TODAY’S READING: Ephesians 5:21-29
“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.” EPH 5:22 & 25
I was working on an important and high-profile project. The project had reached a critical phase and I was working flat-out. In fact, I was working extremely long hours with a huge task list and barely taking a break. One day, my boss called me into her office. I started thinking of all the things I should have done or could have done better and wondered what had triggered this summons. That was not what she wanted to discuss. She looked at me and asked one simple question, “What help do you need?” I realised that she had noticed how hard I was working but, more than that, cared enough to protect me from myself by investing in making things easier. Perhaps she also had the overall risk to the project in mind but I remember that moment as personal support. Within days I had been given two top-quality and highly supportive additional team members who transformed my situation and made the project successful. From that moment on, my loyalty to my boss dramatically increased and I was always willing to go the extra mile and support her willingly whenever needed.
In this story is the essence of true submission. It can never come from a set of rules, demands or irrefutable arguments. It can never be totally knowledge-based or agreed through perfect explanation. True submission has to be rooted in a deep understanding of being loved and valued. Of course, I know my boss was not acting out of love(!), however, in that moment, I knew the expectations came with care.
Any form of submission in scripture is based on the example of Jesus, “become imitators of God” as we saw is verse one of this chapter. Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1) and when it comes to the question of submission, we see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane agonising over what faces him. He sees the pain and suffering of the Cross and cries out through tears of blood, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”. (Luke 22:42) This is such an incredible act of submission, based on the perfect love in the relationship between Jesus and the Father. When we submit our lives to Jesus, we do it knowing that his submission to the Father was for us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. (John 15:13)
This is the basis of the submission that Paul asks of the Ephesian church in these verses. Husbands love your wives like Jesus loved the church. Look at Jesus laying down his life in total sacrifice and be willing to do the same for your wife. Love her, serve her, put her before your desires and be like Jesus to her. Wives look at your husbands the same way as you look at Jesus and willingly follow them. True submission is not lording it over someone but a willing laying down of our selfish desires in response to a love like Jesus. In fact, Paul makes it clear that this is the basis of all Christian relationships, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. (Eph.5:21)
• Read Ephesians 5:21-29 and Luke 22:39-44
• Pray by giving thanks to Jesus for how he laid down his life for you and then pray in response from your heart however that comes. Pray for those who don’t know love like this in their life.
• Today is a day to show love to others. If you are married, do something together and talk about what it looks like to love each other like Jesus. For all of us, why not show the love of Jesus to someone and let them know they are valued.