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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.
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Well, take your Bible and turn to Ephesians 5. If you’re visiting with us, as I said, welcome. We have a tradition here at Kindred of just working through books in the Bible. We’re here not to impose our thinking on the Bible but to let the Bible speak through what we call exposition, where we determine the meaning of the text and allow the Bible to speak for itself. We’re in a series in the Book of Ephesians, and we invite you to open at Ephesians 5:22.
We started a look at this passage last week under the title Rocking the Roles, Rocking The Roles. A good marriage has an understanding of what the role of a husband is and the role of a wife is. That’s true of successful businesses, it’s true of winning sports teams. Everybody knows their place and the role that they’ve got to play for success to be achieved. And so that’s true of marriage, and here in this passage, it’s very clear what the rules are. The wife is to submit, and the husband is to lead. The wife is to submit voluntarily and joyfully, and the husband is to lead sacrificially and lovingly.
And so what we want to do this Sunday and then the Sunday I’m back from the United Kingdom is continue to look at Rocking the Roles. We’re going to look at God’s call on husbands. So open your Bible, follow along, Ephesians 5:22-33. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church. And He is the savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and give Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, that the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” So reads God’s Word.
It’s been pointed out that marriage is not unlike a game of golf. Number one, it’s harder than it looks. Number two, it can be very frustrating. Either under their breath or with their own mouth, you’ll hear a golfer typically say, “I hate this game. I hate this game. I love this game.” It can be very frustrating, and it’s harder than it looks. Number three, it can be full of unexpected hazards. It can be, number four, never truly mastered. It’s always about the next shot. Number five, it can be marvelously fulfilling when you get it right. Good game of golf in a beautiful setting, it’s a little slice of heaven, very fulfilling, very satisfying, like marriage. Number six, and this is the one I want to underscore, we’re never free to enjoy it unless you master some of the fundamentals. When it comes to golf, it’s all about stance, the grip, the swing. Those are fundamentals that have got to be mastered if the game, to some degree, is going to be enjoyed.
In fact, in his biography, one of the great strikers of the ball, Ben Hogan, says this about the need to master a few fundamentals. Speaking about his own swing he says this, “In 1946, my attitude suddenly changed. I would guess what laid behind my new confidence was this: that I’d stopped trying to do a great many things perfectly. All that really was required to play good golf was to execute properly a relatively small number of true fundamentals.” I think what Ben Hogan is admitting that he allowed the game to become too complicated. When if you go back to the basics, when you go back to the baseline, there are a few fundamental movements, grip, swing, stance, that once mastered will help you play the game.
If we transfer that into the realm of marriage, if you and I are going to build and enjoy a good marriage, you’d have to agree that it requires the execution of a relatively small number of fundamental movements. We can do more by doing less when it comes to our relationship together as husband and wife. We can achieve more and enjoy more within our relationship if we concentrate on the few things that contribute the most to our success as a couple. I would suggest to you, and I’ll root it in the text here, in the authority of God’s Word from Ephesians 55:22-33, that some of those fundamentals are the roles that God has assigned to both the wife and the husband. They’re clearly outlined, and they are distinct. The mastering of them constitutes those fundamental movements towards a deep and satisfying relationship.
Look, businesses flourish, sports teams win, and marriage relationships blossom when each person knows their place, the part they should play in complementing the other. We’re coming back to Ephesians 5:22-33 to continue to look at what I call rocking the roles, because here Paul, clearly and without embarrassment, outlines the role of husband and wife. According to the clear and authoritative Scriptures, notice the husband is the head. That’s his role. Verse 23, “For the husband is the head,” the leader, the authority figure in the marriage, just as Christ is the head of the church. The role of the wife is to follow that leadership, to submit to that headship, just as the church submits to the authority of Jesus Christ. It’s very clean, it’s very clear, the husband is the head and authority within the home, and he’s called to direct his family actively and affectionately. And two, his wife is called by Christ to submit to that leadership voluntarily and joyfully. They’re the fundamental movements, don’t ignore them.
Let’s come and begin to look at this tax from the man’s side or from the husband’s responsibility. We put the text in its contact last week, and I’m not going to go back over that. But I would say this by way of further introduction, the irony of Ephesians 5:22-33 this morning is that our culture would see it as repressive, as out of fashion, out of touch, as grounds for the abusing and misusing of women, the patriarchy that must be tore down. But the irony is that while our culture sees this text as repressive, Paul’s culture would’ve seen it as subversive, as revolutionary. Why would I say that? I think it’s important to understand this. If you’re going to understand the text, you’ve got to understand the text in its context, not our contemporary moment. When that would’ve been read out in the church at Ephesus, I can tell you, the man would’ve set up and the women would’ve cheered. I think when you read this text, our contemporary perspective would be as soon as Paul was finishing and the word would’ve got out into the community, there’d be a whole bunch of women outside with placards, “Paul’s a chauvinist. Down with the patriarchy.”
But that’s not what it would’ve happened. In that context, Paul would’ve gone outside and men would’ve been holding up their placards, “Paul, what are you doing? We’ve got a good thing going.” Because, you see, in that day the wife was to ponder to all her husband’s needs and wants. The wife got the wrong end of the stick in the Roman culture. All the sacrifice was a one-way street. But now Paul’s addressing men, which is not usual in that day and age, and you’ll notice, you want to do the counting, it’s about four times more in the text that Paul addresses the men than addresses the women, the husbands rather than the wives. Paul’s got something profound to say to the man. He’s told the wives to submit. No doubt all the guys are clapping. But that soon stops and fades away because Paul is about to remind the guys, “Here’s your responsibility. Yes, you have authority, yes, the mantle of leadership has fallen on you, but that is a grave responsibility, and there comes a price tag with it. You’re going to love your wife sacrificially. You’re going to meet her needs. You’re going to serve her at a cost to yourself.” I just want you to understand that.
The emphasis, by the way, too, in this passage is on the responsibility of the wife and the responsibility of the husband. Just note that because I can guarantee you, if you go to a bookstore and buy a typical Christian book on marriage, it’ll have a title something like His Needs, Her Needs, and the focus is on what you can get out of your marriage and what your spouse should deliver. That’s not wrong, but that’s not the emphasis of Paul, that’s not the priority. The emphasis of this passage isn’t what you’re going to get, but what you’re going to give. Wives give your submission, and then husbands give yourself in leadership that is loving and sacrificial. Because today’s culture, it’s all about rights rather than responsibilities, isn’t it? The talk today is, “Hey, what do I get? Well, what about free education? What about a leg up if I come to this country even illegally? Can you give me a job? Can you give me money? Can you give me a phone?”
We could go on multiplying this idea that the whole talk socially today is all about what you get, what your rights are under the constitution. Thank God for rights, and thank God for freedoms, but the emphasis of this passage and frankly the emphasis in life should always be as much on if not more on here’s what you ought to do for the country, here’s what you ought to do for your spouse, for your church.
Bishop Fulton Sheen was a radio personality many years ago in Los Angeles, a Roman Catholic bishop. Very interesting man. Certainly don’t share his theology, but a very good communicator, and in many common graces, a very wise man. I believe many years ago he said this, “Since we have built the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast, we need to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” I like that. We haven’t done it, but we should. I’d recommend building it in San Francisco, but that’s what I’m thinking. Statue of Liberty, “Hey, this is what the United States offers you, liberty and sanctuary, political freedom, religious freedom.” Great, that’s celebrate that, that’s what has brought millions of people from all across the world. We heard Roberto’s story about that from Cuba. But let’s build a Statue of Responsibility also. Paul is building a Statue of Responsibility here before the Christian man of this church.
Okay, three things, we’re only going to make a start, and I’ll pick this up when I get back from the United Kingdom, but in this text, you’re going to see three responsibilities: leave, lead, love. Just going to begin to look at two of them this morning. Leaving, verse 31, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Now, Paul’s main point in using this text from Genesis 2:22 is this, you know what, men love your wives like you love yourself. Just like you take care of your own body, take care of your wife. Paul argues because in marriage you become one flesh, you are united physically in sex, you’re united in purpose and passion in the covenant of marriage, and now your wife is as much part of you as your body. In fact, your bodies have been joined and become a one flesh relationship, and he quotes that. That’s the main point of using this.
But I don’t want to miss that part of marriage, part of a man’s responsibility is to make a priority of his wife. Clear and simple. Leave mother and father and cleave, join yourself to your wife. She becomes number one after you say, “I do.” In fact, this word is very interesting. It’s a Hebrew term, and at first reading it’s actually rather jarring. It means to abandon. Abandon your mom and dad. Leave your father and your mother. We’ll qualify that unless we encourage some rebellion in some teenager this morning. In fact, it’s used in Genesis 39:12 of Joseph leaving Potiphar’s wife when she tries to seduce him. He headed for the door, lickety-split. Strong word. He got out of there, and that’s the sense.
The implication is this, when you and I get married, there is a fundamental shift of loyalty, and there is a reordering of relationship priorities that must take place. When a man gets married, he no longer sees himself or defines himself as a parent’s son. He sees himself and defines himself as a wife’s husband. His wife has become number one. She has an eye on you and elevated status in his life as a provider and a protector and a leader in the home.
Now, for the sake of time, we’ll quickly go through a few things here. What does it mean and what doesn’t it mean? What does it mean and what doesn’t it mean? Number one, it doesn’t mean you cease to honor your parents. We’re called to do that all the days of our life. We want to obey them up to a certain point in the adulthood, out of the home, and in eventually from singleness into marriage. We are to see them on a regular basis. We are to honor them in our words, in the way we live. We are to celebrate them, and where necessary, perhaps later in life, we’re to care for them. You want some verses? That would be Exodus 20:12, “Honor your parents all the days of your life.” We’ve got Proverbs 31:28 where the virtuous woman enjoys the admiration and adulation of her children who rise up to praise her. 1 Timothy 5:3-8 talks about the widow who has extended family. And if a widow has extended family, then it’s not the church’s responsibility to take care of that widow. It is the responsibility, listen to this from that passage, of the children to repay their parents. Love that text. I’ve actually taught my girls that one pretty, pretty clearly. Someday you’re going to repay your parents, so make a good success of yourself in all fronts. I want to enjoy the benefits of that.
That’s certainly an exaggeration and too self-serving in the way I communicated it, but certainly implication is children will celebrate, honor, love to spend time with, and were needed, support their parents all the days of their life, even if they have left and become their own social unit. Number two, it does not mean you need to move across the country. Leave mother and father doesn’t mean you take the slow boat to China or you go and live in New York. The biblical world was one of tribes and houses and many dwelling places. Think about the tribes of Israel. They acted and moved and lived as communities, tribes. So this leaving mother and father is not an issue of mileage or geography. It’s an issue of reordering the priority of the relationships so that a moat is built around the new home. Mom and dad recognize those boundaries, accept that there’s a new authority. They don’t have the same influence over their children that they once had.
In fact, that’s the whole point of parenting, you should be working towards that. You should work yourself out of a job. You want your children to fly the coop and hopefully into the arms of a loving spouse. That’s the whole point. It’s not a geography issue, it’s an issue of the reordering of a relationship. It doesn’t mean you dishonor them or you neglect them, and it doesn’t mean you have to live in the other side of the world when you’re called to leave. Here’s what it does mean, number one, you establish and reset the relationship along adult lines. The top-down approach, the parent and child stops and the peer-to-peer relationship starts. It’s important that that is established. Number two, since we’re talking about man here leaving mother and father, you are quick to defend your spouse’s opinion and action in any context of comparison or conflict with your parents. That doesn’t mean somewhere down the line if wrong is done it’s not recognized, but your disposition is to run interference for your spouse. You don’t take the side of your mom and dad, you take the side of your wife because you left your mom and dad.
Number three, it means that emotional and financial independence is established. It’s a parent’s role to raise children to adulthood, not to finance or subsidize adults. I don’t know if you’ve followed that there’s been a bit of controversy on social media just recently about a family in Texas who started charging their 19-year-old daughter some allowance and income to stay in the home after she had graduated. People took sides, “That’s terrible. That’s child abuse. Those are mean parents.” And then the others go, “What are you guys smoking? That’s right. That’s what generations have done. She’s now entering adulthood, she’s now got to row her own boat. At what point do parents stopped subsidizing?” I certainly fall on that side and so does this text, because the whole point is to help our children at some point fly the coop and leave mother and father. And anything that extends that unnecessarily and has them dependent rather than entering into independence is a bad thing.
In fact, on this whole debate this week, I like what David Ramsey said, “My job as a parent is not to create great kids, it’s to grow kids into great adults.” It’s a good statement. In fact, addressing the idea of especially young men staying in their parents’ basements, endlessly being subsidized, mollycoddled, here’s what he says, “We got a group of people that have 28-year-olds living in their basement. Helicopter mom is taking care of everything. They’re sitting amidst their own participation trophies, and a great irony, playing Call to Duty.” Isn’t that the irony, some 25, 27-year-old boy in his mother’s basement playing Call to Duty? I’ll tell you what the call to duty is, leave your mother and father, establish some patterns of independency getting ready for that love of your life so that when she comes along and you sweep her off your feet you’re ready to establish a home because you’re already beginning to build financial independency, you are already beginning to develop maturity emotionally, you are already showing that you can indeed live out the life your mother and father have modeled to you.
Nothing wrong with someone paying who’s an adult to their parents. That’s been our modus operandi in our home. When I got my first wage and was still living at home, my mother took it and took half of it. And then the Lord got 10%. It was dwindling pretty quickly. But you know what? It was good. I would’ve gladly given her. I’d watched my father put on overalls his whole life and work in a dirty cigarette factory. It was my time to contribute, my time to become a man, my time to bless my parents, make things a little bit easier. We were blue collar, wasn’t a lot of margins, everybody had to pull on the oars. That’s what we’re being reminded here. It means that parents celebrate the growing up of their children into adulthood. This text is a stinger missile directed at helicopter parents.
Number four, it means eliminating any baggage or bad attitudes towards your parents. Sadly, some people’s upbringings are not all that they could be or should be. Acknowledge that. There can be hurt, and grievances can be collected along the way, and that just becomes a dragging anchor or a big bag of rocks that you go carrying into the marriage. You become an unhappy spouse, and the cycle begins all over again. Don’t do that. Part of leaving your mother and father is leaving them in the best way possible. If there are fences to mend and there are bridges to build, do what you can to establish that for the success and freedom of the relationship God has called you with your spouse.
Number five, it means not trying to mold your spouse into the image of your parents. Leave them behind. While they can become a benchmark, they’re not the measuring stick for your spouse. Don’t get into the negative comparison game, it’s deadly. Leave mother and father, both together seeking to grow in grace. One husband complained that his wife could not make a pie like his mother, to which the wife replied that he can’t make dough like her father. You don’t want to get into that. That’s just not helpful. Let me finish with this and move on. R. C. Sproul wrote a wonderful book, Jen and I read it many moons ago when we were dating, I think it’s still in print, it’s called Intimate Marriage. I commend it to you. It deals with three big issues: sex, money, and in-laws in terms of the disruption of a marriage. It’s worth the read.
But somewhere in that book he says this, “The biblical mandate to honor our parents is never obligated in this leaving. But one way to honor them is to leave them when you get married.” I love that. It’s kind of little play on words, okay? When you leave, you don’t get to dishonor them. But actually if you leave right and go on and establish your own home, its own boundary, its own authority, and the husband leads and the wife submits and children come along and they’re discipled in the image of Jesus Christ and there’s a happiness and a joy where the wife is submitting and serving and helping and the husband is leading and sacrificing, that’s a great honor. Doesn’t every parent want to see that in their child?
Okay, that’s the leaving. Here’s the leading. Again, I’m going to have to be quick on this. This deserves more treatment than I’m going to give it, but with the establishment of this new social unit, the text in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere is very clear, the husband takes the reins of leadership. As we said the last time, a body with no head is a corpse. A body with two heads is an abnormality. We need one head in a marriage, and God in His sovereign will, divine authority, and eternal wisdom has determined that to be the man. Ephesians 5:23 tells us the husband is the head of his wife. 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us that the man is the head of the woman, just as the Father is the head of the Son. In fact, I think one text that makes this clear, there’s a whole debate today about people are trying to soften this idea of headship and smooth away the sharp edges of authority, but you can’t do that.
Yeah, in some contexts, head can mean source, but not in this context. If you go to Ephesians 1:22, the headship of Jesus Christ over the church is clearly an exercise of authority, where He commands and He directs the church. The text tells us that. The analogy is that just as Christ is the head and the church submits to Christ, the wife submits to her husband. The husband’s not the source of his wife, but he is her head. He is the authority figure. He is the one under God who ought to direct the affairs of the home. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, when you look at the qualifications of an elder, know what it says? He must be a man who rules his house well. The word rule is used there, administers, leads, directs with his children under subjection. Because if he’s not able to lead, direct that smaller unit under God, how’s he going to direct that bigger unit we call the church?
We don’t want passive failed leaders in the home being those who are over the church. The head gives direction to the body, and the body responds. The analogy is clear. Can we just stop this? There is authority that God has placed in the role of the husband, and that’s the clear teaching of God’s Word. God will hold the man generally accountable for all that goes on in his home. Want an example? Romans 5:12 is an interesting text, isn’t it? “For by one man’s sin entered the world.” Hold on a minute, I thought it was Eve that sinned first? Well, according to 1 Timothy 2 she did. But when you go to Genesis 3:9, when Eve took what God told her not to take and Adam was there because she gave the fruit to him, how passive was he? He was actually there when she did it. Didn’t stop her, didn’t intervene, didn’t lead her, didn’t protect her. Stood there like a stewed prune.
And here’s what happens, when God goes looking them, what does it say? God said, “Adam.” Now, hold on a minute, Lord, shouldn’t you be talking to Eve? She’s the one who took the fruit. No, but he was there. He failed as a leader. He watched that. He should have stopped that. He’s culpable. Husbands are the heads of their homes, and God will hold us not completely because every woman must follow her conscience and she will give an account for her own life, but generally and in breadth, a husband will be held accountable for the state of his home and the state of his wife’s soul and her condition.
Let me clarify and correct a few understandings about headship. I’ve got eight of these, and we’re going to run through them very quickly and wrap it up. I want to get something out of the way. Here’s a theological punch list on headship and leadership. Number one, the use and abuse of male headship in the home is no reason to abandon it. Because I know horror stories and you do too, and some of you have lived them as women. I acknowledge that, men have been abusive, men have taken verses like this and twisted them to their own selfish ends. But I would remind you that the abuse and misuse of headship is no reason to abandon it, just as failure in government is no reason to abandon the role of government in human life. Because according to Romans 13,1-2, “The powers that be are ordained of God.” God has ordained government for human flourishing, and God has ordained marriage for human flourishing, and within the home the man is called to lead.
Let’s work on the things that are lacking in any man. We won’t accept the status quo. But the abuse and misuse of headship is not a reason to abandon it. I like that verse in Titus 1:5 regarding elders, “Hey Titus, I want you to go to Crete and I want you to fix the things that are lacking.” If things are lacking in your marriage, let’s fix them. You should fix them. Men should become better. Revelation 1:5, Jesus said how I’ve got this against you, so here’s what you need to do. You need to repent and go back to doing the first things. Just because there’s abuses in headship doesn’t mean we abandon it. What we need to do is repent of those abuses as man and then go back to doing what God wanted us to do at the first. Two wrongs don’t make a right, okay? Here you got one wrong, the husband is abusive and wrong and he’s using his leadership in a domineering demeaning fashion. Wrong. But to abandon headship because of failures is wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Let’s make right what is wrong.
Number two, it’s a weighty thing to be the head of your home. It’s not to be taken lightly. As we’ve said here, Paul addresses husbands four times more in this passage. This is subversive in that culture. This is radical. This is not a one-way street. And so when guys hear the idea of leadership and headship, they go, “Great, I’ve got authority.” Wow, that’s a weighty thing, brother, where God will hold you accountable for the state of your home and the raising of your children and your fear and admonition of the Lord and the gracing of your wife. Think about leadership in the context of the church. James 3:1, remember what James says? “Hey, I hear a lot of you are interested in teaching. Think that’s a great idea. You like the influence it gives you. You like the platform it provides. You’ve got the adulation of people, the public platform it provides. Hey, you may want to rethink that because a teacher will be doubly judged. The greater their responsibility, the greater the accountability. Guys, take your headship seriously. Don’t fling that around for your own self-gratification, self-exaltation. That’s a dangerous thing to do. You know why? God’s made you the leader, which means you get double jeopardy.
Number three, headship, as I’ve said, is not about self-exaltation or self-fulfillment. Headship in this context is about loving. Remember what we said last week? The husband is not commanded to make his wife submit. The wife is commanded to voluntarily submit. And while headship is acknowledged here, verse 23, the husband is the head, no argument is made, because this is rooted not in chauvinism but creationism. This is rooted in Genesis 2:24. This is what Jesus would say. This was the model from the beginning, and it remains throughout time. But I’ll tell you what the man is commanded to do. The man is commanded to love and to pattern his love after the sacrificial love of Christ, verse 25, “Love your wife like Christ loves the church, He gave Himself for her.”
Just want you to bear that in mind. What kind of leadership does God want you to exercise? Certainly He wants you to exercise authority, give direction to your home, be the spearhead, be the point man. But here’s the heart you’re bringing to that, one of, what can I do to better my wife? What can I do to bless my child? What can I do to strengthen the church? What can I do in my marriage to show the world around me God’s will is best? Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5-11, let me say this guys, maybe write this down, true leaders don’t sit on a throne, true leaders hang on a cross. So Jesus did as a leader. He didn’t sit pretty in the throne of heaven, made Himself of no reputation, died on a cross, and served us and sacrificed for us. True leaders don’t sit on a throne barking orders, they hang on a cross in self-sacrifice.
Number four, headship is not about throwing commands around like confetti. Kind of piggybacking off number three. We’ve established that a man has authority. A man must lead, a man must rule his home well, 1 Timothy 3:4-5, but that does not mean he sits around barking orders. In fact, here’s what I find very interesting, guys, and we’ll come back to this when I get back about loving your wife, there is a command given in this passage, but it’s to the man to love his wife. There’s not an emphasis on what he commands. The emphasis is on the command given to him, which is, make sure that in the exercise of your leadership that love is expressed, gentleness is shown, humility is manifest, and the good of others is priority. Verse 25, 28, 33.
Listen to these words by Gary Inrig, I find this very interesting, “The head may lead the body, but it never serves itself at the expense of the body.” Let me say that again. “The head may lead the body, but it never serves itself at the expense of the body.” He says, “What would you think if you saw a head carefully combed, features carefully attended to wearing the finest sunglasses perched on the top, but the body is emaciated, neglected, unattended, and unclean?” You say there’s something wrong. And yet some men have that view of headship, “Well, I’m the head, and they take care of the head.” And the body suffers. No, while the head directs, it exercises its authority to the benefit of the body. While the husband has leadership and the husband exercises that leadership for the benefit of the body, his wife, who he has one flesh with. Here, the leader takes orders from Christ to submit to His example.
I like the story, move on, of the counselor who was working with a couple who were struggling in their marriage. But as the conversation unfolded, he did notice, every time the wife addressed the husband, she called him hon. And somewhere along the line he said, “You know what? I know you are at a bad place, things aren’t looking good, but I’m encouraged. I want to commend your wife, every time she’s addressed you in this, she’s called you hon, and I think that’s a good starting place. There’s respect there, there’s admiration there, and we need to build on that kind of perspective,” to which the wife replied, “Pastor, I think you misunderstand, I’ve been calling him hon for several years, Attila the Hun.” We don’t want that, all right? God doesn’t call us to be Attila the Hun. We don’t get to bark orders and throw them around.
All right, headship is always and must be biblically prescribed. If you’re going to exercise leadership, it’s not the leadership of your self-will, and it’s not the leadership of your human intuition as a man. It’s the leadership of a man who’s under authority, the authority of the Word of God, which is shaping how we act as men here in Ephesians 5:22-33. Husbands have no right to call their wives to do any wrong. A husband needs to say with Paul when speaking and leading his wife, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. Guys, you need to be biblicists. You need to be amateur theologians. You need to know your Bible. You’re going to lead your wife, you’re going to wash her in the Word? You need to know your Bible. I hope you do. Thank you for being here with an open Bible.
Number six, headship requires taking the lead and taking the initiative. The head is the command center of the body. Everything begins with the head. I think every good thing begins in the home with a man who’s on task for Jesus Christ, who submitted to the Lord’s leadership, who’s leading his wife according to the Scriptures, who’s got a heart patterned after the cross. Headship requires taking the lead and taking the initiative. That means an eagerness to make plans. That means taking risks. That means leading the way. That means being alert, alive, and ahead in terms of your home.
Kevin D. Young in his excellent book, Men and Women in the Church, I commend it to you, he says that he heard John Piper say something on this just very practical, very easy, and I think kind of thing we’re talking about here about the head is the command center. He said he heard John Piper say this, that the husband ought to take the initiative. The husband ought to lead and direct the home. The best way to do that is that the husband in the marriage should say more often than his wife, “Lets.” It’s not that she can’t say lets, but more often than not, it’s the husband that says that. “Let’s pray together. Let’s get the kids ready for church. Let’s go on a date this week. Let’s go on a vacation, we need it.” Let’s. Guys, I hope that you are saying let’s in your marriage because God has given you the reign of authority.
Seven and eight quickly, while headship involves, number seven, authority, taking the lead doesn’t mean that you make every decision. Good leaders can delegate. Good leaders build teams. God has given you a submissive wife who is your equal, and God sent her your way to be your helper, so take her help. Some of her help might be helping you lead with her wisdom, her involvement, the delegating of something that she’s just better at than you are. That’s leadership. Leadership is isn’t making all the decisions. Leadership isn’t all top-down. It’s also across the board. Good leaders sometimes follow the insights of their followers.
Number eight, headship must be exercised with the right attitude. I would give you three tasks and just focus on one as we wrap up. You should exercise leadership with gentleness. That’s the manner in which you exercise your authority. Colossians 3:19, a parallel passage, you’re not harsh towards your wife. Harsh leadership, cold commands is not Christian. It’s not gospel. 1 Peter 3:7 tells you to live with your wife with understanding. Again, to lead her well you need to know her well. You need to make a study of your wife. What does she like? What doesn’t she like? What’s her favorite color? What’s her favorite thing? What is it she likes to do? Make a study of her weaknesses, her strengths, her temptations, her vulnerabilities so that you can better lead.
Agatha Christie, the writer and author said she married an archeologist because the older she gets, the more he appreciates her.Well, I don’t care what age you are, your husband should appreciate you and study you and continue to discover things about you. And then finally, prudence, wisdom. In fact, this whole passage begins in Ephesians 5:15, “Walk circumspectly as wise, not fools.” Guys, if you’re going to exercise leadership, do it wisely. I’ll tell you one of the things you shouldn’t do, this is very unwise, to stick your finger in every pie, to micromanage your wife in every area. Mistake. Mistake. Stop sticking your finger in every pie and stop and never do command what’s unreasonable and ridiculous. She doesn’t exist to meet your every desire and every demand.
The frivolous use of a wife’s submission undermines your leadership and abuses her submission. Remember what the devil tried to tempt Jesus to do? “Why don’t you jump off a building, the angels will come and catch you? Well, of course they would, but that’s ridiculous. That’s testing the Lord, not trusting the Lord. Asking your wife to do a whole bunch of things and nitpicking and getting to micromanaging, stop it. That’s not wise and it’s not prudent. One of the Puritans, Watley, said this, “A garment that comes upon a man’s back every day will soon be threadbare, and so will a man’s authority be worn out with overuse. Wherefore, let it be kept till due occasions of using it well.”
You better not play the command card, the leadership card too often. You shouldn’t have to, for starters. If you’re going to do it, it better be a good occasion, or it’ll become threadbare. Certainly don’t command the ridiculous. And with this, I’ll finish. I wanted to tell this story last week and didn’t. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones was a great English expositor. When I’m in London this week, I’m sure I might swing by Westminster Chapel. That’s where he pastored for many years. His wife, Beth Ann, was once asked by a member of the congregation in this whole area. She said this, “What if my husband wakes me up at three o’clock in the morning and tells me to go and fetch some ice cream? Should I do that?” It seems ridiculous, but some guys are ridiculous. Here’s what she said, “Yes, and then call the doctor in the morning because he’s clearly sick.” That’s a good answer. Yeah, go and get him his ice cream, but you’ve got bigger problems than ice cream at three o’clock in the morning. This guy’s ridiculous and he’s sick and he’s abusing his leadership. That needs to be addressed.
Okay, let’s pray. Father, we thank You for our time in the Word this morning. We would love to dig more, but we can’t. Time is gone, we’ve got deadlines to meet. We just pray that this Word would be hidden in our hearts so we may not sin against You. We pray, O, God, that as man we would step up to the plate and swing for the bleachers on this one, that we would embrace our role to leave and to lead and to love. You have something more to say to us, four times more, we got to be listening. Perhaps because our failures are so often, the correction needs to come in so many fronts. Lord, forgive us for abusing our leadership. Forgive us for selfishness. Forgive us for authoritarianism instead of a God-given authority.
Lord, help us to use our leadership for the benefit of our wife. Help us to be wise in our use of it. Help there not to be an overuse of it. Help us to have the right attitude and aptitude. On the same hand, help us to be confident in the exercising of our authority. We must take leadership in our homes and direct our wives and our children, but according to Your Word, not according to our whims and wishes. And so, Lord, we just thank You for this text. Pray for every man. Help us as men as we leave this morning to think about this, if we’re going to lead our wives like this, we better be disciples of Jesus Christ. If we’re going to lead our wives like this, we better be following Him. We can’t trust ourselves. We’ve got to submit to His cross, His Lordship, His example, and then draw from His strength to do what seems impossible to do. For we pray and ask all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.