February 15 I Thursday
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…”
It seems impossible for any human being to replicate the depth and intensity of the Good Shepherd’s love for us, but this is what Paul calls for in Ephesians 5. The Greek word for love used here is agape, the highest form of love there is as reflected by the unwavering, sacrificial love of God. For husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church means loving beyond feelings, beyond what is convenient, or when there is something to be gained from it. It means being willing to
sacrifice oneself for a wife’s protection without second thought or regret.
Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands “as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18). The word “submit” used here is in the Greek middle voice, with the closest English equivalent being a reflexive noun. This means that a wife’s submission is not something imposed on her by her husband, for this is not fitting in the Lord, but is a choice of submission a woman makes in light of her husband’s love for her. The marriage relationship God calls for is one in which women submit to their husbands in the same way the church submits to its bridegroom, who is Christ. God does not force submission on us, but our relationship with Him will be deeper and stronger the more we surrender to Him.
The three ingredients in a wholesome marriage are mutual respect, trust and love. A lot of time is spent unnecessarily debating the requirements involved in a husband’s love and a wife’s submission without consideration for these three key components. Paul prefaces his discussion by saying, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). Submission is not a one-way street, but a reciprocal relationship where both spouses put the needs of the other first. It means laughing together, crying together, caring for each other and building each other up. If either party takes the other for granted, the relational consequences can be disastrous.
Trials and frustrations are inevitable in marriage. In our own strength, we will all fail to love and submit as God asks of us. This is why Solomon writes, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Marriage is a cord of three strands, a relationship intertwined with the presence and lordship of Christ. His life in us gives us the capacity to love and submit to our spouses, and His reign over our marriages will equip us to love until death do us part.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for the reminder of the love, respect and trust needed in marriage and for enabling me to play my role as I trust and depend on You. Thank You, God.