This week I happened to see the headline for an article in Psychology Today – and the title was “Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Leader?”
And that’s a good question! Being a leader is hard. I know many of you have been in some type of leadership role and you know that being a leader comes with a lot of challenges, it comes with stress and frustration, and you have to deal with a lot of difficult stuff. The article focused mostly on how hard it was in the workplace to lead and keep employees motivated and on task and all that stuff – but I think leadership in any realm is hard.
In church. At school. In the community. On a team of some sort. In your family. Leadership of any kind is hard.
So why, as this article asked, would anyone want to be a leader? And I bring this up today because the answer to that question is really what we want to talk about today as we continue talking about the church in your house.
Just to give you a brief reminder of what we’ve been talking about – for the past few weeks we’ve been looking at some of our God-given roles and responsible in the churches that are in our own homes. You see, not only are we part of this local church that meets here on Sundays (and there are certain roles and responsible that we have here), but you’re also part of an even more localized church that lives within the four walls of your home. In essence, your family is a little church and your role in that church is even more important than your role here in this church.
So what are those roles? Well, there are many – but we’ve started by looking at roles of husbands and wives within marriage. And we’ve been looking at those through the lens of Christ’s relationship with the church.
The Bible teaches that our marriages are reflections or illustrations of Christ’s relationship with the church. Husbands play the part of Christ, and wives play the part of the church. That’s why Paul writes in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loves the church and wives are to submit to their husbands just as the church submits to Christ.
We are mimicking in our marriages exactly what we see in Christ’s relationship with his church. So when it comes to the the headship of the husband or the submission of the wife – we have to look at that through the lens of Christ’s relationship with the church.
So with that in mind, we defined headship and submission as follows:
- Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
- Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
So digging into those definitions, we started by looking at the husband’s role of headship first of all – and of course, Christ-like servant leadership is a key part of that. And that brings us back to our leading question: Why on earth would anyone want to be a leader?
Being a leader of any kind is hard – and being the leader of your family is very hard – especially, when we’re called to lead like Christ! You’ll remember from two weeks ago that Christ leads his church – not by lording it over them – but rather by humbling serving them. We read in Matthew 20:28…
28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Jesus didn’t come to earth to use his power and authority so that he could be served – quite the opposite – he used his power and authority to serve others.
We even saw Jesus illustrate this in a very memorable way as he literally got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of his disciples. This was not only an example of how they ought to serve one another – but it was a vivid illustration of how Jesus had come to earth to give his life so that we could be washed clean of our sin – so that we could stand before God not as filthy sinners, but as being spotless and righteous in God’s sight.
And that idea is echoed in our Ephesians passage that has been our basis for talking about husbands and wives.
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. Ephesians 5:25-28
And so last week (or two weeks ago, I guess it was) we brought out the point that husbands are to lead their wives and families by serving them – just as Christ did for us. In fact, every man here was sent home with brand new towel to remind them to that they are to lead with a towel – to lead by humbly serving their families.
And today I want to dig into this passage a little bit more. If Christ gave up his life to make the church holy and clean – to be a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, then what does that mean for us as husbands, to mimic that in our relationship with our wives? Do we have some similar responsibilities to help make our wives holy & clean – to present her to God without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish? If so, what exactly are those responsibilities and how does that play out in our marriage relationships?
Well, this morning as we work through this passage, I want to show you how husbands are to sacrifice, sanctify, and show the way. Those the three key words or phrases I want you to remember: Husbands are to sacrifice, sanctify, and show the way.
Now of course, as husbands, we’re mimicking Jesus here – so let’s start by looking at his example. Ephesians 5:25 says:
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her… Ephesians 5:25
There’s the sacrifice. Jesus gave up his life for his church – for you and I.
Now when we read that Jesus gave up his life for us, I imagine most of us immediately think of Christ dying on the cross. And certainly that’s the most obvious example, but I want to point out that that wasn’t the only way he “gave up his life for us”.
It wasn’t just for one day that Jesus gave up up life for us, Jesus gave up his life for us daily for about 33 years. We talked about this at the beginning of this series – we marvelled that the Almighty God of the universe confined himself to a human body of flesh and blood. In becoming human, He limited himself and experienced pain and hunger and weakness. And he didn’t have to do that. At any moment in those 33 years of his life on earth, he could have said ‘enough’ – and reclaimed all his rights and privileges of being God – He could have put aside the humanity that he had taken on and gone back to the way things were before. But He didn’t.
It was a daily sacrifice for 33 years for Christ to live in human weakness.
We read this passage a couple weeks ago, but it’s a great reminder – Philippians 2:6-8
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
It wasn’t just a sacrifice for one day – it was a sacrifice for 33 years.
As husbands, are we willing to do the same? We may not have ‘divine privileges’ – but we certainly have our rights and the things we’re entitled to. Are we willing to daily, give up those rights and privileges for the sake of our wives and our families?
Being a husband means being willing to sacrifice for our families. For Greg and Coleson who are just getting ready to be married this year, you guys are making the choice to give up some of the things you enjoy, some of the things you deserve, some of the things that are rightfully yours – for the sake of your wife and future children.
Money is a good example. When you’re single and you earn a certain wage – that money is yours to do with as you will. But when you choose to be a husband, your money becomes the family’s money and you make those decisions together. You give up the privilege of spending your money however you want for the sake of your family.
Time is another one. For example, as single men, we may rightfully feel that after a long day at work, that we’re entitled to an hour of tv to unwind and relax – but as married men: do we cling to that right, or are we willing to give that up right in order to spend time with our wife or kids?
Being a husband means being willing to sacrifice for our families. And why do we do that? Well, for one, its an expression of love. It’s putting others before yourself. That’s very much in line with the example and the teachings of Jesus. In fact putting others before yourself is something that everyone should do – not just husbands.
But husbands have an even higher calling when it comes to sacrificing for their families. If we look at Christ’s example, we see that there’s an even greater purpose for his sacrifice than just being loving.
Look again at Ephesians 5:25…
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. Ephesians 5:25-27
All of Christ’s sacrifice was for the purpose of making us (his church) holy and clean. So that we could be presented without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. We would be holy and without fault.
Now certainly He did that out of love for us – but it was for a particular purpose. All of Christ’s sacrifice was so that we could stand before him without any stain of sin. It was so that He could undo the damage of sin in our lives and transform us into the holy and glorious people that He created us to be.
His sacrifice was to sanctify us. The word sanctify means to set something apart for it’s intended use.
The Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology says this about sanctification:
To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose.
~ Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Christ’s sacrifice was to sanctify us. It was so that we could live according to God’s design and purpose for us – God’s design and purpose being that we live holy lives – free from sin – in his presence forever.
That’s why God created us. He wants us to enjoy his goodness, living glorious lives – free from sin and all it’s terrible consequences – and to be with Him for eternity.
Christ’s sacrifice made that possible. He gave up his life for you and I to make us holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present us to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, we will be holy and without fault. Christ sacrificed so that we could be sanctified.
Husbands – we have a similar role in our marriages. Now of course, we cannot provide salvation for our wife or children – Christ alone has that ability. But we do have a role to play in their sanctification.
Tim Challies is a pastor in Toronto that I follow and I think He puts it really well – he says:
“You need to understand that your wife doesn’t exist first for your pleasure, your joy, or your comfort. She exists first for God. Yes, she has been set apart to you, but only so you can help her be ever-more set apart to God… It’s your task to help her unleash her gifts, her talents, her passions, her interests in doing good to others and bringing glory to God. Love her with a sanctifying love, a love that ensures she is being set apart to do what God calls her to do and to be who God calls her to be.” ~ Tim Challies
Our job as husbands – as Christ-like servant leaders in our homes – is to sacrifice ourselves in order to help sanctify our wives and our children. It is our primary task, above all else, to do everything we can to help them become the persons that God created them to be. If we fail at this, we fail as husbands and fathers.
So men, let me ask you some pointed questions: (And do understand that these are equally pointy for me)
- What are you doing to help your wife grow to know and love God more and more each day?
- What are you doing to encourage and build up your wife to become the woman God created her to be?
- What are you doing to help your wife sin less and honour God more?
- What are you doing to unleash your wife into the world to use her talents and her gifts and her passions for the glory of God?
- What are you doing to so that you can present her to God as holy and clean – set apart for whatever good purposes He has for her?
Because this is the kind of leadership that God has called us to. I could be wrong, but I think this is the kind of leadership that your wife will happily submit to. She’ll want to follow a man who will sacrifice himself in order to sanctify her – to help her become exactly who God created her to be.
So how do we do that? What sort of things can we do to help sanctify our wives – to help her be set apart for God’s good purposes for her?
Well, for one, we have to make sure that we are being sanctified. We cannot lead our wives to where we have not gone ourselves. Jesus never called us to be any more holy than He was, right? 1 Peter 1:16 says…
“Be holy as I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 NIV
Just as Jesus gave us a pattern of holiness to follow, so too, as husbands, we are to set the example of holiness in our families. We need to be the ones to lead the way in Christ-like maturity, in love, in repentance, in worship. Our job is not to point the way – it’s to lead the way. Probably the most effective way of helping your wife become the person that God wants her to be is for you to work hard at becoming the person that God wants you to be.
And of course, the Word of God needs to be a central part of this process. To go back to our passage in Ephesians, we read…
“He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Ephesians 5:25b-26
We are cleansed and made holy by God’s Word. In John 17:17 – as Jesus is praying for his disciples, he prays to the Father:
7 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
It’s God’s Word that sanctifies us. That’s what changes us and transforms us. It’s not our will power or our self-help books that brings about that kind of change. Being transformed into the person that God created you to be comes about only we hear and believe the truth of the Word of God.
So to be very practical, husbands, if you are not personally spending time in God’s Word – reading it, thinking about it, allowing it to change and sanctify you – then how do you expect to play any part in helping to sanctify your wife and children?
To quote Tim Challies again, he writes:
This means your husbanding is to be drenched in the gospel. Your love is to be shaped by the gospel. Your voice is to speak the gospel. Your life is to display the gospel. You need to speak truth to your wife, to lead her to the Word of God, to remind her of those precious gospel truths, to pray with her, to worship with her. ~ Tim Challies
A key part of what it means to be a Christ-like servant leader in your home, is to make sure that you drench your home in the Gospel!
Men, do you lead your family in reading and understanding God’s Word? First of all, are you the example for them to follow – do you spend time in God’s Word? Do you have personal devotional times? Are you part of any Bible studies? Do you make it a point to attend church and Sunday school consistently? You’re the leader! If you don’t – they won’t either.
Do you lead your family in prayer? Does your wife ever catch you praying for her and the kids? Do you pray with your wife? With your kids? If you don’t – they won’t.
I can remember as a kid, searching the house for my dad for whatever reason – and then finally finding him on the couch or in the bedroom – and he’d be praying or reading His Bible. That’s a pretty powerful image for a kid. That’s well burned into my brain. I want my kids to find me reading my Bible – I want my wife to catch me praying. I want to drench my home with the Gospel.
I want to do what Deuteronomy 6 says. In Deuteronomy six, Moses instructs the Israelites – in essence – to drench their homes with the Gospel (or with as much of the Gospel that they had at that point) He says to them.
6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Drench your home in the Gospel. And I know it’s not easy.
We said right at the beginning today that being a leader is hard. Making sacrifices is not easy. Leading your family towards sanctification take a lot of deliberate, hard work.
But it’s worth it! We asked the question earlier: Why on earth would anyone want to be a leader?
I’m sure there could be a variety of answers – but for me – I want to be a leader because my family needs me to be one. God has given me the responsibility to help my wife and my kids become the persons that God created them to be. He has entrusted them to me – and I have the responsibility to drench them in the Gospel – as Ephesians says, to make them clean and holy by the cleansing of God’s Word. I have the privilege and awesome responsibility of being their example to follow – to show them what a vibrant relationship with God looks like and to lead them to have that same kind of relationship with God themselves.
And that’s the role of every husband here. That’s what Jesus has modelled for us – that’s what He has done for us – and now that’s our job to do that for our families.
And I know that I’ve been talking mostly to the men today – don’t worry ladies, your part is coming up in a couple weeks, but men, I just want to encourage you, that even if you haven’t done a great job of this so far, you can start today. None of us are perfect husbands – all of us have made mistakes along the way – but God is the God of second-chances. He’s the God who redeems our mistakes and failures – He flips them around and uses them for good. It’s not too late to become the husband and the father that God has called you to be.