SanLo Community, an update for March 4, 2018…
Thank you Greg Ng, for the message continuing our series in Ephesians 5 – Saved by Grace, Live by Grace. Over the next two weeks I will be covering what the Apostle Paul says about Christ focused relationships. The question that I want to answer is this – when it comes to our relationships with one another, what does grace require of me? This week we will look at what does grace require of me in the marriage relationship.
Let’s start by looking at the instructions to the wives in 5:22-24, 33. The word, submit, brings about some very strong emotions. I want to go over two common submission misconceptions to help us all get a better understanding of this passage. First, we will look at the definition in Greek. One of the big problems we have is when we apply the English definition of submission. In the English, submission means “to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person, and is usually deemed mandatory or obligatory.” However, in the Greek, submission (hupotasso) means to “to voluntarily put yourself under, to give way, to arrange yourself under someone, for a good and proper purpose; to cooperate, to assume responsibility, or to carry a burden.” Biblical submission means that I am going to leverage my time, my position, my power, my assets for your benefit. It is a commitment and a choice to use my power and authority in love. Biblical submission means that I am going to voluntarily offer all that I am for all that you need. Submission says, “I’m here for you.”
Secondly, we will look at the grammar in Greek. The second misconception is that we think submission is only the wives’ responsibility. We need to look at verse 21, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This means that both the husband and the wife need to submit to one another, that there is mutual submission in the marriage. When we look at verse 22 in the Greek the verb, submit, isn’t there. This verse is more literally translated, “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” The main verb is stated first in verse 21 and then assumed throughout the following sentences. Therefore, submission isn’t mutually exclusive for the wives, but submission is wives and husbands submitting to one another.
What does Grace require of me? Grace requires mutual submission in relationships. When it comes to mutual submission, we need to ask these questions. What can I do to leverage all that I am for all that you are? How can I look for ways to get up under your burden, for your sake? We cannot do this unless we first commit to understand each other needs and each other’s burdens. Couples need to share their hopes, dreams and desires with each other and more importantly how to listen to understand each other. One way to share is by using a “wish list.” A wish list comes in this format “I wish you would do more of this, and if that wish came true, I would feel this.” Or, “I wish you would do less of this, and if that wish came true, I would feel this.” The couple takes turns sharing them with each other using good listening skills. The goal is to listen to understand what each other is saying. The key point is that the couple may not agree or come to any decision, but that they both feel like the other listened and understood. Mutual submission allows us to listen to understand so that we can put each other’s wishes, dreams and desires in front of us. We are trying to see the wishes, dreams and desires from each other’s point of view, side by side instead of face to face.
Next, we will see the instructions to the husbands in 5:25-33. The husbands passage is longer than the wives, but all boils down to the command that husbands are to love their wives. The wives are to respect their husbands. It comes down to love and respect. Husbands are to love their wives more than they love themselves. Husbands are to love their wives like they love themselves. Husbands are to do all the things a head does for the body and do the same thing for their wife. The husband takes on this responsibility as an act of submission and love for the wife. The wife may now choose to step under the headship. This is an act of submission and respect. This is a picture of what God intends marriage to look like – husband choosing to carrying headship, wife choosing to come under the protective umbrella of headship. This is a picture of mutual submission.
The only way we can even come close to living out the ideal in our marriage is because of grace. Jesus Christ leveraged all of who He is so that we can become all that we are meant to be. Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave is the ultimate example of submission, sacrifice, and love. If we can focus on what Jesus has done for us, He becomes the model for what we can do for each other.
What does Grace require of me? Grace Requires Christ Focused Relationships. Marriage isn’t the focus of this passage. Christ is the focus of this passage. Christ, Lord or Savior is mentioned directly 8 times in this passage. Christ is mentioned as He, His, or Himself 7 times in this passage. Mutual submission is only possible if Christ is the focus in our relationships. Love and respect in marriage is only possible if Christ is the focus of our marriages. A Christ focused marriage is a triangle of three with Christ as the focus for the husband and the wife. As the husband and wife grow closer and closer to Christ, the result is that their relationship grows closer and closer as well. Marriage like this is the greatest witness to the world of God’s plan for love and happiness in relationships.