Submitting to your husband - lessons I learned from Mary the wife of Joseph

I can remember many years ago while doing my quiet time, the Lord showed me how submission by a wife to her husband can be very instrumental to the vitality and well-being of a family. It can literally save a life.

He showed me through a most unusual source: Mary.  Up until that reading I had become use to thinking of Mary as "only being the mother of Jesus."  I never thought of her in any other light.  Well, I take that back.  I thought of her as being "the virgin," too.

I knew she had an obedient heart  toward God by her responds to the angel Gabriel when he told her in Luke what was about to take place in her life.

It's kind of hard for me to explain, but I'm going to try so stick with me.  I knew that Mary was submissive to Joseph, Scripture is clearly shows that.  However, I never really focused on her submission because I always thought, "Who wouldn't be submissive in her shoes?"  I guess I kind of downplayed it in a sense.

The other thing that I realized doing this reading was that Joseph and Mary were married.  Call me Silly.  I never looked at them as a unit or oneness.  I had always viewed them as two separate entities.

But they were not two.  They were married and they were one.

 Mary was a wife. God required the same submissiveness from Mary that he requires from you and me?

You see, I thought all the rave about Mary was first and foremost because of the virgin birth and it is.  But now I understand the heart that God saw when He looked at her.  I thought it was because of what she said in Luke that pleased my heavenly Father.  What she said in Luke only shows us the temperament  of her heart overall.



Mary had a submissive spirit that showed in her interaction with God's messenger, the angel.

Elisabeth Elliot says, "All there is to Mary is a sinner. Who else can you marry?"

A sinner is all we have.  That is why before we take on a spouse we need to see how they interact with God while they are single.

If a woman (or man) submits to God in their singleness chances are when they marry they will submit.

God has a structure and order.  If you are married and you are not submitting to your husband God is not pleased with that, and you are hurting your family even if you think you are not.

Can you imagine some of the horrific events that may have taken place had Mary not submitted to Joseph?  God didn't give her something special because she was carrying the Savior.  No.  She already exhibited her qualities and that's why God chose her.  He knew that even in her humanity He could count on her to complete her calling.

You and I have been called for a purpose too, and unless we submit to God's structure we, sadly, may never see it come to fruition.  The Word tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice.

What is God counting on you or me to do?  What does He need to see in us before He hands the assignment over to us?

Remember, Mary wasn't perfect, she was just willing.  She made herself nothing so that He could do something great in her.  


I heard Beth Moore say something the other day that rings true.  She said that we're going to do what we want to do -- ultimately.  Sure we start off with wanting to be obedient to Christ in our walk, so we become obedient for Him.  But at some point and time we must be obedient because we want to be obedient for the sake of being obedient because that's what we want to do, not because He told us to.

You understand what I am saying?

Please, please understand,  that I did not say, nor am I implying in any way that Mary was what some call submissive women: weak.  She was by no means weak.  A weak woman could not have gone through the criticism and suspicious looks that I'm sure Mary had to endure.  No ma'am.  Mary was submissive and strong and I think she stood tall in spite of the whispers and innuendos.

Don't get submissive mixed up with being weak.

Weak is defined as "lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks; lacking physical strength and energy.  Not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail."

Submit, on the other hand, is defined as, "to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.  To subject to some kind of treatment or influence."

Here's the conversation between the angel and Mary:

Luke 1:26, "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants  of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, 'Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.' 

But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father Davis; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

Mary said to the angel,' How can this be, since I am a virgin?'  The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

. . . And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her."

What is Mary saying

What Mary is saying here is that her true character is that of living a surrendered life.  Her will, she is proclaiming, is lost in her desire to do the will of her Master.  Therefore, she willingly surrendered her rights.

This is the attitude that she took into her relationship with Joseph because it was the essence of who she was. She understood God and His order.

Leading the family

Ladies we must allow our husbands to lead our family. We must get out of the way.

When it came time to lead the family in the direction that God wanted them to go, we clearly see the Lord talking to Joseph giving him the instructions.

If you look at verse 24 of Matthew 1, you will see where it says, "And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife. . .

In chapter 2 of the same book verse 13 reads, "Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up!  Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.'

So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. . ."

And of course, you know the story.  The angel of the Lord continued to appear to Joseph and Joseph continued moving his family until they came to the place where God wanted them.

What place does God want your family and you?

Where does God want your family and you ladies?  If you're honest with yourself how are you hurting or helping the situation?  Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?  Whose way are you getting in?

How can you begin to trust the leadership of your husband if you haven't been?

You start to trust the leadership of your husband by trusting God first.
 Can you imagine where we might be if Mary had been like some of us modern day women?  I'm sure there were a few in her day too.  Scripture tells us that there is nothing new under the sun.

Ladies we can hinder the progress and the process of what God is doing with our family by not submitting.

This is sort of off the subject of Mary, but just think about this.  Have you ever noticed that Adam did fine in the garden by himself?  What do I mean by that?  Why didn't the crafty serpent come to him when he was alone?  Why didn't Adam eat from the tree when he was by himself?  Do you see how we can change the destiny of our descendants with our obedience or disobedience?

I think we begin to trust the leadership of our husbands when we begin to trust that God is who He says he is; He can do what He says He can do, and He will do what He says He will do.

Summing it up

From this point forward, take a quiet look at yourself and how you respond to submission.  Be truthful about what you really think about it.  Do you submit to your husband as unto the Lord, why or why not?

Do you think your submission to your husband or the lack of has helped or hindered your family?

Pray and ask God to show you your heart in this area and move on what He shows you.

Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying that submission is easy, but it is doable.  God has already given us everything that we need for life and godliness. When done right it can be beautiful. Having the attitude of a bondservant, and understanding the importance of the structure of marriage is what I see in Mary, wife of Joseph.  God and Joseph wanted to protect her and she allowed them.  She didn't get in the way.

Sister let God and your husband protect you by you getting out of the way.

We can't look at submitting as if we are having something taken away from us.  Instead look at it like we are helping to move our family and generations to come forward.

You and I really don't know what our submission to our husband's will allow God to birth in our lives.

Books to help you in your ministry of marriage

1.  Starting Your Marriage Right - This is a very practical manual for married couples, written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, to guide them through the challenges that are sure to surface.  There is a part in here that talks about "Team Work for Wives" - claiming the benefits of differences in roles in marriage.

2.  Build Your Marriage to Last - This is a Homebuilders Couple Series.  Homebuilders was developed by FamilyLife to help build marriage according to God's design.

3.  The Power of A Praying Wife - This book has sold more than 3,000,000 copies and has encouraged countless women {including me!} to trust God for their marriages.

4.  Strike The Original Match - This book is written by Chuck Swindoll, and it is the first book my husband and I went through three years after we were married.  It's a little old.  It was published in 1993, but the message still lives on.  If you sense something missing in your marriage this book can (and the others) can help you rediscover the warmth and joy you thought was gone forever.

This post is also linked up to Time Warp Wife


xo, Angela blog subscription  | twitter | facebook

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