The following biblical encouragement and exhortation is from a fellow husband striving to grow in Christ, Larry McCall, in his book Loving Your Wife as Christ Loves the Church. As I read through it a second time, I am reflecting deeper on the portions that I highlighted the first time. I will share a few in the next week, or so. Larry writes:
Two little words in Ephesians 5:25 intimidate me: the words just as. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” How can you and I ever match that kind of love?
Before we give up, deciding the mission we’ve been given is impossible to carry out, it might be wise to listen to pastor and writer Alistair Begg, who writes, “While human men cannot match the degree of love Jesus displays (since His love is divine and infinite), they are to love in the same manner.” In other words, although we husbands are imperfect reflections of The Perfect Husband, He has commissioned us to love our wives in the same manner as He loves His bride.
- Love unconditionally. Since His love is unconditional, ours must be also…consider Christ’s example that we love our wives without conditions—not held in reserve until we feel loved or respected by our wives, not based on our perception of our wives’ lovability, not withholding love until they fix themselves up physically, emotionally, or attitudinally. If, by God’s grace, we choose to love our wives irrespective of our perception of their worthiness or responsiveness, we mirror Christ’s unconditional love.
- Loving sacrificially. Similarly, our Christlike love for our wives should be profoundly sacrificial. While we may hear the occasional story of a husband who literally sacrifices his own life to save his wife’s, few of us will be called upon in God’s providence to pay that price. However, we make other sacrifices. It is worth our time to consider these heart-searching words from Christian radio host and author Bob Lepine: “It is often harder to live for your wife than it would be to die for her. It involves dying daily to your own desires and dreams. In the end, sacrificial love involves a willingness on the part of a husband not only to prefer his wife as more important than himself (see Philippians 2:3), but a readiness on the part of a husband that nothing will supersede his marriage covenant. It’s the kind of love that never gives up.” What evidences of selfishness do I see in my life as a husband? Am I withholding my time, my affection, my words of affirmation and appreciation because I’m not willing to set aside my own priorities? In what ways is the Lord calling me to “die to myself” so that I can better reflect Christ in my sacrificial love for my wife?
- Loving voluntarily. Our love must also mirror Christ’s voluntary love for His bride. Paltry tokens of love pulled out of us by our desperate wives or pushed out of us by a marriage counselor are less than sufficient. We must continually run back to Christ, soaking in His gracious love for us so that we will be moved to love others—especially our precious wives. Let me paraphrase the Apostle John’s words in 1 John 4:19-21: “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his wife, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his wife, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom He has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his wife.”
So, brothers, though we’re imperfect, God commissions us to love our wives just as Christ loves His bride, the church. Let’s devote ourselves to studying Christ together.
[As stated earlier, the above counsel is from Larry McCall, in his book Loving Your Wife as Christ Loves the Church. A fuller review/summary of this book is posted at Books At a Glance.]