Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Here is a command to husbands to love their wives. While love is the fulfillment of all of the law (Romans 13:8) and provides a covering for a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), it is not the easiest command to keep. Love is the essence of who Christ is, and is the command Jesus left behind – to love one another as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). When we look at our marriages we often think of love as being an emotion that we experience or we may even sexualize it, thinking that love equates to sex and vice-versa. That is not the love that Jesus and Paul were speaking of.
When Jesus and Paul used the word ‘love’ it took on the attributes of a verb. For them, ‘love’ is an action word. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son…..” No matter how often God tells us He loves us, it is when we look at the cross that we understand He really does love us. It is by His action of love that we understand His love. And so it is in marriages.
Here is a little story of two husbands and their wives. Both men are Christian men and so are their wives. As we can see from the stories, however, only one of these men truly understands the meaning of the word ‘love’ and how much God cherishes His daughters.
Our first husband leaves for work, leaving with his wife a list of things he wants her to take care of for him. The list reads something like this: pick up my dry cleaning; see if you can get the stain out of my slacks; find a gift for my mother; find out why our insurance rates have gone up again; call the dentist and get me an appointment; check with Mary and see if Tom is free for golf this weekend; etc. etc. etc. He leaves her with a peck on the cheek and an “I’ll see you later.” How does his wife react? She makes a list of things to do and sets about doing them. Around midday she thinks, “Hmm, better take something out of freezer for dinner” then changes her mind – her list is too long – they’ll have scrambled eggs and pancakes again. Her thoughts throughout the day wander to ways she can escape. Perhaps a weekend away with a girlfriend, or maybe she can plan a ‘girls night out’ and get away for at least an evening. She’s hoping Tom IS free for golf so that while her husband is off playing golf she can go do something fun for a change.
Is this a picture of a man loving his wife the way Christ loves the church? Is it a picture of how God intends husbands and wives to treat each other? Certainly she is treating him with the respect she is called to show him. But is that all he requires? Surely he would like her adoration.
Husband number two is ready to leave for work. He turns to his wife and says “how beautiful you are this morning!” and plants little kisses on her face, telling her he loves her. He wishes her a wonderful day, telling her he will be home as soon as he can and leaves her with a final farewell kiss. No list – no requests – no filling her day with his to-do list. How does his wife react? Humming and smiling, she plans her day – always thinking of ways to please her husband, and midday she is planning one of his favorite meals. She has already gotten the dry cleaning, picked out a birthday present for his mother, gotten the stain out of his favorite slacks, polished his dress shoes, ironed his ties and taken a bubble bath. As she places a call to her friends to arrange a time for her husband to get away and play a little golf with his friends, her thoughts are focused on making their life together a happy one and their home a place of comfort and peace. She joyfully anticipates his return.
Which marriage reflects how God intended marriage? When God created woman as a suitable ‘helper’ for man, He wasn’t creating a cook and housekeeper. He was creating a partner whose attributes would complement and enhance the life of her mate. When husbands treat their wives like hired help, they receive hired help’s appreciation. When a man treats his wife like the jewel God created her to be, their marriage becomes a shining example of God’s creative genius.
God said that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing. Do you suppose a good thing that is treated shabbily and taken for granted can become a bad thing?