Sermon: Husbands, Wives, and Children
Scripture: Matthew 5:27-30
In this week’s lessons, we learn how a family is to function, and what the responsibilities are of husbands, wives, and children.
Theme: God’s Word to Husbands
Now, of course, all of this is only one side of the relationship, as you will see. For if God sets a high standard before the woman He sets an even higher standard before the man. The wife is to love her husband and submit to him as she loves Christ and submits to Christ. But the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.
Husbands, do you love your wives like that? If you do, you will find that they have little difficulty in submitting themselves to you in the way that Jesus Christ intended. There is an incident in one of the Greek histories that illustrates this point exactly. The wife of one of the generals of Cyrus, the ruler of Persia, was charged with treachery against the king. After a trial she was condemned to die. At first, her husband did not realize what had taken place, but he was told about it and at once went bursting into the throne room. He threw himself on the floor before the king and said, “Oh, Lord, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.” Cyrus, who by all historical accounts was a noble and extremely sensitive man, was touched by this offer. He said, “Love like that must not be spoiled by death.” Then he gave the husband and wife back to each other and let the wife go free. As they walked away happily the husband said to his wife, did you notice how kindly the king looked upon us when he gave you the free pardon?” The wife replied, “I had no eyes for the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die in my place.”
That is the picture that the Holy Spirit paints for us in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. And no wife will have much difficulty in obeying a man who is willing to be crucified for her.
Another aspect of this relationship is that the husband is not to criticize his wife publicly. In fact, he is to be her shield and intercessor. The Bible says that Christ gave Himself for the Church, not that He might criticize it, but “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives” (vv. 26-28). To listen to some husbands talk you would think that these verses were never in the Bible. Yet they are, and they mean that if you are a husband, God holds you responsible for the defense of your wife and, to some degree, also for her spiritual growth and understanding.
An equally important verse for husbands is 1 Peter 3:7 which says, “In like manner, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.” Simply put, this means that God will not even hear the prayers of a man who is too ignorant to know how to treat his wife or too foolish not to value her as the greatest gift God has for him on this earth.
What does it mean to dwell with a wife according to knowledge? Well, for one thing, it means to do those little things for her that do not mean much to you, but that are everything to a woman. Keith Miller said that for him, dwelling with his wife according to knowledge meant learning to empty the trash basket for her. And it was not easy, for he had always thought of trash baskets as “women’s work” mentally. My mother once said to me that it should mean giving a wife a little bit of money to do with as she wants with no questions asked. I think that is part of it. Even though you may think that she will spend it foolishly, you should do it anyway. She might just spend it to get her hair done or buy a new hat, and so you might be a beneficiary eventually anyway. Billy Graham writes that dwelling with a wife according to knowledge also means being courteous. He writes, “You remember when you were sweethearts how courteous you were? You used to go around the car and open the door and say, ‘Darling, won’t you step out?’ Now you don’t. You remember before you were married how you used to take off your coat and put it down in the mud puddle and tell her to walk over it! Now when she comes to a mud puddle you say, ‘Jump, lady, I think you can make it.’”
How true to life that is! And how much we men need to change. I suppose that it would mean the most astounding transformation of our homes and our society if only men could learn to treat their wives properly.
What might a husband say or do that can make it difficult for a wife to submit to him?
What does it mean to dwell with a wife according to knowledge?
Application: List some specific things you will do to treat your husband or wife as they are meant to be treated, in view of the connection between your marriage and the relationship of Christ and His Church.
Key Point: For if God sets a high standard before the woman He sets an even higher standard before the man. The wife is to love her husband and submit to him as she loves Christ and submits to Christ. But the husband is to love the wife as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.