What does it mean for wives to submit to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church? Todd explains that submission and leadership are roles and not ranks as he discusses God's perfect design for men and women in marriage.
Ten to Remember Just When You Thought There was Nothing Left that Mattered
The Transformed Tongue and How to Maintain It
Tossing Out the Employee Handbook: God's Standard for Leaders and Employers
Parenting's Dirty Dozen: How to Exasperate Your Child
Marriage and the 'S' Word: How Knowing Jesus Changes Everything
How the Head Affects the Body: Demonstrating the Faith We Declare
Moving From Reasonable Faith to Necessary Response
There's a reason the Scripture says, "…husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way…" It only takes a few days at home to realize that drudgery of work, that toil we have out there in the great jungle of life sometimes doesn't even come close to the toils and travails of the jungle they face at home.
We are working our way through the book of Colossians, and when you get to chapter 3, there is a little section there that starts to deal with how you apply the heart that has been remade and transformed by the God who loves you. Last week, we looked at a lot of interpersonal characteristics (your attitudes and behaviors, things you forsake, and things you will pursue), and everything you do you do with a mind that is a way to express love back to the God who in unspeakable kindness showed his love for you and demonstrated it while you were yet sinners.
There is a lot of trouble, obviously, and endless jokes that have been created about the differences between men and women, and folks who study such things, like genetic biologists and others who have looked, have established scientifically that there are hundreds more differences between the genders than there are between any other distinctive in human society.
In other words, race and culture and geography have a lot less to do with distinctions in individuals even though an Asian person looks very different from somebody from the African continent or somebody from the European continent. They look very different externally. Inside they're wired very similarly, but not so with male and female.
There are some great differences that are there. Literally hundreds (many, many more than there are in any other area of human separation distinctive). There takes a great deal of effort for those two very different creatures that are both created in the image of God to work together in a way that speaks of harmony and unity. Let me just start by laying out for you a couple of things the Scripture says about male and female.
1._ Male and female have equal value before the Lord_. In fact, in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 28, when we're discussing and talking about in the Bible what happens when people come to God by faith… There is a sin which has separated them, and they have seen the darkness of their heart, and they have pursued him. This is what Paul wrote. He said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man…"
It doesn't matter what your nationality is. It doesn't matter how you're employed. "…there is neither male nor female…" It doesn't even matter your gender. If you are in Christ, that's all that matters. "…for you are all one in Christ Jesus." That doesn't mean there are not differences externally in our appearance, vocationally in our striving, or internally in our makeup, but we are equal before God though we are not the same.
It's very clear that there is an equality or an equal value before the Lord. God wants to make that explicitly clear. In the culture that Christ was introduced into, as many cultures that are alive and thriving today, women were not seen as equal in value. They are oppressed, and they are held down, and they are exploited, and they are abused. In the economy of God, he says, "We will have none of that." There will still be distinct roles. God is always a God of order, but it's not because one is greater in his eyes than the other.
2._ The husband and wife are interdependent and mutually obligated to love one another. Look at what it says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 11. It says, "However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman." You all are joined together in Christ. You are a part of the same body. In Ephesians, chapter 5, there is a famous set of passages that drops the _S word. It drops the word submission.
What I want to do is walk you through today what submission looks like biblically and what the roles are biblically and how we respond together underneath our new-found forgiveness in God through Jesus Christ with hearts that are made new now and don't take positions of authority as an opportunity to exploit and to punish nor do we take the fact that we are in some ways weaker in physical strength, in emotional makeup we're different, or the fact that somebody is over us as an opportunity to subvert them and destroy them.
This is important because just like in Colossians, chapter 3, Paul is making the case, "Because you have a relationship with God, everything can change about your interpersonal relationships, about the way you treat one another, the way you relate to one another now no longer with malice or anger or wrath but, instead, with compassion and patience and humility and forbearance and love. Don't see each other as instruments for your own pleasure. You honor each other and don't defraud one another."
He develops all of these ideas because of the relationship with God that you have. Look at the same idea that is expressed here in Ephesians 5. He says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…" Do you want to know the Spirit's job? Get some whiskey. Get some alcohol. You drink that. It changes your behavior.
Don't change your disposition because some chemical has been introduced to your system, but change your entire disposition because something that is holy has come into you. The heart which is hard has been quickened and softened by the Spirit of God. This heart that was ruled by sin is now ruled by the love of God which indwells you as a result of your relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.
As a result of that, it says you should speak to one another differently. "…in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…" Watch this. In verse 21, he says, "…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
There's an obligation you have to serve each other and to be concerned for each other whether you are Jew or Greek, employer or employee, master or slave, husband or wife, male or female. God is saying, "The world takes different positions and lots in life, and when they're in positions of power, they hurt and exploit people, and when they are in positions of being led, they look to subvert the leader so they can advance themselves and get in that position."
God is saying, "With you it should not be that way. If, in fact, you have come to know Christ, it should radically change the way you relate to each other." Notice where we are right here in Ephesians, chapter 5. He says to both of you, "…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
It's the same context we found in Colossians, chapter 3, which simply says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…" Just because you get away with it with men and just because society allows it doesn't mean it's right, and you should fear and respect God who has an economy that is different.
He goes from there, and he does drop the S word. Here we go. He says, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." **He goes on to describe the roles of the husband and the wife. He says to the husbands,"…love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…"** and in all things be concerned for her and love her as Christ loved the church.
I'll say this. This is not a statement of rank. This is an explanation of roles. This is an organizational structure. God is a God of order not chaos, and you will have chaos when there is no leadership and there is no order. There is not a system in the world that has ever existed and been sustainable where there was not order.
There have been lots of systems where there was hierarchy and the hierarchy was abusive and exploitive, and the subjects underneath them were rebellious and spiteful, but just because there is hierarchy and order doesn't mean there needs to be abuse, suppression, and rebellion, and God is going to say, "It doesn't need to be that way at all."
He tells the husbands (we won't turn there) in another section as another one of his servants share, "Husbands, the positions your wives are in are very difficult. They are different than you. The stresses they face are different than you, and it's your job as a leader, if you're going to lead them well, to live with them in an understanding way."
In other words, just because you can operate in a way that's comfortable for you, don't ignore their needs. In fact, a good leader is going to be intimately acquainted with the condition of those he is leading so he can serve them and help them. Now, in our world individuals, because we're selfish by nature, don't concern ourselves typically with other people. We just do what works for us, and we keep moving, and we tell other folks to keep up or shut up or get out if they don't like it.
The thing I love about that song is that not only does it give us a glimpse into the difficulties that our wives face all day… In the drama they did a great job of showing how our perspectives can be so different. I love the way it ends. "Honey, now I know what you do. What I don't know is how you do it."
Guys are different than women. A long time ago, I had a friend tell me, "Todd, you need to understand this. Girls are not long-haired boys." Sometimes we treat them like that. I didn't know anything but hanging out with boys. I love to share that I had guy roommates for the first 28 years of my life. That's all I lived with.
Sometimes my guy roommates annoyed the dickens out of me, so when they annoyed me we'd typically get in some kind of verbal sparring. There were a few times it escalated beyond that, but we'd get in some discussion, and we'd start trading different stuff, and we'd see who could take the other person down to a point where they would be sufficiently humbled and silenced.
Typically, when there was an audience it was all the more entertaining and alive, but I'm telling you it didn't really matter what we did, said, or threatened other with. If we were apart for a second and somebody said, "The game is starting," I'd walk back in the exact same room with those guys and go, "Do you want to split a pizza?" and they'd go, "Sure," and it would be over!
We have made peace over mozzarella cheese and sauce, and it's never mentioned again. You just kind of go forward because we realized that was just something in a moment. We got frustrated. I got his point. He doesn't want me to do that. He got my point. Don't be eating my food without replacing it or funding it. On we'd go!
If you try and employ that same thing with your wife, and I did the first several months or years in my marriage… "This is why I'm not satisfied with you. This is why you stink as a roommate! This is the problem I have, and if you would just get it right…" There was a different response. It wasn't typically a verbal challenge and biting remarks back. It was tears. I'd go, "Come on! Get out of your tears and fight me like a man!" That's what I would say to her.
When I found this weakness, I'd verbally get her under the bed and go, "There! When you're ready to come out and behave, you can! I'm going to be over here." A little bit later, the game would be over, and I would want somebody to lie with. Just like my ex-roommate liked pizza, this roommate the last I can remember liked something better than pizza, so I go, "Do you want to make up?" She'd look at my like I am death from the grave. I go, "What's wrong? We get over this! That's what happens."
Wrong. I had to come to understand something. Guys are made different than women. Men are very simple creatures. They're made a lot like this. If you had to mechanically show what men look like, that's what a man is like. On and off. Not just sexually but generally, "Let's deal with this issue. It's on. Okay. We're done with the issue. Turn it off. Go to the next issue."
Men, that's not the way women are made. This is the way women are made. This is kind of what they look like right there. It's a whole different deal. I mean, it's like walking into a cockpit. You're like, "Oh, man! I am not rated for this." You get that thing turned upside down. You bury its nose into the ground consistently, and you're going, "Help! Help! What's going on here?"
What God is going to say to you is, "When you come into a relationship with me and you know me, you become sensitive to the fact that your selfish heart can hurt others and your lack of sensitivity and your pace of living and your style of thinking needs to be completely remade." The reason there is so much isolation in the world is because we don't lead with the love that God leads us with.
What Paul is doing in this little section of Colossians is he's stating things that are a matter of course and fact, but you have to put these two verses in the context of what God says he has accomplished by taking hard hearts and making them new again. Look at these verses in Colossians, chapter 3. Verses 18 and 19 are the two verses we're going to look at today.
He says, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." In other words, God has an economy where there is order, and God has a system which will allow this world to operate in harmony and peace, and it's fitting and appropriate that everybody takes their roles knowing that God is good and would never place somebody in a role that is not a source of blessing and provision and goodness and life for them. There are two ideas of that fitting in the Lord.
The first is God has done this, and when all of the pieces take their spots, the picture is glorious. It can work. Secondly, you should be subject to your husbands when it's appropriate to be subject to your husbands but not when it's inappropriate to just fall in line behind him. I'm going to explain that.
Then, he comes back to the husbands. "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them." In fact, you can really translate that as, "Don't have them be embittered against you by the way you lead." There is that word up there (subject). The word submissive has spun Gloria Steinem and her cronies into endless drivel, writings, and fear.
That is because they have not ever seen and understood the context of this verse or any other verses like it, like in Ephesians and other places, nor have they ever been around, I am sure, a man who has led them the way Scriptures call men to lead them, because if you understand it, it is not something you run from. It is something you are designed to embrace, and it is something that, when the world sees it operate correctly, is a source of marvel and glory to the God who put it there.
Let me just show you and talk you back through why this is so difficult. In Genesis, God said he made the woman at a certain point in the midst of creation in unfolding how God was going to have the world operate. He made male first. Then, he showed male he was not complete. There was something missing.
He showed male that by parading all of the animals in front of him, and man saw for every Mr. Hippo there was a Mrs. Hippo and for every Mr. Giraffe there was a Mrs. Giraffe. There was something that completed them that went together that allowed them to experience some aspect of the image of God that there was unity and completeness and companionship.
Man said, "I'm not there." Everything was good up to this point and just exactly right, but it wasn't very good until God showed man, "I'm about to bring you the rest of my creation." Man saw his need. God didn't just create woman and turn her loose and have Adam bump into her by the pomegranate tree during happy hour.
The Lord who created her brought the woman to the man and said, "Here it is! Now it is very good, because what I wanted to create was something that would reflect who I am and would allow the world to see by what I have created that I am good and what I am like." God has eternally dwelt in plurality of person but in unity of purpose, and there have always been roles within the godhead. Yet, there is equality, and there is mutual subjection, and there is specific companionship, completion, and love that has run through the very nature and person of God from the very beginning.
In Genesis, chapter 2, this is what God describes the purpose and role of woman. What happens here is that God had made male. Having made male in the program of making all of creation, he made male first. Then, because he had made all of the animals the day before, he paraded all of the animals before the male. He showed male that he had authority over them. For every Mr. Hippo there was a Mrs. Hippo and for every Mr. Giraffe there was a Mrs. Giraffe.
Male said, "God, this is all fine and good, this thing I'm supposed to rule over, but it doesn't seem like this creation is complete," and God said, "Exactly! That was the lesson I wanted you to learn. Now, I'm going to put you to sleep, and when you wake up I'm going to give you a gift that is going to make all of creation complete. I'm going to go from describing it as good and perfect to very good and very perfect."
Man was put to sleep. God took a rib from the man and created the woman. He didn't just turn her loose to meet him under the mango tree at happy hour, but the Scripture says he brought the woman to the man and said, "Look! This is mine! This is my gift for you. You love me and know I have your best interest in mind, so you love this, and she is to be your helpmate suitable and completer."
In the Hebrew, that word literally means maid, servant, or masseuse. No, no, no. It does not! I'm just seeing if you're listening. I tried that with my wife. "You don't know Hebrew, sweetie. Just listen to me." She said, "I'll tell you what it means. It means brains. He gave you a brain. That's what it means." The old joke… Adam says, "Eve, why did God make you so beautiful and so dumb?" Eve said, "I'll tell you why. He made me so beautiful so you would love me and made me so dumb so I would love you."
It doesn't mean either one of those. It doesn't mean he gave him an intellect, and it doesn't mean he gave him a bondservant. It means he gave him something that would enable him to be all that God wanted him to be. Part of that was, as they loved each other and lived together in unity as these two were one, a mystery about who God was would be revealed.
Even as the Father and Son and Spirit are three in one who live in subjection to each other without in any way threatening equality or greatness or deity, man and woman should live together. They are not the same, just like the Son is not the Father and the Spirit is not the Son. Male is not female, but they can live together in companionship, completion, mutual subjection, love, and concern to protect, exalt, and love each other.
God says, "That will reflect me, and as you rule over creation in a loving way, I will enable you to do that in a way that will give me glory because I will have a picture of it for others to see, and you will enjoy me, and I will share with you my glory. Just walk with me," but we said, "We're going to do this our own way."
God said, "You don't want to do that because it's not a paradise when you don't do it my way. What happens is not only do you scar the earth but you scar each other because instead of dwelling together in unity and love you dwell together with self-fear, self-advancement, self-will, and self-pleasure, and it will make his desire be to control you in a way that feeds his needs and your desire would be to do anything you can to claw on top of him. It's not the way I intended it."
Let me walk you through some other places where this exact same word is used in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament in Psalm 54, it says, "…God is my helper." The Lord is the one who will come alongside me and complete me and enable me. "Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul."
A little bit later in the New Testament, it's not the same word because it's Greek and not Hebrew, but you see Jesus talk about somebody God would send. Actually, in Hebrews 13, it goes back to the Lord again. "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid," in reference to that verse in Psalms. Here we go in John, chapter 14. "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever…" It's talking about the Spirit of Christ.
Look in John 15. It goes on with this. "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth…" We know him as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. "…who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me…" Do you get the idea? Being a helper is not at all something that is to be refused and to be resented; it is a position of great worth. God himself says that he plays that role in our lives.
Women, if you're created to be a helper, don't think for a second that means you have some insignificant add-on, tack-on role. God says, "That's my role with humankind." You find out the man's role with the woman is also to help her but in different ways, to be subject to her and concerned with her and to watch her in every way, but this is what always happens. Something goes along in our lives where we begin to believe God does not have our best interest in mind and this provision of protection is really limiting and burdensome, and we want out.
We're going to say, "We're not going to live as the Lord fitted us to live or described that we should live. We're going to live the way that seems right to us. To heck with God's program, and to heck with equality but not sameness. I'm going to say we are equal all of the way through and there is no distinction and role, and I'm going to do what I'm going to do, and I really don't care what God thinks I should do or what other people think I should do. I'm going to live my way because God isn't good, his Word can't be trusted, and if I rebel against it, it's not that big of a deal."
You'll find out in Genesis, chapter 3, that's exactly what Eve believed, that the system of protection God put in place was mocked by the Enemy, the one who has come to steal joy, kill, and lie, and Eve bought it and said, "I don't need the one God gave me as a companion and a completer. I don't need the one I'm to help. I will isolate myself from him. I will operate on my own. I will not trust God. I will not trust his gift for me. I don't really care what happens if, in fact, I don't do what he thinks I should do because it's not that big of a deal." She bought the lie.
As a result of that, sin entered into the world. In other words, we stopped operating in the harmony God gave us when we lived in relationship with him. In Genesis, chapter 3, you'll see the consequence of that. Watch this. This is really important. It says in Genesis, chapter 3, that the Lord had a consequence to the fact that there was going to be this great rebellion.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." I'm actually not going to read through Genesis, chapter 3, verses 1 through 6, but this is where Eve bought the lie that God is oppressive and limiting. "He hasn't said it, has he?" He challenged his word. "His word is not going to cost you too much if you rebel against it and ignore it," but as a result of that later on here comes the consequence.
He says to the woman, "From this point on, you're not going to relate to your husband in the way that you did when you guys loved each other and served each other in a right response to who I am, as you walked with me, and I taught you how to love each other as people made in my image."
He said, "That's through. Now, what's going to happen is this little thing you thought you could just create a little opening and rebel over here and do it your way is now going to get out of control, and you're going to begin to be an individual who has a great deal of desire to get out of all of my economy." It says specifically, "…your desire will be for your husband..." That word desire that comes in Genesis, chapter 3, is used two other times in the Old Testament. There has been a lot of debate about what that means.
Some folks have said the word desire used right there is used meaning, "From this point on you're going to love your husband and want intimacy with him and share a life with him, but because he's now also going to find his own sin expression and run his own way, you're never going to be happy again because he's going to leave you high and dry and alone. There's going to be no more intimacy and that embrace and cuddling and love and physical attraction you so enjoyed, Eve, is gone, so your desire is going to be frustrated."
That comes in Song of Solomon in chapter 7, verse 10. You have that same word desire used in that way where it says, "…your desire will be for your husband…" It's used there in a good way for physical and sexual desire. Let me just say this. If that is the curse that God put on Eve in Genesis 3, may he smite my wife with a double portion, that she would long to be lusting after me and desiring me in a physical, sexual way. Curse her, God, please!
That's not the idea. What you want to do when you see a word like this that could mean one of two things is you want to look at the context in which it is used. Not hundreds of years later by a different author is that word desire used, but it was used minutes later in Genesis, chapter 4, when it's talking about sin's desire for Cain. Look at that.
In Genesis, chapter 4, it says, "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you," meaning it wants to consume you, master you, control you. It wants to put itself over you and rule you. This is exactly what happened as a result of sin.
When woman said, "I don't believe God's way is a fit way to live, and I am not going to be subject to anybody as is fitting in the Lord; I am woman; hear me roar," and man did the exact same thing a little bit later… "Not a bad idea, Eve! I'm not going to be subject to God. I'm not going to listen to the one who is in a position of authority over me. I'm going to live as I see fit. I'll choose right. I'll choose wrong."
Then, man ran wild with his own ideas about what is right, and not Pandora's Box but Adam and Eve's rebellion was opened up, and there was all kinds of trouble. Then, woman decided to leave God's gracious system of protection that she saw as limiting and oppressive. She said, "From this moment on, I will compete with him, and I will seek to rule over him."
God says, "That's going to be the trouble for the rest of your days, but it ain't going to work, and it's going to bring division in this world, and it's going to bring a great deal of suffering where there should be peace. It's going to bring disunity where there should be unity." The miracle claim of the New Testament is that God has done something that will allow our hearts to be forgiven, allow our spirits to be recaptured by the God who is love and not by sin that seeks to master us but seeks to kill us, lie to us, and destroy us.
In fact, now we are ruled by a gracious Master who takes our hearts of stone and makes them hearts of flesh, teachable and malleable, to guide us in the everlasting way. Paul is saying, "Because you have been forgiven, because you have been made new, because now you are seeking again the things of God and not the things that are on the earth, so love each other the way I initially designed you to love each other."
"Wives, be subject to these men who themselves are subject to me. Husbands, lead in a way that doesn't make your wife embittered." Watch this with me. When you come to the idea of subjection and what it means, I just want to walk through… In fact, we just had a fun time yesterday at our marriage conference. We shared this with folks there.
This is what biblical submission is. Actually, we'll start this way. Biblical submission does not mean this. Whatever you believe… Listen. There are some folks who throw out a definition of submission that is not biblical that I would have a problem with, but biblical submission does not mean you are inferior.
No! Man and woman in Christ are equal before him. You're not less than or inferior to him. Jesus was not and is not inferior to the Father, but he said, "I am in submission to the Father." Jesus is God. He always has been and always will be, but he said, "I do nothing except in accordance with my Father's will." Whatever submission means, it doesn't mean you're inferior.
It doesn't mean you lose your identity or become a non-person. You're not somebody who has to walk away from who God created you to be. It doesn't mean blind obedience. It's not the I Dream of Jeannie, "Yes, Master," mentality. How many women think that's exactly what you're supposed to do? "Yes, Master." Folks who aren't informed by Scripture.
Biblical submission does not mean you allow your husband to violate the law or to be physically abusive to you. I'll substantiate that and prove that in just a minute. It doesn't mean you follow your husband into sin. No. Why? Because God made you a helper, a completer, and a helper and a completer is somebody who spurs somebody else on to love and good deeds. I want to tell you most women we run up against don't struggle as much with the first three as they do with the fourth and fifth.
There are all kinds of women who are out there who have a wrong idea and a wrong sense that somehow living in a spirit of contentment before God and wanting to be okay with the way things are and be a godly woman would be mutually exclusive from being honest, authentic, and real, or they would take that wanting to be content before God and fulfilling their role as a godly woman that they somehow would abandon their post as a completer, and that is never what God would have you do.
Biblical submission is this. Watch. Biblically, submission is that you respond to, encourage, support, and pray for your husband's leadership out of a yieldedness to God's design for marriage. In other words, "I want to see you succeed. I want to see you do well. I want to see you be the man God intended for you to be."
Biblically, in submission the woman is to love her husband. That's a sacrificial action. It's a choice. When we think of love, way too many times we define love and associate it with things that bring us pleasure, and that is not at all the idea God has in mind here. No. You choose to love your husband and do what is right for him and serve him, just like the husband should do for you. The wife is to support the husband.
She's to be complementary and not competitive alongside of him. Watch this. I want to give you a few verses. In Proverbs, chapter 31, verses 10 through 12, it says, "An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."
Do you see the idea? A godly woman is somebody who is humble before the will of God, who believes God's order is not oppressive but is there to protect them and to glorify them as they both live together in subjection to the will of God as is fitting in the Lord. When they do this, she says, "How can I help you be the man God wanted you to be? I will do you good and not evil, and I want to help you in every way that I can." Her husband sees this partner, and he trusts her, and he depends upon her, and he leans on her.
The opposite of that is Proverbs, chapter 21, verse 9. "It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman," who doesn't want to celebrate your leadership, pray for your leadership, encourage your leadership, and sharpen your leadership. She desires to have your position of leadership.
She doesn't like the way that you lead, and if she can just make you look foolish enough before the board of directors who are out there in the community, then the world would know she shouldn't follow you and she can lead the family and she can do what she wants and not be under this oppressive jerk of a man she's somehow yoked with.
We have women whose desire is to rule over their husbands, so they do everything they can not to build him up and make him better but to tear him down. Proverbs 14 says that it's the foolish woman who tears her house down, but the wise woman builds it up. Let me just give you a picture for this.
This is a picture taken from the animal kingdom that can show you what living with a woman like this is like. "I'll tell you what's wrong with you! You can't rule this cage worth a lick! You don't do anything. You're not the first to go there. We're in a zoo, for goodness sake, and you make me walk over and get the meat and bring it to you. The cubs? You never play with them. You just lie there and look depressed." There he is. It's a pretty powerful picture.
God says that's not the way that he wanted it. Proverbs 12, verse 4, says, "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones." A wife should encourage her husband in his job and in public and in the home. She should celebrate the things that are good in him, not celebrate his faults.
I've shared this before. My wife was out with a group of gals one time. What this basically means here is that she doesn't make it a sport or a hobby to compare war stories with other women just as a matter of entertainment. She said she was some place. This is now years ago. There was a group of women who were just taking turns going, "You think that's bad? Let me tell you what my husband did." The next one said, "You think that's bad? Let me tell you what my husband did."
She's telling me this, and I know it's working its way around the table there over coffee. She goes, "It got to me. Do you want to know what I said?" I go, "Yes." She said, "Nothing. Nothing." Let me just tell you something. That doesn't mean my wife doesn't do what I'm about to tell women they should do in subjection to the Lord.
My wife does complete me, but she doesn't do it just as a hobby. She doesn't do it to make other women see what an incredible woman of patience she is so she has a better war story about how she is putting up with the ogre of Todd at home and yet somehow continues to be sweet little Princess Fiona.
No. She will come alongside of me and say, "Todd, you're not an ogre. You're a child of God. I know who you want to be, and I'm going to tell you when you are not being my prince, and if you don't respond to me, I owe it to you before God as is fitting in the Lord to not participate with you by enabling your behavior but by spurring you on to love and good deeds, and if I have to go get other princes in the kingdom to come and either confirm my testimony or open my eyes so that I can see it's not as bad as I think it is, so I can grow in my heart, I will do it, because I am committed to helping you be the man you want to be."
My wife completes me. My wife has no problem telling other people about the struggles Todd Wagner has. None. Zero. But she doesn't as a matter of sport shame me so she can look good. She doesn't as a matter of practice go around telling everybody else just for fun stories that make me look bad in my leadership of the home. No. She prays for me, encourages me, supports me, loves me, and helps me, and it is good. That's what a woman does in subjection.
The Scriptures make it very clear that you are never ever to remain silent in the face of sin. Every authority in Scripture is subject to God. Government is subject to God, and God says he will hold government in account for its abuse of authority. God says, "When you have an authority over you that is asking you to act contrary to me, you are a conscientious objector," and it is not loving to let your husband lead you into sin.
This is what a completer looks like biblically. Very quickly, I've talked about this before, and I've done an entire message on this inside a series called Why Marriage is a Big Deal to God. I talk about what a completing spouse does, but I just want to tick off for you again this is what the Lord has in mind when he says he wants you to be a completer.
First of all, you are Christ-centered. In fact, I think probably all seven of them are going to show up there rather quickly. You are Christ-dependent, which means you know marriage is not about making you happy as much as about making you holy. You depend upon him to give you the strength to love folks even when it's difficult and you might be rejected. It means a completing spouse is consistent.
You keep short accounts. You don't wait for enough pressure to build up after six weeks, six hours, or six months and say, "I'm through!" You throw enough of a fit that your husband kind of comes to his attention again. Things mellow out and stabilize for a while. Then, you get back in the same ruts. No. Day by day, as long as it's still called the day, you encourage each other lest you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
A completing spouse is somebody who celebrates, somebody who isn't just looking for the negative but is looking for the positive, and who wants to encourage him. Share with others and in front of kids, "This is what my man has done." My wife… There's something in my office that I cherish. She gave this to me one Father's Day.
It is a framed, matted picture of all of our kids' feet that are stamped in red dye on yellow. Underneath it, she wrote a proverb that talks about how a righteous man lives and how his children follow in his steps and are a blessing after him. She said, "I know my husband's heart, and I am thrilled to be yoked with him in the stewardship of raising kids." She celebrates what is of Christ in me.
They are courageously committed. In other words, they're not going to let embarrassment or fear or difficulty keep them from being a completer. They're not going to be scared that if they tell folks the honest condition of their husband that folks are going to think they don't have this perfect marriage. No. She is committed to going forward.
Next, they're contrite. They see the log in their own eye. They realize the problem is on both sides of this thing and there are some things she can do to make this relationship work a little bit better. She is connected. This is true, by the way, of the way a husband loves. They are connected with others.
When the prince at home is being an ogre and the princess comes and the ogre doesn't change, she in love will say, "I love you enough now to go get the band of friends who are yoked and committed to you to help you and spur you on in a greater direction." There's an entire message on that. I'd love for you to look at it.
Let me just go to the man very quickly because I want to show you a couple of images of what it means to lead well. Here are a couple of them. This first image will show you what a lot of women think will happen if they get underneath the headship of man. There's one right there. "You're in a position of authority, so you just smoke your Marlboros, walk down the road, and let her do the work."
A lot of women rebel against subjection because they imagine if they do they'll be thrown in this little cage and toted around by the guy to be unlocked and unleashed when they're ready. It's not the picture of Scripture. In Mark, chapter 10, the Scriptures tell us very specifically, "That isn't the way I want you to roll. That's not the way we live as followers of Christ."
He said, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant…" He tells the men to love a woman even as Christ loved the church.
Men, here's what I want you to see today. When you look at how God has given us roles, husbands, this is your job description. Are you ready? This is how a husband should love a wife. This is the man's job description. We take this from the way Christ loves the church. He's saying, "** Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."**
You operate with God's mentality, God's perspective, and God's heart not the world's heart. You love this way, unconditionally, always looking out for her best interest. You demonstrate your love for her while she is yet difficult to live with. It is endless and eternal. There is to be no end to your seeking her best interest.
You initiate with her. You don't wait till you're secure. She might reject you, just like there are hearts in this room today that have still rejected the pursuing love of Christ. Yet, he still comes. He initiates with you, and he reminds you of his great love. He has made himself naked and beaten in a way that others would mock at in a sense. You would do all of this and the woman still turns her head at you though you have been that kind of sacrificial lover? Jesus said, "You bet because I love them, even the ones that reject me."
You live with them in an understanding way. I love this about our Savior. We don't have a High Priest who can't sympathize with our weakness but one who has been tempted in every way that we have been and yet without sin. He says to you husbands, "You understand your wife. Don't delight in revealing your own mind but also in understanding." You play with all of those knobs as long as you have to.
Just because you can wall off small areas of your life, don't think she's a mess because she can't. How many times have I been in conversations with my wife when I said stuff like this? "If you would just not feel that way, we'd be fine! Why can't you feel the way I feel about that? Why can't you stuff it over here, close that, and go over here to this next thing like me?"
No. Forbearing and patient, tender, unshakable, constant. It's going to get even worse here, guys. It's going to tell you that you should also love in these other ways. You should be complete in your love. There should be no end to it. It's sacrificial and completely selfless. Even if it costs you your life, you love her that way, and you do all of that perfectly. Why? Because that's how Christ loved the church.
Let me just take you to another spot. This is how women should respond to that love. Women respond to the love that pursues them that way by being responsive to it and not letting that love fall cold, by being respectful and grateful, obedient to, submissive underneath that, which is to say supporting of that leadership, humble, adoring, faithful, committed to it, devoted.
I think, "What woman wouldn't want to respond that way to a man who says, 'I'm going to make the focus of my existence the glorifying of your nature and your person'?" Of these two job descriptions… Women, I'm going to ask you to empathize with us. Which one of these two do you think is more difficult?
To respond to loving leadership respectfully and obediently in a supporting way, humbly adoring him, celebrating him, faithfully committed, and devoted to him? Or let's go back to this. To do all of the things that Christ does unconditionally, perfectly, initiating, understanding, forbearing and patient, unshakably constant even to the point of death, and as I said, all of that perfectly? Which of those two job descriptions is more difficult?
We think typically… I've shared before, "Gosh, to live like Christ." I'm going to tell you, men, it's not, and this is why we are to live with our wives in an understanding way. My question is…Has Christ loved you the way I just articulated up there? Has he done all of those things for you? The answer is, "Yes."
My question is…Are you responding to him in all of the ways I said a wife should respond to her husband? In other words, you have a perfect lover who never fails, who never is moody, who is never flippant and self-consumed or concerned, and you still don't follow him. Can you imagine trying to follow somebody who at times is oppressive, is self-vested and interested, and she's still called to support and complete that?
You can't do it when you have a perfect head, so you live with her in an understanding way. You humble yourself before her. You ask her forgiveness when your selfishness has gotten the better part of you. You tell her that you understand why she has fled. You tell her, "Thank you," for going and getting others who will come and sharpen you because she is a completing, loving wife.
Let me tell you why this is such a big deal and why Paul is so passionate about it. We close with this. If you have a healthy and godly marriage, you have a built-in mechanism for evangelism that is very, very compelling. There is a story in LIFE magazine that I pulled off the rack a number of years ago. It's a story about two conjoined twins. These gals are joined above the torso together.
It's about Abigail and Brittany Hensel. They're products of a single egg. Each has their own heart and stomach, but together they rely on three lungs. Their spines join at the pelvis, and below the waist they have the organs of a single person. Each controls the limbs and trunk and feels sensations on their own side exclusively. If you tickle the ribs on the right, only Abby giggles. Yet, the girls manage (no one knows exactly how) to move as one being.
When this article was written, they were in kindergarten. Their teacher said, "To watch them is an incredible lesson in teamwork and communication. The class marvels at them." One time, the class was having lots of little schisms in it, and Brittany and Abigail stood up and gave them a little presentation on how to get along.
They have completely different tastes and likes. One day, Abby began to sprinkle oyster crackers on her soup, and Brittany says, "You know I don't like crackers in my soup. Put them on your own side." They complied. When they do work, they have the chance to do it independently or together.
It says, "Their different temperaments have been apparent since infancy. Abby has a voracious appetite. Brittany finds food boring. Abby tends to be the leader. Brittany is more reflective and academically quicker. Sometimes they argue. Once, Brittany hit Abby over the head with a rock, but they have obvious incentives to arrive at a consensus. When they can't agree on where to go, they cannot move. When one misbehaves, they both get sent to their room."
It talks about in this article how no one can explain how these women even walk together much less put up with each other. It says in this article that no conjoined twins that have been joined in this way… We know recently conjoined twins joined in the cephalous (the head) have been separated, but no conjoined twins who have been webbed together where two are one like this have ever been separated where they have lived.
Are you starting to see the analogy? Listen to this last paragraph. I want to close with it. "Bound to each other but defiantly independent, these little girls are a living textbook on camaraderie and compromise, on dignity and flexibility, on the subtler varieties of freedom, and together they have volumes to teach us about love."
Do you want to know why Paul wrote what he did in Colossians 3:18-19? Because when you live the way God calls you to live in mutual subjection before him where you love each other and complete each other, it teaches the world volumes about love, and you have a built-in mechanism to talk about the greatness of your God. That's worship. If you know Christ, that's how you love.
Father, I pray for my friends. As we release ourselves to go serve, may we love our wives! May we give ourselves to them in a way that makes their following and supporting us a joy! May they love us enough to complete us and not have perverted understandings of submission where they enable our rebellion against you but know they come and in every way that we are ogres with gentleness and reverence, knowing they are for us! May they speak into our world and sharpen us as is fitting in the Lord!
Father, I pray we would love our wives in a way that would not make them embittered toward us but would make them celebrate your goodness by the fact that our hearts have been so captured by you that we love them in a way that women only dream of being loved. Ah, Lord! Forgive us that we have not become the marvel to the world that Brittany and Abigail Hensel are.
I pray you would just keep remaking our hearts that through the ministries and marriages of Watermark and our relationships, same sex and specifically married, would be so glorious that the world would demand that we explain to them the hope that we have in the person of Jesus Christ, who makes all things new. Would you help us serve you in this way? Amen.
From a book that is 2,000 years old comes evidence that has been preserved about the greatest truth the world has ever known and how it can transform our lives. The book of Colossians walks through the radical change that happened to some in an ancient east Asian city, revealing the struggles they faced, the resistance they met, and the transformation they found as a result of the hope they had. Join Todd Wagner as he studies the Colossians scene to discern how their journey can reveal truths that can change us.