Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Paul waded into some turbulent waters here. We might hear these verses as a trap set to be sprung in our homes. The truth is, this passage has been applied by some in harmful ways, especially for women, and that’s unfortunate. Our self-seeking, judgmental human nature loves to point out other people’s shortcomings or obligations while ignoring our own. How easy and tempting it is to point fingers at others. You need to listen to your husband more! You need to care for your wife better! You need to mind your parents “in everything!” Any time we are tempted to hit someone over the head with scripture, we would do well to step back and examine our own hearts and actions.
What if, instead of insisting that others obey these words, I only focused on the statements that apply to me. As a husband, how can I love my wife better and treat her with kindness? As a father, how can I cheer for and encourage my children? Maybe it will be wise for me not to tell my wife or children how they should behave, but instead focus on my own attitudes and actions. Maybe you can do the same.
Before we get hung up on specific words or phrases that may offend our modern sensibilities, let’s affirm what Paul sought to affirm with these words. Family relationships matter, not just so we can have happy homes, but so we can more fully honor Jesus. Remember the previous verse that calls us to do all things in Jesus’ name and with thanksgiving. How you care for your family matters to God just as much as how you live out our faith in public or in the church. What happens behind the closed doors of your home may be private, but God sees and cares. Submit. Love. Obey. Encourage. Those are commitments you can make in Jesus’ name that will bless your family and bring peace to your home.Thank You, Father, for Your faithful love. Teach me to care for my family as a reflection of Your love for me. Give me patience, wisdom and grace for the challenges we endure, and help me to encourage those I love to love You, through Jesus our Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian