“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” -Colossians 3:18-19
Recently I ran an errand to the grocery store where I witnessed an older married couple make snappy comments to each other aisle after aisle. She would start with making a snappy comment about him over something trivial, and he would return a snappy comment about her. The expressions on their faces displayed for each other and for the world a relationship of joyless conflict.
The wisdom of God in Colossians 3 commands we Christians to put on as God’s beloved people set apart from the world “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (3:12). Our Christian relationships, especially our marriages, are to be a place for “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (3:13). Husbands, love your wives by leading this bearing with your wives. Lead in forgiveness from a compassionate heart of kindness, humility, meekness, and patience with her. Wives, you are not to be in competition with your husbands, but in the fitting of God’s pleasure, submit to your husband with the same Spirit given character.
Our conflicts arise, not because of our disagreeable spouses, but sin in our own hearts. God told Eve after the Fall in Genesis 3 that the wife’s desire will be the competition to be like her husband, desiring to lead, and her husband’s response will be to lord it over her. The hope of the marriage of Adam and Eve which was broken by sin came in the previous verse: a Messiah will come and crush the head of the serpent. The Lord has forgiven us through Jesus whose heal was bruised to crush the serpent’s head, so wives peacefully submit to your husbands as fitting to the Lord and husbands love your wives without lording over them.
Since the Fall in the Garden, every marriage is the fitting of two sinners in need of grace. You enter sin in your marriage as does your spouse. Worldly marriages display joyless competition and conflict, making comments of each other where they can do nothing right. No encouragement. No peace. Bitterness and preference rule the hearts in conflict. Confess your sin of competition and pride of heart to your spouse and seek Christ to bear with each other in His peace to rule in your hearts (3:15). Put on Christ’s love “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (3:14). Anything in contrary to this command of God upon our Christian relationships, especially our marriages, is sin to be repented of.
Heavenly Father, forgive us of hearts ruled by pride, competition, and preference. May our hearts be ruled by Christ’s peace, our relationships a display of Your love, and our marriages point to Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.