When I am ministering at a wedding ceremony, one of the scriptures I always read to the couple at their wedding is Eph 5:20-21. It says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
The word submit is a scary word to many people – especially women. It’s a word that people who don’t know God, don’t understand, and that those that do, struggle with. The unspoken thought is, “Pastor, can we just skip that verse?” The husband might like the thought that God tells his wife to submit to him, but the thought of him submitting to her? Really? Wives more than not, hate the word because it paints a picture in their mind of becoming some kind of mindless slave to their husband, having to obey everything he says. They both struggle because they often see this word as some kind of a permission slip to dominate and make someone subservient. That is not the heart of God at all in giving it to us.
Let’s look at the verse again. It starts out, “Giving thanks always…. Submitting yourselves…” Few would be giving thanks if they were being made a slave or feeling dominated and treated like one! This verse is really teaching us that as husbands and wives, we need to thank God for the spouse He has given us and learn to adapt to each other with whole-hearted respect out of love and reverence to each other and to God.
Let me share some of Renee and my “adapting.” When Renee gets into bed at night, she does not go to sleep until after she has spent a fair amount of time reading. We’ll pray together and then she’ll usually read until she’s tired. I go to bed, lay my head down and usually fall asleep with 10 seconds.
Because I fall asleep quickly and she likes to read, we’ve adapted how we go to bed to work in such a way that it works perfectly for us. This is the process of respecting and adapting to each other.
When Renee wakes up in the morning, the wheels of her mind begin to turn slowly. It takes her a little while to come out of her wake-up fog. She gets up, puts on the coffee, grabs a cup and heads to the couch to read her Bible. As she reads and prays, she journals her thoughts from the Lord. By that time she is wide awake, calls her mom for a few minutes to say hi and chat, and then she’s ready to take on the day.
I wake up perky in the morning. I am almost instantly awake. After going to the bathroom, I do my core exercises, shower and get ready for the day, and often go join Renee on the couch to pray. When we are done praying, I head to my home office to write Fresh Manna. This works perfect for us and how we start most days because we’ve adapted to this place. But, our mornings were not always like that. In the early days of our marriage, because I wake up so quickly, I tried to get her up so she could come and pray with me. She moved slow, and could hardly think or communicate. Though that would have been a good routine for me, it was not the right routine for her. And so we adapted, finding out what worked best for both of us and trying to meld that together.
Renee loved to talk about everything at night which is great, but sometimes she carried that into the bedroom right before trying to go to sleep. We’d end up talking about problems, finances, the kids, and situations that created stress. This was not the way to prepare for sweet sleep or romantic adventures. We decided to set other time frames to discuss those kinds of things which made our bedtime much more sweet.
These are just a few of the many areas we’ve learned to adapt to each other. It seemed like there were hundreds! But instead of fighting with each other over how we were going to execute our life together, we adapted from a heart of love to what each of us needed! That is what God intended when He said, “submit one to another.” This is the fulfillment of another verse that is spoken in most weddings. Ephesians 5:31 (NIV) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” You become one flesh in God’s eyes when you become married. But you really become one flesh when you’ve learned to adapt to each other!
God does not expect anyone to adapt to rudeness, disrespect, or slothful habits. But, we all have our little idiosyncrasies that we formed over the years. Adapting, loving, and appreciating each other makes any desired change from one spouse to another more doable. And, it defuses many potential battles that Satan would like to stir up to ruin your marriage.
Renee and I have ministered to married couples a great deal over the years and are always somewhat surprised when we see couples that have been married for 15 to 20 years and have still not learned to adapt to each other in a spirit of love! When two people take this approach and truly try to communicate and work out the little changes that produce great results, the marriage becomes so much more loving. Be thankful for the spouse God has given you and respectfully adapt where you can. You will find much more joy in your life and your marriage has a much greater chance of becoming what God intended it be! Learn this sooner than later in your marriage so that you can become a team and heirs together of God’s blessings.
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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