everyone!
Let’s hope 2022 finds us fulfilling all that the Lord has planned for us!
Has anyone made a New Year’s resolution? You know that thing we say we are going to do, but rarely follow through on. In all my years, I have never heard anyone say, “This year, I want to be more submissive.” I’ve heard promises from people to be more independent, more free, and more in control of life. I have never heard a wife say that she wants to be more submissive to her husband, or a church member more submissive to church leaders, yet both are commanded multiple times in scripture (See for example: 1Peter 3:1-6; Heb. 13:17). Why do we seem to pick and choose what commands we are going to obey?
In the English version of our passage, the word “submit” appears 4 times: “21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” The Greek word for submit is “Hupotasso”, meaning to arrange under, to subordinate, to put in subjection, to put yourself under the authority of. Submission, although commanded is always voluntary, and done so out of respect for the individual considered worthy. In the church, there should be a voluntary submission to leaders, and each other according to the gifts and functions each possesses. In so doing, we submit to Christ! The church should be characterized by submission, not rebellion.
The world is full of rebellion! It seems everyone is fighting for their rights to not submit to anyone. Everyone wants to be in charge, empowered, and in control. Employees form unions and hire lawyers; people protest to get their way; rebellion against the police; feminist movements; LGBTQ rights; everyone feels they are entitled to their own rights and expressions. The world is in chaos because anarchy (lawlessness) is the rule of the day. Submission is the last word anyone wants to hear! But this ought not to be in the church! We should model to the world what it means to submit to one another, and to those God says to submit to. The first place where submission should be most evident is in Christian homes. Sadly, Christian marriages and homes fall apart at the same rate as those in the world.
Now the command is for wives to voluntarily put themselves under the leadership of their husbands, as to the Lord. Why? Because God ordered it that way – the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. In case wives don’t understand, He says it again: “as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Why is that so hard? Because we are fallen creatures – we are under a curse. And part of that curse involves the wife desiring to rule her husband, and the husband ruling his wife (See Gen. 3:16). Man and woman were never designed to rule over each other, but rather over the created order (Gen. 1:26-28). A man is never to rule over another man’s wife. Like Christ rules the church – His bride, so a husband should rule (lead) his wife. Now before all you women get mad at me, let me expound how the husband should lead his wife – and see if you would not like a man like that to lead you?!
If wives are to submit, husbands are to love! What kind of love? Agape, self-sacrificial love – as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (vs. 25). Husbands, are you willing to lay your life down for your wife and serve her even unto death? Read and meditate on verses 25-28! Our goal as husbands is our own holiness. As we become more like Jesus, we facilitate the transformation of our wives through the reading and teaching of the Word of God. We do that in two ways: 1. We make sure the Word is transforming us into the character of Christ; and 2. We make sure we are leading our wife and family in the Word of God. Verses 28 & 29 are interesting - a husband and wife become one in marriage (Eph. 5:31; Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:6-9). A husband has the responsibility of caring for himself (and ultimately his wife also) because they are one – nourish and cherish, feed and care. So husbands, you are to cherish your wife, value her as Christ does the church, nourish her with the word of God, build her up in her faith, encourage her, and so on. So, who has the tougher job? Men! Let us rise up to our mandate to lead our wives into holiness, which really means, into deeper relationship with Jesus. Now women, would you not submit to your husband, as unto the Lord, if your husband’s pursuit was Christ?
Christian marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride - the church. That is why we are to demonstrate to the world a biblical marriage of mutual submission, husband headship, and devotion to Jesus. Paul closes this section with final remarks, which are very practical for us to apply. Husbands love your wives, and wives respect your husbands. Husbands are to love like Jesus – sacrificially. Wives are to give their husbands “respect” (meaning: fear, reverence), as to the Lord (v.22). It is the same word used as in verse 21 – “out of reverence for Christ”. Can I just say, as a pastor, I have seen more than one wife use her tongue to disrespect, belittle, and criticize her husband, just as I have seen husbands with their tongue be unloving to their wives. If there is one area we can all aspire to for 2022, it is to use our mouth to bless our spouse, and speak well of them. The key to all of this is to remember that we are the church of Jesus Christ, modelling our transformed lives and relationships to a lost, broken world. Love like Jesus; respect each other with our words and actions. Let’s practice that in our homes and in our churches.
Have a blessed and transforming 2022!
Can I recommend a book to you by Gary L. Thomas: Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?