There is a lot going on in Ephesians 5:22-33. Much of it is difficult to discuss without getting into a discussion about today’s cultural norms regarding marriage. However, the most important part of this passage is to understand what Paul’s ultimate point is about marriage and how we are to treat all believers, not just the ones we are closest to. In Ephesians 5:29 Paul sums up his point very clearly, After all, no one ever hates his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church. When it comes to other believers, especially those we love the most, we are to care for them as though they are part of our own bodies because in God’s eyes, they are.
The Bible is filled with God’s concern for the poor, weak, and helpless. God wants us to share His concern. In Psalm 41:1 David begins with, Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. As God has blessed every one of us, we should in turn bless others. Our generosity should reflect God’s generosity for us in all aspects of our lives, but especially when it comes to giving.
Our faith in God should be reflected in the way we defend our faith to others. If we resort to arguments and scoring points, then we lack faith that God is working through us. In 2 Timothy 2:24 Paul warns: And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. There is no reason to quarrel with people about our faith. We know the truth and the truth will be revealed to others when it is God’s will and for His glory. It is not an attack on us when people reject Christ. We are simply an instrument willing to be used by God.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice we are free. Paul says in Hebrews 9:14, How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! What we must remember is the last passage in this verse where is says we are free from sin that we may serve the living God. Freedom from sin gives us the freedom to serve.
When serving the church we must first serve those closest to us. If we cannot serve our family well, then how can we be expected to serve the church? In 1 Timothy 3:5 Paul says, If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? The church is an extension of our family. If we neglect our immediate family to serve the church, then we have ultimately failed.
1 Timothy was written as a letter of encouragement and instruction from Paul to Timothy who was a young leader in the early church. Timothy was one of Paul’s closest companions and was sent to the church at Ephesus to help counter false teachings and to help lead the church. Paul hoped to visit Ephesus in person, but in the meantime, he wrote a letter to help strengthen them in his absence. Paul starts by thanking Christ for allowing him to serve in 1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even Paul recognized that serving is a privilege and can only be done when we acknowledge the mercy and grace granted to us through Christ.
Today we begin reading Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, which was meant strengthen the believers. Paul wanted the believers to know his strength and desire to live came from Christ alone. In Philippians 1:21 Paul says, For to me, to live is Christ and to die gain. Paul was not only willing to die for the cause, but he actually preferred to be with Christ. Though, he recognized his mission was not yet complete and he still had work to do for the Kingdom. Paul was single-mindedly focused on serving Christ and others as long as he could on this earth.
In today’s reading, Paul appears before Agrippa and in essence gives his testimony to the king and his entourage. Paul ends his testimony with Romans 26:29 when he says Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” Paul’s ultimate desire was to bring everyone to the saving grace and acceptance of Jesus. I often think about how Paul felt when he endured all he had in the service of our Lord. He had no idea the millions of people who would be saved over the course of 2,000 years because of his service. How many of us realize the impact of our lives on eternity. I think if we did, we would act very differently than we do.
In today’s reading, Paul stresses the importance of serving God in the pursuit of spreading the good news of the Gospel. In the second half of Romans 10:15, Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” If we are unwilling to be used by God to spread the Gospel, then who is? The joy of salvation and God’s presence in our lives should be enough to encourage us to serve Him more.
Most of us, especially Americans, feel life is not successful unless we get a lot out of it. In today’s reading Paul feels what he puts into life is far more important than what he gets out of it. In Acts 20:24 he says, However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. This life is temporary and we will get very little out of it unless what we put into it is our focus. Nothing is as fulfilling as doing the will of God and knowing it has an eternal impact.