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Domestic Harmony

Ephesians 5:21-33

James R. Davis

Of all the things that destroy our peace, none is more nagging, more draining, and more painful than the disharmony of the home. The sarcastic infighting, the negative putdowns, the stinging stares. Doors slammed shut. Desperate feelings of loneliness.

These descriptions may or may not portray the dwelling where you live. But there is no doubt that they define many homes today. We see home crumbling before our eyes. The United States has more divorces than any other country. Over fifty percent of marriages in our country will end in the divorce court. It has gotten so painful that many refuse to establish homes opting to cohabit.

It happened in the city of Detroit, Michigan. After applying for a marriage license, a man failed to reappear at the county clerk's office until 11 years later to claim the important document. When asked why he and his fiancée had waited so long to get married, he explained, "We had a few disagreements about details."

What are the essential for domestic harmony? Is it really possible? "Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches" (Proverbs 24:3-4).

If you take the pain to apply the principles we will be studying this morning your marriages will never be the same.

Ephesians 5:21-33

I. Subjection.

The first word I want you to consider is subjection. "Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). A husband and wife are to be subject to one another. The word "subjecting" in the original Greek language of the New Testament meant to subordinate, to obey, be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, submit self unto (Strongs Dictionary). This definition leaves out any guess as to what Paul is saying. It has to do with an attitude that envisions sexual rights, behavior and personal appreciation for each other.

Submission is for everyone. "A young sentry, on guard duty for the first time, had orders not to admit any car unless it had a special identification seal. The first unmarked car the sentry stopped contained a general. When the general told his driver to go right on through, the sentry politely asked, `I'm new at this, sir. Who do I shoot first, you or the driver?' "The sentry had it right. Everybody submits. Submission is for generals, presidents, teachers, students, accountants, attorneys, Central American dictators, and wives. It's also for husbands. No one escapes submission. We are all under authority."

We do this out of respect for Jesus Christ.

The idea of subjection and submission is to give something to another. That rubs this generation the wrong way. Many say, "I'm not going to give in to anybody. We are like James and John they went to Jesus and wanted a throne on one side or the other. Jesus told them if they could surrender their wills and drink of the cup that he drank they could.

Surrender is not like milquetoast, not wishy-washy. It is an inward lifestyle.

J. Upton Dickson was a fun-loving fellow who was writing a book entitled Cower Power. He also founded a group for submissive people. It was called DOORMATS. That stands for "Dependent Organization Of Really Meek And Timid Souls--if there are no objections." Their motto was: "The meek shall inherit the earth--if that's okay with everybody." Their symbol was the yellow traffic light. Mr. Dickson sounds like he'd be a lot of fun. What is disturbing about all of this, though, is that many people assume that the ridiculous ideas behind DOORMATS and Cower Power represent the quality of meekness set forth in Matthew 5:5.

Love the New Testament speaks of is submission to the other person's needs. It eliminates the need to rule or ruin, boss or bust; to be Mr. Big Shot; the need for others to give in to us; the need to have our own way.

Submission would stop fusses, feuds, fights, and splits. Submission with one genius stroke cures stubbornness. This type of submission goes beyond physical needs. Sometimes we think that if we are the breadwinners that we are fulfilling the needs of our family and that is as far as our submission goes. You can take care of someone's physical need and never truly be in submission to that person's real needs.

My wife works at Carrington Place, a convalescent home. Her job is to engage the residents in physical and mental activities. This is done so they will not withdraw into a corner. When she went to work, there was one lady that would carry on a conversation with her; it seemed normal to her. Until one day her boss told her that this particular lady would not talk to anyone and furthermore she had not talked to anyone in over a year. Mary thought that she was talking about another lady. The boss reassured Mary that it was the lady that Mary knew had been talking to her. Mary informed her boss that she did talk. Her boss didn't believe it. The lady didn't even talk to her sister that visited her. That lady continues to talk to Mary and most do not believe she talks. This lady's physical needs were being met, but her emotional needs had not been met.

Families also have emotional needs. We will never discover those needs until we submit ourselves to them.

Submission carries with it the idea of adapting oneself to the needs of others. It is like altering a garment for a person to fit their build. A couple shape their plans around each other to fit the big picture. This assures a masculine and feminine perspective on perspective.

II. Sacrifice.

The message of the cross is submission. The means of that submission was sacrifice. We get hung up on the word submission. We only see the other person's need to submit. We may look at our wives or our husbands as our own personal slaves.

At baptism Christians are suppose to die to themselves. When men and women will die for one another, both will wave the white flag of surrender.

Girl: Do you love me?
Boy: Yes, dear.
Girl: Would you die for me?
Boy: No, mine is an undying love.

Jesus gave up everything. He came to earth and courted the charter members for three and a half years. He counseled -- taught his apostles and led them straight to Calvary.

Behind every sacrifice lies the heart of a servant. In Acts chapter six when the Grecian widows were be neglected concerning their daily needs, there were those who were not acting like Christians. What did the apostles do to solve this problem? They said, "Let us choose seven servants." Servants solved the problem.

Marriage vows hold up the high idea of a sacrificing love.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:1-4 NIV).

A beautiful principle is stated here. It is not our words but our attitudes and actions that win others. It is the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit..." that is of great value to God and your mate.

This is the greatest sacrifice that you will ever give, to live in such a way that your life will win your mate.

III. Splendor

When I look at Ephesians chapter two, I realize that Christ put us on a pedestal. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Christ devotion of submission and sacrifice has lifted us to great heights. We are sitting with him in heavenly places in the church.

George Eastman of Eastman Kodak Company never set out to get rich. He watched his widowed mother mop floors wash clothes to care for the family. He set out to help his mother to live more comfortable. His love for his mother lifted him out of poverty. Love will lift us; in fact we sing a song, "Love Lifted Me."

Paul was harder on men. Love your wife as you love you own body. Love your wife as Christ loves the church. You can't miss the point about the submission of the husband here. You can see the splendor of that. No man ever hated his own body.

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (KJV)

Peter said, "Live with your wife..." That certainly takes time and effort and giving of yourself.

Peter said, "Live with your wife, according to knowledge..." When the preacher pronounces you husband and wife, then the masks come off. Some think that they married the wrong person. Some may be as surprised as Jacob when he awoke the next and found himself married to Leah instead of Rachel. When Leah's veil came off Jacob was in shocked. Many times the mask comes off after marriage.

A newlywed couple was about to check into the hotel.
New bride: "Honey, let's pretend that we have been married for a long time."
Groom: "Fine with me, but do you think you can carry all those suitcases by yourself?"

Peter also said, "give honor unto the wife..." Wouldn't it be wonderful if husbands and wives loved and honored one another.


Think of the awesome power of love. Love cures people, both the ones that give it and the ones that receive it.


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