Don't just say you love me! Prove it!
If you have ever heard a sermon or a teaching on marriage in a Christian context you have heard that husbands are to love their wives. Or, to be more specific, husbands are to love their wives without putting any conditions on that love. Men are to love their wives the same way Christ loves the church.But, in a real world setting, in a real marriage, what does that look like for a man to love his wife that way?
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Ephesus put it this way:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
30 because we are members of His body.
31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
How does Christ demonstrate His love for the church?
Look at verses 25 and 26. He “gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,”.
How did Christ love the church? He gave Himself up for her. Christ put the needs of the church before His own comfort and desires. The Son of God left the glory of heaven to become the Son of Man. He was tempted, insulted, ignored, and misunderstood. He was falsely accused, improperly arrested, illegally tried, and wrongly convicted. Jesus was condemned to death, crucified, and buried in a borrowed grave. On the third day He was raised from the dead. Christ redeemed the church by His own horrible suffering.
We (the church) were evil, wicked, and even enemies of God. We desperately needed a lover who would sacrifice everything for us so that we could live with Him forever. Christ laid aside glory to meet our needs even though we never deserved it, sometimes fail to appreciate it, and often ignore the implications of it. That is how Christ loved the church.
How are husbands to love their wives?
Now let's take a look at verses 28-30. The keys to loving your wife are two words found in verse 29, nourish and cherish. The word nourish means literally to feed. The husband is responsible to provide food, shelter, and security for his wife so she can mature into everything God created her to be. But the implications go way beyond that to include emotional and spiritual nourishment. As men we are responsible to nourish her emotional and spiritual growth. As men, we must provide the right environment for our wives to be able to mature in every area of life. Gentlemen, her entire well being is your responsibility! (No pressure!)
The word cherish means literally, to keep warm. In this context it is the idea of providing a warm loving environment so that the wife feels loved and protected.
In order to cherish and nourish your wife you must put her needs first and die to your own. To be a husband who represents Christ, is to put your wife’s and family’s needs ahead of your own. They become your focus, after Christ of course.
Questions for husbands
Does your wife:
feel nurtured by you?
feel loved and cared for?
feel secure in her relationship with you?
feel secure in her world?
Are you providing an environment where your wife feels free to become everything God created her to be?
How is that even possible?
Aside from Christ it is not. The truth is that only as we surrender our lives to Christ does the Holy Spirit within us take over and live His life through us. In other words, as I say no to selfishness and yes to Christ the power of Christ changes my life and my outlook. You cannot die to yourself by sheer determination!
But, even that sounds impossible doesn’t it. The key is Bible study. We don’t mean study for the sake of an intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures, but study for the sake of knowing God. The more we know God, the more we love God. The more we love Him the easier it is to trust Him. And so it goes.
We have a Bible study on marriage we think helps men love their wives the way Christ loves the church. Why don’t you get two copies and do the study with your spouse.