The following post was written by Jeffrey Klick (Ph.D., Trinitiy Evangelical Divinity School) and first appeared on his website, www.JeffKlick.com. This is one part of a multi-post article.
Paul stated in the verses above that once you are married you no longer live your life for yourself. There is now a spouse to consider and this will radically change how you will live the rest of your days on earth. Marriage is a tremendous blessing as well as one of hardest jobs in the world in which to excel. The Apostle Paul gives detailed instructions regarding marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33
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. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
While not necessarily politically correct in our day, this is nonetheless the Word of God and must be considered prayerfully by every Christian married disciple. Beyond the specific instructions on how a marriage should function – husband’s loving their wives by laying down their lives for them daily, and wives making sure they respect their imperfect husbands, some key insight is given into discipleship.
Husbands should be helping to sanctify their spouse by making sure she is “washed in the Word of God.” The “in the same way” part of this Scripture passage gives insight for the husband on how to help disciple his wife. This may be intimidating to some men due to the wives being older in the Lord or perhaps not very receptive to the husbands leading, but the command is still there. Men are to learn to die for their wife, just as Christ did for the Church, and men are to make sure the Word of God is central in their homes.
Making the Lord the center of the home is a daily decision and a never-ending process. What currently dominates your home? The TV, FaceBook, sports, or Christ? Husbands must be men of the Word in order to share the Scripture in their homes – Jesus said that out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak (Matthew 12:34), what is coming out of our mouths?
Making changes is not impossible, but must be a willful decision if they are to occur. If most meals are eaten together, (which they should be if they are not) then this time allows the husband to lead in a prayer of thankfulness for the food and for the one that made it. In addition, this time could be used to bring up a discussion about what was read in your private devotions or perhaps what you believe God has shown you during the day. Open-ended questions could be asked about a particular verse of Scripture or some potential problem the two of you are facing. Open ended means a question that cannot simply be answered with yes or no answer. These type questions are more of the “what” or “why” type questions. “Why do you think God allowed this to happen to Joe and Mary?” Or, “What do you think God is trying to tell us in reference to my job situation?”
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or be super creative. Try suggesting reading a book or listening to/watching a Christ-honoring program together and then discussing it. With the advent of the internet, there are unlimited resources available for you to consider if it is your desire to help your spouse grow in spiritual maturity. Biblically, husbands must take the lead in discipleship and God will give you the ideas and grace to do so, if you will ask Him for it.
Another factor to consider is the tremendous power that is released by praying together with your wife.
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19
A husband that leads his wife in consistent prayer will increase her respect for him exponentially. Prayer allows for a deeper level of communication and will help to center the home in Christ. Even if the wife is not comfortable praying aloud, or for that matter the husband either, praying together will help both grow spiritually. It may be awkward at first, but the comfort level will come and the home will change under the husbands’ leadership.
Discipleship may happen by chance but it has a far greater potential to happen with a plan. If you seek the Lord about your responsibility and prayerfully ask Him for direction, He will give it. God brought your spouse into your life for a reason and part of that reason was for you to care for her, nurture her, and help her grow in spiritual maturity.
All Scripture references are from the ESV – English Standard Version