A Well-Managed Home-Part Three
Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:4
A Well-Managed Home-Part Three1 Timothy 3:4
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Pastor Randy Smith
We are currently in the middle of a topical series that concentrates on Christian living in the home from a biblical, yet very practical perspective. As you know, our theme verse has been 1 Timothy 3:4: "He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity."
The Bible says that our Lord is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33). Likewise, He is repeatedly described as the God of peace (Rom. 15:33; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thes. 5:23; Heb. 13:20). That is why He rebuked the Corinthian church for their chaotic worship services. And that is also why He expects our homes to be well-managed. God wants our homes to have order whereby they might emulate the God of peace whom we claim to serve.
This week I would like to discuss a subject that is essential to orderly homes and that is the topic of biblical roles within the family. Though all people are created equal in the eyes of God possessing similar worth and similar essence, God has so designed the family members to operate with different functions and different responsibilities.
Imagine an army where everyone wanted to be the general, or a kitchen where everyone wanted to be the chef, or a tribe where everyone wanted to be the chief? We all know that in order for these units to be successful, soldiers, cooks and Indians are needed as well!
Someone needs to provide vision and direction. Someone needs to make the final decisions. Someone needs to be accountable for the actions of the group. Logic, history, experience and the Bible all teach us that a chain of command is essential if we wish to have any order in any given organization of people. That fact is undeniable.
God who created the family has also created this order within the family. God has established the roles for children, wives and husbands that are clearly spelled out for us in the Bible. And I stress again, they are not based on giftedness, intelligence, importance or maturity. It is simply God's design: Equal in essence, different in role.
I can think of no better illustration of this principle than the example of the Godhead. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are all equal in essence-three Persons composing one Triune God. To say anything else would be rank heresy. Jesus declared that "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30) affirming His equality in essence with the Father. Yet at the same time Jesus had no problem saying, "The Father is greater than I" (Jn. 14:28) affirming His submissive role to the Father.
As this structure is established within the Godhead - equal in essence, different in role - the same is seen within the marriage union. Paul uses this very comparison in his letter to the Corinthians: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:3).
This morning I would like to primarily discuss the role of the husband as God has provided it for us in the Bible. And ladies, I promise that after I complete this message, you will have absolutely no problem with God's designed role for your husband.
1. THE PRINCIPLE
Let's begin with the principle.
I believe one of the reasons that there has been so much confusion regarding this topic is because men have not understood their role as a leader within the framework of Scripture.
Authority plus sinful disposition equals abuse. Misplaced authority leads to a domineering and self-centered approach. Men, this attitude is sin and this attitude is sadly the first thing that comes to mind when many women consider male leadership within the home. A finger-waving, loud-spoken, overbearing and tyrannical dictator filled with commands but devoid of any compassion, reason or understanding.
On the other hand, many men today have gone in the opposite direction. They have become totally passive. On paper they reject any roles within the home, but they ironically have no problem handing the reigns over to their wives. These men are spiritual deadbeats, without vision, passion and oversight of the family. This too is sin and contrary to the example of true manhood established by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is right here in Ephesians (the book we have been studying the past couple weeks) that we find the principle or the basis or the foundation that highlights the role of the husband. In chapter 5, verses 25-33, the Apostle Paul gave a rather lengthy explanation of the role of the husband within the marriage union. And in reference to the marriage union he said in verse 32, "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."
What Paul is saying is clear. Marriage roles are not cultural or transitory with time. Why? Because marriage roles are founded on and aimed to mirror Christ's relationship to the church. In other words, God created marriage with a purpose that many overlook. Here we see that marriage was created to show the world the most glorious relationship in all of creation-:that of the groom Jesus Christ and His love for His bride, which is the church. This elevates the need for marital roles to its highest level possible. Far from being arbitrary, when people look at our marriages do they see the greater marriage between Jesus Christ and His church? Our marriages are to be a living illustration of the divine marriage. Maybe this explains why marriage roles are under so much attack today.
With this principle established, let's consider the role of the husband by examining Jesus Christ, the Husband of the church, as our example. The roles are parallel. Verse 23 says, "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church." As Christ leads His bride, the man is to lead his bride. So how do we lead our wives? Verse 25 spells out the specific way. "Husbands, love your wives." So we lead by loving, but how do we love? Men, we simply need to understand and then practice the way Jesus Christ loves the church.
Let's move from the principle to the practice as we walk through this passage in Ephesians 5 in seeking to discern how Jesus Christ loves His church.
2. THE PRACTICE
A Particular Love
First we see that a man's love for his wife is to be a particular love.
Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." In the age of billions of definitions of love, here we see a man's love for his wife is particular and without misunderstanding. He is to love his wife as Jesus Christ loves the church.
Jesus Christ, beloved Son of God, eternally existing with the Father in all glory, left His rightful throne in heaven and took on human flesh. He was misunderstood by His family and denied and betrayed by His closest friends. He went to the cross and suffered excruciating physical pain far less than the spiritual pain when He accepted our sins and received divine judgment from the Father. As billows of wrath spilled over Him, He experienced the abandonment from God that we deserve.
All this says the Bible because He loved His bride!
Men, the Bible says in the same way, in the same servant-like and sacrificial and selfless way, in the same unconditional and unqualified and unrestricted way, you are to love your brides as well. So husbands I ask you, when she experiences your love does she see within you the particular love of Jesus Christ? Are you the embodiment of Christ's love to your wife?
A Practicing Love
Our love should be particular and it should also be practicing.
When many guys consider the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, they can easily assume their love for their wives is to be just a few sporadic heroic monumental acts of sacrifice. Yet we must remember that our Savior's love for His church is ongoing. He is continually serving us and continually forgiving us and continually forbearing with us and continually encouraging us. Therefore, we too must love our wives this way on a continual basis. The French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, once said, "The strength of a man's virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts."
I think of the young romanticist who wrote his girlfriend, "For you I'd swim the deepest ocean, run through the fiercest jungle, climb the highest mountain and march across the hottest dessert. Ps- If it's not raining too hard this evening, I'll stop by to see you."
Jesus Christ gave up Himself for the church (5:25) in a once and for all event. Yet that spirit of self-sacrifice continues with us each day. Men, in the same way we are to continually give up ourselves for our wives. We are to die to self and as 1 Pet. 3:7 says, "Live with (our) wives in an understanding way." That is a way that knows how to minister to her unique needs. That is a way that regularly practices a love to meet those needs no different than Christ does for us.
A Purifying Love
Third, our love for our wives should be a purifying love.
Jesus Christ gave Himself up for the church for a reason. The purpose is found in verses 26 and 27: "So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless."
Men, if we are to love our wives as Christ did the church, we too must have the same purpose. And that purpose is that God would use us to make our wives more holy. The goal being our wives would become more righteous because of us and not in spite of us.
The verse says the instrument of washing for purity is the Word of God. Do we bring our wives to the Word? Do we give them no cause for temptation? Do we model Christlike behavior before them? Are we concerned for their spiritual growth? Do we offer to watch the children so they can attend the Ladies Bible Study if they wish? Do we hold them accountable? Do we really want our wives to be more righteous? If we really love them, we will! Didn't Paul say in 1 Corinthians 13 that love rejoices in righteousness (1 Cor. 13:6)?
A Providing Love
A particular love, a practicing love, a purifying love and finally a providing love. Jesus Christ has demonstrated for His church a providing love.
In verse 30, Ephesians 5 says, "We are members of His body." As Jesus Christ is in union with His church, men, we are in union with our wife. Verse 31, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
We are talking about oneness and therefore we ought to greatly consider how we provide for our wives. Verses 28 and 29: "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church." We abundantly provide for ourselves throughout the day. Jesus Christ abundantly provides for us throughout the day as well (Phil. 4:19). The oneness we share with ourselves and the oneness we share with our Savior results in ongoing provisions. Why should we neglect providing for our spouse when she also shares in that oneness as well?
The way we provide for our wives can be delineated in a few categories.
First, we must provide for our wives physically.
When we seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, doesn't He promise to meet all of our material needs (Mt. 6:33)? In the same way, husbands it is your responsibility to be the primary channel by which God provides for your family. By providing for your wife, she should live in an environment that is safe and stable and secure. All of this will require you to have steady employment, reasonable oversight over the checkbook and maintenance of the home and courage to check the front door when you wife is positive she heard someone jiggling the knob at 3:00 in the morning!
Second, we must provide for our wives emotionally.
Statistics reveal that the average person never receives one compliment a day. Men, did you know that it is biblical to praise your wife? Proverbs 31, "Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 'Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.' Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates" (Pr. 31:28-31).
Men, I believe this is the greatest way to save a floundering marriage. Instead of critiquing her weakness, find her strengths and give her praise. Work hard to provide for the emotional care of your wife. Doesn't Jesus do this for the church? Don't we all long to hear those words, "Well done!" (Mt. 25:21).
If often starts strong (or our wives wouldn't have married us!) but I'm afraid for too many men that our emotional care only weakens over time. Recently I came across the reaction of a husband to a wife's cold during the first seven years of marriage:
- Year 1-"Sugar-dumpling, I'm worried about my baby girl. You've got a bad sniffle. I'm putting you in the hospital for a general check-up and a good rest. I know the food is lousy, but I'll bring in your meals myself."
- Year 2-"Listen, darling, I don't like the sound of that cough. I've called the doctor to rush over here. Now go to bed like a good girl, please!"
- Year 3-"Maybe you had better lie down honey, nothing like a little rest when you feel sick. I'll bring you something to eat. Have we got any soup?"
- Year 4-"look dear, be sensible. After you feed the kids and get the dishes washed, you'd better hit the sack."
- Year 5-"Why don't you get yourself a couple aspirin!"
- Year 6-"Why don't you just gargle or something instead of barking like a seal! I'm trying to sleep!"
- Year 7-"Alright already, stop sneezing! What are you trying to do get me pneumonia!"
(Original Source Unknown).
One of the most common complaints counselors hear from wives about their husbands is this: "He doesn't even try to understand me. He is insensitive to the way I feel." Do you tell your wife everyday that you love her? Does your wife feel secure in your love, that you will always love her regardless of what changes occur? Doesn't Jesus promise His bride: "I am with you always" (Mt. 28:20)? We could call it a persevering love, a love that outlasts every trail and overcomes every obstacle. Does your wife believe you really care about her thoughts and feelings by taking the time to be aware of her goals and fears and concerns and dreams and burdens?
Third, we must provide for our wives socially.
Have you made it a point to cultivate your relationship? Do evenings together, (without the kids!) have any place in your marriage? Do you watch the children so she can have a social life outside the home?
Strong marriages do not happen naturally. They take work! I know God finds it very important that spouses build a solid relationship. Listen to what He said to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 24:5: "When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken."
Fourth, we must provide for our wives spiritually.
This overlaps with my comments earlier regarding a purifying love.
The Apostle Paul makes an interesting comment in 1 Timothy 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
Now I know what you are probably thinking! "Pastor, that verse applies to providing in material ways for my family, and I work very hard to make sure they all have food and clothing and shelter." Yes, I fully agree. But let's take it a step further. If a man who fails to provide for his family materially is "worse than an unbeliever," what does it say about the man who claims to be a Christian and fails to provide for his family spiritually!
Single ladies, I hope you highly consider this when you plan to choose a Christian spouse! Is this man just a "Christian" by name or is he a man who will provide for you spiritually?
As my daughters are approaching the age where an interest in boys is developing, my advice to them is very simple. If a boy has no interest in praying with you or talking about God on the first date, he is not the man you wish to marry. More than anything, Julie and I pray that our girls will marry men who will lead them spiritually. I hope our daughters will reserve this as their highest ambition as well.
Why has the husband's role become so confusing? For those who have a basic understanding of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the church, the concept for husbands is easy to understand. As Jesus Christ loves the church, men, we are to love our wives. For in doing so we imitate divine love for our spouses, and we glorify our Savior by observing Him and following His example.
Now doing it is a much different story! This calling is not for the faint-hearted, wimpy or self-centered. But if we are in Christ Jesus, God has equipped us with His Spirit and the Bible and a church. As a matter of fact, He has given us everything we need to find success in this high calling.
We celebrated Valentine's Day this week. To some degree most people exchanged gifts, cut out paper hearts and used the big "L-word." But what is love from God's perspective? Fortunately God tells us in the Bible how we are to love other people. First John 5:2-3, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (cf. 2 Jn. 1:6). So we love others by obeying God. Think of it this way, men: Every failure you have as a husband results from your failure to obey God. So we love others by obeying God's commandments, but how do we love God? According to the Bible, we love God by obeying God's commandments as well. "If you love Me," said Jesus, "You will keep My commandments" (Jn. 14:15).
The Bible also says that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:37-39).
Do you see how all of this perfectly fits together? God should be the greatest recipient of our love. Second on the list should be our neighbor - and is there any neighbor closer than our spouse, the one with whom we are one flesh? So men do you realize that when we obey God as it pertains to our role, we are extending both to God and to our wives the greatest degree of love possible!
Men, God expects everyday to be Valentine's Day. So why don't we obey God and be a real man as we rightly function within our God-designed biblical role by loving our wives the way Jesus Christ loves His bride? And that is not some abstract and nebulous concept. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are receiving that love every second of the day because you are a part of His church! Jesus is simply saying, "Do the same for your wife as I do for you - give to her what you receive for Me!"