I want to draw from our text this morning—Ephesians 5:22-33—Three Necessary Characteristics that Secure and Sustain Commitment. If these Christ-like traits are lacking, we will find commitment lacking.
(1) Submission. This role is primarily assigned to the wife. In our day and age, this statement does not perhaps sit well. And given the abuse of centuries of men dominating and abusing women, it’s no wonder. Throughout the Bible submission is required: to governing authorities (Rom 13:1) and God (James 4:7). Submission is for everyone. God is the one who institutes authority; and so, if we have a problem with that, then we have a problem with God. Wives, you’re not submitting solely for the sake of your husband—Christians you’re not submitting solely for the sake of yourself—you’re submitting for the sake of the Lord (Eph 5:22).
(2) Sacrifice. This role is primarily assigned to the husband. And the implication for husbands is that you are to sacrificially love your wife in a way that does not expect her to always do right by you. Even when we failed Christ, He remained true. Even when your wife fails in her role, you willingly—out of reverence for Christ, v.21—give yourself up for her. And that means that my agenda has to die if it is pulling us apart.
(3) Love. It is important for us to define love, otherwise we will have the culture’s understanding of what love is (that does not square with the biblical picture). 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us that “love is patient and kind; loves does not envy, boast, insist on its own way, or rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth; it is not arrogant, rude, irritable, or resentful. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Notice what love is not: it is not sensual, it is not romantic, it is not sexual; it is not casual or convenient. Yet, they may be part of our spousal relationship (see Song of Solomon).
In the end, we must see both our relationship with our spouse and with Christ in terms of submission, sacrifice, and love. Without them, there will be no firm foundation to build our relationship with either, upon.