If there is any area of work that Satan immerses himself in to cause havoc in this world, it is the home. According to a 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, 15.3 million children, almost 1 in 4 (21%), live without a father in the house. Although not as drastic, some 3.3 million (4.5%) households in the United States are without mothers. Then, I came across another sobering number; that is, there are some 750,000 divorces each year in the United States. I most likely would have been part of these statistics if it were not for Christ. The brokenness that so many have experienced reveals to us that there is a better way.
Last week we ended our lesson with these words, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). As we look into our Bibles, most will find a break after this verse, like with mine which has a heading that reads, The Christian Home. It is essential to realize that the break & title do not start a new section; instead, they build on this idea of “Whatever You Do.” And what the Holy Spirit seeks to do through the apostle Paul emphasizes relationships.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
We struggle with the word submit. It goes well beyond the subject of husband and wife. For example, James 4:7 says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Hebrews 13:17, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” (Romans 13:1). The church is to be “subject to Christ” (Ephesians 5:2). As Christians, there is no area of life where this idea of being submissive should not be seen in some way. This relational characteristic, of course, clashes with our “egalitarian” society in many ways. Egalitarianism means relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. However, the definition seems reasonable; its broad application tears at the very order of things designed by God from the beginning. This idea of submitting should not make us cringe but instead see the opportunity before us to glorify our Creator. In this case, when a wife submits to her husband, she does so because she is “in the Lord,” Thus, it is the proper (fitting) thing to do. She does so even to a husband who is not in the Lord (1st Peter 3:1). The world wants people to think that submission, in any form or fashion, is somehow diminishing who they are and depriving them of their rights. To the Christian wife, it is a way to bring honor to her God and help support her husband, and in some cases, guide him to Christ.
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter toward them.
As a Christian husband, I am guilty. Of what you might ask? In the past, my attention has often been highlighting my wife’s need to submit while neglecting to invest time into learning what it means to love my wife. Ephesians 5:25 reveals the depth of love I am to give to my wife: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” One commentator writes, “The love of Christ for His Church is such that He counts Himself incomplete without her, and raises her to be one with Himself; that He bears with her weakness and frailty; that He draws her on by the cords of love; and that He gives up Himself for her.” The picture is beautiful and humbling. Then, there is the appeal to “not be bitter towards them.” The ETRV says, “Husbands…be gentle to them.” The NIV says, “Husbands…do not be harsh with them.” One commentator writes, “Many who are polite abroad are rude and bitter at home because they are not afraid to be so there.” My heart ached when I read those words, for they described who I was at one time in our marriage. God has worked on this broken man over the years, and by His unfailing love, I know this no longer describes me. That said, transformation is not complete, for I still have things to learn about what it means to love my wife. So, this request is as real today, even after 42 years of marriage.
As I close this article, it reminds me of the need for us to build our marriages on God’s design and be willing to learn what it means to be a husband and wife. The husband seeks to understand the depths of God’s love for the church as seen through the offering of His Son. Sacrifice! It is at the core of our care for our wives. We constantly seek to be gentle with them, knowing that part of our care is to concern ourselves with their emotional well-being. Wives, likewise, endeavor to understand their God-given role as the submissive partner, knowing that it is pleasing to their Lord. Make this your desire for a couple reasons; either to help win their husband over to Christ or to help their Christian husband as he seeks to guide his family. This relationship is God’s will for the marriage.
One final thought that I believe is critical in this journey called marriage. In the Christian home, seldom will either husband or wife claim that they have arrived regarding these exhortations. We are imperfect people and must offer the same grace to our spouse Christ gives to us as we seek to grow in His likeness. That said, may we earnestly commit ourselves to become the best husband and wife we can be. Why? Because the world is watching. Our kids are learning. And our spouses deserve it. Our Lord beckons us, saying, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). Be blessed.