Husbands, how does the cross of Christ change the way you love your wife every day? Listen to Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
That’s a cross-centered way to look at your wife each day, knowing that you have been called and commanded to reflect Christ through daily sacrifice for your wife, to die to yourself and to lay aside your interests in order to love her (Luke 22:26). So what does this kind of love look like on a daily basis? Here are four different answers based on Scripture.
- Love her selflessly.
Husbands, love your wife like Christ has loved you, and like Christ loves her. This is a self-sacrificing love, which means it’s not based on what you get from it. That’s how the world loves. The world says you love your wife because of all her positive characteristics. In other words, you love your wife because she deserves it. This is a fickle love, because as soon as some characteristic in your wife is no longer as appealing as it once was, then such love fades away.
Husbands, love not because of who your wife is but because of who Christ is. Do we really want Christ to love us based on what we bring to the table? No. So don’t for a second love your wife like that. The world tells you to be macho, to defend yourself, to assert yourself, to bring attention to yourself, and to live for yourself. But the Bible says, “Give up yourself for your wife.”
Out of the many things involved with selfless love, two are worth noting. First, provide for your wife. Take responsibility for your wife’s (and family’s) physical provision. First Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Other Scripture passages also commend the value of hard work (1 Thessalonians 4:10–12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6–13; Proverbs 6:6–11).
Second, protect your wife. Scripture contains a variety of verses that contain the imagery of men protecting their families and, in some cases, leading out in battle (Joshua 1:14; Judges 4:8–10; Jeremiah 50:37; Matthew 2:13–14). Husbands ought to offer protection, and not just in a physical sense but in a holistic sense. We live in a spiritual world and we are involved in a spiritual war. So fight the battle, husbands, on all fronts (physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually) to protect your wife.
- Love her effectively.
Christ loves the church in such a way that she is presented “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Christ’s love molds and makes His bride beautiful. He takes responsibility for making her that way.
Likewise, husbands are responsible for leading marriages to be holy and for leading wives to be lovely.
Under Christ, we are responsible for our wives growing in Christ, and if they are not growing in holiness, growing in loveliness, then that responsibility comes back to us. To be clear, I’m not saying that if a wife commits adultery or falls into some sin that she is not guilty before God of that sin. No question, she is. But husbands, you are responsible.
If there are problems in the lives of our wives or in our marriages, then we are responsible for laying down our lives to lovingly address those problems. Don’t fall asleep on the watch God has entrusted to you.
- Love her carefully.
Paul says that husbands should “love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:28). Paul almost appeals (in a sense) to our selfishness. He says, “Men, you know how much you care about yourself? Well care for your wife like that.”
Nourish her and cherish her. Don’t be harsh with your wife. Be warm with your wife and live with her “in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
- Love her completely.
We are to love our lives in every way, much like we read about in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7:
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, endures all things.
Husbands, as Christ serves you each day, out-serve your wife each day. This is God’s command in your life—it is your great calling. And it is how God has designed you to interact every day with your wife. As Jesus taught his disciples, “. . . whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:43-45.)
–This excerpt has been adapted from Secret Church 14, “The Cross and Everyday Life.”