SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul writes that as God's dearly loved children, we should seek to live as Jesus lived. How did Jesus live? Verse 2 tells us in the way "of love." Because we are so loved by God, we should live lives of love.
- Paul then elaborates on what that might look at. He tells us that a life of love would not have even a hint of sexual immorality, impurity or greed, or obscenity, foolish talk or course joking, or getting drunk. Instead, a life of love would be filled with thanksgiving, God's Spirit, and singing from our hearts to God.
- Paul then goes on to discuss marriage. He starts by saying that, as Christians, we should all submit to one another. (Submit as in giving yourself to meet the needs of another.) He then gives specific advice to wives and husbands. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to love their wives. Does this mean that wives don't need to love their husbands? Of course not, Christians are to love everyone, and if anything, especially their wives. Does this mean that husbands don't need to submit to their wives? Of course not, this passage started out (verse 21) by saying that we're all to submit to one another. So why does Paul give this particular advice to wives and husbands? Well, it's interesting that when studies are conducted today the number one need of wives, in general, is to be loved and cherished by their husbands. And the number one need of husbands, in general, is to be respected and admired by their wives. Perhaps the idea in this passage is that when we choose to marry, we are choosing to put the needs of the other person first and to meet those needs, and "love" (for wives) and "submit" (for husbands) are at the top of the list of needs we need to meet.
- It should also be pointed out that the kind of love husbands are to have for their wives is modeled after the sacrificial love Jesus had for His church (verses 25-31), and it would seem that if a husband truly loved his wife that way, a wife wouldn't mind submitting to his leadership.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Becoming a Christian is not just about a ticket to Heaven. It's not just about what happens after we die. It's also very much about how we live now. And God has called us to live like Jesus. We need to follow His example and live lives of love, and purity, and worship, and thanksgiving. And we need to set a standard for ourselves that even a hint of sin in our lives is unacceptable. Of course, it is only through vitally relying on God's help that we can live these kinds of lives.
- One of the ways we get rid of the sin in our lives is by exposing it rather than hiding it (verses 8-14). What's hidden tends to remain and to fester. What's exposed can be healed.
- For those who are married, we are to put our spouse's needs before our own and meet those needs.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What areas of your life look a lot like Jesus' example of love? Where are there at least some hints of immorality? Commit to truly living for, and like, Jesus. Ask God for help, a lot. And admit your struggle to a trusted friend - exposing your sin to the light will help you find healing. And notice in Ephesians 5 that for behaviors we are called to leave behind, there is almost always a new behavior given to replace it. (Obscenity is replaced by giving thanks. Being filled with alcohol is replaced by being filled with the Spirit.) Whatever it is that you need to get rid of - what could you replace it with?
- If you're married, how can you meet your spouse's needs today (even if you don't feel like it)?