This is number 10 in a weekly series I began on December 21st/13 with a post called, “Married Forever?
Because the command to Submit to one another carries such huge baggage for many people (sadly many Christians seem as confused as those who live upon the earth), I'm going to continue with that subject for just a bit.
I've said that instead of concentrating on the “behaviours of love,” we are far more successful when we focus on drawing closer to, and abiding in Jesus. I've also said that when couples focus on fixing a troubled marriage, they are not nearly as successful as when they focus on fixing their troubled relationship with Jesus. It is His Spirit that changes us which in turn changes our thoughts and behaviours. The former is little more than acting as though we're followers of Jesus. The latter provides genuine evidence of a changed character. Changing behaviours on their own ends in fatigue and failure. The indwelling Spirit of the Christ does the work for us, so to speak.
Having said that, in Ephesians 5:22,25, Paul instructs women to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church “giving Himself up for her.” The latter requires a far greater degree of self-sacrifice or dying to self, although each partner is called to a life of self-sacrifice for the other. The Holy Spirit can work this change of focus in us. I have yet to see anyone do it on their own for emotionally / spiritually healthy reasons.
For those indwelt by God's Spirit, giving others “preferential treatment over ourselves,” comes quite naturally and easily, without losing one iota of worth or value. This is not thinking that others are always better human beings than ourselves; rather it's thinking about ourselves less often and in turn treating others with deference. When the Holy Spirit forms our character, we simply view the interests of others before we notice our own, just as Jesus, the Creator of the universe stepped down from His throne to fix what we had destroyed. Just as Jesus the Christ did not “please Himself,” but did what was best for us, to save us, to love us and to draw us into a relationship with Himself. He came to earth, not be served but to serve us and give His life for us; then He says, “Follow Me in your relationship with others.” He met our needs at the cost of His own life and that is how husbands and wives are to treat each other until the death of one or the other ends the relationship.
In a Biblical marriage, as the spiritual head of the home, the husband is to take the lead in demonstrating servant-leadership.
More on this next Friday