32. Health Benefits of Prayer
Source: Sociological Quarterly – Compared to non-religious teenagers, those who find meaning and importance in religion, and continue to do so during their teen years, experience a better relationship with each parent. And, the whole family has a more satisfying relationship. However, when parents try to enforce beliefs that the children do not share or easily accept, relationships can worsen.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) -“Spirit-Guided Relationships: Wives and Husbands” Ephesians 5:21-30 says,
“21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 For wives, this means submit your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of His body.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – People often misunderstand the concept of submitting to another person. It does not mean becoming totally passive. Our Lord Jesus Christ – at whose name every knee will bow (Philippians 2:10) – submitted His will to the Father, and we honor our Lord Jesus Christ by following His example. When we submit to God, we become more willing to obey His command to submit to others, that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs. In Paul’s day, women, children, and slaves were to submit to the head of the family – slaves would submit until they were freed, male children until they grew up, and women and girls their whole lives. Paul emphasized the equality of all believers in Christ (Galatians 3:28), but he counseled all believers to submit to one another by choice. This kind of mutual submission preserves order and harmony.
Submission provides evidence that we have Spirit-controlled relationships, and it requires the Holy Spirit’s guidance and restraint (Ephesians 4:2-3). In the church, the believers should be willing to learn from, serve, give to, or be corrected by others in the fellowship. Such submission can allow growth both individually and corporately as the believers seek to follow Christ. Our motive should be reverence (literally, “fear”) for Christ. We should not treat one another rightly just because it is expected or because we will be well regarded but because one day we must give account to Christ of how we have lived.
Submission in the church should follow from submission in the home. The home, the foundation for relationships and personal growth, must be an example of peaceful submission. In a marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. The relationships between husbands and wives are a microcosm of the larger picture of church relationships.
Paul spoke first to the wives, explaining that they were to submit voluntarily to their husbands as they would to the Lord, meaning “as is fitting to the Lord.” This does not mean that the husband is “lord” over the wife. Our concept of submission must come from that which exists between our Lord Jesus Christ and the church: Christ loves the church, and the church submits to Him. We must not base it on either a feminist or chauvinist view. Born-Again Christian marriage involves mutual submission, subordinating our personal desires for the good of the loved one and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ as Lord. The wife’s submission to her husband is one way that she can demonstrate her submission to Christ. She does this voluntarily out of love for her husband and for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul explained that a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of His body, the church. In other words, the husband is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership. Real spiritual leadership involves service and sacrifice. Jesus Christ as head of the church is also its Savior. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave His life for the church. So, as the church submits to Christ, so the wives must submit to their husbands in everything. A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage. For the wife, submission means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care for his wife. Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other.
Paul also had words for husbands – to love their wives. Why did Paul tell wives to “submit” and husbands to “love”? Perhaps Christian women, newly freed in Christ, found submission difficult; perhaps Christian men, used to the Roman custom of giving unlimited power to the head of the family, were not used to treating their wives with sacrificial respect and love. Of course, both husbands and wives should submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21) just as both should love each other. Thus, “submission” reaffirms the new covenant of equality as well as the affirmation of marriage in which the partners voluntarily and joyously submit in order to seek each other’s best.
Some Christians have thought that Paul was negative about marriage because of his counsel in 1 Corinthians 7:32-38. These verses in Ephesians, however, show a high view of marriage. Here marriage is not a practical necessity or a cure for lust but a picture of the relationship between our Lord Jesus Christ and His church! Husbands are called to love their wives with the same love Christ showed the church. That Jesus Christ gave up His life for the church indicates a sacrificial, substitutionary surrendering of Himself to death. Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for the church because of His love for it. Husbands, then, should be ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary for their wives. Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender, self-sacrificing care. How should a man love his wife? (1) He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her. (2) He should make her well-being of primary importance. (3) He should care for her as he cares for his own body. No wife needs to fear submitting to a man who treats her in this way.
Paul further explained that Christ gave Himself up for the church to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. Our Lord Jesus Christ’s death sanctifies and cleanses the church. He cleanses His people from the old ways of sin and sets them apart for His special sacred service. Baptism is a picture of the cleansing that has occurred because of Christ’s sacrificial death. Through baptism we are prepared for entrance into the church just as ancient Near Eastern brides were prepared for marriage by a ceremonial bath. It is God’s word that cleanses us (John 17:17; Titus 3:5).
How does this apply to marriage? Probably the details need not be carried too far; Paul was quoting a hymn and did not mean for each detail to correspond to the marriage relationship. But this does paint the picture of mutual sanctification and self-sacrifice. Indeed, Paul had that thought in mind when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 that the unbelieving partner may be drawn to God by the believing partner. Paul was telling husbands to draw their wives closer to Christ and be a part of his sanctifying process. Peter applied the same thought to wives (1 Peter 3:1-2).
Continuing from Ephesians 5:26, probably as part of an early Christian hymn, this verse explains why our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself up for the church in order to make the church holy – to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. The “presentation” pictures a future wedding; this is like the betrothal period, which for the Jews was as binding as marriage. The church age is the interim before the “wedding” when the church will at last be presented to Christ as His “bride” (Revelation 19:7). During this time, the church is making itself ready, as a bride would be preparing for her wedding. It was traditional for a bride to take a ritual bath just before her wedding as a symbol of her chastity. Similarly, the sacrament of baptism demonstrates the Christian’s desire that God should find him or her pure and faithful when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to claim His bride, the church. The church does not make itself holy and without fault; instead, it has already been made so through the blood of Christ.
In the same way means that there exists between the husband and the wife the same union as between Christ and the church. Following from Ephesians 5:27, husbands should be as concerned for their wife’s spiritual growth and closeness to the Lord as Christ is for the church. Paul expressed this unity in physical terms, for the husband and wife become “one flesh” through marriage (Genesis 2:24; see 5:31 below, where Paul quoted this verse). So Christ and His church become “one” through spiritual union (see Ephesians 4:4). As such, the church is Christ’s body: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Christ gave Himself for the church (Ephesians 5:25), so husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. The spiritual and physical union between a husband and wife is as total and complete as the union a person has with his or her own body. When a man loves his wife, he is actually loving himself for she is so much a part of him. This is a beautiful picture of the mutuality that should be a part of every marriage. This picture shattered the cultural norms of the day, in which a wife was often considered no more than “property.” No, Paul says, in fact, the relationship is so deep and intimate that the husband and wife are a single being. The husband loves his wife not as an extension of self-love but because it is advantageous both to her and to himself. The Greek word for “love” is agapao, referring to that giving love that seeks the highest good for the other. When a husband loves his wife with this kind of love, they both will benefit. A wife need not worry about submitting to a husband who treats her this way.
The fact that no one hates his own body refers not to self-centeredness but to self-preservation, the natural self-concern that causes people to feed and care for themselves. As a man cares for his own body, he should also do the same for his wife, who is one with him. Why? Again Paul draws on the example given by our Lord Jesus Christ, who nourishes and cares for His body, which is the church. As Christ nourishes and cares for believers, so husbands must imitate Christ in their loving concern and care for their wives. But more than just an example, our Lord Jesus Christ provides the basis for the husband’s loving attention to his wife’s needs. For the husband, and indeed every believer, receives this loving attention from Jesus Christ because we are His body. He cherishes and nourishes us as living parts of His body. (See John 15:1-8, where our Lord Jesus used the analogy of the vine and the branches to teach this concept.) The union of husband and wife reflects the union of the body of Christ; our Lord Jesus Christ is the life of both relationships (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:12, 16).
God’s grace and mercy, and His righteousness help Christie and I to reach our 40th Wedding Anniversary. The more we received God’s agape love and forgiveness, and the help, comfort, and guidance with the Holy Spirit, we are looking forward to our Golden (50th) Wedding Anniversary.
Amen! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks and all glory to God for us to reach this 40th Wedding Anniversary with our 4 children and their families (7 grandchildren so far). Hallelujah!
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer
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