I was listening to some music the other day and happened to be shuffled to a song by John Mark McMillin, and was reminded of a story from 2 Samuel. The ninth chapter of this book tells the story of King David as he seeks to show his mercy, grace, and love to the house of Saul, his predecessor, in a response to the love he had for his friend Jonathan.
The Great King, who is victorious in his assumption of the throne of Israel, seeks out one to whom he is able to show his compassion to a man who was a great friend throughout his life. Mephibosheth is the crippled son of Jonathan. A son such as this might just as easily have been discarded as worthless due to his infirmary. Or could have been righteous killed by David as an earthly threat to his throne. However, instead of such action, Mephibosheth is restored as the master of his grandfather’s house, and is even adopted into the house of the King to eat at his table and be like a son.
When I think about being an adopted son of the Most High God, I am humbled by this story of David. When I look at this story I see a great many similarities between Mephibosheth and Christians. We are not the chosen people, and in fact, are of the lineage of the enemies of God as enemies ourselves. Crippled in comparison to Him, and incapable of providing for ourselves; able only to accept His benevolence or death. Without the grace of the King, we are bound for ridicule, shame, and death. I have been given the right to sit at the table of the Almighty, to be loved as a son, and to be without fear of retribution for my faults, the faults of my father, or those of my father’s father.
While I was preparing to continue some marital counseling for a couple that I know, I came across the passage of scripture in Ephesians 5:22-33. These eleven verses lay open the virtues that are most valuable to the couple as they begin or continue to interact with each other throughout the years. Though I have taught these verses several times, I was struck by an element of the last verse.
However, let each one of you loves his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)
Love is an element of human interaction that is never earned, but is only given and received. Just as the previous verses (v.25) indicate that the husband should love his wife as Christ loves the church, we know that it is nothing that we have done that would provide reciprocal payment for the love that is given by the Father. There is nothing that can be done to earn love. When a wife is loved by a husband it must be in the same spirit as Christ’s love for the church. He will give himself up as a sacrifice for his wife because Christ gave himself up for the church.
Additionally respect can be given a few times, but it is necessary for a husband to continually earn the respect of his wife. If not, she will become unable to deliver such respect. One of the ways that a husband earns his wife’s respect is to love her the way Christ loves the church. When a husband is selfless as he interacts with his wife, it is far easier for her to submit to him as well as respect him. If you are a husband and you don’t notice your wife respecting you, maybe try selflessly serving her like Christ did the church through his death and watch the world turn around. The other primary way that a husband can earn his wife’s respect is that he would conduct his life in a way that is above reproach. When you live your in such a way that you are above reproach it is reflected in your work, play, hobbies, interactions, and every other part of your life. The most noticeable aspect is your relationship with Christ Jesus. To pursue Him and not religion, to know him rather than the law, to long for intimacy with the Father rather than a title in the church will earn a wife’s respect faster and more securely than any other action of a husband, for it is from this seed that a man is faithful, honorable, profitable, and respectable.
Read Ephesians 5:22-33 and decide for yourself what it means to love as Christ Loves the Church!