Friday, December 3, 2010

Husbands, Love your Wives


"Husbands, Love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25)

Lately I’ve been reviewing a couple of texts in Scripture that teach what it means to love and specifically love my wife. First Corinthians 13 is generally known as the love chapter. This chapter lets us see what it means to love another person. By no means is this an easy, cheap love that people fall in and out of constantly but a love built on the love of Christ. The second text I’ve been reading is Ephesians 5, specifically the part for husbands. The type of love spoken of by the apostle Paul and ultimately from God is impossible with man’s own power and strength. Husbands should daily be begging God for his mercy and grace as they lead their wives.

We hear in our day that it is old fashion for a woman to submit under the leadership of her husband. This concept seems totally foreign to most of us. It is said that this is demeaning to wives because we are equals so submission is not necessary. I admit that the idea of submission has been perverted in many households. Marriage was meant to reflect the Gospel but this has been distorted into selfish gain. This is sinful and harmful. But as I read through the roles of the husband I thought to myself, “This is no easy task.” This is not to minimize the role of the wife but it is to say the responsibility of a husband should bring a joyful submission by the wife. I think submission has become so wrong and distorted because of the lack of godly husbands who are pursuing the Biblical mandate. Getting married is easy but marriage is tough. God intended it to be an ever growing, loving and graceful process. I knew this stuff when I got married but sadly I did not really care. As I’ve grown in my love for Christ and his cross my desire to have a Christ-centered marriage has grown. This is strictly the work of God’s grace.

What is the role of the husband?

“Husbands, love your wives” seems easy enough but maybe stopping here to look at 1 Corinthians 13 may be helpful: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endure all things. Love never ends” (4-8). Paul proceeds into an ever tougher realm of love: “Love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). This is where a deep understanding of the Gospel helps us see how tough of a task the husband has in his role. We are commanded to love our wives the way Christ has shown his love for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). As husbands we can go ahead and insert “wife” rather than friends in the case of our marriage. This is the kind of leadership we are to display. This is the love we are commanded to show our wives. But the command is obeyed with great joy because we understand Calvary. Remember what it says about Christ in Hebrews 12: “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” This is the attitude husbands should have as they die to self in order to love their wives.

The purpose in having a marriage that reflects the Gospel is so God may be magnified. Failure will be a part of the growing process but we press on in the grace of God. We confess, repent and forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us and we move forward in grace. In light of the Gospel we have this promise in the end: “Having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” In Christ this is how his Church is presented before the Father. The Spirit is conforming us daily more and more into the image of Christ. Our marriage is one aspect of our sanctification. Two sinners joined together to reflect the love Christ has for his Church. May we listen to God speak: “Husbands, love your wives.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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