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Husband's Leadership Role
Ephesians 5:22-24 is a passage that many people nowadays take issue with because it seems so contrary to our egalitarian philosophy. Here's what it says: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” God, in his wisdom, knew that sometimes families go through treacherous territory and when those situations arise, there needs to be a designated leader. And God appointed the husband. Submission has little to do with who's the most capable or who's the most intelligent, but it has everything to do with acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ and desiring his will for your family. And when people chafe under this direction, it reveals an insecure or a rebellious spirit toward God's ultimate authority.  Verse 21 in this chapter says we are to submit to one another. There are times when the husband, leading gently like Christ, acknowledges his wife's giftedness and ask her to lead. It would be foolish not to take advantage of a wife’s talents and allow her to lead in certain situations. But the Christian family acknowledges that God has delegated leadership in the home to the husband, who is to be submissive to Christ.  Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” One of the most important values in a lasting marriage is this ability not just to forgive, but to overlook faults and be patient with one another as we grow and mature.  Discussion/Reflection Question: Why do you think society rejects this passage so adamantly nowadays? How does this passage mean something different than what it might appear on the surface to others in our society?
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Don't See the Flaws
Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Marriage, says the primary goal of a Christian marriage is not our happiness, but our holiness, where God uses heavenly sandpaper to polish out our rough edges. God will use our marriages to challenge and grow us in ways that we didn’t anticipate or possibly even desire, with the goal of drawing husband and wife closer to one another and closer to their Heavenly Father.  Paul continues talking to husbands at the end Ephesians 5 when he says another expression of a husband’s love for his wife is to be perceptive of her needs and nurture those needs. Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church; be perceptive to their needs and nurture those. Wives need to know that she is loved and valued above everyone and everything else in her husband’s life. She needs to know and be confident that she's more important to her husband than sports, or his job, or his friends.  One of the best ways husbands can express affection is complimenting his wife, especially in front of their children. Your kids need to hear their father say, “Your mom is really smart.” “Do you notice how hard your mother works?” “Your mom's really pretty, isn't she?” That'll leave an ineradicable impression on them. Wives also need conversation. She wants you to talk with her. She wants to know what's going on inside. Lastly, she needs trust. She needs to trust her husband completely. A godly husband is perceptive to which of these needs is being expressed at that particular moment and responds to them. Discussion/Reflection Question: In what ways did Jesus acknowledge and respond to the needs of the "Church" during his time on earth?
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Sacrifice for Those We Love
Ephesians 5:25-28 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Sacrifice is not something that comes easy to us. We are inherently selfish and want to pursue our own desires and ways. However, sacrifice is an integral part of a successful marriage. You have to be willing to sacrifice your way of thinking or doing things for your spouse at times throughout your marriage. As the passage above states, this is modeled after Christ's love for the Church; Jesus willingly sacrificed his life on the cross because of the love he had for the Church so we could be blameless and without sin before God.  From the outside, it might seem like sacrifice would cause you to resent the other person instead of creating a long-lasting commitment, but we actually see the opposite. For example, think about a new baby coming into the home. You bring that baby home, and they don't do anything for you. You must sacrifice – get up in the middle of the night, change dirty diapers, pay money for doctor's bills, interruptions all the time. And then at age six, they go off to school, you stand there and wave at the school bus, and cry. Why? You sacrificed for them and poured your life into them, and they're part of yourself. The same should be true between a husband and wife in a God-honoring marriage. We sacrifice and pour our lives into the other person because we love them unconditionally, and they are a part of you. The sacrifices we make pale in comparison to the love we have for them.  Discussion/Reflection Questions: Who in your life is easy to sacrifice for? Who can be more difficult to sacrifice for?
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Different, but Compliment Each Other
Oftentimes, the best thing a Christian couple can do for their church and their community is to model marriage as God intended it. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Marriages should be honored by all of culture, not just the church, because marriage and the family are the basic building blocks of society. That's why our adversary has mounted a relentless attack against the biblical home and family. Unfortunately, those of us who have been married haven't usually set a very positive example of what marriage is supposed to be. When singles and younger generations come to church, they hear sermons about what marriage is supposed to be, but they don't see very many examples of Christian couples who are fulfilled, loving, and happy. One of the best things we can do for our church and our community is to begin to demonstrate what God intended marriage to be. This model of marriage is not a sickeningly sweet relationship that is so phony that it turns people off. Or a marriage that is based strictly on feelings of love. God never intended something as important as marriages to be based on uncontrollable, fluctuating feelings. The word used most often in the Greek for love in the Bible is the word agape, which means doing the right thing, regardless of your feelings at the moment. Lasting, God-honoring marriages are based around commitment, forgiveness, and unselfishness. Discussion/Reflection Question: Who in your life can you think of that exemplifies this type of marriage that God intended?