In last Sunday’s message, Picture Imperfect, we looked at how God in His sovereignty created the covenant of marriage to be an imperfect earthly picture of a perfect heavenly truth – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of this message, we discussed the call of a wife to submit to her husband (Eph 5:22) and the call of a husband to love his wife (Eph 5:25).
Both of these calls present a challenge because women are generally not submission-oriented and men are generally not love-oriented. Not only can we observe this in our marriages and the marriages around us, but we know it’s true because of the curses placed on man and woman after the Fall (Gen 3:16-19). Only with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit are we able submit as the church submits to Christ (Eph 5:24) and love as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25).
So what does it look like for a wife to submit to her husband? And what does it look like for a husband to love his wife? Though there isn’t a step-by-step guide for either, here are some ideas from me and my wife Bridget to consider for your marriage.
Wives: Submit (from Bridget)
Pray for your heart and a desire to submit to your husband
Pray for your husband – asking God to lead him
Give your opinion and trust that it was heard when a decision is made
Verbally affirm his decisions and be willing to be on board (even when you may not agree)
Never say “I told you so”
Husbands: Love (from Jason)
Pray for your heart and a desire to love your wife
Pray for your wife – asking God to lead her
Become a student of your wife – seeking to understand how she desires for you to show her love
Observe your surroundings and find ways to serve your wife (For example – plan all the details for a date night)
Seek your wife’s wisdom on decisions and be willing to choose her preference (even when it isn’t your first choice)
Remember the wisdom of the elderly couple that spoke to Bridget and I? The overarching principle is to put your spouse first, which echoes what Paul tells the church in Phillipi, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3) Who better to count more significant than yourself than your spouse?