Ephesians 5 began a discussion about how we are to live together, not living according to the world’s standards, but living in a Godly way. Yesterday’s blog focused on the first half of the discussion. “Be imitators of God” Paul wrote (verse 1), and “Be very careful then, how you live” (verse 15). In verse 21 he begins to expand on the subject of how we are to live, dealing with very specific relationships. In Ephesians 5:21 through 6:9 Paul provides the following instructions:

  • Submit to one another – not because they deserve it or even because they’re doing the right thing, but “out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). The word translated “submit” is translated more properly in the King James Version as “submit yourself”. In other words, it is a voluntary submission – we choose to submit ourselves, to consider others as greater than ourselves. (If you’ve been following the Resting at the River’s Edge readings, you will have seen this in David’s relationship with Saul. When offered Saul’s daughter in marriage, his response was “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” (1 Samuel 18:18, NLT) Well, I thought as I read the passage, you’re David, the one who has killed Goliath and has done everything King Saul has asked from playing the harp to killing 10,000. But that was not David’s attitude. David continually submitted to Saul.
  • Wives, submit to your husbands. The same Greek word is used here. It is the wife’s choice to submit to her loving husband.
  • Wives respect your husbands. Showing our husbands respect is one of the ways we submit and it is one of the ways we love our husbands. That means no disparaging him when having lunch with your girlfriends! Build him up in his presence and when he is absent.
  • Husbands love your wives. Paul explains what that means – “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV). While the wife is to treat her husband as lord, the husband is not to treat his wife as if he is her lord. (Remember, the first instruction is to submit to one another.)
  • Children, obey your parents. The word translated obey means to listen attentively and obey.
  • Children, honor your father and mother. This isn’t limited to people of a certain age. Everyone with a father and mother (and of course that’s all of us) is to honor them. In their presence and when they are absent.
  • Fathers, do not exasperate your children. God knows that men and women are different (after all, He made us that way). He knows that generally women are more nurturing and patient with children. So God, through Paul, reminds Fathers to have patience with their children and to train and instruct them with love.
  • Slaves obey your earthly masters. In our culture, that can be applied in the employee/employer relationship. Employees, obey your bosses. When you agree with their decisions and when you don’t. In their presence and when they are absent. Paul tells us to go the extra mile and “serve [our bosses/masters] wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7, NIV).
  • Masters (bosses), treat your slaves (employees) well. Do not threaten them and do not show favoritism.

Well, that covers just about all relationships, and any that don’t fit into these categories fall under the first instruction to “submit to one another.”

The book of Ephesians began with the glorious prayers of Paul, reminding us of our relationship with the Father. It then gives very practical instructions about how to live together in unity. Finally, it ends with Paul’s urging us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10, NIV). We are to put on the full armor of God – to suit up for the battle to come.

Paul reminds us that all the things he’s addressed in his letter (and we’ve talked about in this blog series) – all these relationship challenges – that’s not where are battle truly is. Those are petty squabbles that we are to work through by submitting by one another. No, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, NIV) Battling those forces requires spiritual armor. It is our spiritual armor that protects us from attacks of the enemy.

Guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill wrote about our armor in this blog.

We are children of the Most High God, bought with the precious blood of Jesus, called to live a life of love in all relationships. I love how Paul combines spiritual truths and practical advice in this letter to people who were suffering for their faith.

Let’s go live that life. Let’s pray for one another the kind of prayers Paul prayed. Let’s love one another as Jesus loves us. Let’s stay strong as we purposefully put on our full armor every day. Let’s not get so caught up in life that we don’t live it as God would have us live. Enjoy God! Enjoy life!

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