Leading Through Love

Brad Small

February 2018

The longest and most detailed job description for a husband in scripture is found in Ephesians 5:21-33. In this passage, Paul basically gives the husband one job description- love your wife. Paul’s words are simple and straightforward. LOVE YOUR WIFE. There is not a long list of all the things a husband needs to do. He doesn’t have to go to husband training school or get a degree in husbandry. He doesn’t have to memorize long lists or pass a test. All he has to do is love his wife. Yet as simple as it may sound, husbands have a hard time loving their wives. This simple little command from scripture is incredibly difficult to implement and even harder to sustain over a long period of time. In this article, I simply want to ask a couple of questions regarding the meaning and implementation of the command to love your wife.

  1. What is the meaning of love in the context of marriage? We have a tendency to think of love in terms of emotion; however Biblical love is always defined in terms of will and action. Often we have feelings of love, frustration, anger, depression, apathy, and we act on those emotions. That is called acting in “the flesh.” The Bible says that your emotions cannot drive your life; Jesus and His truth drive your life. Jesus says that love is an act of the will; it is what I decide to do for my wife, not how I feel about her. 1 Corinthians 13 defines love this way, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” As I live out life with my wife, how I feel about her on a specific occasion is inconsequential; I have a call on my life as her husband to treat her according to God’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. As I live out Biblical love with her, my emotions of love for her will blossom because of my decision to love her.
  2. What does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church? Paul says Christ gave himself up for her. Biblical love is a self-sacrificing love. We sacrifice our lives for the good of the marriage. I watch this concept be completely misappropriated constantly in marriage. The husband is the head of the wife; he is the leader of the home. In big decisions like career choices or where the family will live or attend church, the husband must step up and take the lead. He receives input from his family, but he must take the lead in those major decisions. However, when it comes to personal entertainment, time management, leisure, and other daily household decisions, the husband is to sacrifice his own needs for the sake of his wife and/or children. Often the opposite is what happens in reality. The husband turns down a great job (and maybe God’s calling) because his wife tells him she won’t leave her family, but he isn’t willing to put down the video games to take his wife out on a date. A man must lead in the big issues and sacrifice on the daily details. Sacrifice some “me” time to connect and serve your wife. It is Godly leadership and represents the sacrificing nature of Christ’s love.
  3. Why is it so difficult to practice Biblical love consistently in marriage? Paul tells men to love their wives as their own bodies. A man will always care for his body. Treat your wife with the same care and concern. The reason men struggle to love their wives is because men are selfish. Paul never tells a woman to love her husband because love comes easily and naturally for a woman. Paul tells the husband three times in this passage to love his wife. Men are very selfish by nature. We want to be autonomous. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do or how to do it. We want to do our thing our way with no interference from anyone, especially our wives. For a man to love his wife with a Biblical love, he must die to that selfish, autonomous, rebellious spirit. He must die to his flesh that wants to spend the money how he wants, spend time how he wants, and live life how he wants. When a man dies to that sin before God, God can form him into a great husband. However, until a man dies to that sin, he will not be able to love his wife with Biblical love. Ultimately a man must go to the cross of self-interest and die to self, so he can lead his wife as God has called.

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