Years ago I wanted to prepare a series of sermons about marriage, and I listed the topics I wanted to address. Then, picking up my Bible, I realized the Lord had addressed all of them in Ephesians. So I preached a series called “Ephesianizing Your Marriage.” It wasn’t the best title in the world, but it reflected my central thesis. Every verse of Ephesians has direct application to the home. If you are struggling in marriage, it would be of utmost benefit to spend extended time in studying, memorizing, and meditating on Ephesians. There is a verse somewhere in Ephesians for every challenge we face in marriage. Let’s take Ephesians 4:17-32 as an example.
1. Think Differently About Marriage (Ephesians 4:17-21)
Ephesians 4:17 says: So I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. In other words, “Now that you are Christians, there is something I insist on. You must begin thinking and acting and walking and living in a different way. You must think about your relationships differently. You must think about marriage differently. You must start looking at your spouse through the eyes of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul goes on to call non-Jesus-followers darkened, separated, ignorant, without sensitivity, and given over to sensuality, impurity, and greed. Sounds like an average night of television programming. This is the culture we are in; but we must build a different kind of marriage, based on “true righteousness and holiness.”
2. Don’t Hide Anything From the Other (Ephesians 4:25)
Ephesians 4:25 says: Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. We must avoid activities we’re tempted to hide from our spouse—pornography, platonic friendships that advance, hidden spending or purchases, online activities, or whatever it is. Whatever you are hiding from your husband or wife will eventually damage your marriage. One who conceals his sins will not prosper (Proverbs 28:13). Trust, being broken, is difficult to regain.
3. Don’t Let Your Anger Get Out of Control (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Ephesians 4:26-27 says: In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. We all get angry, but that’s a dangerous place to be or to stay. It’s like speeding. If you’re going the speed limit, you have time to react. You have some margins. But when you’re going ninety miles an hour, you no longer have margins and the least crisis could lead to tragedy. Anger is like that. When your pulse speeds up, your blood pressure rises, and your emotions accelerate you remove your margins. It’s easier to wreck relationships in your life. An angry outburst is a grenade going off inside the walls of your house. It make be sudden and quickly over, but the damage can be enormous and hard to repair.
You might need anger management counseling. You might need to read books on controlling your temper. Whatever it takes. But a good place to start is memorizing Ephesians 4:26-27. Begin meditating on these words when you go to bed, when you get up, when you’re in the shower, when you’re driving to work, when you’re jogging on the greenway. If you adopt these verses as a slogan for a few months and work hard to put them into practice, the Holy Spirit can help you with your anger.
4. Stay Busy Around the House (Ephesians 4:28)
Ephesians 4:28 says: Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Over the years as I’ve counseled struggling couples, a common complaint has to do with housekeeping. Wives say, “My husband is a slob; he never helps with the housework or picks up after himself.” Husbands say, “My wife never keeps the house clean; it’s a mess—and I’m frustrated.” These things cause resentment in a marriage. I have three suggestions. If you follow them you’ll have a much better marriage.
- Everything you own must have a place to go. It must be stored somewhere.
- Everything needs to go back to its place when you have finished working with it.
- The job of putting everything back in its place belongs to everyone in the home—husband, wife, children.
5. Use Words to Build Up, Not Tear Down (Ephesians 4:29)
Ephesians 4:29 says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Some words are not in the family dictionary. These words include profanity and obscenity, but also words like: stupid, divorce, and… murder. We must guard one another’s self-image. It’s one thing to say, “I disagree with your opinion.” It’s another to say, “You’re stupid for having that opinion.” Any time you become insulting or derogatory, it undermines your position and it weakens your marriage. It tears down the other person. Speak only what is helpful for building others up.
6. Be Kind, Compassionate, and Forgiving (Ephesians 4:30-31)
Ephesians 4:30-31 says: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
You aren’t married to a perfect person. Your husband has real problems. Your wife has real issues. So we have to be compassionate, kind, and forgiving. If you can begin looking at your husband or wife with compassion, it will change your relationship. And these rules will help you build a marriage without losing your mind.