Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her love. (Ephesians 5:25, NIV)
Dying is easy; living is hard. Many people are willing to die; not enough are willing to live.
One thing I’ve noticed as I speak to various group and hear their comments and answer their questions regarding, “Husbands love your wives like Christ loved the church.” We don’t delve deeply enough into the comparison of the how and what of Christ’s love for the church. Marriage is so much more than husbands simply having a death-sentence, sacrificial mentality (sort of like the drudgery of “working at marriage”). Men must understand Christ didn’t just sacrifice His life for His bride! He also:
- Rose from the dead to bring her invigorating life
- Ever lives for her and anticipates reunion with her
- Keeps her always on His mind – her name is engraved on His hand
- Intercedes for her
- Meets her needs / provides for her
- Graciously and mercifully forgives her
- Bestows His compassion, long-suffering, and love upon her
- Infuses her life with peace, joy, goodness, even humor
The point of emphasis is this: There are far too many men who are willing to die for their wives and not enough who are willing to live for them.
Many people are hurting and seeking relational answers. It actually hurts to see and experience so much pain. Satan has seriously blinded many eyes to distort and ruin the beauty of relationships that God intended.
And, yes, that includes abuse. I’ve heard sordid tales from various churches regarding this sad ordeal. That was part of the reason why it struck me that men need to hear the message of living for their bride not simply dying for them. I understand and agree that the emphasis of Ephesians 5:25 reveals the sacrificial and unselfish love that must permeate a marriage. But, I also question – if it is truly out of love, is it truly a sacrifice or just a natural response for your beloved?
If men are to love their wives like Christ loved the church, then look at how He interacted with people. Since I have an intimate fondness for the Gospel of John, I use that in many examples. After all, if God can take a Son of Thunder and transform him into John the Beloved, then he can transform men into the loving husbands they should be to exemplify Christ’s love for the church. If men are challenged with the living aspect of love, the action steps are to model Jesus. Simply that – model Jesus.
- John 3 – Jesus met Nicodemus at his point of spiritual He listened attentively and asked engaging questions (many men miss this point altogether!)
- John 4 – Jesus met the woman at the well at her point of emotional and spiritual need, but in a different manner than Nicodemus. He was flexible, attentive, interested in her wellbeing, and wasn’t influenced or distracted by his male counterparts (disciples).
- John 5 – Jesus met the physical need of the lame man at the Bethesda Pool. He challenged him with a point-blank question “Do you want to be made whole?” Men need to be in tune with their wives and determine the true issue (keeping in mind that some women have perfected the art of putting up smokescreens to see if their husbands are truly interested in finding out what is wrong).
- John 6 – Jesus met the physical needs of the masses by providing for their needs (food). Men must provide for their wives / families (food, shelter, protection, wellbeing, etc).
- John 7 – Jesus challenged intellectual needs (“how did this man get such learning?”). Husbands must constantly improve their mental strength to hone their integrity, decision-making process, application of wisdom, sharing of experience, etc.
- John 8 – With the woman taken in adultery, Jesus was just, yet compassionate, merciful, protective, and forgiving. He also challenged the status quo when he said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”
- Jesus was affectionate with children, emotional at Lazarus’ death, angry with the temple merchants, patient with the disciples, etc. All throughout Scripture, Jesus modeled healthy relational behavior – even before dying.
I could go on and on. The point is, the relationship between a husband and wife is much more than sacrificial death or denial. I firmly believe God intended it to be a living, vibrant, enjoyable, reciprocal, and fulfilling union of two people in all four aspects of life.
Editor’s Note: Some comments / quotes are excerpted from author and speaker Nate Stevens’ book “Matched 4 Marriage – Meant 4 Life: Solving the Mystery of Relationships.”