Maximize Your Relationships. Ephesians 5:18-33

Points Covered: Marriage, husband and wife relationship, submission, sacrifice, love  in family.

Illustration: A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. The husband was asked the secret to their successful marriage. He said, “I grew up in an orphanage, never received a father’s or mother’s love, never witnessing how a husband was to love a wife, or any healthy family relationships. I had to work hard for everything I had. I was hesitant to commit to someone until Sarah asked me to marry her. I was so grateful that I would finally be a part of a family. After our wedding ceremony, Sarah’s father handed me a small gift. He said, ‘Within this gift is all you really need to know to have a happy marriage.’ I was nervous until I got it unwrapped. Within the box lay a large gold-plated watch. With great care I picked it up. Upon closer examination I saw etched around the face of the watch a reminder I would see whenever I checked the time of day…words that held the secret to a successful marriage. They were: “Say Something Nice to Sarah.” We too have a constant reminder that holds the secret to a successful family. It’s not inscribed on a watch, but it is inscribed in a great Book, The Bible!

We are looking at a series of message on maximizing this year and one of the areas that we need to be careful if we are to get the maximum out of this year is our family relationship.

Ephesians 5:18-33 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instructions for Christian Households

 21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Here we have some good advice for every member in a family for maximizing the relationship that God has given us here on earth.

Joke: There was a debate on whether computers are male or female. This list came from software engineers who are male. Computers are female since: No one understand their internal logic, only their creator understands. The message, “Bad Command or file name” is like a woman saying “if you don’t know why I’m mad at you, then I’m certainly not going to tell you.” As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your salary on accessories for it. Even the smallest mistakes are stored up on long-term memory for possible retrieval later.

That list was countered by a group of all female software engineers. They said computers are male because: They have a lot of data but are all still clueless. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you’d waited a little longer, you could have obtained a better model.

The fact is, it doesn’t take us long to learn that if God didn’t give us some help in all of this husband-wife, parents-children relationship in the marriage, we would be in some hot water! And a lot of people are, because they haven’t turned to God for help.

There is a divine pattern for how the family relationship has to be dealt with. How a marriage is to set a model to be followed so that there is fulfillment, joy, and reward in a family. And when we look for that model, we need to go no further than the Word of God. It’s all laid out there. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians sort of gives us a place where all of the pertinent material for a family is pulled together and it’s a great launching point for us. When Paul wrote this letter around 60 AD to the church at Ephesus, one of the things that was on his heart was the matter of marriage and when you come down to Ephesians 5:18 you begin to get in the flow that leads you to verse 22 and following where the issues of family and marriage area addressed. And keep in mind, this is not human opinion. This is God’s success formula for families.

Pillars of a Godly Family

We are going to look at 5 pillars to have a good family. Before talking about husbands, wives, and children, the Bible gives us the foundation for all of those relationships.

1. Be filled with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

All members of a family must be led/filled with the Spirit.

That really is the key that unlocks all the rest. From that great principle comes the instruction to the wife, husband, children and parents which ends in Ephesians 6:2. In fact, it is the first of several necessary prerequisites for any successful marriage or relationship. See the contrast of that verse: Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. It’s quite dramatic contrast. Paul used the term “filled” versus “drunk.” To be drunk is to be under the control, to surrender one’s body, mind & spirit to its influence. To be filled with the Spirit means, letting the Spirit of God lead you, empower you, control you & influence you, completely and continually!

Ephesians 4:30-31 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. The poof of being led by the Spirit of God is reflected in our behavior. How we talk how we deal with situations etc. It is not to be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others… Be kind and loving to each other…”

How does that apply to marriage & relationships?

Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-24 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Do you see how much of the fruit of the flesh can tear apart a marriage? We need the Holy Spirit! Something is going to control you! Make sure you let the Holy Spirit of God be the one! So whatever we are going to do in terms of our Christian life be it marriage or the family, it has to flow out of a life controlled by the Holy Spirit.

2. Be filled with joy.

Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.

Where there is a life filled with the Spirit and devoted to the Word of God, there is praise. A spirit-filled person will automatically have joy in their heart. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is the expression of joy. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. A Spirit-filled believer is a melodious person, not negative and grumpy. Such person can get along with anybody.

Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s very hard to argue with somebody who is joyful and thankful for everything. You find a person who is filled with the Spirit, I’ll show you a happy and thankful person.

We are really talking here not about some kind of gimmicks to make your marriage work. God is talking about constructively communicating to one another. “Speaking” not yelling! When a person is Spirit-controlled, he/she will have a conversation and a communication that is kind, loving, and joyful. This includes your spouse, children, and parents!

Illustration: Wife: “I wish you talked to me as much for me as you do with your dog…you talk sweet to him, pet him, and care for his needs.”

Illustration: A kid comes home from college and dad says, “How’s college son? “Good.” How’s your grades? “Good” Friends? “Fine.” Food? “OK”. Dorm life? “Good.” By the way, are you studying Maths or business? He said “no communications.”

One of the top causes to a breakdown in a marriage relationship is the lack of communication or negative communication. With the busy schedule and media explosion of our day, communication is one of the first things to go in a relationship! Don’t let it happen!

I hear suggestions all the time, take your wife on a date, take her out to dinner, go for a marriage seminar. That’s all fine. That’s not going to repair a marriage if the foundation is not right. There is only way to cultivate a right relationship with anybody and that’s to be filled with the Spirit of God, filled with praise and gratitude to God so that your heart is overflowing with joy and that’s what makes a person someone that you can live with.

It should be frankly, almost impossible to start a fight with you because you are just too full of joy. You are so filled with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control that your spouse may just get upset at their inability to cause conflict. Now, out of those things flows yet another element.

3. Submit mutually.

Ephesians 5:21-23 21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Illustration: The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message” “Alter your course 10 degrees south.” Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south – I am the captain!” Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am seaman third class Jones.” Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: “Alter your course 10 degrees south – I am a battleship.” Then the reply came “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am a lighthouse.” Submission is not easy, isn’t it?

Be subject to one another. The Bible is not talking about who this. This isn’t talking about wives to their husbands, this isn’t talking about children to their parents. It’s talking about everybody. This is what makes meaningful family. We are talking about a generic kind of submission without regard for any specific relationship within the context of a family.

The word ‘submit’ means to rank under. It’s a military term. We are called on to place ourselves under each other. Here is what makes for meaningful relationships. Someone controlled by the Spirit of God, obedient to the Word of God, filled with joy and thanksgiving, and eager to submit one to another.

This principle is very prominent in the Scripture.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.

1 Corinthians 16:16 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.

Hebrews 13:7 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.

1 Peter 2:13-14 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

1 Peter 5:5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

This is the idea of humility. John 13 shows a marvelous illustration of this where Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. He humbled himself although he was the incarnate God and wash the feet of a bunch of proud self-centered disciples who were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom while the Lord. A strong family is a submissive family.

4. Sacrifice Willingly.

Joke: A 4-year-old girl was very inquisitive and expressed difficulty in grasping the concept of marriage. Her father decided to pull out his wedding photo album, thinking visual images would help. One page after another, he pointed out the bride arriving at the church, the entrance, the wedding ceremony, the recessional, the reception, etc. “Now do you understand?” he asked. “I think so,” she said, “Is that when mommy came to work for us?”

Ephesians 5:24-27 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Look at the example of Jesus for His bride. Philippians 2:5-8 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

It’s up to both partners in marriage to give & sacrifice! Christ sacrificed his life for us, we sacrifice our passions and lust and desires of this world and live for Christ. It is mutual.

Illustration: One young man saw an elderly couple sitting down to lunch at McDonald’s. He noted that they had ordered one meal, & an extra cup. He watched, the older man carefully divide the hamburger in half, then counted out the fries, one for him, one for her, until each had half of them. Then the old man poured half of the soft drink into the cup & set that in front of his wife. The man then began to eat, & his wife sat, watching, with her hands folded in her lap. The young man decided to ask if they would allow him to purchase another meal for them so that they didn’t have to split theirs. The old guy said, “Oh, no. We’ve been married 50 years, & everything has always been & will always be shared, 50/50.” The young man then asked the wife if she was going to eat, & she replied, “Not yet. It’s his turn with the teeth.”

5. Serve/ Love Unselfishly.

Illustration: A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a “Fault” box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach; “leaving the jelly top off the jar, “wet towels on the bathroom floor,” “dirty socks not in the hamper,” on and on until the end of the month. After supper, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong from the comments in the box from his wife. Then the wife opened her box from her husband and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, “ I love you! I always have and I always will.”

Ephesians 5:28-3128In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

We are to nourish and cherish. Nourish is to care for, provide sustenance (physical and spiritual) necessary for life. Cherish is to treat with affection and tenderness; hold dear. The idea here is to be like Jesus & seek to serve, not be served! That’s what you did when you were newly married.

Loving means you care more for that other person than you care about yourself! To love, honor & cherish means you want to make that other person’s life better!

Illustration: I heard the story of an old man, the president of an university whose wife developed Alzheimer’s disease. Several years down the road it got so bad that she could not even recognize her husband anymore. This man was well to do, gave her the best treatment, he had plenty of people taking care of her. But one day he went in an announced his resignation to the board because he could spend his fulltime taking care of his wife. The board could not understand it, they tried to talk him out of it, they told him how needed he was. One member spoke up and said why would you do this, you can hire people to take care of her. The other member said why would you do this, she does not even know who you are. He looked up and said, “Listen I made a commitment to this woman over 50 years ago. She may not know who I am but I know who she is.” That is the kind of commitment we need to have in our marriages.

Be committed to one another. When you are committed you will be able to enjoy your husband or enjoy your wife. They are God’s provisions for your joy.

Conclusion:

Let’s commit our relationships to God this morning. Let’s commit ourselves to be filled in the spirit, to be full of joy; to submit, sacrifice, and serve one another. Get rid of all bitterness and anger and commit yourselves to God.