What are the “relational ripples” of my life?
You may want to use the VISUAL of a unity candle for a wedding – ask
what it is and what it symbolizes. While it can symbolize the centrality
of Christ in marriage, today’s passage makes it clear that reverence
for Christ is the umbrella for healthy churches, marriages, parent-child
relationships and workplaces.
- Reverence for Christ – ripples for the Church (5:21)
- “Submit” was originally a military term meaning “to arrange or rank
under.” Christians “rank themselves under” one another (a similar idea
is described by Paul in Philippians 2:3-4). John Maxwell describes this
as “relinquishing rights – we give up to go up,” because the greatest in
God’s Kingdom is the servant of all.
- Reverence for Christ might be captured in the initials WWJD (What
Would Jesus Do?), where He sets the standard and provides the example
(i.e. 5:2 – “just as Christ loved us”) rather than the dominating
influence in our relationships being the pre-conditioning of our
household of origin, comparison to others, etc.
- This reverence for Christ is first and foremost modeled in the
Church – “…”Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is
the Savior. “Now as the church submits to Christ” (5:23-24), “…just as
Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (25), “…just as
Christ does the church” (29), “…I am talking about Christ and the
- Reverence for Christ – ripples for husbands and wives (5:22-33)
- Wives are called upon to relate to their husbands “as to the Lord”
(22) and “as the church submits to Christ” (24). It is different from
the concept of “obey” - different words are used of children (6:1) and
slaves (6:5) – husbands are not to treat their wives as a child or a
slave! The core concept is responsiveness to the husband’s leadership
and needs, not based on the quality of his leadership but in a desire to
- Husbands are called to a self-sacrificing love and responsiveness to
his wife’s needs following the example of Christ who “gave Himself up”
for the church (25). This love prioritizes the marriage relationship
over other important human relationships (31).
- Dr. Willard Harley’s book His Needs Her Needs highlights his study related to “affair-proofing marriage” as a responsive wife and nurturing husband meet these needs:
|Major Needs of Men:
||Major Needs of Women:
|An attractive spouse
||Honesty and openness
It would be good for husbands and wives to discuss whether these
needs are reflective of them, or if they are different how they are
different. Then, in reverence to Christ, focus on meeting the needs of
the other over keeping score on how their own needs are being met.
- Reverence for Christ – ripples for children and parents (6:1:4)
- Children - “…in the Lord” (1) – again, it all flows from reverence
for Christ. “obey” has to do with action (6:1) and “honor” has to do
with attitude (6:2).
- Parents – “…of the Lord” indicates a parenting approach that ripples
from a relationship with Christ, not training based on our own
experiences, personalities or ideas. “Fathers” is a term broad enough to
include parents in general, and the warning is against provoking anger –
in other words, the pattern of parent’s treatment of their children
should not over time build up a deep-seated anger and resentment that
boils over in outward rage (destructive parental patterns include
favoritism, perfectionism, criticism, etc.)
- Reverence for Christ – ripples for employees and employers (6:5-9)
- Employees (5-8) – “…just as you would obey Christ” (5), “…as if you
were serving the Lord” (7). This extends to outward action (“obey” –
being productive and responsive), but also to attitude with words such
as “respect and fear” (not cowering fright but honor) and “sincerity of
heart” (reinforced by “from your heart” in vs. 6 and “wholeheartedly” in
vs. 7) so that worker is not hypocritical or half-hearted.
- Employers (9) – this verse reminds employers of their submission to
Christ with the phrase “…He who is both their Master and yours…”. The
idea of “Do not threaten them…” has embedded in it the concept of
“loosening” or “releasing” – in other words, using authority as little
as possible (not micromanaging) and empowering (power is strictly
functional and temporary).
For both employees (“slaves”) and
employers (“masters”) the final performance review and promotion is in
heaven (II Corinthians 5:10)!
In what arena of your relationships (church, home, workplace) are you
currently experiencing the most joy? What does it look like for you,
today, in each area, to have attitudes and actions “out of reverence for
Reflection & Action
Use the guide for either personal devotions or group discussion.
© Wayne Schmidt