They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. Now that may be true if we are talking about someone copying the style of a professional athlete. I remember growing up wanting my baseball swing to look just like Ken Griffy Jr’s beautiful swing. That may be true if we are talking about a musician wanting to sound like somebody famous. I can think of multiple bands and worship leaders that have heavily influenced my style of worship leading. However, sometimes imitation can be eye-opening and insulting, like when a friend imitates you and your first reaction is, “Do I really act like that?” My children are at a perfect age for this, my daughter and son constantly do things that make my wife and I go, “Oh no, they learned that from us didn’t they?” These things are sometimes cute, but other times show us that they have been learning from our bad example in their lives.
1. Is there someone in your life that you always wanted to be like or have closely imitated?
2. Can you think of a time where a child or family member imitated something about you that opened your eyes to a negative behavior?
When I was thinking about God’s order of authority in the home, this idea of imitation kept finding its way into my head. The scriptures that we are going to be looking at consistently talk about leading with an example and actions because we all know that actions speak louder than words. Husbands cannot lead their families in a godly way if they are not first living in a godly manner. Parents cannot expect their children to obey what the Lord says if they themselves are not being an example of Christ to their children. So, with this in mind, we should take a look at what Scripture specifically says about authority in the home to husbands, wives, and children.
Ephesians 5:25-33 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
In 1 Peter 3:7, we read, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
3. Men, time to be honest, do you see yourself loving and leading your wife and family in this manner? What areas do you need to improve on?
4. What does it mean to live with your wife in an understanding way?
God’s order of authority in the home begins with the husband. When we talk about Biblical authority and submission, too many men jump at the opportunity to talk about how Scripture tells their wives to be submissive, while completely missing out on how Scripture tells them to lead their families. Verse 25 in Ephesians chapter 3 tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. In case you may have forgotten, Christ loved the church by sacrificing Himself and dying on a cross. This is a serious and sobering call to us men on how we are supposed to be loving and leading our wives. When we are talking about authority in the home, it is true that the Lord has put husbands in the place of authority, but this authority calls on us to lead as servants in our household not to rule with an iron fist. Too many men take the approach, “Do what I say, not what I do.” That is completely missing the point of leadership.
The authority given to us by Christ to lead our families needs to be taken seriously, and the best way to do that is to take our relationship with Christ seriously. If we are not plugged into Christ, we will never be able to lead with authority well in our family. I cannot even imagine the spiritual growth that would explode in so many households if more husbands would strive to lead and serve in a Christ-like manner.
I would be remiss if I did not address what 1 Peter 3:7 says as well. Men are commanded to live with their wives in an understanding way and to show them honor. This is our responsibility as godly husbands, this is not something that is optional. To be good leaders, we are not to be bad-mouthing our wife behind her back, we are to build her up and give her understanding and grace when it is needed. All of this is the exact imitation of how Christ interacts with His church.
5. What are some godly ways husbands can lead by example in their households?
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
In 1 Peter 3:1-6, we read, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
6. How does our culture encourage or discourage women to behave in the way this Scripture describes?
For some, these Scriptures can be a bit touchy, but historically one of the reasons that this subject needed to be addressed to women is so beautiful. In the early church, many of the new believers were women who were the first people in their household to believe in Jesus as their Savior, and this created so many questions of how they should behave towards their unbelieving husband. Back in biblical times, having different religions within a home was essentially unheard of, so these believing women are encouraged to continue to love and respect their husbands, hoping that this example would bring him to the Lord. So many women today have bravely stepped up and become a spiritual authority in their home because unfortunately, the husband is not a believer. By continuing to love and respect their husband, even in disagreement, they are setting an example that one day could help bring him to saving faith in Christ.
7. What are some practical ways that a wife that is a believer can be a godly example to her unbelieving husband?
Also, when Scripture tells wives to submit to their husbands, this does not mean sit quietly in a corner. One of the things I love about my wife is that she is passionate and willing to share her thoughts with me. I would never want her to only silently follow me. This is so important within the authority of the home, that everyone feels like their thoughts and opinions can be said and heard by others. It is okay to disagree, what is essential is how we respond after a disagreement. To submit to your husband means that ultimately you will follow his lead, even when you may have a differing opinion. Also, an important distinction here is that your foremost authority is God and the Scripture. Especially when dealing with an unbelieving spouse there will be times where respectfully you will have to disagree and refuse to do something because it goes against the command of God. Same as with husbands, a wife’s relationship with the Lord needs to be priority number one. A godly woman can love her husband and lead her children only through the strength that her relationship with the Lord gives her.
8. What does a godly authority structure between a husband and wife look like?
Ephesians 6:1-4 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
9. How can children honor Christ in their relationship with their parents?
In the order of authority within the home, children find themselves at the bottom of that list. If you are a child reading this, sorry, but enjoy the lack of responsibility while you have it. One day you will have people looking to you as an authority figure, and at times you will wish you could go back to just doing what your parents told you to do. In all seriousness though, Scripture tells children to obey their parents, because it is the right thing to do. It is not because parents are always right, but because God has placed them in the position of authority. Being a parent of two kids now, I look back at all the times I disagreed with my parents and have slowly realized that they were pretty much always spot on. If you are a Christian kid with unbelieving parents, most of the last section about wives applies to you as well. Through your honor and obedience towards them, you can show them Christ. One day they could come to faith in Christ through your testimony of how you honored and respected them.
10. How can a child who is a believer impact his unbelieving parents for the Gospel?
Ultimately in God’s order of authority in the home, every family member needs to make sure they are ultimately falling under God’s authority. Parents, the best thing you can do for your kids is to have a strong and public relationship with the Lord. The closer you are to God, the easier it will be to serve your family. The more you help your child’s relationship with Christ grow, the more they will find themselves obeying and respecting your authority in their life. When we feel like our home life is teetering, that is the time to refocus ourselves on the Lord and make sure that it is Him and the things of Scripture that are at the top of our priority list.
11. What are some ways we can tell the structure of authority is off in our home and what can we do to bring the proper order back to it?