Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13 - Ephesians 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ephesians 5. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • We all love our own children. We can't imagine not loving them or having them in our lives. This is how God feels about his children too. And we are those children. Because of his deep love for us, we should live a life of love in return.
  • Paul then warns about the opposite of God's love- a world of darkness and disobedience. A life without love is one of sexual immorality, impurity, greed, or obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, and getting drunk. But, if we choose to live in the light, we can expose this darkness for what it is. If we choose to live wisely, we can make the most of every opportunity this life affords.
  • Paul then states in verse 21 that we are all to submit to one another. Then he continues to discuss marriage specifically. The word submit means to give way to the needs of another. Many readers struggle with these verses thinking that submission is the same as slavery. But let's take a closer look. Wives are asked to submit to their husbands, while husbands are asked to love their wives. Doesn't this mean that a woman is a punching bag for a man to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants? And doesn't this mean that a woman doesn't need to love her husband, just submit? No and no! As we read these verses we learn that the entire concept of marriage is symbolic of our relationship with Jesus. A husband symbolizes Jesus. And those are some big shoes to fill! A husband is asked to love like Jesus, which is the deepest, most sacrificial love that was ever given. Husbands, you are not just asked to care for your wife, or like your wife. You are asked to lay down your life for her. Now that's intense! A wife symbolizes the church that Jesus loves so much. So we see that a wife is not being asked to submit to an angry iron fist, but to the deepest and most sacrificial love she could ever know. And that love she feels will allow her to continue to submit and respect her husband. So, ultimately, both marriage partners are loving and submitting to each other with Jesus as the ultimate example.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • If you have children, you know that no one could possibly love them more than you. Your love for them runs deep. And you want nothing but the best for them. Most parents will say they hope their children do better and live better lives than they did. When we understand how we feel about our kids, it should be easier to understand how God feels about us. God doesn't want us to view Jesus as a one-way ticket to heaven. Instead, he hopes for a great and beautiful life for his children right here, right now. This is why God calls us to a high standard of love, purity, worship, and thanksgiving. These standards are not those of an angry demanding father. Rather, they are the heart of a loving father who knows that sin is dark and destructive, and that there are better and healthier choices to be made. 
  • 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.
  • If we are married, we are to love and submit to each other with Jesus as the ultimate example and center of the relationship.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you really understand how much God loves you as one of his children? Do you really understand that he wants the best for you? We have a great father in heaven who we should want to follow in his footsteps. Are you giving that love away? Are you living that life of love? Are you living a life of light? Where are you letting the darkness in? Ask for God's help with you sin today. Ask a friend for help too. We can't always do it alone.
  • Giving up a sin can be a difficult challenge when we've been doing it for so long. They say that when we give up a bad habit, we should replace it with a new and good habit. Think of your sin in the same way. If you leave a sin behind, what good thing can you replace it with? Thankfulness? joy? being filled with the Spirit? Decide what positive habit you could add today.
  • If you're married, think how Jesus' example of love could truly change your marriage. Imagine if you really loved and submitted to one another with the sacrificial love of Jesus. What a dynamic marriage you could have!