Billy Graham was once asked in an interview, “what is one of the great mysteries that God has revealed to you in your long years of ministry?” Billy responded without hesitation, “The brevity of it.” At my stage of life, I completely understand this statement by Billy Graham. Regina and I will have been married 41 years this fall. It has all gone by so fast! In thinking about our lives together, my daughter Angie often laughs. Angie says, “You guys are so different…polar opposites.” She jokingly says, “If it were not for Jesus, I would have two houses to visit at Christmas.” Angie was joking, but in reality it is true. Our Christian commitment has held us together over the years. The thing we share most in common is the indwelling presence of Jesus. The same is true with the rest of you who have been married for a number of years. It has either been your Christian commitment, or your Christian ethic that has held your marriages together. You see Jesus is who scientists refer to as the “Colossian Force.” Scientists tell us that there is an unseen force that holds the Universe together. They reference the Bible verse in Colossians that says, “And he (meaning Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) Jesus is the glue!
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
To “hold fast” means to be glued together. I have discovered the glue is Jesus. The bottom line is a marriage that holds fast for a lifetime requires two Spirit-filled spouses. This is what I want to talk to you about on this special day, Mother’s Day 2013.
My first admission, in this politically correct world that we live in is, these verses sound ugly. Some feminist refer to the apostle Paul as a male chauvinist all because of these verses. Submission seems to imply to modern day feminist as weakness, inferiority, powerlessness. What woman in her right mind would subject herself to such a thing? Yet many of you who know and follow the Lord understand that submission is not weakness. Submission does not mean that you are inferior or that you are powerless. Submission in a Christian marriage is a choice. It is not out of love and respect for her husband that a wife submits. It is out of love and respect for the Lord that the wife submits.
When a Christian wife submits herself to Christ, and lets Him be the Lord of her life, she will have no difficulty in submitting herself to her husband. Warren Wiersbe
In a Christian marriage, there is a mutual submission. The husband chooses to love his wife as Christ loves the church (putting his wife’s needs ahead of his own), and the wife in turn submits to the love of her husband. Why would she do such a thing? The answer is so that the home might become a place of order, peace, and mutual respect.
Three reasons a wife is to be submissive to her husband:
- Submission is God’s will. As a matter of fact, it is a command. The Bible says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands” (v. 22). Anything less grieves the Holy Spirit that indwells the Christian wife (Ephesians 4:30). When a Christian wife fails to submit, she is saying, “God, I don’t like the plan. I have a better plan.” Yet God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
- Submission is God’s order. The Bible says, “For God is not a God of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). God says, “All things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) Every institution needs order. Every institution needs leadership—anything that has two heads is a monstrosity. So when God speaks of a man as the head of his Christian family, He is not saying: the man is worth more, the man has more ability, the man is more competent, or the man is more brilliant. What God desires is that the Christian home operate in an efficient and orderly manner.
- Submission is a spiritual mystery. Mystery meaning the hidden plan has now come to fulfillment. Paul is teaching that the creation of the husband and wife union is being modeled on Christ’s forthcoming union with His church. He’s the groom and we are the bride. In the church, believers depend upon Jesus to protect and meet needs. In the Christian home, the wife should be able to depend upon the husband to protect and to meet needs. In the church, Christians depend upon Jesus to be tender, loving and understanding. Likewise, the wife in the Christian home should be able to depend upon her husband to be tender, loving, and understanding with her and their children.
Ladies the word submission is an old military figure meaning to line up under. Remember, the Lord’s army is a voluntary army. Tennessee fans like to say we are all volunteers! When you line up under your husband in the home, you are doing so voluntarily. You are not doing it because your husband told you to do it. You are doing it because the Lord told you to do it. Together, as a unit, you fight the good fight. We’re talking spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10_, or more literally a force for God, and a force against the schemes of the enemy in the Christian home. Christian couple you are to take your home for Jesus together. A Christian couple should pray together, attend church together, and spend time in the Word of God together. A Christian couple should reflect Christ and His church to a watching world!
There are three major responsibilities of the Christian husband:
- The Christian husband is responsible for servant leadership. The word “head” speaks of leadership. Note that I said leadership and not dictatorship! A Christian husband is never to beat his wife with a Bible club. When we say “head,” we are not talking chain of command. We are talking line of command. Jesus is the example for the Christian husband. The Christian husband is head of the wife in the same way Christ is the head of the church. Here’s what I have learned concerning Jesus. Jesus has never forced me to do anything. In all our years of marriage, I have never forced Regina to do anything. If you see Regina at church, it is because she wants to be, not because she is made to be. Something else that I have learned is that the home needs a head. If something does not have a head, it is dead. I’ve also learned that if the home is wrong, it is primarily because the man is wrong. This is something we have experienced in F.A.I.T.H. visitation…win dad, win the family.
- The Christian husband is responsible for sacrificial love (v. 25). Most of you men will never be called on to die for your wife like Christ died for the church. But here’s how you can die: die to your ego, die to your pride, and die to your ambition. When you stand before God at the Bema you should be able to say, “Lord here is the precious wife you gave me. She is as pure and holy as the day you gave her to me.
He (meaning Christian husband) is to love her (meaning his wife) passionately where the only thing more precious than his wife is his relationship to almighty God—purify and protect her (Ephesians 5:26, 28). Adrian Rogers
- The Christian husband is responsible for hold fast love (v. 31). Notice the priority of marriage…leave. Notice the permanence of marriage…joined together. Notice the purpose of marriage…one in body, soul, and spirit. I belong to Reg, and Reg belongs to me. We’re in this thing together. We’re in it all the way!
A certain senior adult man was sitting in the Doctor’s office waiting to have some stitches taken out of his finger. The nurse on duty could see that he seemed a little jittery, so she arranged for him to come on back. She said, “I can see you appear a little anxious?” He responded in the affirmative. He went on to explain, “My wife is in the nursing home, she has Alzheimer’s, and it is nearing the time that I feed her breakfast.” The nurse then said, “What difference does the time make? She really doesn’t know who you are?” He then said, “I understand that, but—I know who she is.”
Church…if you know your Bible, what I have just shared with you is just like saying water is wet. God’s plan is that obvious in the Bible. I just feel sorry for those marriages that don’t get in on the plan. For most of you here this morning, marriage is not a covenant, but marriage is a contract. And since it is a contract, you are always standing up for your rights. You are always scouting for loopholes. Do you know what marriage ought to be? It ought to be a little bit of the Garden of Eden. It’s the only part of Eden that we have left until Jesus comes. I told you that Regina and I have been married going on 41 years now. I’ve been doing some reflecting. When Regina and I first got married, we instinctively did what we thought would please each other. Regina pretended that she was interested in sports. All of those years spent sitting in the bleachers watching me play softball. I, on the other hand, would pretty up our outside, help with housework, and take Regina to the Mall whenever she wanted to go. Then we went through the stage of wanting our own way. We each insisted on our rights. We would refuse to bend no matter what. But now 40 years later, we’re back trying to please one another again. This time we try to please one another, not out of youthfulness, but out of maturity. What grieves me are the many couples who give up before they reach this stage. How do you reach a stage of maturity? The answer is a three word key. It is THE HOLY SPIRIT! You need to be a Spirit-filled Spouse.