There are times when I feel put upon and taken advantage of (I will use the term “household servant” and it will become apparent why shortly). Having enough wisdom – thank you Lord – to know that the only person in this duet that I could ask the Lord to change wasn’t him, but me, I prayed and asked the Lord to direct me to Scripture. In His faithful way I found myself reading the following:
18 [You who are] household servants, be submissive to your masters with all [proper] respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate and reasonable, but also to those who are surly (overbearing, unjust, and crooked).
19 For one is regarded favorably (is approved, acceptable, and thankworthy) if, as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering.
20 [After all] what kind of glory [is there in it] if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you take it patiently? But if you bear patiently with suffering [which results] when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God.
21 For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps.
22 He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips.
23 When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.
– 1 Peter 2:18-23Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
If you missed Part II of this series, “Servanthood to Your Spouse”, you can catch up here!
What a description of a normal, albeit, unhappy and unholy, marriage, is it not? Yet, in the same verses, there is also the solution. There I am, the household servant, who is not being submissive like I’m supposed to be by being respectful. Sure, I’m loving and kind when my husband is kind, considerate and reasonable, but when he’s “surly” that’s a different story! Yet it’s not supposed to be a different story according to the verses before me. Look at v. 20 because it will thrust a knife in your heart – at least, it did to me the first time I saw it and every time I’ve looked at it since. If I bear patiently with my husband when he is surly, then that patient and pleasant attitude pleases God. In fact, I am called to this kind of attitude! Take a deep breath because the reason for this will take all the selfishness, temper and anger right out of your whole heart and spirit. “For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps.” Can you bear to go back to verses 22-23 and let them truly sink into you? Can you ask God to “imprint them on your mind and engrave them in your heart” (Hebrews 8:10) so that they become a part of you? And to that little part inside you that still won’t be quiet and keeps saying “it’s not fair, how come I have to be nice and quiet and pleasant when he’s being so surly”, look at v.23. God has already answered that “it’s not fair” voice with His own voice by telling you to trust everything to Him Who judges fairly. He knows. He sees. He will bless you in heaven for your obedience. Then peace will again reign in your heart. God is so wonderfully good!
Yet it is necessary to remember that the wife is not the only household servant. The husband resides in this house with her. From all we have now studied about servanthood, he is to reciprocate her serving him by serving her. Ultimately what they are both doing is serving the Lord together and that is all that matters.
The purpose for all this servanthood is eternal. Life on this earth is so very short. Eternity is so infinitely long. Yet Jesus in His teachings shows us that eternity is not the only place where we can experience peace and love. We can have them on this earth. This series started with “servanthood to the Lord.” In conjunction with that it benefits us to always remember the words in Ephesians 5:21
21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
– Ephesians 5:21 New King James Version (NKJV)
As we submit to each other in the fear – which means reverence and awe – of the Lord we will know peace and love – His peace and love. That peace and love will surround us and blanket us. It is ours in the midst of storms and strife. His love will always overcome, especially when things seem bleakest. Remember when the apostles were caught in an torrential storm, the waves almost overpowering the boat and them. They berated Jesus because He slept through all this chaos: don’t you care, Lord. Don’t you love us? And gently and quietly He got up and spoke to the storm – be still. That’s all it took. The storm obeyed Him. Wonderfully, it wasn’t just His power that the apostles marveled at; it was His tender, loving care. In your marriage He will always be there. He is love and He will still the storms.
Each article in this series has centered around the idea that the Lord – the Lamb of God – uses earthly relationships to prepare all of us to be the Bride of Christ. That includes male and female. Therefore, I leave you with these wise words from the late Professor Johan Malan in an article entitled:
The Earthly Bride and Her Heavenly Bridegroom
The preparations which the bride has to make to be ready for the Bridegroom’s return demand a separated life under the full control of the Holy Spirit.
The main purpose of our lives should be to be rooted and grounded in divine love, to the extent that it will determine the basic character of our thoughts and actions. That is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, which is extended to all believers.
It is the desire of God the Father that all believers become conformed to the image of God the Son. How else can the bride be rendered glorious for the illustrious wedding of the Messiah where she will stand at His side? We must be sanctified during this life as preparation to appear before the heavenly Bridegroom.
Purity is the key to a life of service to the Lord, while at the same time it also adorns our future wedding garment: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). Righteous acts can only be produced under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to that end we need to fully surrender ourselves to His control. (Malan)
Humility, forgiveness in every situation, unconditional love, absolute surrender to His Commandments in every relationship: the characteristics that prepare us to become the Bride of the Lamb of God. Is it difficult at times? Oh yes. Is it worth it? Oh yes! For we get to be His for all eternity.
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Johan Malan, “ The Earthly Bride and Her Heavenly Husband,” Discernment Letter, September/October 2017.
“Hannah brings Samuel to Eli”. Author Unknown. 1873
I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Michelle Arrington, Hannah Hall, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, Tracy Yoder, and J.P.Wilhelm. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.