Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
John William McGarvey was born in 1829 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He became a Christian at the end of his first year in college. Three years later, he became a preacher.
When the Civil war began McGarvey was preaching for a small congregation in Dover, Missouri. Every day people met to talk about little else but the war. The newspapers were, of course, full of war news. McGarvey, could have spent his time reading the reports and sitting in the general store pontificating with others on how the war ought to be fought – or whether it ought to be fought at all. Instead, he spent three years writing a commentary on the book of Acts. My point is this: When McGarvey found his world falling apart, and chaos all around him, he made sure to take some time to feed his soul.
We cannot ignore the present crisis. But might I suggest that while we practice “safe distancing” and conscientious hand washing, that we use some of the extra time we may have to feed our souls. If you have not begun a daily reading of the Bible, do that. You may not make it all the way through this year, but you might just develop a habit that will change your life. Set aside a time for prayer and mention by name all those in our family you know. Phone a friend – perhaps one you haven’t connected with in a while. Use your time for something good.
Watching TV, listening to the news (for hours on end) will not make you a better person, may make you feel anxious and rob you of faith and will certainly waste precious time.
By the way: McGarvey’s became one of the most widely used commentaries on the book of Acts in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ephesians chapter five contains a tough command, more than a little counter-cultural in our time: “Wives, submit to your husbands.”
A couple of points are worth considering.
First, all of Ephesians is counter-cultural. In fact, all of Christianity is counter-cultural. If you expect to fit in with worldly friends and embrace the liberality of the world – Christianity won’t be your cup of tea.
Second, in Ephesians chapter, Paul begins the practical side of the book in which he requires his readers to “live worthy of their calling (4:1), become “imitators of God,” and live like the “children of light” they have become (5:8). Drunkenness is not an acceptable part of the Christian’s life. Rather than engage in the bawdy songs of the tavern, the Christian should sing spiritual songs – to one another and to the Lord.
And that brings us to our text, which is not just about wives submitting to husbands. While it includes that, it’s also about how Christians regard one another. The text begins with this often overlooked line: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The chapter returns to this mutual submission at the end when Paul specifically says: “I am talking about Christ and the Church.” Respect and submission begins at home, with family members looking out for one another and paying deference to one another, putting one another’s interests above the interests of self. But this respect extends to the Church.
There is no way around this really. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church, giving themselves for their wives. Wives must submit to their husbands. Children must submit to their parents, and parents cannot treat children as they please, but must bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. There is no room in the Kingdom of God for anyone who seeks to “go” or “have” his or her own way. Submissiveness to authority and place is a defining characteristic of Christians.