THE FAMILY LIFE
Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Ephesians chapter 5 as we begin a series, which I believe is very important for us, a series on the family life. You see, Satan is working hard at destroying families. We see the divorce rate at epidemic proportions, we see children fighting with their parents, we see that the role of marriage is said to be outdated, so much so that if this continues, marriage will not be important! In regards to family life, John MacArthur tells us:
Among the worst tragedies of our day is the progressive death of the family as it has been traditionally known. Marital infidelity, exaltation of sexual sin, homosexuality, abortion, womens liberation, delinquency, and the sexual revolution in general have all contributed to the familys demise. Each one is a strand in the cord that is rapidly strangling marriage and the family.
Now some of you may be wondering why we need to deal with this, were Christians and this doesnt affect us. I wish that were true. George Barna, who heads the Barna Research Group, tells us the following:
Using statistics drawn from nationwide survey interviews with nearly 4000 adults, that data shows that although just 11% of the adult population is currently divorced, 25% of all adults have experienced at least one divorce in their lifetime. Among Born Again Christians, 27% are currently or have previously been divorced, compared to 24% among adults who are not Born Again. (Because of the large sample size involved, that difference is statistically significant.)
Now please understand that these Born Again Christians did not get a divorce before they accepted Christ, at least that is what the research is showing us. You see, 90% of these Christians who have been divorced did so after they accepted Christ! Do you understand what I am saying here? More Christians, more adults who call themselves not just Christians but Born Again Christians are likely to experience divorce than are those who are not Born Again or are not saved, (27% to 24%). That is a sad and tragic statistic!
How can this be? Again, listen to what George Barna had to say and I think it will help clear things up. He tells us:
1. Desiring to have a close, personal relationship with God ranks just sixth among the 21 life goals tested, trailing such desires as living a comfortable lifestyle.
2. Born again Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they do on spiritual activities.
3. Christians would rather spend time with their unsaved friends, going out to eat, going to secular concerts, going to various other activities, than with their Christian friends. They tend to see Christian fellowship as unimportant but for some reason they put a high priority on non-Christian fellowship! Go figure?
4. In a representative nationwide survey among Born Again adults, none of the individuals interviewed said that the single, most important goal in their life is to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ! Not one of them did!
Do you want to know why divorce is so common in the church today? Do you want to know why Christians are struggling so much today? The answer is really very simple. The desire of a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not there. Or they may desire that, but they dont put forth the effort to develop that relationship. And what we then see is the desire to be a follower of Jesus gets lost with all the other activities and desires that people have. And when a person is not close to Jesus, they will not want to be around others who are because they feel uncomfortable.
Thus, instead of being transformed into the image of Christ, many are being conformed to the image of the world as they are looking out for their own personal interests. And in the marriage vow, instead of saying, Till death do us part, we might as well say, Ill stick it out until someone prettier, younger, richer, stronger or whatever comes along! And presto, the marriage covenant is broken!
Several years ago, fires broke out in the Laguna Beach area of California. And in those fires 20 homes were destroyed, they were burned to the ground. But in the midst of these destroyed homes there was one home that survived the fires, this home was not destroyed. Why? What happened that this house survived and the others were burned, they were destroyed? Simple, the owner fire protected it! You see, you cant stop the fires of this world that are burning around you, but you can fire proof your marriage, you can fire proof your family, you can fire proof your life! You see, your marriage, your family can be left standing if you prepare it for what might come against it.
And so, over the next few weeks we are going to be looking at how we can fire proof our marriage, our family as we look at the family life. The idea is to make our marriages strong, our families strong so we wont get burned. To set the stage for this study we need a solid foundation to build upon. It is after we have laid the foundation we will begin to build on that as we look at the role of the wife, the role of the husband and the role of children. And folks, we all fit into one of these if not two! Now let me give you a hint of what that foundation is all about with this story. We are told:
At a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the various sections of 11 major symphony orchestras perceived each other. The percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing, yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. The orchestra members overwhelming chose loud as the primary adjective to describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical. Interesting findings, to say the least! With such widely divergent personalities and perceptions, how could an orchestra ever come together to make such wonderful music? The answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other, they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor. Under his guidance, they play beautiful music.
- Today in the Word, June 22, 1992
With that said, lets begin reading in Ephesians chapter 5, starting in verse 21 as we look at the foundation and then we will look at the role of the wife this morning. Next week we will move on to the role of the husband and then the role of children as we fire proof not only our marriages but also our families. For I do believe that we want our families to sound beautiful because they are beautiful as God conducts the life of the family and we respond accordingly. So lets see what the Lord has for us this morning on this topic.
Verse 21 is the key to all our relationships, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Now when some hear the word submit the hair on the back of their neck goes up and they are ready to dig their heels into the ground because they are not gong to submit to anyone. When we as Christians do that our relationship with God is off, there is no fear of God, no respect of God and that then affects our relationship with others.
The Greek word Paul used for submitting comes from HUPOTASSO, (hoop-ot-as-so), which was originally a military term meaning to arrange or rank in order. As Christians we are to rank ourselves under one another as God has placed people in positions of leadership. When you refuse, you are in rebellion against God, it doesnt matter how you try to justify that! Paul said in I Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
The problem for some is when they hear the word submit they think of being inferior to someone. But that is not what Paul nor is it what God is talking about. Think of it like this, a private in the military, he is to submit to those who are in authority over him, those that are in charge, like his sergeant. It doesnt mean that the private is inferior but he willingly submits his life to those that are in charge of him, his sergeant. I realize that as Christians, we dont like to do that but look at Christ in His humanity; He willingly submitted His life to the Father. Thus, as Christians, as followers of Jesus, we need to follow His example and submit to those that are in authority over us. That is the solution submission!
Now women, when you get married you have great expectations of what your husband will be like. Some of these great expectations might be:
You may have those great expectations, but in reality, this is what you might get:
Now women, no Amens! to that, even if some of those things are true. This morning we are not going to be talking about how you can change your husband, because lets face it, only God can do that! What we are going to talk about is what you may need to change in your own heart and God can do that if you allow Him to!
Lets read over these verses once again before I expound on them. Paul said, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything . . . 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. Ephesians 5:22-24, 33.
I realize that this does not sit well with many women; they have a problem with what Paul says in regards to wives being subject to their own husbands. Let me say this, you dont have a problem with what Paul is saying, but with God! You see, you refuse to submit in the fear of God, which shows you do not respect God and His Word. The result is you then refuse to submit to your husband! Think about it, do you really think God is going to call you to do something that is evil, that is not good? Of course not!
I think some of the problem comes from the way some men treat their wives, like slaves. Please understand that is not what Paul is saying here, he is not telling you to be a slave but to willingly and lovingly place yourself under the authority of your husband. It is not that you are inferior to him, less important but that is what God has done in regards to the family. Paul, in Galatians 3:28 makes that very clear when he says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Some feel, Whats the big deal? If God says we are all equal, does it really matter if a wife submits to the authority of her husband, ranks herself under his authority? Yes it does because if they dont, they are not only rebelling against God, but it will have devastating consequences. Let me explain:
History abounds with illustrations of the chaos resulting from disobedience to Gods pattern. By usurping the place of leadership, and acting for her husband, Eve introduced sin into the human race, with all its catastrophic results. In more recent times many of the false cults were started by women who usurped a place of authority which God never intended them to have. Women who leave their God-appointed sphere can wreck a local church, break up a marriage, and destroy a home. On the other hand, there is nothing more attractive than a woman fulfilling the role which God has assigned to her. A full-length of such a woman is given in Proverbs 31 an enduring memorial to the wife and mother who pleases the Lord.
When God created Adam and Eve and joined them together in marriage, a marriage made in heaven you might say, Adam was the spiritual leader in the family, Eve submitted unto him and it was a beautiful. A harmonious relationship. There was no struggle for power. That was until sin entered the world and part of the curse is given to us in Genesis 3:16, where we are told, . . . Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you. Now please understand that the word desire does not mean that the woman would be under the leadership of the man, that she would love her husband, that is how it was before the curse, not after!
The same Hebrew word is used in Genesis 4:7 when God tells Cain that sin is at the door, we are told starting in verse 6, So the LORD said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. Genesis 4:6-7. In other words, sin wants to control your life just as the woman wants to rule in the marriage relationship. Thus, both want to be lord over each other as man tries to lord over his wife instead of loving her and the woman tries to lord over her husband as she refuses to submit to him and that is not what God intended it is just part of the curse! The battle of the sexes!
But now in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin but we are free in Christ! Thus, as you submit to the Lord you are submitting to His will for your life and thus, you will submit to your husband. He is the spiritual leader of the family. Thus, as you submit to your own husband it is your service rendered to the Lord, you are walking in harmony in the fear of the Lord or in respect to the Lord. With the remainder of our time this morning I would like to focus on some areas that you can help your husband be the spiritual leader of your family. The three things we are going to be looking at are RESPECT, ENCOURAGEMENT, and COMPANIONSHIP.
In Ephesians 5:33 we are told, 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. You are to respect your husband as you would the Lord. It is a choice on your part. It doesnt matter if he deserves it or not, you are to respect him! I know, some would argue, Respect is something you earn and my husband has not earned my respect for him! God did not put any conditions on this, He has told you to respect your husband end of story.
Now, in saying that, if your husband told you to do something unbiblical like having an abortion, stealing or something like that, you are not to obey him but the Lord in that matter, who is over all! For the most part, that is not the case, you just dont feel like respecting him or submitting to him and that is wrong. If you do respect your husband, showing him that you do, then as you obey God you will be blessed and so will your family.
In Song of Solomon 2:3 we are told, Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste. As she respected her husband, as she honors him, she is blessed. She honors his ability to protect her, to provide food and shelter for her, to satisfy her hearts desire. You see, she allowed him to be the husband that God wanted him to be and in turn as she respected him she was blessed, her needs were met!
Why are so many Christian women unhappy in their marriage? Maybe because they are trying to make their husband into the man they want instead of the man God wants and in turn, they are not satisfied! Now please understand if there is physical abuse, verbal abuse in the marriage, there needs to be counseling, she needs to remove herself from that situation until he gets help and changes. God never intended a wife to be a punching bag for some jerk! And the idea here is always restoration and not destruction of the marriage.
In I Peter 3:1-6 we are told, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
Wives, as you are submissive to your husband, even when he is a jerk, when he is not walking with the Lord, you can win him back by your actions, your respect. You see, outward beauty is only temporary, not to say if the barn needs to be painted you need to paint it, but there is that inward beauty of a wife who is walking with the Lord for that relationship will overflow and be seen in her actions! Wives, respect your husbands as God has called you to do.
Lets look at I Peter 3:1-2 once again, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Encouragement is important and I have truly been blessed with a wife who loves the Lord and is truly an encouragement to me! In the ministry, she is right there to spur me on, to encourage me to keep going during those times I am down, discouraged. She lifts me up and the nickname or pet name I gave to her over 26 years ago still fits today SUNHINE!
Many of you know that I am not mechanically inclined or talented. Power tools are dangerous for me to use and I have had shocking experiences with electricity in my life. Plumbing, well lets just say Drip, drip, drip! Now as much as my wife likes to tease me in this area, she is also a big encourager. Years ago our refrigerator went out and for some reason my wife thought I could fix it and she even bought me a book on what to do to test and replace the broken part. I even had to use an Ohm meter, which doesnt measure the number of Hare Krishnas that are meditating on a thought like I thought, and I did I found out what was wrong with the refrigerator and I fixed it! I replaced the part. It was all because of the encouragement of my wife!
In regards to spiritual things, she again has encouraged me during times when I was down, as I have said. Ladies, encourage your husband, they may fail at times, as I have done one or two or hundreds of times more likely, and my wife just picked me up and encouraged me to go on. Dont say, I told you so, I knew you couldnt fix that or do that! I knew you would fail! Or whatever words of discouragement they may be. Build them up, dont tear them down and as you do you will be blessed!
A few years back, on the Today Show, there was a woman promoting her new book, and the whole premise was getting your husband to do what you want them to do. So, obviously my ears perked up because I wanted to know how these women got their husbands to do what they wanted so I could be wiser to their evil schemes and not fall prey to them. Well, not exactly, but I did want to know the secret. Now this woman was not a Christian but she did bring forth some very good Biblical principles. And her main point was simple; she said all you need to do is encourage your husband.
In Song of Solomon 1:2-4 we are told, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away! When was the last time you said those things about your husband? I know, it sounds corny but lets look at what she is saying.
When a wife is in love with her husband and tells him so, how much she loves him, that she wants to be taken away with him, follow him wherever he goes, guess what? The husband is going to respond appropriately, or at least he should and we will deal with husbands next week, so men, be prepared and if you are not here, I will send you a tape!
My wife once again is also great with this. One day she asked me why I love her and being a man of few words, although being a pastor I dont think any of you would say I am a man of few words, but anyway, I just said, I just do, I love you! Well, that was not good enough, she wasnt happy with that response. So me, being so smart thought I would get her and asked her why she loves me. After about 10 minutes of her listing why she loves me I was ashamed, I felt like a fool that I hadnt thought that much about it, I just love my wife. I will say that as she was telling me why, I thought, Man, this guy is great! then I realized it was me and I knew better and yet my wife encouraged me seeing me better than I really am! Ladies, when you encourage your husband he will shine forth and when you discourage him, and put him down, he will draw back, move away. Thus, encourage him and watch him grow and step forward doing things that he never thought he could ever do, but you have encouraged him to do them and even when he fails, he knows you love him and are there at his side.
When God created man he was alone. He had no companion, no helpmate. And then when God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and He created woman out of man, Adam awoke and saw Eve and said, Wow! I am paraphrasing of course. But lets face it; he married you to be with you, not apart from you. We are brought together to enjoy the companionship of each other and all that the marriage relationship has. If time has caused there to be a distance between you and your husband, he does his thing and you do yours, find out what he likes and then do it with him. Again, in Song of Solomon 4:16 we are told, Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits. She is telling her husband to come and enjoy her love, to enjoy her company! Some of you may be thinking, Hey Joe, this is church, you should not be talking like that! I am not, God is and as we are told in Hebrews 13:4, Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. But that is just one aspect of marriage; take the time to be with him. Let your husband enjoy your company!
Also, in Song of Solomon 1:7 we are told, Tell me, O you whom I love, Where you feed your flock, Where you make it rest at noon. For why should I be as one who veils herself By the flocks of your companions? She is saying that wherever her beloved goes, she wants to be there at his side. Whatever he does she will enjoy because she is spending time with him. My wife knows I love sports and she really never use to care for sports and yet, when I would take the time to sit down and watch them, she was right there with me, spending time with me. We had a great time during that season when the Bears won the Super bowl in 1985! We were cheering together, it was great. Now we have a good time weeping over another Bears loss, but wait till next year. Oops, that is the Chicago Cubs slogan! I love when she wants to spend time with me!
If you apply these principles to your marriage, respecting your husband, encouraging your husband, being a companion to your husband, I dont care if he is saved or not, over time you will see him grow and shine forth giving him every opportunity to become the spiritual leader of the family, or get saved, whatever is needed in that situation. This may not happen overnight, it may take years, but even if it doesnt happen, dont stop being the wife that God called you to be. You see, if you do apply these things to your life, no matter what, God will change you and in that you will find joy and for the most part, it will better your marriage relationship. You obey the Lord by submitting to your husband as you would the Lord and let God deal with the rest. Next week we are going to look at the role of husbands and it is an important role that often is taken far too lightly!
As I close this morning I want to leave you with these words from Barbara Bush, who said: At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. But you will regret time that you did not spend with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. If you have children, they must come first. Our successes in this society depend not on what happens in the White House, but what happens inside your house.
And let me just add this, a wife submitted to her husband will be an example to her children and you are fire proofing your marriage relationship because the fire storms will come, thus, be ready!