A Daunting Task
As we wind down on our summer sermon series, You Asked for It, I want to say two things. First of all, I want to thank all of you who submitted suggestions for sermon topics. I appreciate your desire to know what the Bible has to say about some of the questions/issues that you want to know more about. The second thing I want to say is this: I’m glad this series is coming to an end! You asked for sermons on some topics/questions that made me sweat…everything from slavery to service to sanctification. This week, I will respond to one final request, one that makes me feel more uneasy than any of your other requests. One of you asked for a sermon on the husband’s role as spiritual leader in the home. You may wonder why this topic makes me feel so ill at ease, so I’ll tell you. It’s because I’m afraid that a big image blaring “Hypocrite!” will flash on the screen behind me.
It is a daunting task to speak about the subject of marriage in general and on the husband’s role as spiritual leader in the home in particular. Focusing on this subject makes me conscious of my own failings, and the way in which I fall short of the biblical ideal. I am woefully under-qualified to speak as an authority on the subject.
But on the other hand, this may be the ideal way to deal with the teaching of God's word about marriage and spiritual leadership. The authority I speak from is not from my expertise and personal success in my role as a spiritual leader in my home. The only authority I can appeal to is from the Word of God. His Word establishes the ideals for relationships in marriage and family. These ideals are high—way too high for me to attain. And yet we are called to strive for these ideals. So in the process of striving after these ideals in a fallen world we regularly encounter problems, heartaches, and difficulties. I’m supposing whoever submitted this request knows something about these problems, heartaches, and difficulties, and wants some help dealing with them. Furthermore, I suspect that this person is not alone.
I am conscious that the subject of marriage and spiritual leadership will make a lot of you uncomfortable. Some of you might fear that the great burdens in your hearts about your own marriages will get even heavier. Some of you may feel isolated—you may feel as if you are the only person or the only couple struggling with a particular issue in marriage. And it is possible that as we go through the ideals set forth in Scripture, that you may be discouraged. You might feel like a failure for having not measured up to the standard.
I want to say that it is not my intention to discourage you. But the very act of speaking to these things will dredge up issues in our hearts that burden us greatly, and will haunt us in the hours in which we are alone and reflecting. I understand that. I'm right there with you in that very struggle. We might struggle in different ways, but all of us who are reflective about our marriages have those questions and those griefs that we carry. My intent here is not to discourage you, but to encourage you by offering you hope found in the Word of God.
In Ephesians 5, God sets forth the ideals of marriage, and He has no intention of diminishing those ideals. But God is keenly aware that the glory of the Christian life is living life to God's glory in a less than perfect world. Therefore we approach the Word of God, not with the fear of condemnation, but with hope…the hope that we will find practical help and strong encouragement.