Family Life, p. 1
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, 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 the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we men are faced with the difficult task of showing love to our wives in a meaningful way. In the early days of marriage, it wasn’t that hard. But when you’ve gone through 25 or 30 Valentine’s Days together, trust me, it gets pretty tough to be original.
We hear commercials that tell us FLOWERS are the ticket. Then another says, ‘no, no, real love is spelled CHO-CO-LATE.’ The radio advises us to try a Pajama-Gram this year and we think we’ve done GOOD until the TV reminds us, “but HE went to Jerrod.” We can’t even go get a CARD without being overwhelmed by all the choices.
Things were so much easier back in 1st grade when we could scribble a little note – “Will you be my Valentine? Check ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
Admit it, fellas, you really have no idea WHAT your wife wants???
Regardless what the commercials say - Real love isn’t communicated through the occasional ‘home-run’ gift. In fact, if the only day you make an effort to show your love is Valentine’s Day, you are in trouble.
I’m no expert on the subject of love. I don’t pretend to be. But God is. There is no greater authority on the subject of LOVE and how to show it, than God Himself. And God knows the Biblical Family is under assault.
Of all the problems facing the church, from sin to satanic attack, the greatest threat to the church is not poverty or illiteracy – it’s ‘the broken home.’
A person can overcome financial problems. Though taxing, health issues aren’t insurmountable either.
But problems at home have a way of spilling over into everything we are. The one place that ought to be a refuge for us – when hostile or unfulfilling - casts a shadow over everything else.
How can a man ensure that his wife feels valued and cherished?? When he does these 4 things, according to Paul:
1. First, a man must LOVE his wife… not in word, but sacrificially – as verse 25 makes clear: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The idea here is giving yourself up… your wants, your selfish desires… sacrifice yourself for her.
He's not talking about the occasional washing of the dishes or picking up your dirty socks. That’s not ‘sacrifice.’ That’s just part of living in a home with other people. But according to the Bible, real love is seen in SACRIFICE.
There are some things in life we don’t have a choice about – for instance, if you want to show love to God, you have to do it God's way. We don’t get to pick and choose the things we WANT TO do. We don’t get to treat the Bible like a spiritual buffet – “I’ll take a heaping amount of blessing, but I just don’t feel like giving or being faithful in church attendance today.” Jesus said, “IF you love me, KEEP my commandments.” The pattern of our lives should be obedience. We don’t get to choose how we show our love to God. It must be on HIS terms.
The same is true when it comes to your wife.
One man thought he would give his wife something SPECIAL for Christmas. He FELT it was practical, and yet expensive. He just KNEW it would be the best present he ever gave her.
It was a deer rifle.
Now for a few, rare creatures, that would be a meaningful gift. But for most women, it wouldn’t be. Most women would think – “yeah, you SAY it’s for ME but it is really just for YOU!”
You don’t get to pick and choose how you show someone love. It has to be something that speaks to their heart for it to have any meaning to THEM.
That’s why a man must sacrifice himself for his wife just as Jesus sacrificed Himself for US. What did He do??
He left heaven… that place where He was worshipped and served without reservation, to come to a place of such bitter poverty that he would be born in a filthy cattle stall.
He suffered selflessly.
He forgave without complaint.
He held nothing back – not even his life.
Paul said THAT’S how a woman knows that her man loves her… Sacrifice.
Before you start talking about “all that you do” and “how THAT should be enough to satisfy your wife,” understand, you’ve got it all wrong. Jesus didn’t go part way. Or even MOST of the way. He gave His ALL.
So, HOW can you sacrifice yourself for your wife in a way that is truly meaningful? Here’s a novel idea – put her needs above your own.
I see the fear in your eyes. “But…but…but Brother Mike!?!?! I won't ever hear the end of THIS!” And to you I would say, “True love requires sacrifice!”
There will be times when my wife wants the very things I want. Those times are easy. Those times don't require sacrifice. But true love doesn’t just show up in the easy times… no, it gives of itself even when it hurts.
2. But that’s not all - after LOVING their wives, a man must LEAD his wife. It is our job to provide a safe, loving atmosphere where our wives can become all that God wills them to be. We are to create an atmosphere where our wives can FLOURISH spiritually. In vv. 28 and 29 he says, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church:” There are two words here that need further explanation:
First is the word “nourishes.” It literally means to “nurture.” It is used again in the next chapter when Paul commands parents to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
As a father, I am to provide the framework, the leadership that will set my children on a path that pleases the Lord. Do I want my kids to enjoy their lives?? Absolutely – but it is not my obligation to make them happy. Do I want my kids to have nice things?? Of course I do. But I can never think that buying them the latest gadgets is fulfilling my role as a father. I am to “nurture” them. Through my example and instruction, I am to set them on a path of serving the Lord… of putting HIM first… of seeking His will above ALL else.
And I am to do the same for my wife.
I am to be the spiritual leader of my family. That doesn’t mean I get to sit in my easy chair and call the shots – like a King on his throne. It means that I must teach and provide the right example when it comes to spiritual things. Too many men are passive when it comes to spiritual leadership. They shirk their responsibility, their calling, and leave spiritual things to their wives.
You will be judged for that, men.
My wife ought never have to wonder if we are going to church. My wife ought never have to wonder if I pray for her. My wife ought never have to worry that I’m putting her in a position that would compromise the will of God for our family.
She should know, without question – that God comes first in our finances. She should know, without question, we are going to serve the Lord as a family. She should know that even though I am human and make mistakes, I am striving for a home where God is honored, where HE is the head – and that I am committed to doing things HIS way. THAT'S MY JOB!
But not only am I to nurture my wife, Paul says I am to CHERISH her. It literally means “to keep her warm.” It presents the idea of sheltering, of tender love, of gentleness. Paul used this SAME WORD in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, where he describes his ministry to them as being “gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children.”
Could there be a more tender picture than that of a mother nursing her newborn baby? The gentleness… the love… the putting everything else on hold to take care of this need.
The two things… nurturing and cherishing, leading and loving MUST go hand in hand.
Nurturing without cherishing makes you an overbearing tyrant.
Cherishing without nurturing makes you a whipped puppy.
That’s how YOU show love to your wife. It is your job to create an atmosphere where she can flourish ⇒ lead her.
3. Third, a man must LEAVE ALL for his wife. If a man would show love to his wife, she cannot be second to anyone or anything in his life, but God. Paul said in v. 31, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Would it surprise you to know that a lot of women feel second to their husband’s family? As a counselor you get to hear a lot about what goes on behind closed doors. You see a different side of people. You find out right quick that people are hurting and they face challenges you never knew existed. And one of the challenges women often face is feeling second to their husband’s other interests.
It might be some hobby he has.
It might be a group of friends he does things with.
Maybe it is his work
or his parents –
or EVEN his children from another relationship.
Whatever it is… Wives don’t do very well living on their husband’s leftovers.
A lot of mommas meddle in their children’s affairs. A lot of parents use guilt to drive wedges between their children and their spouses. If you are a controlling parent, let me say this in a way you will understand –
You should never make your child feel as though they have to choose between you and their spouse. And if you DO – I would tell your child to always choose his spouse UNLESS his spouse is leading him into sin.
And for you men battling to keep your priorities straight – the most important relationship you have is your relationship with God. The second most important is your wife. She will never feel like you love her until she knows that nothing and no one will EVER be more important to you than her.
Kids are wonderful – but they can’t be second.
Jobs, hobbies – they're all great, but there can only be ONE second.
4. But not only should a man LOVE, LEAD, and LEAVE ALL for his wife, he must also LEARN his wife. Know her… what makes her tick, what she needs, HOW she feels. Be Thoughtful of her. Paul says, “let each one of you love his wife as himself.” Love your wife the way you love yourself. That requires thoughtfulness.
Learn what she needs and commit yourself to meeting those needs. But if you are caught like a deer in the headlights right now, understand…
She needs your attention and time.
She needs you to make her feel appreciated and loved.
She needs you to tell her she is beautiful and that if you could do it all over again, you would.
She needs to know that her feelings matter…. That you care about the things SHE cares about.
She needs you to invest yourself in the lives of your children.
She needs your help and understanding around the house.
She needs time when the TV is off and you are tuned in to her thoughts and experiences from the day.
She needs to know that you WANT to spend time with her – that you enjoy her.
She wants to KNOW that you care about her day and the frustrations she’s faced.
She wants to know that if she shares her fears or concerns that you aren’t going to make her feel stupid.
She needs you to help out and not leave everything to her.
She needs KINDNESS - your words… be kind.
“Preacher, you sure are making it hard for me to like you right now…” I understand, bro. I really do. But your wife deserves MORE than just a paycheck and a filthy roommate. She needs your attention and affection.
Be careful though - if you do what God says – she might just fall in love with you (or have a heart-attack!)
It was Valentine’s Day and a certain man decided he would show his wife how much he loved her. He showered, shaved, and put on her favorite cologne. He went to the florist and bought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He went to the front door and knocked. His wife answered the door and exclaimed,
"Oh no! This has been a terrible day! THE WORST! First I had to take Billy to the emergency room and get stitches in his leg, then your mother called and said she's coming for 2 weeks, then the washing-machine broke, and to top it off ⇒ you’ve come home drunk!”
Are you the man God wants you to be? Listen to me fellas – you will NEVER BE the CHRISTIAN God has called you to be, you will never know blessing or build a family legacy WITHOUT being the man God wants you to be... for her.
How many men are saying to themselves, “I need to do a better job making my wife feel loved and appreciated?” “I have settled for average – and I know God expects more than that.” How many men here today will pray, “Lord, make me a better man, a better husband and father… help me be patient and self-sacrificing – help me put the needs of my family above my own?”
Will you pray that? Will you ask God to help you in your role as spiritual leader?
Being a better husband is definitely within your grasp. And it starts right here – right now.