25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:25-33 | NLT
We are called to be men of intentionality. We are given the opportunity and responsibility of living life on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose. It’s this same attitude of intentionality that we are to take on as husbands and that’s what this blog is all about.
In our series at Illumination Church, “Blessed”, we are taking on Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus verse by verse. This last Sunday brought us to a place where the focus was placed on the role of men and women in marriage, how women are to submit to their husbands and how the husband must love his wife and die for her. I want to spend some time following up with the role of men in marriage in this blog post.
What Is Love?
Husband. You are called to love your wife, and not just love your wife, but to love your wife in the same way that Jesus Christ loves the church. In order for us to understand what this kind of love looks like, we must first understand what this kind of love is and then look to the examples of how Christ demonstrates this love for the church. Let’s go…
“Love” – In Ephesians 5:25, we read that the role of the husband is to love his wife. There are five different types of the word love used in the New Testament, five Greek words that assign different meanings, each significant to their context and setting. In this case, the word love found in the original text is ἀγαπάω or agapa(o). This is a derivative of an agape kind of love, which is a verb and implies action associated to the word. What’s more is that it reads like this by definition: “to take pleasure in” or “to long for”. This kind of love is a love that is undeserved and is given without merit, the kind of love that Jesus gives us, the Bride of Christ (church body).
Now that we have a bit of a better understanding of the kind of love that husbands are to exhibit to their wives, let’s look at some of the examples as set by Jesus – “love your wives just as Christ loved the church”.
Christ Loved The Church
To understand how we, as husbands, are to love our wives, we must first understand how Christ loved the church. Without these examples, we wonder aimlessly throughout marriage without purpose or intention, but hoping for a “great marriage”.
Here are some examples that Christ demonstrates his love for the church; examples that we can be intentional about implementing in our lives and marriages.
Humility – Christ humbled himself for the church. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privilege; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus, awesome in power, intentionally surrendered his position and humbled himself, giving up everything, including his life, in meek position out of love. That’s humility; to have access to infinite power and position, yet giving it up and taking on the posture of a slave willingly and out of love. Christ loved the church through his humility.
As a husband, you have the opportunity to love your wife through demonstrating humility in how you live your life, more specifically how you interact with your wife. Humility doesn’t mean conceding and forfeiting your convictions to simply say, “yes dear”. What it means is that you are intentional about setting aside your own agenda for the betterment of your marriage and to honor your wife. An example. Start by listening to what she has to say. Don’t talk over her or already be formulating your next sentence while she is still talking. Actively listen to what your wife is saying, ask clarifying questions, affirm her in what she is saying, and respond in kindness. This is just one example. There are many more like it, examples of demonstrating humility in your marriage:
- apologize when you mess up
- don’t always have to be right or have the last word
- do what she wants to do (date night, vacation, movie, dinner, etc.)
- pick up some extra chores around the house; ones that you might not think is “man’s work” and give her a break
Death – Christ gave up his life for our salvation. Romans 5:6-9 says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” We were destined for death because of our sin nature (Romans 3:23), but Christ died in our place and made a way for us to experience life in light of what he did when he died for our sins. Jesus died for the church in order that we might experience life. Christ loved the church through his death.
While most men are quick to go to a place in their mind where death means putting up his life for his wife in a dangerous situation where she is being attacked or throwing yourself in front of a moving vehicle in an effort to save your wife, this is unlikely and is really only a small percentage of what it means to be willing to die for your wife. A far more realistic idea of what laying down your life for your wife looks like is to mutually submit (Eph. 5:21) to your wife daily by doing the dishes, changing the baby’s diaper, walking the dogs, folding her laundry, making dinner, and giving her some time to herself. This idea of dying to yourself also looks like doing what you can to help your wife achieve her dreams and become all that God has intended for her to be. Simply put, it means putting your wife before yourself and that will require dying to yourself.
Prayer – Christ prayed for the church. John 17:6-26 is an incredible example of how Christ, hours before he would lay down his life through death on the cross for you and me, prayed for his church. Jesus gives us this example and I can’t think of a greater way for a husband to love his wife than to pray for and with her.
Some ideas of how you, as a husband, can be praying for your wife include:
- prayer for her relationship with God to grow and mature
- prayer for her as a daughter of God to exhibit characteristics of God in her life
- prayer for her place of employment (if applicable)
- prayer for her as a homemaker (if applicable)
- prayer for her as a mother (if applicable)
- prayer for her in the form of praise for the opportunity that you have to have her in your life
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of prayers that you can pray for your wife, but can serve as a great catalyst for an intentional prayer life on behalf of your wife. Start by praying for your wife every morning while you’re in the shower or getting ready for the day. End your day praying with your wife before bed.
Affirmation – Christ affirmed the church. John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” This example of Jesus’ encouragement follows an entire conversation that Jesus has (John 15:18-16:33) with his disciples about the things that they will soon face in light of their relationship with Jesus as well as his affirmation of who they are and what they are committed to.
One of the greatest gifts that we, as husbands, can give our wives is the gift of affirmation. There is nothing in this world like a positive comment from a husband to his wife; it’s powerful! What’s more is that it is an example of how Jesus loved the church and how we are to love our wives.
Some examples of affirming your wife might be:
- tell her how much you appreciate her as a person…and why
- make sure she knows how beautiful you think she is
- thank her for what she does for you and your family (give specifics)
- take a trip down memory lane and share some of your fondest memories of her with her
This may not come natural to you, but it’s a game-changer for your marriage and is an example that Jesus sets for us as husbands, to affirm our wives. Start today and change the trajectory of your marriage forever.
Service – Christ served the church. John 13 shows us how Jesus served his disciples:“Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” Jesus demonstrates his love through his intentional service with the disciples – he took on the position of the lowest servant in a household and washed his disciple’s feet, an unthinkable act for someone of Jesus’ position and stature.
As a husband, you have the awesome opportunity to demonstrate your love for your wife by laying down your life through service to her.
Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me about how he stopped along the side of the road on a 100′ day coming straight from work dressed in business attire to change his wife’s tire on her vehicle. He wasn’t necessarily excited to be there or to mess with a disgusting, dirty tire, or to have semi trucks whipping by as he was laying on the ground changing his wife’s tire. That said, he was glad to have the opportunity to demonstrate his love to his wife through serving her in this manner.
There are many ways every day that you and I can demonstrate our love to our wives by intentionally serving her:
- make the bed (without begin asked)
- vacuum the carpet (without being asked)
- volunteer to go grocery shopping (without being asked)
- take out the garbage (without being asked)
- pick up the kids from dance or soccer or band (without being asked)
- put the laundry away (without being asked)
Ask yourself how you might demonstrate love for your wife and be willing to lay down your life by serving your wife today – what can you do to serve her? Now put your thoughts into action man of God.
Lead – Christ leads the church. In Matthew we see how Jesus leads the church,18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Christ demonstrated a life of leadership, specifically 3-years of ministry, which was recorded for you and I to believe and to apply to our lives. What’s more is that Jesus gives us the mandate and the authority to lead out of his leadership.
To lead our wives doesn’t mean that we lord it over them. Instead, we lead by example, we lead out of obedience, we lead out of our relationship with Jesus, we lead out of love, we lead out of submission, we lead because we are called to lead and willingly accept that awesome responsibility and incredible mandate for husbands.
In order for any of us husbands to effectively lead our wives, we must first have a healthy perspective of what biblical leadership is and what our responsibility in leading looks like. What’s more is that in an effort to effectively lead our wives, we must have their trust, admiration, and respect. This cannot be demanded of anyone, but is something that is earned over time and through experience. Stop and ask yourself if you’ve earned the right to lead your wife. If the answer is “no”, it’s not too late. You can began by growing in your relationship with God through prayer, through reading your Bible, through accountability with other godly men, and by demonstrating sound judgement one choice at a time. The ability to lead your wife is earned and not given. We must take this responsibility incredibly serious!
Are you leading:
- with the way you work?
- with the way you treat your children?
- with the words you use?
- with your attitude?
- with your finances?
- with your volunteer work in the church and community?
- with your devotional life?
- with your prayer life?
- with your involvement in your local church?
These are just a few of the questions we’ve got to wrestle with in an effort to effectively lead our wives through laying down our lives out of love for our wives.
Though wives are called to submit to their husbands, and we’ll address that this week, we, as husbands are given three times the instruction to love our wives and to lay down our lives for our brides. This isn’t an accident but is very intentional.
Man of God. Love your wife today and know that you’re not in this journey alone.
I pray that this study will be helpful and effective in spurring you and I, as husbands, on in our role and responsibility as a husband.