The First 15

Wednesday August 3, 2022

by Sharon Reid

Today is Wednesday, August 3, and we are exploring, through prayer, chapter five of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

Opening

I begin this time of prayer in stillness and quiet and I invite the Holy Spirit to be my guide.

Pause and Pray

Holy Spirit, lead me into a place of deep connection with you in these moments. With each breath in, remind me of your inexhaustible capacity to refresh my soul. With each breath out, remind me that through the cross of Jesus Christ, our brokenness is healed. Amen.

Scripture Reading

I pause now to give God thanks and praise and worship, using these ancient words of all God’s people in Psalm 101.

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. – Psalm 101:1-2

Pause and Pray

We begin by remembering Paul’s teaching from yesterday, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21). The Greek word translated as ‘one another’ is allḗlōn, which is a pronoun expressing an action done in two directions: of one another, to one another, mutually, or reciprocally. We keep this understanding of allḗlōn in mind as we read today’s passage.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. – Ephesians 5:22-27

Reflection

I recognize that in the culture of Paul’s day, husbands exercised comprehensive authority over their wives. Similar models are still practiced in many cultures of our world today. Paul was a product of his culture and at the same time, he was advancing a new Christian perspective. For instance, in Galatians 3:26-28 Paul teaches how, in faith, we who are the body of Christ, are all one:

“So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:26-28

Christ has revealed to us that there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God.

I want to capture the essence of Paul’s teaching in this passage without becoming bogged down in the cultural differences between his day and mine. Paul used specific examples but it was not his intention to define women as second-class citizens. His aim was to point the whole church, all of us ‘one anothers’, toward the discipline of mutual submission out of reverence for Christ. For Paul, being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18b) is of most importance and submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21) is one outflow of this infilling.

There is a beautiful outcome to the church’s unity in submitting to Christ and one another. Christ makes the church “holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Mutual submission is a practice of unity in the body of Christ that reveals the infilling of the Spirit in our life together.

Ask: Regardless of our gender or role, we are all called to submit to one another and love one another out of reverence for Christ. With whom will I struggle to be in a relationship of mutual submission with today? Why? How can being filled with the Spirit help me become more consistent in this discipline of submitting to others out of reverence for Christ?

Pause and Pray

Holy Spirit, help me notice a particular word, phrase or thought you want me to carry throughout this day as I slowly read the passage once more.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. – Ephesians 5:22-27

Ask: What word, phrase or thought from this passage is God’s Spirit guiding me to notice? How will I carry it with me throughout the day?

Pause and Pray

Lord, help me pause and examine how I am living and how I am thinking. I need your help to be filled with your Spirit and understand your will. I invite you, right now, to transform my heart so that my greatest desire is your will and your Spirit. Guide me to submit to you and submit to others out of reverence for Christ. On this day, may my words, thoughts and actions be used by you as undistorted reflections of Jesus Christ in the world. Amen.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5b

Closing Prayer

Lord, as I leave this time of prayer, make me ready to be faithful to you in every way. Jesus, make me ready to serve others with your compassion and grace. Holy Spirit, transform my inner thoughts and motivations so that all I do, I do to please you. Amen.

The First 15

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