“The Wife as an Indispensable Companion” Principles of Companionship in Marriage
Genesis 2; Eph. 5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.21_24 Part 1
Genesis chapter 2. We are in a sub series in the book of Ephesians on the family. And once again morning we will highlight marriage.
I appreciate you bearing with me as I sit here with my knee injury. As Jerry Asher, Meadowlands music pastor said, “I zigged and my knee zagged” when I played football at the men’s retreat.
An article published on Time magazine’s website discussed a survey that asked millennials their views on marriage. They asked 18-34-year-olds how interested they would be in the following marriage models.
Now, in my opinion, the survey is skewed. But I think the results are still telling. The closest thing to the biblical model of marriage is called “till death do us part; divorce is illegalized.” I don’t know that illegalizing divorce is God’s way, so it seems to be a little skewed.
But anyway, 10% of the 1000 individuals answered that their marriage model preference was the multiple partners model; marriage can be with more than one person at the same time, each of whom fulfills a need in your life.”
21% took the presidential model and said that vows should last for at least four years, but after eight years you can elect to choose a new partner.
31% held the closest thing to the biblical view “till death do us part; divorce is illegalized.” The Bible does command that we let our unbelieving spouses leave if they desire to leave.
36% held the real estate view. They held the model that marriage licenses should be granted on 5, 7, 10, and 30 year terms. And after the term is up, the marriage must be renegotiated to be extended.
And the most popular answer was the “beta” view. 43% said that the union can be formalized or dissolved after a two-year trial period. So after two years into a relationship, the union could be formalized or dissolved with no divorce or paperwork required. The study’s author says it’s not that millennials are noncommittal; it’s just that they are more open to change.
But, I think it’s obvious that the most popular monogamous answer was the one that shows the least amount of commitment. Just like when computer programs are in beta mode, if there is a glitch in the relationship within 2 years, you can abandon the launch of the product before trying to take it public and merely blame it on there being too many bugs in the program code.
Obviously, people my age and younger hold to ungodly marriage models. They would rather test marriage like they would test a username and password when signing up for a new service online.
This is not the Bible’s way. Two weeks ago, we saw what the Bible teaches about what marriage is. Marriage is a God-instituted, one-flesh union between one man and one woman made by a covenant until death.
And we are in Genesis chapter 2. Let’s read Genesis 2:18-24 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him [remember this …. an indispensable companion who is his counterpart].” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found an [indispensable companion who was his counterpart]. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Matthew Henry said the woman was “not made out of his head to top him [that is, to rule him. The woman was …], not [made] out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near to his heart to be beloved.” He then adds, “See how dear the affection ought to be between husband and wife; such as there is to our own bodies.”
I’d like to speak to that affection this morning, as we concern ourselves first where Paul does in Ephesians 5 when he discusses the wife.
And you remember in Ephesians 5 that the discussion of the family and the roles of each member of the family is in the context of a proper response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross and raised from the dead. The power that raised Jesus from the dead, Ephesians 1 says, is the same power that raised us up with Christ and has given us a seat at the very right hand of God.
And now, we enjoy our adoption into the family of God, we are declared righteous and we have an eternal inheritance, the glory of which far surpasses any temporary suffering.
This is your calling! To grow in Christ, understand your calling. Get to know your calling! There is no growth in Christ … whether a marriage or an individual…. apart from the Holy Spirit filling us with knowledge of Christ and His gospel.
And more immediately in the context of Eph. 5, we are to be underneath the control of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that leads to recklessness, but be filled by the Spirit
And now, as we get into a discussion of the family, there are some who are to submit to others in the fear of Christ. We need to fear Christ! Wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters.
But our ability to submit, or a husband’s ability to love his wife, or a child to obey his parents, or a slave his master…our ability to do this depends on our being filled by the Holy Spirit.
So let’s start where Ephesians does, and that is with the wife. What is a wife who is filled by the Holy Spirit?
As I have studied the Scriptures, I’ve come to see a Holy-Spirit filled wife as her husband’s friend, who respectfully comes underneath his leadership. Let me repeat that. A Spirit-filled wife is her husband’s friend, who respectfully comes underneath his leadership.
And I’m using that phrase “come underneath his leadership” to refer to what Bible word? To come underneath leadership is the idea behind the word submission, or subjection.
And so that statement about the wife has three parts to it. Friend, respect, and submission. A Spirit-filled wife is her husband’s friend, who respectfully comes underneath his leadership.
And the word friend relates to the word in Genesis 2:18 translated helper in our New American Standard Bible, which we translated as an indispensable companion.
So, I’d like to preach this morning on “The Wife as an Indispensable Companion” Principles of Companionship in Marriage.
So this message is not only focused on wives, but also husbands, since companionship works both ways.
And I have two points for this part of the series they are the purposes for marriage that we saw on the sheet last time. You remember the first purpose for marriage we had was companionship. And I’m thinking of that in the more general term of friendship or fellowship.
And the second purpose for marriage is completion. In other words, supplying what is lacking physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
And we said that if a married couple doesn’t understand God’s purposes for marriage, they will struggle in their relationship, to say the least. If you don’t get the companionship right and you don’t get the completion right, or you don’t care about that or don’t operate on that level, you’ll be having some struggles in the marriage!
So this morning we’ll talk about fellowship or companionship. Next time, we’ll discuss principles of completion. What follows this morning are applications. The whole message…I don’t normally do this….but the whole message this morning consists of applications drawn from Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him an [indispensable companion who is his counterpart].”
For fellowship or companionship, I found particularly helpful a book entitled Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage by Joel Beeke.
As illustrated by Genesis chapter 2 by Matthew Henry, the wife, because she was taken from the man’s side, neither rules over her husband nor is trampled underneath him, but is equal to him and near to his heart. She was taken from his side. Therefore, for the relationship between a husband and wife to honour God demands that the husband and wife be friends. She is a companion, an indispensable companion. For the relationship between a husband and wife to honour God demands that the husband and wife be friends.
Men, you need to treat her as a friend, not a servant. Ladies, view yourself as your husband’s friend, not his servant.
Friend, not servant.
Ladies, your husband married a wife. He married a friend. He did not marry a servant, nor did he marry the mother of his children; he married his best friend. In …
John 15:15 Jesus says … “No longer do I call you slaves [why not call his disciples slaves?], for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends [why call them friends?], for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
The principle is that a slave does not know what his master is doing. A friend knows what his friend is doing.
Men, because your wife is your companion and your wife is not your slave or your servant, she has a right to know what you’re doing. In other words, men, open up. Open up your heart to your wife, she is your companion, your friend. Friendship takes work; open your heart to her. This is God’s requirement.
Ladies, your husband is not another one of the children. Only 2 become 1 flesh, not 3, 4, 5, or 6 becoming 1 flesh! So don’t talk to your husband like he is one of the children. Respectfully ask him when you would normally command your children. He is not your servant.
Men, opening up, takes time.
Spend time together
Spend some time together. Everyone in the house ought to know that you two are committed to one another, not as mom and dad, but first and primarily as husband and wife. To establish that, takes time. Actual, on the clock time. Be together as a husband and wife, not as two workers, where one who works outside of the house and the other works in the house. Be together as a husband and wife, not as a father and a mother. Be together as a husband and a wife, together, as friends. Spend actual on the clock time together.
And that would include sharing activities together. I realize this can be difficult in a busy world. Thankfully, for my wife and I, we enjoy raising kids … ahem….
But that’s not quite good enough is it! When we were young whippersnappers, we enjoyed playing ultimate frisbee together. But now, we are old fogeys, so, among other things, we watch and discuss documentaries, but we try to make it a date night.
Then, we discuss whatever activity that we enjoy together. And this leads me to the third point and that is talking together.
Number one under fellowship, you are friends, not a master and a servant. Two, you are to spend time together. 3, talk, communication.
Communication is well known for being a vitally important aspect of marriage. If you were to take a marriage quiz online to see if you’re compatible enough to get married or not, the questions will deal with what you talk about.
Ruth and I took some of those quizzes as well as other husband and the wife quizzes. Go ahead, take those quizzes together to see if you really should’ve gotten married and laugh together when they tell you that you shouldn’t have!
Well, we took those quizzes and I’d like to share with you the results of two of them. After we answered all the questions of one quiz, the results said …. “It’s hard to tell where you end and your partner begins. Remember, though, that while it’s wonderful that you and your spouse are so close, it’s also healthy to have your own interests and hobbies.”
In other words, don’t be so ‘one flesh’ be different.
So we did another quiz and after submitting the answers, it said … “awesome! You are too perfect…It is just possible that you are living a complete fantasy and that you’re seeing what you want to see – not what’s actually there. But if you are genuinely this compatible with your partner, congratulations! You have a perfect relationship which – if you continue to work at it – should last a lifetime.
But we really did try to be as honest as possible! You have to learn to talk and communicate with one another.
If you don’t think that you would do well on those quizzes, set aside real time to talk. We will discuss what to talk about in a minute, but first let me give you some principles on communication. Make sure you listen. Proper listening can help your spouse speak correctly and it helps make sure you are heard correctly. To do that, when you are talking, listen to what the other says and mirror what they say. In other words say, “Are you saying that you do like this or that?” So mirror the conversation, when needed. Make sure you are listening.
And care about what they’re saying; value your spouse’s thoughts and feelings, and opinions.
But what are you supposed to talk about? What those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb talk about. First, here, talk about spiritual things.
Do you talk about the Lord or his concerns together? Do you talk about what he talks about in his word? If this is not natural for you, you’ll need to make a point about doing it. Think about what those in the very first marriage talked about. In Adam and Eve’s perfect condition, no doubt they had discussions about their Creator and his goodness. If you need to, make a point to plan out how you’re going to have true Christian fellowship over scriptural things.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
And so men take some leadership and talk about spiritual things with your wife. Ladies, feel free to respectfully discuss your feelings about some of these things with your husband. Men, guide your wife in this. Share your spiritual experiences with one another, as well as your frustrations and victories … you’re both pilgrims in the earth, be concerned about one another’s growth in Christ and how the other is doing. Talk about how the Lord is working in your life with your spouse
This is going to take either a dinnertable or some other planned time together. Men, this will take getting in the door at a proper time in order to set proper priorities. Remember the priorities you already know: you are a Christian, you are a husband, and then you are a father and worker.
Men, in some cases, you will have to lay aside your hobbies and other interests in order to focus on what is more of a priority: Christian fellowship with your spouse.
Not only share Christian fellowship, but also discuss any joy or trial or struggle or things that are important to you about the day. When you get home, try remember those things that happened and attempt to discuss these things with your spouse.
And add a little humor to your conversation, too. Humor is not wicked by itself, there is a time to laugh Ecclesiastes 3:4 says. Some of you need to pray about how to turn irritations that you have with your spouse into points of humor. And play those up to draw closer to your spouse.
ILL: For example, when Ruth and I were on our honeymoon, I found out one of her natural limitations. [this illustration was approved by my wife, btw… ] Although she would eventually have a Master’s degree in counseling and begin and maintain a financially successful website, she was one of those individuals at the end of the book of Jonah upon whom God has great compassion and I didn’t… she did not know the difference between her right and left hand!
Well, it wasn’t that bad. She is about 95% correct, sometimes after a little thought. She said she’s improving, too, b/c she’s teaching it to the kids. But that’s not the embarrassing part… this is the real embarrassment: my first reactions to her natural limitation. I would get angry at her, but she wasn’t sinning. Do you get angry at your spouse and they just made a mistake? I did. On our honeymoon, even. When she attempted to give me directions, she would say “turn left” but would mean “right.” I got angry!
But now, by the grace of God, we have turned this little irritant for me into a source of great humor and joy in our relationship and we have fun with it. We’ve learned to enjoy and to play up one another’s idiosyncrasies.
Also, learn to have fun fellowship times with one another apart from material things. Proverbs 15:15-17 15 All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. 16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it. 17 Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.
You don’t need a lot of stuff to have fun with one another. When it’s all said and done, your most memorable times probably won’t be when you went to Disneyland or things like that. Your most memorable times will probably be when you spend time with one another … joyful inexpensive fellowship with one another… without the fattened ox, but with a cheerful heart.
So my wife and I would much rather have a sharpening conversation with each other or a profound discussion about a documentary than to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars going to Disneyland, which could be full of stress doing this or that.
Not only share your joy, also share your trials and struggles. When you get home, ask your wife how she’s doing. Was the day stressful in any way? Care enough to ask those questions. Before complaining about supper b/c it’s not on the table or that the house is a mess or complaining that the kids are hanging off the ceiling fan blades, … before complaining about those things, ask her and care about her heart and how she’s handling her day and what actually did happen in her day and ask about those things in a caring way.
And wives, genuinely ask your husband about his day. Ask him about how it went, what he did, and don’t critique him if he failed in some way, but come alongside him and support him. Men, open up, she’s your companion; this is God’s design.
And finally, learn to please your spouse. Learn to please your spouse.
This is 1 Corinthians 7:33-34. And you can turn over there.
In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul is discussing marriage. And in his discussion of singleness, he admits that the one who is married must please his or her spouse.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 7:33-34 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
A wife must learn how to please her husband and the husband must learn how to please his wife.
This is where communication comes in. What is it that the other enjoys? And what is it that gets under his skin. What does she like? If the husband really would rather have a busier wife and a cleaner floor, that’s something that you two need to discuss. And friends listen and care about each other’s interests and concerns and opinions.
What is it that pleases your spouse? Ask!
ILL: Earlier in our marriage, Ruth and I had to talk about my driving. She said that I would stop too fast when there was a car in front of me. Ladies, you know this …I would get too close to the car in front of me to her liking and I would make her quite nervous.
For a while, I thought to myself, “she just needs to get used to my driving.” But I realized that this was a matter of whether or not I was going to choose to please my wife. What would please my wife in this situation? Could I do anything about it and remain godly and for her to remain godly? So I began to take conscious action and began not to drive so closely to the car in front of me so that I would not make her nervous when I would put on the brakes.
We need to be careful to do these kinds of things. Men, ladies, is there anything that you are aware of and you know you have refused to please the other? Feel free to discuss these things at home and help each other!
This would go for things like grooming, food, preferences, and other things. But a little warning here … be careful not to be overly kind or overly demanding. The husband might say that he likes a certain meal when really he thought it was awful. What will happen? His wife might make it every week for the rest of his life. That’s not worth it! So, be careful not to be overly kind about what does or does not please you.
But a second warning here … it is also not worth it to be overly demanding about what does or does not please you. Men your demands on your wife and the way she runs her household might not be possible if you don’t choose to pitch in and help. Many a wife feels like she can’t live up to her husband’s standards when it concerns her duties in the home.
Titus 2:5 says that the wife is to be a worker at home, not you!
Titus 2:5 [wives are to be] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Men, your wife is the home worker. How would you like it if your coworkers were always demanding things of you when it was your job to do it….? You are not your wife’s boss! You are friends. Just like a coworker doesn’t demand things of his coworkers, so you shouldn’t demand things either.
Your help is appreciated, but your demands are often not.
1 Timothy 5:14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach;
The wife is to keep house. The word translated “keep house” has the idea of commanding and giving leadership to a household, directing a household and managing a home. In other words, men, God has delegated the responsibility of directing the household and managing the home to your wife. You are, when you come home, in a very real sense, you are coming home into her domain. This is the sphere of her management and leadership and direction. She keeps house. Now, she doesn’t boss you around men. And she is your companion so if you have a suggestion, go ahead and suggest all the while having a caring attitude. But if she’s not “keeping house” as she should, after some careful prayer, you’ll need to encourage her in a comforting way to be godly in this area.
This is her calling of God and you can encourage her in her calling, but for you to interfere by issuing demands, like a master does his servant, just might disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the home.
You need to support her in her role and make sure that you are focused on the purposes for marriage as you encourage her: you need to be concerned about your companionship and about your completion of one another as you discuss issues in your relationship.
A wife writes this letter to a marriage counselor…
My husband is a very controlling person. He likes to be in charge of everything and he’s always telling me what and how to do things. I used to always feel like I couldn’t live up to his standards. I realized that with simple things, such as doing the housework, he would quiz me on what I had done, what he thought I should do and how long it took me to do my chores. He’d come home from work, look around the house and ask “Did you do housework today?” I tend to lean towards perfectionism, so you can imagine how frustrating it is was for me to spend hours trying to meet his needs, then have him question me, instead of praise me.
We both work full time, but he controls the purse strings in our household. I can’t spend a dime without asking him. If I buy something out of necessity, I make a point of telling him over the phone, while he’s still at work so if he gets angry with me he has time to cool down before he gets home. What I find really embarrassing is that other people see how controlling he is and it makes me look like a wimp.
My husband is also a loud person. When we argue, he raises his voice so that he’s yelling. I ask him constantly not to yell, but he ignores my request. He also is the type of man who won’t apologize. When I’ve told him he’s hurt me, he just won’t admit that he’s wrong about anything.
I have realized that he’s always been controlling, and that was what I needed when I was young. Now I’ve grown and I need my space to be my own person, and pursue my interests, go out with my friends, but it’s an uphill battle. He wants me to account for what I do on my days off. If I suggest doing anything on my own, such as being with people who share my interests, he becomes so unpleasant that I usually just stay home and resent him instead. I could understand his jealousy if there were a lot of men involved, but all the people interested in the hobby I pursue are women.
Whenever he’s wanted to improve himself, I tell him to do it. I stand behind him and cheer him on. However, when I mention my dreams there is a distinct lack of support and understanding. He doesn’t understand that I feel empty and unfulfilled, as if my brain is wasting away. We could live easily on his income while I upgrade my education, or re-train to better myself. But as soon as I mention school, night classes, or correspondence, he tells me that no one is happy at their job, so why should I be any different. It’s like he’s telling me not to be such a cry baby.
This is not companionship! If you have any element of this and you need more help than this message, please come see me.
And finally for true, Christian fellowship, pray together. Remember the wife is a friend, not a servant. Spend time together. Talk and now 4th … pray together!
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Pray together. Not just at meals with the family but at some point every day, just you and your wife pray together. What has worked for us is that before one of us goes to bed, we pray together. 99% of the time we are retiring to bed at the same time and then we pray together.
Either I pray or my wife prays, but typically, as the husband, I pray. Be careful to praise the Lord and be thankful for the events of the day and ask for help to be better servants of the Lord, to be better husbands and wives and ask for help and wisdom for the kids…. Pray together. And we don’t pray long, maybe 2 or 3 minutes.
What this does is that it builds unity together as you pray to the One who brought you together. God brought you together, the Bible says. As you grow closer to him as a married couple, you will grow closer to one another. You must be praying with one another.
TRANS: Practice these four things in your fellowship with one another…
Understand that you are friends, not each other slaves or servants. So, wives, be careful to respectfully treat your husband as your husband, not as one of your children. Husbands, be careful to open up your life; she is your indispensable companion, not your slaves.
Secondly, spend actual on the clock time together. Share some activities with one another.
Thirdly talk with one another. Discuss spiritual things, your joys and trials and struggles. Find humor in your idiosyncrasies. Learn how to please your spouse by asking and by talking about those things that would please you. But be careful not to be overly kind or overly demanding with those things that do or do not please you.
And fourthly, it is vitally important to pray to one another so that you grow close to God together as a married couple. This will build unity and fellowship throughout the day.
So real fellowship, companionship and friendship is a purpose for marriage. And what this does is that it will build a strong bond of trust in your relationship to enable the second purpose for marriage, which is completion.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born [to help in] adversity.
Where real fellowship lacks, completion will only cause anger and hopelessness. The act of completion will always be happening; it is a natural action in marriage. What happens is when completion is supposed to happen, if there is a lack of true fellowship, instead of completion, there will be angry conflicts that induce feelings of hopelessness for a marriage.
This is why building real fellowship and companionship is so important so that completion can have its way.
But we will discuss completion next time.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.21_24 Part 1
So husbands tell your wife that you love her, come home to serve, give her a hug, attempt to understand how she communicates and ask questions along the way. Your wife needs your affection and conversation, your honesty and financial support. They need to trust your leadership in various decisions and they need to know you are committed to the family. Complement your wife study her to find out how to do that.
And let’s be done, husbands and wives, with the putdowns and silly arguments over burnt toast. Men, take the lead in discussing this message with your wife have a real meeting about where she is with these things. Ask her and be open to her thoughts and express care and concern about what she says that would help her. Wives do the same thing. And neither of you be defensive.
Friendship in your marriage is not only one of God’s purposes for marriage, it is His gift to you. Genesis taught us that true friendship, companionship, and fellowship originates in God himself … He instituted marriage! He also leads a man and woman into marriage today! His plan works! Let’s work on it…Also, Ephesians 5 tells us, you remember, that marriage is a picture of Christ and his church. So, marriage is near and dear to God’s heart. We can’t just let this slide!
A successful marriage in God’s eyes cannot exist apart from the work of God in Christ. Without salvation through Jesus Christ, through trusting Him alone collapsing one’s entire life before Him and calling on Him for salvation b/c the price has been paid at the cross and the resurrection….without that salvation, there is no Spirit-filling which means there is no success in marriage.
A marriage that’s not centered on Christ and His design for marriage is a marriage doomed for failure, even though the husband and wife may stay together their whole life and feel happily married. If you don’t follow His model for marriage, no matter what, you won’t have a God honouring marriage, no matter how you feel about the marriage.
That’s because God designed marriage. As you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you’ll come to own the fact that you are to be friends, as Genesis 2:18 says. Be a good friend and help one another be a better friend by being open with one another about what we’ve discussed this morning.
But keep in mind that your spouse can only fulfill so many things in you. You are first a child of God and then you are a spouse. Be realistic and don’t expect or demand too much. Learn to bear with one another along the way, helping one another, encouraging one another in all of your shortcomings and learning how to deal with one another’s sin natures.
Have a sitdown meeting after this message. Husbands, ask your wives what they thought about this message and where you can help her in any way. Be open, be vulnerable. Be willing to receive a little bit of feedback. Wives, the same thing.
Richard Baxter, that Puritan pastor in the 1600s described this kind of sharing marriage: It is a mercy to have a faithful friend, that loves you entirely, and is as true to you as yourself, to whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs, and who [is] ready to strengthen you, and [to share] the cares of your affairs and family with you, and help you to bear your burdens, and comfort you in your sorrows, and be the daily companion of your life, and partaker of your joys and sorrows.”
So, pray about your friendship and pray together about your marriage so that in the end you can truly say that you are married to your best friend on earth.
Give us homes.