Ephesians 5:21-6:4 (NRSV)
The Christian Household
I once heard a wonderful sermon on this portion of Scripture given by Andy Stanley. He said, and I paraphrase — Our mission as believers is to reflect the light of the Lord, to show Jesus Christ to the world by how we love God and other people. That means we are to be building Christ-centered relationships.
When Jesus came to earth he taught a new ethic that centered on LOVE. After he ascended into heaven, the apostles are looking at these new believers and new fellowship groups and considering — how do we apply Jesus’ teaching to family life? Before Christ the rule had been, generally, “might makes right.” But following Jesus would mean a new family and relational culture. People with power should use their power to help the powerless.
OK, Paul asks, what does look like in families? For wives, for husbands, for children, for fathers? So here in this section of Ephesians, Paul applies the idea of Christ centered relationships to every area of the family. And he begins with the over-arching principle: to submit willingly to one another, to put others first, as a way to honor Christ.
21Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body.
31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
Did you ever hear the word “husband” explained? It means literally “the band of the house,” the support of it, the person who keeps it together, as a band keeps together a sheaf of corn. There are many married men who are not husbands, because they are not the band of the house. Truly, in many cases, the wife is the husband; far oftentimes it is she who, by her prudence, and thrift, and economy, keeps the house together. The married man who, by his dissolute habits, strips his house of all comfort, is not a husband; in a legal sense he is, but in no other; for he is not a house-band; instead of keeping things together, he scatters them among the pawnbrokers.
And now let us see whether the word “wife” has not a lesson too. It literally means a weaver. The wife is the person who weaves. Before our great cotton and cloth factories arose, one of the principal employments in every house was the fabrication of clothing: every family made its own. The wool was spun into thread by the girls, who were therefore called spinsters; the thread was woven into cloth by their mother, who accordingly was called the weaver, or the wife: and another remnant of this old truth we discover in the word “heirloom,” applied to any old piece of furniture which has come down to us from our ancestors, and which, though it may be a chair or bed, shows that a loom was once a most important article in every house.
It probably is not your wedding anniversary today. Or your wife’s/husband’s birthday. Or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But today IS a good day to love your wife/husband/parent/child/friend with much happiness and tenderness. What can you do today to surprise her? What can you do to give him an unexpected treat? Ah, this is a great (and joyful) mystery!
Children and Parents
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: 3“so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Not an easy task!
It had been a big morning at church. It was a family dedication service, and the parents had dedicated their 4-year-old boy that day. As they pulled out of the church parking lot, they noticed their son was whimpering in the back seat. They asked him what was wrong. Through tears he said, “The preacher said he wanted us to be raised in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!”
HERE is “The Marriage Prayer,” sung by husband and wife John and Josee Waller.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.