Does your marriage reflect the Biblical view of marriage? What does that image look like?
As a wife who strives to be what God intends for me to be, I wanted to take a closer look at how to do that. In Ephesians 5, we see an example of instructions for wives.
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. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
This whole passage, in context, shows us how our marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the church. The wife is compared to the church. And the husband is stated as the head of the wife and compared to Christ. Because we are to be subject to our husbands as the church is subject to Christ, this prompted me to begin searching Scripture for instructions to the church, so I could apply those instructions to my marriage and to my life. As I prayed about where to even begin, I felt led to look at the words of Christ. To look at the instruction He gave, for if Christ is the Bridegroom, it made sense that searching through His words would be a great way to find out what is important as a wife, to follow and strive toward the goal of being a more godly bride. The task seems daunting, at this point, but I will take a few of the verses containing Christ’s words and break them down, gleaning what I can as I go.
The first words of Christ are found in Matthew 3, in reference to John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.
Matthew 3: 15
But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
Are there any instructions or examples to gain from this verse, that would apply to wives or the church? Other than the sacrament of baptism, there is one other very important concept in this, the first Words of Christ recorded, fulfilling all righteousness. BOOM! Right from the beginning of His ministry, Christ is teaching that we must do what is righteous. In no way is this saying that the things we do, or how good we are, is what gives us a place in heaven. It is an outcome of who God has chosen for us to be.
So, I would say the first attribute of a godly wife would be righteousness.
The next recorded words Christ spoke can be found in Matthew 4, while He was being tempted.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
In this passage we see that we are to live and take our sustenance from the Word of God. To be able to do this, we have to be filled with God’s Word through more than just reading it. Let’s take a look at this. In this verse, Jesus is comparing the Words of God to food. How healthy will our bodies be if we just look at the food put before us. We can examine it, we can smell it, we can touch it, we can pull it apart and look at the inside, but until we actually eat of that food, chew on it, swallow it, and digest it, we get no benefits from it. There are times when the food we eat is not pleasant to the palate. There are times we get choked a little as it is going down; there are times it doesn’t “agree” with us. But without swallowing that food, we gain no nutrients. The same is true with God’s Word. Are there times while “chewing” on His Word that we don’t like the taste? Do we struggle not to choke on the instructions we don’t want to follow? When we don’t agree with God’s Word, do we turn the page without asking God to turn our hearts from stone to flesh? Do we spit out what we don’t like and never allow the nutrients of God’s Word to supply all of the benefits of the life He has planned for us?
It is more than just “reading the Bible.” We must constantly seek to “live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
A godly wife will take in the Word of God, let it change her, and live it out.
The next instance of Christ speaking is Matthew 4:7.
Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Whew, ladies, this is one of those that can easily choke us as we are swallowing!! While we may struggle with not “testing” God, how much harder is it, as a wife, not to test our husbands? Each of us needs to take a look at some of the things we do that upsets, angers, or irritates our husband. Reactions and behavior on the part of the wife cannot be blamed on the husband. Self-control is one of the Fruits of the Spirit and we should be able to behave properly, no matter how the other party behaves. If a husband behaves in an ungodly manner, as one flesh, we should take time to pray, calm down and go to that husband and respectfully and humbly bring the matter to him. In that prayer and calm down time, we have to ask ourselves, “Is his behavior sinful, or do I just not like it, or is his decision just not what I want?” Part of being subject to our husbands is allowing them to have the God-given responsibility to which he has been called. We should be able to respectfully give our thoughts on decisions that impact our marriage and our family, but ultimately, he bears the responsibility of those decisions.
A godly wife will not test her husband.
In Matthew 4:10 we find:
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
This one shows a couple of ideas for us to observe. The first statement is “Go, Satan!” Telling Satan to LEAVE is something all Christians have to do. Some days, it seems as though Satan is “in my face” from morning to night. I often ask God, during morning prayers, to show me the sin in my life. I want to see the wiles of Satan coming, before the attack!
The next notion in this statement is “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Now, before anyone misinterprets what I am about to say, let me clarify this, we are to worship God, we are not to worship our husbands. If a marriage is what it is called to be, both husband and wife will desire for the other spouse to love God more than each other. In this way, God will always be worshipped above all.
The next part of that sentence is, “and serve Him only.” This is one of the areas a wife can apply to her marriage. Are you serving ONLY your husband? Often, when taking a look at our service, we find that we serve everyone else, including self, before our husband. I am not saying that a wife shouldn’t take a few minutes to relax and unwind, for herself. After all, a woman must have a healthy spirit, body, and mind; but ultimately, a wife’s responsibility is to serve her husband. I know this is not a popular concept by today’s standards, but it is one area the church, as a whole, has shied away from, simply because it is not popular and upsets a majority of people. In the past, I have been one of those women who got my feathers ruffled when I was told I was to be subject and submissive to my husband and to serve him before all others. God did a work in me, by showing me Scripture over and over, and most importantly, shaping my heart of stone, in this area, to a heart of flesh, and gave me a desire to be the kind of woman He meant for me to be from before time began. (And yes, I am aware that that idea is upsetting to some, as well.)
A godly wife will resist Satan and will serve her husband.
Next, we see in Matthew 4:17:
“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Repentance is often a misunderstood word. Admitting a wrong-doing is NOT repentance, that is simply confession. To repent is to turn away from the sin. How often do you go to your husband and share the sin in your life? How often do you ask him to pray with you about that sin, and help to hold you accountable for that sin? How often do you have him help guide you to repentance? This is one of the most intimate times a couple can share. It allows your husband to know what to pray for you, to see how to step-up and become responsible for the accountability of his wife. This helps him follow through with being the husband we see described in Ephesians 5:25-27.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 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.”
We further see in James 5:16
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Who better to share those times of sin, confession, prayer, and repentance, than the one person who is sharing our life. The one who has joined with us to become one flesh. A husband is commanded to love his wife, give himself up for her, sanctify her and cleanse her with the Word. Working through our weaknesses and sin, together, in the Word, is the way for a husband to carry out what he has been given the responsibility to do. He is to present his wife, holy and blameless before God.
I have had women tell me (and I have been guilty of this thought, in the past) their sin and short-comings are none of their husband’s business. That totally goes against everything this passage in Ephesians teaches. When you get married, you become one flesh with your spouse. Husbands and wives should be able to open up about such things. I have found that this brings a level of intimacy to a marriage that builds trust, understanding, forgiveness, and the responsibility both are called to.
A godly wife is repentant and affords her husband the opportunity to share in that repentance so he will be able to present her holy and blameless before God.
There is one more verse in Matthew 4 that records the words of Christ.
“And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
This verse says to me that I am to follow Christ and work to share the Gospel and minister to others. I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who also feels the importance of following Christ and serving others in order to share the Gospel. Serving with him in different ministry opportunities has been such a blessing.
A godly wife will follow Christ and seek ministry opportunities for sharing the Gospel of Christ.
To be a reflection of the Bride of Christ, the Church, a wife must be righteous, bathing in the Word of God and living it, always resisting Satan. She must not put her husband to the test, and must serve him. She must have a repentant heart and allow her husband to help hold her accountable, to help him in presenting his wife holy and blameless before God. She will follow Christ and be made into a fisher of men, sharing the Gospel of Christ.
Looking at these verses, I have to ask myself how much, as a wife, do I reflect the Bride of Christ, the Church. How is your reflection?
*The next post in this series will begin looking at Matthew 5 and the Sermon on the Mount, and what we can learn, as wives, from Christ.