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Daily Devotional

Submit to Christ

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Scripture: But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12 (NKJV)

Observation: The principle stated here occurs in Proverbs 25:6–7 with reference to seating at banquets, and elsewhere the principle refers to the future time when God equalizes everyone (Is 2:11–12; 5:15; cf. Ezek 17:24; 21:26

Application: I am often asked for some clarification about Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22 (NKJV).  Many men have used this text to keep their wives under and oppressive, domineering submission, some even to the point of becoming abusive.  Understandably so, many women have rebelled against their husbands and even against God because of such treatment.  However, that was never Paul’s intent.  In fact, the type of leadership a husband must exercise at home is that which Jesus taught about and which He exemplified in His own life – what we call “servant leadership.”  Jesus taught, “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

A husband who demands submission has not submitted himself to Christ’s headship in his own life.  Look carefully at what Ellen White writes about the words of Ephesians 5:22:

The question is often asked, "Shall a wife have no will of her own?" The Bible plainly states that the husband is the head of the family. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands." If this injunction ended here, we might say that the position of the wife is not an enviable one; it is a very hard and trying position in very many cases, and it would be better were there fewer marriages. Many husbands stop at the words, "Wives, submit yourselves," but we will read the conclusion of the same injunction, which is. "As it is fit in the Lord." 

God requires that the wife shall keep the fear and glory of God ever before her. Entire submission is to be made only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has purchased her as His own child by the infinite price of His life. God has given her a conscience, which she cannot violate with impunity. Her individuality cannot be merged into that of her husband, for she is the purchase of Christ. It is a mistake to imagine that with blind devotion she is to do exactly as her husband says in all things, when she knows that in so doing, injury would be worked for her body and her spirit, which have been ransomed from the slavery of Satan. There is One who stands higher than the husband to the wife; it is her Redeemer, and her submission to her husband is to be rendered as God has directed--"as it is fit in the Lord." 

When husbands require the complete subjection of their wives, declaring that women have no voice or will in the family, but must render entire submission, they place their wives in a position contrary to the Scripture. In interpreting the Scripture in this way, they do violence to the design of the marriage institution. This interpretation is made simply that they may exercise arbitrary rule, which is not their prerogative. But we read on, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." Why should the husband be bitter against his wife? If the husband has found her erring and full of faults, bitterness of spirit will not remedy the evil. (The Adventist Home, p. 116)

As if that were not enough, she adds:

The Lord Jesus has not been correctly represented in His relation to the church by many husbands in their relation to their wives, for they do not keep the way of the Lord. They declare that their wives must be subject to them in everything. But it was not the design of God that the husband should have control, as head of the house, when he himself does not submit to Christ. He must be under the rule of Christ that he may represent the relation of Christ to the church. If he is a coarse, rough, boisterous, egotistical, harsh, and overbearing man, let him never utter the word that the husband is the head of the wife, and that she must submit to him in everything; for he is not the Lord, he is not the husband in the true significance of the term. . . .

Husbands should study the pattern and seek to know what is meant by the symbol presented in Ephesians, the relation Christ sustains to the church. The husband is to be as a Saviour in his family. Will he stand in his noble, God-given manhood, ever seeking to uplift his wife and children? Will he breathe about him a pure, sweet atmosphere? Will he not as assiduously cultivate the love of Jesus, making it an abiding principle in his home, as he will assert his claims to authority?

Let every husband and father study to understand the words of Christ, not in a one-sided manner, merely dwelling upon the subjection of the wife to her husband, but in the light of the cross of Calvary, study as to his own position in the family circle. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Jesus gave Himself up to die upon the cross in order that He might cleanse and keep us from all sin and pollution by the influence of the Holy Spirit.  (Ibid.117)

I hope these words encourage us as husbands to show the Christ-like love to our wives that He designed for the marriage relationship which honors Him as the Creator and God we worship and serve.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may Your love for us flow through us to our wives so that our marriage may be a reflection of the relationship between Jesus and His bride, the church.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.


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