Living out God's love
Want to talk about purpose and our God-given roles today. God has a certain purpose in mind for each of our lives. There are certain things He desires for each of us to do with our lives to give Him glory and to advance His Kingdom on earth.
Ephesians 2:10-For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Each of us has specific purposes depending upon the skills, gifts and personalities God has given us. Because of your unique character and position in the world, you are the one God is counting on to fulfill certain roles in the church and in the world.
There are also more general roles we are called to. We are all called by Jesus to fufill His great commission:
Matt 28:19-20-Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
He has also called us all to live out our lives according to his Great Commandment:
Matt 22:37-40-Jesus replied," 'Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments."
With love being defined as is written:
John 15:13-"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Living out these purposes takes learning to apply these principles to a variety of roles and relationships that we have. Today being Father's Day I want to take some time to look at what the Bible says about applying these purposes within our family relationships. Let's start by looking at what the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 5.
What Paul writes in chapter 5 really begins in chapt 4 where he writes, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient bearing with one another in love."
From here through the beginning of chapt 6 Paul is addressing how to do this-how should we as children of God live lives worthy of our calling and bear with one another in love?
In chapt 5 he tells us to be imitators of God and to live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. (ties back to Great Commandment, etc.)
In verse 21, he starts to make a new point.
Ephesians 5:21-Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The Greek word for "submit" here is "hoop-ot-as'-so " which means to submit, or subject or yield yourself to another. Notice that this is a general statement for all of us. We are to live in mutual submission ....or humility to one another.
Paul writes more on this in Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
With that idea in mind...this submitting to one another in reverence to Christ, Paul goes on to describe what this means for several groups of people: husbands & wives, children & fathers and then slaves & masters.
Let's look at what he says to husbands and wives:
Eph 5:22-23: Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
This is not about being subservient and making your husband lord over you....there is one on LORD your father in heaven you are to obey. But yield to your husband in love for him...see him as better than yourself...look not just to your needs but the needs of your husband...take care of him...respect him.
Paul goes on to say the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. This is a recognition of a difference in responsibilities God has given man and women. Both were created as partners bearing God's image. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." And they were given the command together to fill and rule over the earth. But God did create Adam first and gave him the responsibility to be the head of the family. Paul felt it was important to remind wives of this. To remind them to have a loving humility toward their husbands that allows them to fulfill their God-given role at the head of the family. When God created Eve he said, It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." This is an essential and important role, and Paul is reminding wives to be that partner with their husbands in loving and serving the Lord-helping him to be the man God intended him to be.
Now the second half of this relationship is the husbands. Look at verses 25-27. (read)
Love your wife as Christ loved the church. Jesus willingly gave up his life for the church in order to to purify the church and to set apart a body of people in the world blameless before God...holy, radiant...both beautiful and powerful that gives grace to the world and glorifies God.
Men, it is our responsibility to love our wives with that kind of love. A love that is self-sacrificing....that places your own desires at a lower priority than helping your wife know the depths of God's love for her and allowing her to radiate the grace of God.
In Matthew 20:26, Jesus said, "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Thisis what it means to be the head....to serve your wife. Humbly considering your wife as better than yourself and looking not just to your own interests, but to hers.
This means we need to be engaged in our wives lives...not sitting back and saying, "I'm not going to get involved" But being part of what is going on in her life...seeking to understand her needs.
Paul goes on in vv. 28-29.....
In verse 33, Paul concludes this section with, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. A marriage in which both husband and wife fulfill their God-given roles and are satisfied take this kind of mutual love and respect that is rooted in a love for God.
Young people...consider these things now as you begin to mature and start to think about dating other people. What is God's purpose for you in those relationships ....begin now to learn how to treat those people are are attracted to the way God desires you to.
Now take a look at what Paul says about children and parents in chapter 6: 1-4
First he tells children to honor and obey their parents...so that it may go well with you. It is important for kids..to listen to and respect their parents. To understand that parents are looking our for your best interests. It does take trust...and depends upon bith kids and parents exercising and living in God's love and grace.
Paul then addresses the fathers again...don't exasperate your children...don't provoke them to anger and frustration. Instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. This is sacrificial love again. Don't frustrate your kids by ignoring them and getting too focused on your own goals...or lashing out at them in anger...or most importantly forgetting their own need to know the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
As the head of the family, God is calling us men to step up and take responsibility for looking out for our families....and in that the most important role is to take responsibility for the spiritual growth of our families. Prioritize your own relationship with God...and nuture the same relationship between God and your wife and kids.
The common theme throughout these family roles is that Paul is telling us all to love God first...and then to love one another as we love ourselves. It takes sacrifice, and humility toward one another.
We don't live in a perfect world...and we will all fall short of God's expectations for one another. When we do we will frustrate and hurt one another, and that is where we need to continue to be filled with the love of God....and allow God to make all things new betwen yourselves...and never give up on one another.
You may also have a spouse...or a parent....or child who doesn't acknowledge God and doesn't want him part of their lives right now. As difficult as that can be, there is hope. For one, God has placed with word in the hearts of mankind. Deep down, everyone has a sense of what is right, and there is always hope that they will respond to God's call.
You will also help to call them into God's presence by fufilling your own God' given role as best you can. 1 Peter 3:1 says, "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." God is using your live as a testament to your spouse of God's power and love.
So the message to us all today as we consider our own families...and the roles we play in them...whether husband or wife...child or parents....or even grandparent...is to love one another as Gos has loved us. Each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of those others God has given us.
In this way we will all grow stronger in love and experience the fullness of life in Christ that God desires for us all.