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Husbands, Love Your Wives
The passionate purifying love of a believing husband for his own precious bride–Ephesians 5:25-27
What is a real man? I just received a quiz which can help you determine whether you are a real man. Take this exam with me so you can find out what kind of man you are, because this scientific test will determine your TGQ–your Total Guyness Quotient . . . only five questions today. There are more. Write down the letter of your answer for each question–A, B or C.
Question #1–Alien beings from a highly advanced society visit the Earth. You are the first human they encounter. As a token of intergalactic friendship, they present you with a small but incredibly sophisticated device capable of curing all disease, providing an infinite supply of clean energy, wiping out hunger, and permanently eliminating oppression and violence all over the entire Earth. You decide to:
a. Present it to the President of the United States
b. Present it to the Secretary General of the United Nations
c. Take it apart to see how it works
Question #2–As you grow older, what lost quality of your youthful life do you miss the most?
c. Cherry bombs
Question #3–When is it okay to kiss another male?
a. When you wish to display simple and pure affection without regard for narrow-minded social conventions
b. When he is the Pope (not on the lips)
c. When he is your brother and you are Al Pacino, and this is the only really sportsmanlike way to let him know that, for business reasons, you have to have him killed
Question #4–In your opinion, the ideal pet is:
a. A cat
b. A dog
c. A dog that eats cats
Question #5–What is the human race’s single greatest achievement?
b. Space Travel
c. Remote control
How do you score: Give yourself one point for every time you picked answer “c”. Some say a real man would score at least three on this test.
What is a real man? If all of us men were forced to watch the movie, The Sound of Music, and observed Colonel Von Trapp whistling a series of signals, and watched his children come tumbling downstairs to line up in descending order, some of us would be thinking, “Wow, that’s bizarre,” but a lot of us guys would think, “Hey, what a great idea!”
All of us agree, men and women are different, not only physically but also in their roles. Sadly, we have lost those unique differences today. Clearly the Bible teaches in order to bring God glory by displaying the oneness of God, plus the authority and submission of the trinity, women are to be in submission to their husbands, and men are to be the loving authority of their wives and children. So why aren’t more women submissive and men the head of their homes?
Since Genesis 3 and the corruption of the entire human race into sin, men have tried to control their wives, and wives have tried to control their husbands. Instead of a couple submitting to Christ and following His plan for marriage, they are trying to get what they want. As a result of this sin, we have male chauvinism and the feminist movement. Both are wrong and lead to a lot of pain.
The first step is to deal with your internal sin problem, which means you have to turn to Christ in repentance and faith. Then you must moment-by-moment depend upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower you to live out your role as a man or woman. Finally, follow God’s original design for men and women in their distinct and complementary roles found in His Word. That is why we preach the Bible verse-by-verse and word-by-word–we only want to hear what God has to say, then be a doer of the Word by the power of the Spirit. So are you ready to do the Word?
Then take your outline and turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 5. Three weeks ago we looked at submission from Ephesians 5:22, then two weeks ago we showed you what the rest of the New Testament said about women, then last week Ephesians 5:22 to 24, and today we want to see what God says to men in verse 25. Along with the sermon, we are asking you to read along in the book Love that Lasts, carve out some time to dialog over the questions, and get involved in the process of living God’s Word throughout the week.
Let me encourage both singles and marrieds to take time in your discipleship groups to go over the messages, since so many of the “what if” and detailed application questions can really be worked through in those settings. You ask, “Why should I do all that? Why should I try that hard?” If Christ died for your sins and called you to Himself, does it seem all that overwhelming to call you to passionately follow His Word?
In Ephesians 5:22 to 24, God already told you wives to submit to your husbands in everything. And God said last week, husbands love your wife by being . . .
Review: The Responsible Authority 23-24
Remember verse 23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” The verb “is” is an undeniable fact–the husband is, not the husband could be, should be, would be. No, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ Jesus is the head of the church. Verse 24, “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” We don’t take a vote to see if Jesus is in charge, He is in charge. It doesn’t matter what we vote, Jesus is in charge. He is the head of the Church, and the husband is the head of the home.
Too many Christians spend too much time arguing whether he should be the head—he is, the husband is the head of the home. The question is this–is the husband good at it, or bad? Is he a good husband who is like Jesus, or is he a bad husband that is not like Jesus.
Again, when you hear the word head, it is not a synonym for boss. The husband does not get to boss his wife around. This is not an employer/employee, where the husband gives a job description to his wife, and she is his subordinate. Headship is being like Christ–Jesus has a bride, the Church, and husbands have a bride, and they are to treat their bride as our Lord treats his bride—do you? Men, married and single, let me spell it out for you.
First Husbands must pursue your bride
Jesus doesn’t sit back and wait for us to pursue Him, He pursues us. In fact, He had to draw us to Himself, and the word for draw has to do with against our will, kicking and screaming. Christ relentlessly and unyieldingly pursues relationship with His people, and in the same way, a husband must be continually pursuing relationship with his wife. Men, you can’t coast, you can’t compartmentalize–the head, the leader, must pursue relationship with his bride. One of the biggest complaints of wives is the contrast they see in their husband, who went to amazing lengths to win her heart, but then put their relationship on cruise control, easy chair or coast as he moved on to other priorities. Men, the biblical head must pursue.
I know of a husband who thought he’d conquered the problem of trying to remember his wife’s birthday and their anniversary. He opened an account with a florist, provided them with the dates and instructions to send flowers along with an appropriate note signed, “Your loving husband.” His wife was thrilled by this new display of attention, and all went well until one day when he came home, kissed his wife and said offhandedly, “Nice flowers, honey. Where’d you get them?”
Husbands, your wife does not fit into a compartment–let’s see, from 6 to 7 pm on Wednesdays is wife time. No, next to Christ, she is your passion 24/7, and you go after that relationship, not merely when she has a need, but before, during and after. You are the one who is to cultivate the relationship–you pursue it, even when you don’t have a need. You build that relationship like Christ did for you. Get it? Got it? Good!
Second Men must set direction
Men, you are the ones who watch over the wellbeing of your bride and children. Under God’s providence, you are to make sure your marriage is healthy, and if it is not, get it there. You are to make sure your family is cared for, not with wants, but with needs–and do whatever is necessary to get it there. Men you are the shepherd of your family, keeping everyone centered on the Gospel, the Great Commission and the Great commandment. You are the one who is to point out when you have moved off-center from Christ to some secondary issue. You are the one who should set the budget, pursue setting up a refreshing vacation for the family, make sure they are being fed spiritually, use their gifts in ministry, and share the Gospel in the world, and men, you do that through two powerful tools.
Through God’s Word and through the modeling of your own life–your wife and children are asking one important question as they look at your life. The question is asked this way . . .
Does it make any difference whether I believe in God or not?
Does it make any difference whether I follow Jesus Christ or not?
Does it make any difference whether I obey the Bible or not?
The only way a wife or child will answer yes to that question is to see it lived out through your lifestyle, or as Ephesians calls it, your walk–when they see that following Christ desperately matters to you. One old pastor wrote these words, “To give children good instruction and a bad example, is but beckoning them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them the way of hell.”
Your children and your wife are going to act just like you. That is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” The power of modeling is not merely praying at meals, having Scripture up on the wall, or telling your wife to read her Bible. Christ will matter to her and to your children when they see you pray, you come to church faithfully even when you’re exhausted, you turn the channel when something is impure, you stop your speech from gossip, you keep your car and closet orderly, you apply the Word to everyday issues, you repent of sin, you confess when you’re wrong, you give sacrificially to God’s purposes, you share the Gospel, you can’t wait for heaven, you serve behind the scenes, you pursue Christ and you love your wife. Only then will you be the responsible authoritative head.
Third Men must repent and restore first
When an argument flares up in a marriage relationship, it is the husband’s role to humble himself first, asking forgiveness for whatever he did wrong. The husband has to kill his ego to love the way Jesus did, with sacrificial love. Maybe the wife’s guilt is as great or greater–it doesn’t matter. The husband should ask for forgiveness first. Why? Because he’s the authority, and the one responsible to love his wife. Jesus humbled Himself under the guilt of our sin. Jesus was totally innocent, yet He took our sin upon Himself. Jesus died for His enemies, and the people who were His enemies became His Church, His bride.
In situations of marital strife, the husband who is a biblical head does not judge his wife’s sin. He does not calculate the effect his own repentance might have on her actions. He simply goes the way of the cross, denying himself and giving up his own rights. As the spiritual head, the husband must be the first to repent.
But what if the wife uses her husband’s repentance to vindicate her own righteousness? The biblical husband does not tell her, “I confessed my sin, so now you have to confess your sin.” Sacrificial love demands there be no manipulation, no ulterior motives. Go the way of the cross–lead the way Jesus led, as the head of your family.
Men, you can love this way through the Holy Spirit, who gives us genuine remorse for sins. The biblical husband knows true repentance and forgiveness is the only solution to the marital strife, and he is willing to lead the way. The husband who falls to lecture his wife about her duty to be submissive to his authority has yielded up the ground of his authority. God’s call in the husband’s life is to fulfill the role of headship by sacrificing himself, not by haranguing his wife for her failures.
Men repent first and men reconcile first—get this, guys. The man is responsible for things that are not necessarily his fault. I sin–is it Jesus’ fault that I sin? It is not Jesus’ fault, but my fault. And does Jesus make me pay him back, or does Christ involve Himself and take care of my sin? Our Lord involves Himself and He takes care of my sin. Jesus died for my sin.
For a man to be the head of his wife it means where there is sin and separation and division, he comes in to redeem and reconcile. When sin or strife comes, a man can’t look at his wife and say, “You made the mess, you clean it up. You made the mistake, you fix it.” You can’t do like Adam in the garden and blame the woman and walk away. A man who is truly a Christ like head has to say, whether or not this is my fault, this is my . . . what? Responsibility.
Jesus comes to us when we who are His true children are in sin, and a husband is to come to his wife when she is in sin or struggling. A true husband should be in great haste to reconcile, to pursue, to help her, love her, serve her, to be in her corner, to take the burden of it upon himself, to suffer, even to die so that she can be forgiven, loved and healed. That’s what it means to be a head.
This is in no way domineering, controlling, dictating–it is the man’s privilege be like Jesus, to lead His wife so that when the wife thinks of her husband, she thinks of Christ.
God loves me, my husband loves me
God forgives me, my husband forgives me
God pursues me, my husband pursues me
God is involved in my life, my husband is involved in my life
God died for me and my husband would . . . happily
Husbands are the head of their wife–this is not chauvinism, this is not sexism. This is absolute, unparalleled Christ like humility, where a man empties himself for the benefit of his beloved. Most women only struggle with headship if they have a man who doesn’t look like Jesus. If they have a man who loves Christ and walks with the Lord, it is not complicated or difficult, because they trust him, because he is safe, he is trust-able because he is trustworthy.
One more time–what if your husband doesn’t measure up to what he is supposed to be? What if he doesn’t achieve Jesus level A, but is more like a Jesus level C minus or D plus? What does God expect you wives to do–verse 22, tell me ladies? Submit in everything because your husband is the head. There is no other path God has given to wives–there is no other alternative, no other method, no other option, and you wives will be miserable and your children will be confused until you take the path that God has given you. But you say, “Chris, it is so hard.” It may be, but it is just as difficult for you to submit as it is for men to fulfill verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
#1 God commands you husbands to continually love your bride
Verse 25, what are men to do? Love love love love love love your wife–practically, why should husbands do this? Because she likes it! I don’t know if you have noticed this, but women like to be loved. It is crazy–it works every time. Women like to be loved. Go into a greeting card store–is it primarily men or women milling around crying? Women love to be loved, they are natural receivers of love. Only a woman who has been abused, neglected or harmed has a hard time receiving love–that is why a man has to be so careful. When the Bible says, “Husbands love your wives,” it does include the heart, there are feelings involved.
Coming up in less than two weeks is the day I first told Jean that I cared for her in a special way almost 28 years ago. We went kite flying, had a picnic, and I told her I cared for her, and to this day I still adore my wife. I still think about her with emotion–sometimes I actually feel like a junior high kid on a ride at the fair.
Love does include emotion and joy, but in the Bible, love doesn’t just feel things, love does things, love obeys, love actually sacrifices. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ died for us–His love compelled Him to do something. Love in the Bible is not merely sentimental, it is action, giving, sacrificing behavior. God’s love does things, forgives people and restores people. God’s love is powerful, and it changes people when they encounter it.
Biblical agape love is sacrificial action to benefit another. God loves because it is His nature to love–it is His nature to initiate sacrificial actions to benefit others. Our Lord loves because people need to be loved–never because we deserve to be loved. And God commands believing husbands to love because He has already regenerated them, changed them and filled them with His love, giving all Christian husbands the capability to love the way He loves.
What does he say in Romans 5:5b? The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Born again husbands can love because God has already filled your heart with love for your wives. Paul doesn’t stop with husbands can love, but He actually says husbands must love their wives. Don’t forget husbands–there are only two commands in this entire passage on marriage, verses 22 to 33—only two commands. Both are ongoing, both are directed only at husbands, and both of them are the same–husbands, love your wives.
And in Ephesians 5:25, love is commanded—thus saith the Lord, men, love your wives. Since love is commanded, that means the love you are to show your wife is a matter of your choice. You choose to sacrifice for your wife, to benefit her, no matter how she treats you. As an act of the will and a choice of the heart, you must love your wife.
Husbands, you are commanded to sacrifice for her–not because she is attractive or affectionate, has a happy personality, or laughs at your jokes, esteems your looks and your provision, but merely because God commands you to love her. Husbands, you are to be the Good Samaritan to your wife who has been mugged–she can’t respond, can’t help herself, and you need to love her even though it costs you time and money. Husbands, you are to be like Jesus and wash your wife’s feet, not because she deserves it, but like Christ, loving his disciples by washing their feet in spite of their pride and selfishness.
For five years in a row, a fellow pastor friend of mine has served me once a year, and cared for a big need I had in my training of men. This year was different–I called him three weeks ago and he said, as he always does, “How can I help you?” And with a smile and laugh I said, “I don’t need anything–that is why I called. In fact, can I take you out to dinner, would you let me serve you?” It was great fun to love him like that–but . . .
That is not the love Christ has in mind here. You see, my pastor friend had already sacrificed for me. But husbands, you are to love your wife even when she doesn’t love you–even when she is unlovely. Men, you don’t love her because she is lovely. You’re to love her so she can become lovely. Husbands, cultivate the practice of loving your wife–work at it. As you do, one benefit will be this–as you choose to love her, you will soon find her even more attractive since whatever we choose to love becomes more attractive to us. We don’t love merely for the benefit, but as we choose to love, we will want to love her more and she will become more lovely.
And Paul makes certain we don’t love our wives for any benefit to us by using the present tense for the verb love–this means continual action. We’re commanded by God to continually sacrifice for our wives–not merely when we want something. We are to sacrifice for our wives on loving days and lousy days, on happy days and hormone days, on pleasant days and PMS days. I could go on but I better stop.
Feel the punch here husbands–take the hit, take it like a man. Your love for your wife only becomes believable when it is ongoing. It is only God’s love when it is dependable. Any guy can sacrifice on Valentine’s Day, on your anniversary or on her birthday–but it is only God’s love when your love is regular. She is not going to believe you love her until it is a pattern, not perfection, but a steady, progressive, sacrificial love.
Listen kids, your parents have a hard time believing you when you say, “From now on, I am going to take the garbage out every day without being asked,” until they see you do it every day for a month. Your boss will not be impressed by you working hard one day–they want to see hard work every day. If you are a glory hound and always take the shot–first let me say, we don’t like you, and your teammates are not going to believe you when you swear you will be a team player until you pass the ball a lot in every game.
And husbands, your wife is not going to really believe you love her like you did when you were courting her until she sees you steadily, regularly, consistently sacrifice for her benefit over time–present tense. Husbands, God says I command you to continually love your wife–and if you thought that was strong, check out what Paul says next.
#2 God expects you husbands to love your wife supernaturally
Your love for your wife is not natural, not normal and not average–it is supernatural, from God, by God, like Christ and through His Spirit. Remember, verses 22 to 33 are all based upon the Spirit-filled wise walk of verse 18. Husbands, you must be dependent upon the Spirit, saturated with His Word, confessing all known sin and obediently seeking to serve your giftedness and share His Gospel.
You need to embrace Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” It is Christ who loves through you to your wife. You see, supernatural love is the love of Christ through you.
First You husbands love your bride like Jesus loves His bride
Look again at verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church.” What does Christ’s love look like? Jesus loves us not because we asked for love, not because we deserve love, and not because we even wanted love. Remember, we love because He first loved us. Jesus’ love initiates. His love does whatever needs to be done and doesn’t count the cost, doesn’t measure whether there will be love in return. The love from Christ helps, leads, teaches, shares, encourages, gives and sacrifices whatever is needed–period. Jesus’ love sacrifices for the benefit of others, whether the love is received or rejected, appreciated or resented, whether the love is welcomed or shunned, Jesus’ love continues to give, act and share.
The husband who loves his wife only in the hopes that in giving his sacrificial love, it might return some benefit to him–or the husband or single that loves only because she is attractive or kind or a servant does not love like Jesus loves. A husband who loves his wife for what she can give him loves as the world loves, not as Christ loves.
The husband who loves his bride as Christ loves his bride gives everything he has for his wife, including his very life if necessary. For the believing husband, it is always women and children first in the lifeboats on the Titanic. On this sinking planet, she is rescued first, sacrificed for first, thought about first. And if a loving husband is truly willing to sacrifice his life for his wife, he is certainly willing to sacrifice for her in lesser ways. The Christian husband puts his own likes, desires, opinions and welfare aside if that is what it takes to meet her real needs.
How do you know a church leader is truly spiritual? Not by his preaching ability, not by how well he leads a meeting, nor his vision for the church or the hours he works–but the true test is the way he treats his wife and children when no one else is around. Nowhere is our relationship with Christ better proven than in our relationship to our wives. The elder, deacon, discipler in the church who lacks in love for his wife is guilty of spiritual fraud.
Single men, the proof of your spirituality is not in your convictions about the doctrines of grace or how many Sproul books you’ve read, but in your ability to love others, especially the opposite sex, without defraud, without impurity and without building a wall of emotional pain between you and a sister in Christ. Men if you love the way Christ loves, then . . .
Second You husbands will give yourself up for your bride like Christ did for His bride
Read verse 25 one more time, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” The media tells you husbands to be macho, defend yourself, assert your rights, win the argument, control others, bring attention to yourself and live for yourself. But God tells you husbands to give yourself up. “Give yourself up” means to hand yourself over, to give yourself away. Just as Christ gave himself up on his own initiative, so does the husband. Men, don’t wait for a crisis, a difficulty or a crash–husbands, don’t wait for a request, a need or a season of struggle. Every day you give yourself up.
Once a couple was in marriage counseling, and the wife was complaining that her husband didn’t love her. The husband protested and said, “But dear, I have given you a beautiful house, a new car, all the clothes you want and so much more.” And she said, “That is true, but you have never given me yourself!” Jesus gave Himself and willingly laid His life down for His sheep–Jesus Christ initiated the giving up of Himself.
Remember what Christ said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Then verse 15,”Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” And verse 17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” And why did Jesus do this? John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Husbands, like Jesus, you are to give yourself up for your bride. Believing husbands, die to self in order to love your wives.
What is dying to self? Perhaps you’ve heard this–think about what it means in marriage. When you are forgotten and neglected or purposely thwarted and you don’t sting or hurt to the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for Christ–that is dying to self.
When your good is spoken evil of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence–that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder and irregularity, and unpunctuality or any annoyance, when you can stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus endured it–that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any clothing, any climate, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God–that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works, or to itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown–that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances–that is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart–that’s dying to self.
This is the selfless, sacrificial love husbands are commanded continually to give their wives. Now I can almost hear what you men are thinking–you are saying to yourself, submission was fine, but this is too strong and truly impossible. I’m supposed to love Jesus. Husbands, if you’re passionate about Christ, you will passionately sacrifice yourself continually for your wife. But you say, “Chris, I have a career to maintain.” Husband, you are not commanded to love your career. The purpose of your career is to witness and provide for your wife, but you are not commanded to love your career, you are commanded to love your wife.
But my kids need me. No, your kids need you to love your wife. They need you to be obedient to the Word of God and love your wife. They need you to show off His love for His Church and love your wife. They need you to show off the love of the trinity, the love the Father has for the Son by loving your wife. Your children won’t see Christ accurately unless you love your wife. Let’s pray.
Men, we have lost loving, responsible authority, and the continual sacrificial love for our wives that causes those without Christ to want what we have. Why are we missing it? There are only two basic reasons:
One reason is because you are not born again–you have a religion but you don’t have a relationship with Christ. You are not His true child and He is not your truth Father. You are not His true slave, and He is not your true Master. You talk a good Jesus, but in your heart you are still in charge. Men, you have to cry out to God to open your eyes so you will see that you deserve to be condemned to hell forever because of your sins. And the only way to escape is to depend completely on Jesus Christ by faith and turn from your sin in genuine repentance. And when that truly happens, He comes to live in you and will love your wife and others through you. Stop playing church and turn to Christ.
A second reason is you are not dependent upon the Spirit of God to manifest His love through you. You are not following His Word, but your own ideas lived out in your own power. And because of that you are more like the world, which is either macho proud or wimpy passive instead of Spirit-empowered manliness–strength under control.
Husbands love your wives. Feed your love for her, cultivate a love for her in your heart of hearts. Learn to love her in a way she understands love and bring her joy. The wives of FBC should be the most joyful women on the planet. If they are not, it is because we men are failing them.