In our recent lessons, we have taken a look at love and unity within the church. Believers are to live in fellowship with one another. Through the fellowship of love, believers can lift each other to levels unimaginable. In our lesson this week, Paul takes a look at the household to speak to the commitment of love. Love calls on submission.
Living in Submission to One Another
Our lesson this week kicks off with Paul writing that we should submit to one another in the fear of God (v.21). This is a very interesting thought, right? Are you living in submission to another? Do others live in submission to you? What are your thoughts on submission and love?
We struggle with the word submission, don’t we? The reason why this is the case is because the thought of submission is giving up. You may think of submission in the mindset of servitude – being a slave. Nobody wants to be the slave of another, right?
Now, is Paul telling us to have rule over each other in the context of a master having rule over a slave? No! Now, that has not led many people to using this passage of scripture in that context.
As we have seen, Paul has called for their to be unity. Paul encouraged believers to “walk worthy of the calling” with lowliness and gentleness (Eph. 4:2). So, what sense would it make for Paul to call on people to oppress each other? That would not make much sense would it?
A master does not uplift a slave, do they? History shows us that no good comes from oppression. So, what does Paul mean by calling on for us to submit to each other? To answer this question, Paul turned to marriage and the household. Paul uses marriage to explain how we should honor each other in love.
The submission of wives
Paul wrote, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (v.22).” Is Paul saying that wives should be slaves to husbands? Many people have used this statement from Paul with that thought in mind. However, as we have seen, Paul was not calling for anyone to oppress or live in oppression.
Is Paul calling for wives to be obedient to their husbands? Wives, are you obedient to your husbands? How would you feel if I substituted the word loyal, or word honor in Paul’s statement? How would you feel if I substituted the word committed in Paul’s statement.
“Wives, be loyal to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” How does that sound to you? “Wives, honor your own husbands, as to the Lord?” “Wives, be committed to your own husbands, as to the Lord Lord.
The increasing in relationships today is the lack of understanding true love. Love demands for their to be submission. Yes, you are to let go of yourself ! This means that you can’t be in love and be selfish!
Two selfish people can never work out. At the same time, what benefit would it be to wives if they are the only ones living in submission in their marriage? Why would anyone want to live in that kind of relationship? That would be a very toxic relationship, wouldn’t it?
Are husbands supposed to submit as well?
When this scripture is brought up, it always seem so one sided. It is always made out as if Paul only had something to say to wives. Now, because we are going over this scripture, you will get to see that Paul had much to say to husbands. In fact, I would tell you that the role of husbands was Paul’s primary focus in this scripture.
Paul wrote, “the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church (v.23).” Again, some have taken this statement to mean that husbands be the head of the house. This is a scripture that men love to use in a misogynistic manner. Some husbands believe they should make every decision and be the one to always speak. Is this what Paul meant?
Paul wrote to husbands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (v.25).” What is often missed about Paul’s statement on marriage is that husbands should also live in submission to their wife. Paul expresses how deep a husband’s love should be for his wife by bringing up Christ’s love for His wife.
Some of you may frown and wonder who the wife of Christ is. If you have followed me over the years, and even recently, you have heard me speak about His bride. The wife of Christ is the Church – the congregation of all sincere believers. So, to understand how husbands should love their wives, think of Christ’s love for the Church.
Do you understand all that Christ did for us because He loves us? Christ did not come to this world for kicks and giggles! Christ did not die on the cross just to do it! No! Christ became our propitiation because He loves us and desired to save us!
Knowing that He had a bitter cup to drink from, Christ still drank from the cup because of love. So, Jesus gave everything for His bride. How many of you husbands are giving everything for your wives? Understand that this is love in total submission.
I want you to see what else Paul pointed out that Christ did for His bride. Paul wrote that Christ sanctified and cleansed His bride with the “washing of water by the word” (v.26). Christ led His bride to become holy, righteous, and glorious without blemish (v.27). In other words, Christ lifted His bride up to a higher level!
Husbands must ask themselves are they lifting up their wives to higher levels? At the same time, wives must be asking whether or not they are doing the same for their husband. Marriage should not be combative nor should it be toxic. Marriage should be a unity of love that uplifts.
Paul concluded, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (v.33).” The goal when it comes to marriage is growth and unity.
The problem today is that people tend to get together out of the lust of the flesh rather than being uplifted. Even more important that I want to point out is that Christ uplifts His bride spiritually. Notice that Paul made no mention of Christ giving the riches of this world to His bride. Yes, we should uplift each in the world, but we should also focus on uplifting each other in the soul.
The Submission of Children
After speaking of marriage, we will see that Paul turned his attention to the children. Why did he turn his attention to children? Well, we have to keep in mind that Paul is talking about honoring each other in love, but also honoring the Lord as well.
Paul wrote to children, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this right (v.6:1).” Now, notice in that Paul didn’t tell children to submit to their parents! Why does the world submit not appear in this statement from Paul?
Is obedience not submission? We often think of these synonymously but in this case, Paul shows there to be a great difference.
Two adults have much to give up to come together in marriage, right? What I mean by this is that we have rule over themselves. Because two selfish parties cannot prosper together, both must give up their selfishness.
Children, on the other hand, are children. Children don’t know everything! So, a child must be taught. A child has to be helped. Children don’t have rule over themselves. So, a child must be obedient to the direction of their parents.
With this in mind, there is a lot of responsibility on the shoulder of parents (v.6:4). Parents not only have rule of the house but they have rule over children. This means that parents must set a direction that will help their children to prosper (Prov. 22:6).
I feel like we’re living in a day where both parents and children need to be attentive to this word. Something is wrong when you see videos of children cussing out teachers in school. Something is wrong when you see children trying to fight adults.
Paul referred to the old commandment, “Honor your father and mother (v.6:2).” Children must come to understand that they aren’t the boss of their parents. Parents need to understand that their children aren’t the bosses of them!
All of this teaching of submission in the household can then be tied back to us and the Lord. Should we be talking back to God? Should we be trying to fight God? No.
We are God’s children which means we should be obedient to His voice. God has committed Himself to us and we should honor Him with our obedience. When we honor the Lord, He will bless us with His great blessings. However, when we turn from Him, we should not expect such blessings in return.
So, let us live in submission to God. Let us be committed to God. Let us be obedient to His voice so that we can receive the wonderful riches He has for us.