The problem with much of Christianity in the western world is that we feel that a lot of the Bible is antiquated and outdated, and so we pick and choose what we want to follow. Most everyone around us is doing pretty much the same, so it affirms our loose convictions. If I compare myself to a lot of wives I know, I feel like I’m a pretty submissive wife. However, as I explain in this post here, comparing yourself to other people is unwise as it keeps you from growing. The standard we need to compare ourselves to is Jesus.
The scriptures clearly state that the husband must love his wife, and the wife must respect and submit to her husband. Ephesians outlines what that looks like for the husband:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:25-28
This is a pretty intense love. It requires the husband to completely put his wife before himself. He is literally withholding not even his very life.
Jesus said greater love has no one than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.
It’s this same kind of love that husbands are required to display for their wives. This isn’t flippant. It isn’t casual or accidental. It’s very intentional. It’s forever love.
At first glance, it may seem like more is required of the husband than the wife. She just has to respect and submit. He has to love her to the point of death. However, as we are looking at Jesus as the example of the perfect love, we also must look at Jesus as the example of perfect submission. Let’s look and see what Philippians has to say about Jesus’ display of submission to the Father:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
This passage is actually demonstrating how all Christians are to submit to each other – not only how wives are to submit to their husbands – but the parallel is clear. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christians are to love others as Christ loved the church. We are to submit to each other, withholding not even our very lives, as Christ was obedient to the Father. And wives are to submit to their husbands the same way that Christ submitted to the Father.
So husbands have to love their wives to death, and wives need to be obedient to death.
Sounds awesome. But lest we forget, this is the core of Christianity. Jesus said we had to take up our cross and follow Him. Paul said that he died daily. To become more like Christ and produce fruit in our lives that makes us look like an actual Christian, we have to die to ourselves and our selfish desires.
I do not write this post as one who has accomplished this. I wish I could say that I’m an expert at dying to myself and submitting perfectly to my husband. The desire is there, but plenty of times I selfishly choose to go my own way instead of laying down my life.
When I understood what Jesus was demonstrating for wives, I realized that if I hold myself back from my husband, I’m in the wrong.
If I choose to go my way and not his even one time, I’m not following Jesus’ example. Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll do everything you ask of me, God, but I need a painless and easy death with no humiliation.” He endured to the end for the sake of love and the demonstration of obedience.
Walking out this level of obedience isn’t easy, and it’s not accomplished overnight. The only way you can see this kind of fruit accomplished in your life is if you regularly seek God and ask Him for it. A daily devotional or quiet time with God is what you need to get your heart tender and pliable so God can form you in His image, and so that you can find peace and joy.
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