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Ephesians 5 & 6: Read The Instructions, Learn the Principles

Read Ephesians 5:21-33 & Ephesians 6:1-9 before reading this blog.

I remember when I was in 4th grade, we did a mock quiz in class. The instructions said: write your name, only answer question 6, then turn in your paper when you’re done. Only 2 kids in the class read the instructions. They were done with the quiz quickly, left stress-free. By reading these instructions, they bypassed 19 difficult math questions. These two children hung out for the next 30 minutes carrying on with their day and moving onto other tasks, while the rest of the students, who didn’t read the instructions, spent unnecessary time going through difficult problems in hopes to get a good grade. They were doing long division, using PEMDAS, drawing graphs… doing everything they could to pass the quiz. When really, the key to the good grade was written there for all to see. If the other students had only read the instructions, they would’ve saved themselves so much time, energy, and frustration.

This is the same for relationships. The instructions are laid out for us in the great Manual, but we’re too busy in our own rhythm of doing what we think is right, that we end up spending so much time, energy, heart and frustration on the wrong things. We can find the instructions to be time-consuming so we bypass them altogether. But, by bypassing the instructions, we hit a lot of obstacles. By ignoring them, we spend unnecessary time going through difficult problems in hopes for a good result. This leaves us sometimes years in heartbreak and pain. If we only read the instructions, we would see that they asked us to avoid these problems all together. The answers and guidelines for a healthy, godly relationship stem from the Bible: learn it, study the principles, and ask for His guidance.

The Principles

So first, we must have a relationship with Jesus Christ, this is our ultimate goal. Paul says in Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. “The words in reverence for Christ describe what should be our motive for submitting to one another. We should submit to one other – see ourselves no longer in an individualistic way, but as a unit – out of respect for Jesus Christ.” This is the same for friendships: submit yourself to the fellow believer, for we are one in Christ.

Jesus Christ is the one we look to, not each other. The best piece of relationship advice I’ve heard is “when you put all your faith, love, and hope into the other person, they will undoubtedly fail you. You are putting God-sized expectations on a broken human being.” In a healthy relationship, it is not “you serve me” or “I serve you” it is: we both serve The Lord, therefore submitting to one another. Submission is not oppression, it is not slavery...biblical submission is all about mutual harmony. Only under God do things work in perfect harmony, since He is the great Orchestrator.

Love vs. Respect

Ephesians 5:33 says “each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” This isn’t to say that us women shouldn’t receive respect, and men shouldn’t receive love, that is far from the truth. But us women were crafted with an innate, nurturing, beautiful desire to be loved and love others. It explains why The Enneagram 2 statistic is overpowered with women: it is 83% women-dominated, with only 17% being men. This type 2 has a basic fear of being unwanted, being unworthy of love, with a basic desire is to be loved. Now Enneagram 5 “The Investigator” is the most man-dominated at 79%, which has the basic fear of being useless, helpless, or incapable, with a basic desire to be capable and competent. I’m not saying that this falls into the description of every woman or every man, I myself am not an Enneagram 2, but it can certainly point us to see how we generally work as women, and how men generally work as men. Knowing this, we should treat other women in hopes that they feel loved and valuable (love) and we should treat other men in hopes that they feel capable and competent (respect).

If you look at the story of Adam and Eve, Adam needed us. He needed a woman. (Who doesn’t?) We are the life of the party and awesome companions. So God created us out of man. But, it was made equal because now, every man is created from us. 1 Corinthians 11:12 says “For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” Notice how we are built differently for different purposes and roles but nonetheless equal with one another... this is true biblical submission: harmony. And who do we equally serve above us? God. For everything comes from God.

Christ is the Greatest Example

In Ephesians 5, there are only 3 verses to describe a woman’s role in marriage, and there are 8 for the man! And here is the summary for us women: respect your husband. Now in the 8 verses in the role of a husband it says: love your wife. These are biblical values we must uphold to all of our relationships. Back in Ephesians 4:13 it says: “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” We must have our eyes set on measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ, not each other. Only in unity of respect and love can we measure to the full and complete standard of Christ. Jesus came down not to be served, but to serve. And Jesus showed us the greatest act of love: to lay down one’s life. This is the Gospel: That God sent His one and only Son to die on a cross to remove the penalty of our sin, that we may have eternal life with Him. There is no greater love.

As we women lovingly serve and help our husbands, he should be demonstrating the greatest act of love possible: laying down his own life. He must lay down his selfish desires, decisions, and direction and we meet him there with selfless respect, attentive to his capabilities, to succeed in the mutual goal. Submission does not mean one is better than the other, it means serving one another in the ways we are called to by The Lord so that we will be in unity, becoming more Christlike.

Not Just Romantic Relationships

Notice how this duty of honoring Christ is prevalent in every healthy relationship.

Wives - Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

Husbands - Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Children - Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.”

Fathers - Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Employees - Ephesians 6:5 “ Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”

Employers - Ephesians 6:9 “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”

Notice that the crux of every single relationship is submission to Jesus Christ. Jesus knows there is hierarchy in the world: our parents, husbands, employers... but our supreme authority for every relationship under Heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ as the fixed focus of your relationship, it will not be healthy. You will look towards your parents to lead you, you will look towards your employers to honor you, you will look towards your husbands and boyfriends to love you unconditionally. Yes, all these positions of worldly authority can do this but only to an extent, for they are human and will undoubtedly fail. When your relationship is centered around Christ, is it covered by Christ. You will be led, you will be honored, and your needs will be met, first by Jesus Christ.

How You Should Love & Be Loved

Here’s a small bit of the manual. Study it. Is the relationship you’re in driven by passion or compassion? Is the man you’re with Christian or is he godly? When you study the instructions and hold on to the principles, you can save yourself so much time, frustration, and heartache. If you desire a healthy relationship, whether it is romantically, or with your parents, children, employees, or employers, make Christ the center. Make sure the relationship follows these principles:

-Submit to the other person, just how Christ came down to serve you. (5v.22)

-Love them, just as Christ loves you. (5v.25)

-Feed and care for them. (5v.29)

-Love them as you love yourself. (5v.28)

-Obey them. (6v.1)

-Honor them. (6v.2)

-Do not irritate or frustrate them. (6v.2)

-Have sincerity of heart. (6v.5)

-Be loyal to them, especially behind their back. (6v.6)

-Serve them wholeheartedly. (6v.7)

But if you expect to receive this love, ladies, you must also give it back.


1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


  1. How do you feel you most feel loved?

  2. In service, in obedience, in honor, in loyalty, in sincerity, or in kind words?

  3. In what type of relationship do you have the hardest time giving love & respect?

  4. Parents/children, employers/employees, romantic relationships

  5. Do you have a harder time giving or receiving love?

  6. Was there a time in your life you tried to love someone outside of Christ? How did it work out?

  7. What do you think is the difference between a Christian man and a godly man?


Dear Lord,

Thank You for the love You show us. Thank You for the way You gave yourself up, Jesus, to make us holy and blameless. Thank You for feeding and caring for us, showing us a love so rich and pure that gives us a high standard for how we should be treated. Thank You for Your unfailing love.

I pray Dear Lord, that You help me to love in this same way. I pray Dear Lord, that You put people in my life that love me this same way. I pray that, from now on, I try to measure my love up to the perfect standard of Christ. Love that is patient, kind, does not envy, boast, and isn’t proud. Help me to rejoice with the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. I ask for Your guidance in recognizing, as a woman, how I should be treated and how I should treat others, according to Your Word. Bless me with examples of a godly husband, a godly family, a godly friendship, and a godly working relationship. I pray that I may shine as a Christlike example in the lives of others. God, make me a vessel of your loving light. Help me in all these ways.

I pray this in Your Name,


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