“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church…. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean…. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself…. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. “ Ephesians 5:21-6:10 NLT
I suppose I hardly qualify as a relationship expert here. I’m divorced. I have one adopted son who doesn’t even speak to me. If you asked me where I went wrong I’m not even sure where I’d begin. My faults are many. That’s just being honest.
What I do know, though, is that Christians are supposed to relate differently than non-Christians. Our motto in every relationship is supposed to be love and submission, grace and sacrifice. Those concepts aren’t just fluffy theology; They are hard-nosed, practical applications. A lot of everyday life is stuffed into the middle of Eph.5:21 and Ephesians 6:10: dishes, carpools, date nights and daily devotionals, dead-lines, chore charts, discipline and double shifts. In all these relationship driven items we are called to act out of love and submission, grace and sacrifice.
If we are going to stand in the now we need to begin to live Christian in our relationships now. Our past can not be allowed to dictate how we relate in the present. Also, love and submission, grace and sacrifice have nothing to do with changing our relationships. Relating right is not about winning other people over; It’s about reverencing Christ. We don’t change our behavior to fix our lives. We change our behavior to please God. Then God fixes our lives to whatever degree He feels necessary.
We’ve gotta stand! What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christian relationship?
Another great one, Pastor J. Honest and needed. You have me with it being about reverencing Christ. If I can keep that in the front of my mind and heart, it will do me well. And do everyone else well too. When I am loving Him with my all (as much as I can at that given time), then how I relate to others, and love and submit to them, goes along much better. Is blessed. The greatest hindrance for me is most likely my pride. When I feel I am being taken advantage of, lied to, mistreated and misunderstood. (where the grace and sacrifice parts come into play!)
Rachel at http://stirringthedeep.com shared this on a calendar of hers she so graciously gave me!
“Don’t carry the burden of change. Seek God and He will make those changes in you.” I thought about you and your series when I read it!
God bless you and all your relationships and loved ones!
So true Deb! Jesus was reminding me the other day that in change my job is to present myself before the throne of Christ and His job is to flow His goodness and mercy into me to change me all the days of my life. His goodness transforms me bit by bit. His mercy covers me while I am in the midst of that change and not quite making it!
Wow, Pastor J, this is really good. It really makes you take a step back and look at one’s self. As for me, I think the greatest hindrance in my christian relationships is sometimes seeing a glimmer of Christ in a person when things are said in haste. Have not a heart of offense but of love. I need to focus on the their light and not on my feelings. I tell myself, Deb, what would Jesus say or do right now, now do it. God gives me the grace I need to work through it and to take every thought captive. God is healing my heart but the scars ran deep. I thank God that through Him my scars do not surface as much anymore. Yesterday would have been my 13th wedding anniversary. I thank God for holding my heart and comforting me through it all. Glory be to God in the hightest, He is so good.
May God strengthen and comfort with His Spirit. Our scars need His constant care. Bless God He is always there as our Great Physician and the Shepherd who “restores our souls”! 🙂
Sometimes I think the biggest hinderance is arrogance. When you think you know it and don’t need to hear others’ stories, that is when you have it all wrong. I have no secrets to making life work, I simply look at each day as another chance to get it right that day. So I pray and work at it everyday.
So true! It is an everyday work. We will never in this life “arrive”.You are right! As soon as we think we have arrived failure is waiting right around the corner to crush! Been there. Done that failed miserably :(. Thanks for sharing your piece of the wisdom from God we all get a little piece of! 🙂
Relationships .. often the mirror of our soul. It’s been impressed upon me lately how connected we all are and what we do to others we do to ourselves. How important to treat others as we want to be treated in love and truth – nothing else.
A-men Rachel! We are called to walk just in love.
Love this passage of scripture pastor jay! it is a passage we have been studying for quite some time now at our bible studies. It is life changing. When you treat your wife and love your wife like christ does the church, it is that much easier for your wife to submit to your leadership in marriage and in family affairs(not that treating her harshly cancels the command for her to submit, but you get the point) I love how Paul tells us how the Christ-Church relationship is so similar to the Husband-wife relationship…what a model to follow.
Thats just the husband wife relationship… gotta love the instructions to fathers, and slaves aswell…. could talk all day on this! Excellent household text!
It is so true Mike! And whatever position we currently find ourselves in we are called to live it. There is a word here for every man woman and child! God’s call to righteous relation is all inclusive. No one is to young and no situation is too late to begin! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
My biggest hinderance in any relationship is the big ugly self-centered I. When I get past that then the beauty of Christ is apparent and good stuff is everywhere.
So true Patricia. That selfish self which we all posses manifests in anyway it can to keep us from achieving God’s best. May His people overcome! 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Pastor J
`Our past can not be allowed to dictate how we relate in the present..
Wow… Today I had to do a critical reflection on we, who I am where, I have been etc etc. The one thing that kept hitting my heart is that I do not have to let my past define what I become in life.
You have absolutely no idea how this post speaks to me. Thanks so much for giving me much to consider and pray about.
The comments make me realize I am not the only one so affected. Thank you all for sharing.
Thank you Ann, for the constant words of encouragement! I am blessed to know God may somehow still use me as a vessel even broken as I am.
J! God can still use you as a vessel ” MOST ESPECIALLY broken as you are.” Good to keep reading your words…I’d still like to hook up with you some time.
A few thoughts from a different perspective. Hopefully this will be seen as adding to the conversation and not confusing matters.
1) I would submit that the call to love, submit, sacrifice and act in grace is not biblical. OK. I am kidding, I was just making sure you are paying attention.
2) Ephesians 1-3 talks about our identity and who we are in Christ. Ephesians 4-6 talks about how we live in light of that reality. As the blinders come off our eyes and we start seeing ourselves as He sees us…as we begin to get a revelation of His overwhelming love for us, it’s amazing how natural the “commands” of Eph. 4-6 come to us…Some would even call our natural response to these commands “fruit.”
3) So…how are we to love our wives (for example)? Through trying with all our effort? That will-power approach is why Christians aren’t much better at changing our behavior than non-Christians. Perhaps we as Christians haven’t learned to depend upon and to trust the indwelling Christ…maybe. So the question isn’t if we are to love and sacrifice, but under whose power do we do it? I know the cliché answer is “under Christ’s power.” However, I must ask again…have we really come to the end of our own self-reliance and trusted solely on Him…not just for our eternal salvation, but also as empowerment to live our lives?
4) Grace according to Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary (as well as the original Strong’s Concordance) is defined as follows: “favour of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.” That sounds an awful lot like the indwelling Christ empowering us to holy action. It sounds like he has given us “everything pertaining to life and godliness through knowledge of Him.” It sounds like grace:) It sounds like the indwelling presence of Christ in us sharing His own divine life with us. We are not in need for God to shower upon us any special blessings in order to live this life. We have Life Himself within us. We aren’t in need of searching after God and looking for Him as if He is far off. We musn’t cry out for His presence as if He is witholding anything from us. We are in the creamy center of the holy of holies right now and the problem is we just don’t realize it…that’s the gospel…and it will change our lives!
It’s the same answer that I would give to your last post about resisting sexual temptation (or any temptation). 1) Depend upon Him and not our will power (trust in His grace). 2) Get a revelation of a) His love for us and b) what our identity is as we are “in Christ.” We are pure, blameless, beloved children, forgiven, holy, righteous, new creations with a new nature…I truly believe that as we believe the truth of the gospel, we will naturally start living the truth of the gospel. Yes, it’s a process and we will make mistakes and we will have areas of our life where we don’t believe the gospel…but that’s why it’s important for us to first know the gospel so that we at least know what to believe:) And then we can encourage others to believe it as well.
5) What is our motivation to change our behavior? Is it so that we will perform well enough for God to be pleased with us and bless us? Is it truly to please God so He will be happy with us? Yeah, for most of us that is probably the case. However, I would suggest that is the wrong motivation. Our motivation can be as simple as love. I want to change my behavior in my marriage because I love my wife. I want to change my behavior at work because I love my co-workers. I have finally come to see my inability to change my behavior, despite every “christian” self help tool out there (much of our christian counseling and theology turns into pseudo-psychology devoid of the life giving power of Christ). It surely takes Christ to be Christ -like. And I know God’s pleasure when my behavior is good and when it is absolutely miserable! I know God is pleased with me and proud of me and head over heels in love with me. So I can’t help but want my behavior changed just because I love Him back. A natural response to such amazing love!
Speaking of love…
I love you J!
Thanks Matt! Beautifully written and reasoned. Indeed you have spoken tomorrow’s post! You should consider joining the blogging world your voice could be used here!
Love you brother!
>> “What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christian relationship?”
That is sooooooo easy to answer! . . . SELF! The BIG “I”
If I am truly crucified with Christ and He controls me, I will have NO trouble with relationships. Yes, we ARE crucified with Christ, but “SELF” keeps struggling to rise from death. THAT is our only problem!
So so true Angela! Jeremiah said the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. That is why Christ found it necessary to crucify our selves with him so that we might truly live!
J, what i say tends to be too controversial so me writing my own blog wouldn’t be received too well. I will just bomb your blogs once in a great while and let you sort out the mess! haha. just kidding.
1) the greatest hindrance to christian relationships?
a) I would agree with SELF if by that one means selfishness. Selfishness is a habitual behavioral pattern which is most definitely a HUGE problem. When Christians use the phrase “death to self” it must mean only selfishness. Surely we don’t want our personalities to be obliterated. We don’t want our vitality to be extinguished and we don’t want our identities, now “in Christ” to be done away with.
b) Judging. Unfair assumptions and judgements we make on people. This is often born out of our own insecurities and hurts that we carry with us. So at the root of judgement is our own pain and wounds. That’s a big one too.
2) I would say that there is no such thing as the “kingdom of “I”.” Humans were created as choosing, dependent, derivative creatures. Man cannot self-generate character as an “independent self.” He can only derive and receive character from one spirit-source or the other, from God or Satan. The dependent human self can receive either the character of “Self-for-others” love from God, or he can receive the character of “self-for-self” selfishness from Satan. The result will be either godliness or sinfulness. These are the only character options for man.
3) Our “old man”/old nature was crucified and cannot rise back to life. It is dead and we have been given new life. Our new nature and the fact we are new creatures wouldn’t be that special if the old man can rise to power once again. No, our nature…and hence…our IDENTITY has been changed for good. Our behavior may look the same as the old nature but that isn’t because we have become our old man again. It is because we have developed habitual patterns of selfishness and sin. It seems like I am splitting hairs, but this is an important issue of IDENTITY. We are not our behavior. Our behavior doesn’t change our identity/who we are, but properly understanding who we are (our new identity in Christ) will change our behavior.
4) “The heart is deceitful among all things.” It was. However, that is no longer true of us. We have a new heart.
Some interesting points Matt. Deep, and requiring some thought. Point 2 seems to be incomplete having at least one other option I can think of off the top of my head, being “self for God” Which I believe leads to the self- for- others, This will make a good meditation for my afternoon I think. As far as being controversial brother, we are all controversial at some point. The marketplace of ideas is a proper home for such things as long as our differences are expressed in love. In the end you and I are both going to get to Heaven and say “Well I was certainly wrong about…”Being a teacher limited in knowledge and even wrong sometimes is a tension I have learned to live with. 🙂