So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
One of the markers of followers of Jesus should be the respect and kindness that they show others. This is particularly true in marriage. In a world constantly giving the message that we are to look out only for ourselves, believers are called to live differently. Living this way means having respect for the people we spend time around, especially our spouses. After all, it is impossible for anyone to demonstrate respect for another person unless they genuinely respect them. When people who are not followers of Jesus observe the respect and kindness that we treat our spouses with, they should be drawn to Christ.
We have been talking about Ephesians 5 all week, which includes a number of instructions for husbands and wives. Today, our focus is on Ephesians 5:33, which says, "Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." In this verse, Paul issues an instruction for wives to respect their husbands (and for husbands to love their wives, but we will talk more about that instruction next week!) This is a call for wives to value, esteem, and hold their husbands to high regard. It is a call to value their role in the marriage and the gifts that they bring to the marriage. While this instruction is specifically to wives, it is a helpful command for all followers of Christ to follow. You see, Scripture teaches that all people are created by God with value and a specific purpose, which means that every single person on the planet deserves to be treated with respect.
Imagine if we treated everyone we came in contact with respect. Imagine if we treated every person we met with value and held them with esteem and the highest regard as people created by the Creator. Imagine how our marriages would be strengthened. My friend, let's choose today to show respect to each person we meet, knowing that they are created on purpose for a purpose.
Is there someone who you are having trouble showing respect to? If you are married, have you been showing respect to your spouse, or has showing respect been a struggle? Maybe you are single. You are not off the hook! As a follower of Christ, every person we come in contact deserves to be treated with respect, as someone created by God in His very image. Who are you struggling to show respect to? Is it a coworker, family member, friend, or acquaintance? Whatever the case, spend time in prayer, and confess to Jesus that this has been a struggle for you. Ask Him for help to treat every person with respect.
Read Colossians 3:12-25 (NLT)
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.