Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Marriage: The Gospel on Display, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Here’s Andrea Griffith. 

Andrea Griffith: So many times we think submission is a statement of value. It’s not a statement of value, it’s a statement of role—of function—as we come alongside and help our husbands to be all they were created to be as they lead our families.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Over the past couple of days, we’ve heard from my good friends Trent and Andrea Griffith, sharing from Ephesians 5. So far, they’ve focused on the command in that passage for husbands to love their wives. Today, we turn to the part of that of that passage that speaks directly to us as women.

We’ll explore Paul’s instructions for wives to respect their husbands. Here’s Pastor Trent Griffith, from Harvest Bible Chapel in Granger, Indiana.

Pastor Trent Griffith: Ephesians 5:33 is our summary verse, and it says this: “However, let each one of you . . ." That particular “you” is a “you” to husbands: “you husbands.” "Let each one of you husbands love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” 

We had a plant up here, and we kind of hypothetically talked about that husband who says [in a gruff, complaining way], “You know, my marriage is dead!” Well, the question is, “Did you water it? Did you feed it?” Because it needs some things from you.

And what did we say the number one need of a wife is, guys?

(Men respond, weakly. )

Oh, that was disappointing! (laughter) 

Do we need to go back and preach that message again? We just read it in verse 33, guys! What’s the number one need of your wife?

Men respond: Love.

So you’ve got to constantly be loving your wife!

Ladies, as we turn our attention to you this morning, here’s something that may surprise you. In the span of eight verses in Ephesians chapter 5, God tells husbands to love their wives three different times: “Husbands, love your wives; husbands love your wives; husbands, love your wives” (vv. 25, 28, 33).

Ladies, why do you think God had to tell your husbands three times in the span of eight verses to love you? Sometimes we can be a little thick-headed; we have to be reminded, over and over—“Oh yeah, I need to love my wife!”

Here you don't find the command, “Wives, love your husbands.” It’s not there. The question is, “Why?” I believe it’s because the number one need of your husband is not love.

What you will find over and over in Scripture is this command: “Wives, respect your husband.” Why is that? It’s because the number one need of your husband is respect, and when he senses you respect him, he will understand he’s loved.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? If you ask the wives in this room, “Do you love your husband?”—most of them will say, “Yes, I love him! The knuckle-head.” Wives have a natural ability to love a needy person. God built that into you, okay? But wives have to be urged and encouraged and reminded and charged with this command: “Respect him!”

And you say, “I would respect him, if he was respectable.” Listen, if he was respectable, you wouldn’t need the command. In the same way that, if you were always lovable, your husband wouldn’t need the command to love you. (laughter)

We get the commands because there are times when wives are not lovable and husbands are not respectable—get it? That’s why God puts the command there. We’re going to study how to do that today. We’re going to look at this, and we’ll just start with this point here. Point number one is this (we’ll come back to those cycles in just a moment):

1. Wife, complement your husband. (vv. 22–24)

Now, be careful how you spell that as you fill in the blank. That is “complement” with an “e,” not a “compliment” with an “i.” It doesn’t mean you’re supposed to say, “Your biceps are so huge!” and “I love the way you change the oil in the car.” Now, we don’t mind that kind of compliment, ladies—we could use more of that, probably. But that’s not what we’re saying.

This word “complement” is like the word you used in your geometry class in high school. Do you remember complementary angles? It means to “fill in, to complete,” to complement in a way that you bring something to your husband that he doesn’t have. It means to play a team role well. We’re going to see that here in verse 22.

Look back up at Ephesians 5:22. Let’s start in verse 21—we’ve looked at this several times, but it says, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

One of the things that winners do is, they fill their relationships with submission. That means that we come alongside of each other; we come up under one another; we support; we cheer on. We say, “I want to be on the team! I don’t even have to call the plays. I believe in you, and I want to go the same direction that you’re going. I want to help you get there.”

We fill our relationships with submission. That’s verse 21. When we get to verse 22, it is specifically targeting wives. Paul says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Now, ladies, aren’t you grateful for that little three-letter word there—“own” husbands? Isn’t it great that you don’t have to submit to everybody’s husband?

There’s just one. And God’s command is not that all women submit to all men. God’s command is that, if you’re a wife, you have one husband, and that is the husband you are to submit to. You say, “Well, I don’t like that.” Well then, you shouldn’t have gotten married. (laughter)

You didn’t have to get married. But if you’re married, you’re a wife. And since you’re a Christian, this is a requirement; it’s not an option.

Paul says in verse 23, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” And so, husbands have a role to play. We’re to lead. We’re the leaders in the relationship; we’re the initiators of the relationship. We’re the risk-takers.

We’re the ones who say, “Follow me. I know the way. I’m going this way. Everybody come with me.” That’s the job of the husband.

Verse 24: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” So, this is your favorite word, ladies—I know—in the whole Bible! If you think it’s hard to listen to, just imagine how hard it is for me—as a man—to actually have to give you some instruction today. It’s like walking through a minefield!

You may actually witness me blow myself up, right here on the platform! Now, in order to prevent that, I am going to need some help. So I’m actually going to ask a wife—who at times has to deal with a needy husband—to come up here and help me.

Andrea, my wife, would you please come up here and help keep me from stepping on a landmine? Now, as we get into this, it’s important that we understand what submission is not—and what submission is.

First of all, understand this: submission is not a statement of value. Men and women have equal value before the Lord. God’s statement of submission is a statement of function and role, not of value.

God has a different function—a different use—for a husband than He has for a wife. And when we both play our role well, we both win. So it’s a statement of function, not of value.

Secondly, submission is not just a woman’s issue. Everybody has to submit to authority! Your husband submits to the authority of God—God is his Head. He has to submit to an employer. The reason this is hard is not because you’re a woman, it’s because we don’t like to be told what to do. We don’t like to bring ourselves up under somebody else’s leadership.

So it’s hard for all of us. And also, understand this: submission is not enabling sinful activity in your husband. It’s not blind obedience to sinful activity. We have to obey God rather than man, and when one authority conflicts with another authority, which one do you obey? The higher authority, right? You have a higher authority than your husband.

And so, ladies, if you’re in a relationship where your husband is abusive or if he’s asking you to do something that is clearly sin, you don’t submit to that! If you’re in an abusive relationship, number one, call the police—if it’s a crime.

And then, let your second call be to the church, and we have some friendly elders who will show up and have a nice little chat with your husband about his responsibility to love and to lead. That’s why God puts us in a body. If you’re in that situation, there’s help available for you.

So the question is, what is submission? Let’s give it some meaning here. It simply means to give up control. It means to yield. It means to use all of your creativity and your intelligence and your intuition to come up under, and to support, the direction that your husband is leading.

Probably the best description of this that I’ve ever heard—I can’t improve on it—it comes from John Piper (no surprise!). Here’s what he says about this idea of submission:

Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership, and to help to carry it through according to her gifts. It is the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership.

I love these words “calling,” “disposition,” “inclination.” Then he says, “It’s an attitude that says, ‘I delight for you to take the initiative in our family. I’m glad when you take responsibility for things and to lead with love. I don’t flourish in the relationship when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works without you.”

So, men, ladies have a hard job. We talked about how they have a hard job, and we can make their job easier by loving and leading the way God’s called us to lead. Ladies, you have a hard job; we admit, this is hard! And yet, by doing this, you can make your husband’s job easier—to love and to lead—when he senses that he has your respect.

Andrea: I remember one time when I was just not getting this. It was just going right over my head. We were living in Buchanan, and I was homeschooling our kids. Every night after dinner, Trent would say, “Hey, let’s go take a walk.”

And every night I would say, “No, I have dinner dishes to do. We’ve got to get stuff ready for tomorrow.” I had my own agenda, my own plan, my own way that I was going. Finally, one night he just stopped, and he took me by the shoulders, and he said, “Andrea, I am trying to lead you.”

And all the sudden, I saw it! And I thought, Why do I always have to a have a better idea, or I can’t get off my own agenda? So, I was like, “Okay, you know what? Those dinner dishes can wait. Let’s go take a walk.”

So we just started taking a walk after dinner, and you know what? I love being outside. I really needed to be with my husband, because I was only being with kids all the time. And so following his leadership was of great benefit to me! When I came back to do the dinner dishes, it was a lot more fun, because I had connected with my husband.

I’ve found that to be true so many times in submission. For me (though I never would have said this going into marriage), submission has become kind of an adventure. Because I have one way, and then Trent says, “Why don’t we do it this way?” And it’s a way I’ve never thought of.

I get a new perspective; I get out of my box; I get out of my comfort zone, and it’s fun. There’s adventure there. There’s also protection when he’s saying, “Don’t do things.” There’s been a lot of wisdom as I’ve just said, “I’m just gonna step back, because he’s not in on this.”

I had found a letter from a lady who didn’t quite get this either. She sent it to my friend, Mary Kassian. Mary Kassian has written a book called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. I love the book!

Mary put this letter in her book. Listen to what she [the lady] says.

If I were to pick a word to describe my manner toward my husband, it would be "resistant." I was forever resisting him. If he came up with an idea, I suggested a different or a better one. If he wanted me to do something, I dug in my heels. If he tried to make a decision, I objected. If he asked me to reconsider, I would refuse.

I continually corrected him and put him down, and I always had a sharp comeback ready on the tip of my tongue.

You have to understand that my husband was not a demanding man. He was very kind. But, because I believed that compliance was a sign of weakness—and that women should never subject themselves to men—I constantly undermined him. I would not let him lead. Even in the smallest, most insignificant matters I absolutely refused to follow!

Looking back, I can sadly see how my constant resistance chipped away at his manhood—and at our relationship. I resisted and resisted until he gave up and walked away into the arms of a woman who welcomed his strength. I was very foolish. If I had the chance to do it all again, I would try to do things God’s way.

Sadly, it’s too late for me—but it isn’t too late for all the young women you teach. The world may not believe it, but a gentle, quiet submissive spirit doesn’t demean women! This attitude is precious to God. If it would have been precious to me, I probably would have celebrated my thirty-second anniversary last week. Instead, I was mocked by an empty house and a heavy heart full of regret.

So many times we think submission is a statement of value. It’s not a statement of value. Jesus blew that whole thing up! From the very beginning, in Genesis, God said He made them equal—in the likeness of God—male and female.

When He walked on the earth, He stopped for women! He had women listed in His genealogy. The first witnesses to Jesus rising from the dead were women. It’s not a statement of value. It’s a statement of role, of function, as we come alongside and help our husbands to be all that they were created to be as they lead our families.

Trent: So, wife, complement your husband. 

2. Wife, respect your husband. (v. 33)

What does this word “respect” mean? Let’s give it some definition, in short phrases, here. It means:

  • to esteem 
  • to regard 
  • to value 
  • to look up to
  • to admire 
  • to heed 
  • to notice 
  • to consider 
  • to recognize 
  • to defer to 
  • to honor 
  • to be kind to 
  • to spare

Andrea: That’s my favorite one.

Trent: Why?

Andrea: To “spare from my drama.”

Trent: To spare him from drama, to take into account, to uphold, to appreciate. All those aspects of respect are there. Now, ladies, please understand how God has wired your husband. Almost every wife would appreciate their husband taking leadership, but you fail to understand what fuels his leadership.

Listen, respect is rocket fuel to leadership. That’s true in any organization. If a coach doesn’t feel like his players respect him, it’s really hard for him to coach them. If a husband doesn’t sense that he has respect from his wife . . . ladies, your husband will lose motivation to lead, and he will fade into the background.

If you start picking up all of the leadership responsibility, your husband will be glad to let you have it. But if you will respect him and encourage him and inspire him and motivate him, he will pick up that God-given role, and love and lead the way God has called him to.

Andrea: You may be like me. I found that I had respect for Trent. I had the feeling of respect, but there was this gap in me feeling it and him hearing it from me. There was this huge communication gap. I didn’t know how to tell him, and he wasn’t hearing the ways I was trying to tell him.

So one day I just asked him, “How do you hear respect from me?” I was so surprised at his answer. It had nothing to do with the way I was trying to communicate it. So, ladies, that would be something I would encourage you to do. Just ask your husband, “How do you hear respect from me?” And when they tell you, just listen. Don’t be defensive.

If that goes well, then go to the next question and ask, “How am I communicating disrespect to you?” And again, listen. I was so surprised at what he was telling me, that was communicating disrespect. We’re just wired so differently, we don’t get it sometimes.

Nancy: And I’ve got to cut in there. I think most of us can relate to what Andrea just said. She’s been sharing ways that wives can show respect to their husbands. We also heard from her husband, Pastor Trent Griffith, from Harvest Bible Chapel in Granger, Indiana. We’ll hear the next part of this message tomorrow.

Andrea left us with an important question: Are there any ways that I’m communicating disrespect to my husband? That’s something all of us as wives would be wise to ask ourselves from time to time. And then, perhaps more importantly, to ask our husband if there are ways that we’re making Him feel disrespected.

Why not take a few minutes to do that when it’s a good time to talk—even today, if possible. We’d like to help you better understand how to put the glory of God on display in uniquely feminine ways.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to send you the workbook that I wrote with Mary Kassian. It’s called True Woman 101: Divine Design. This eight-week study will help you discover God’s purpose for creating you as a woman, and it will give you practical ways to glorify God in that calling. I hope you’ll get a copy and discover and embrace God’s divine design for your life.

Leslie: To take Nancy up on this offer, visit ReviveOurHearts.com; make a donation of any size. When you’re prompted, indicate that you’d like the book True Woman 101, or you can ask for that workbook when you call 1–800–569–5959.

Tomorrow, Andrea Griffith breaks out the gardening shears to illustrate the way our words can cut down our husbands.

Andrea: When we’re dating, we are looking to see if we can find the right one that’s for us—the one we’re going to marry. We look at this one. and we say, “Aww, he’s so tall, and he has such nice hair . . . maybe. But, I really think this one is the one for me. He just has all the qualities that I’ve been looking for in a man!” When we’re dating it’s just so easy to just pour on that respect and pour on that admiration and tell him how big his biceps are.

But then we get married and we start saying, “Ah, I think I see a brown leaf right here. When we were dating, you spent so much time with me. Now you never even notice that I’m in the room!” We don’t like that so we go to work fixing that and changing it.

And then we say, “We used to talk so much. You remember, our first date? We spent six hours at the Starbucks, just talking. And now, I can’t even get two words out of you!” We’re married, and we’re just noticing all these weaknesses . . . and differences . . . and failures. We think, Well, obviously, God wants me to help this man! (Right?) [There’s a sound of scissors snipping. Andrea is snipping leaves off the plant as she says each critical comment.]

That’s why He brought me into his life! So we go to work and we say, “You’re so mean! You never help with the kids! You’re always playing golf or watching golf, or playing football or watching football on TV! You’re never kind! You’re so selfish! Why don’t you lead me? Why don’t you lead the kids? Meet—my—needs!!”

And then, we start looking at this guy over here and we say, “Why can’t you be a little more like him?” And guess what, ladies? That is on us! Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Leslie: Be back next time for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help your marriage thrive. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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