Men, how did you answer that question? Most of you answered, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, “Yes, I love my wife.” But do you?
Any whiff of kingdom in your family must begin with this first of the two irreplaceable kingdom pillars we have discussed—a husband’s agape love for his wife. Those who lead must do so from this foundation.
My contention is that most men don’t really know what it means to “love your wife.” When Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives,” we subconsciously check that box and mumble, “Got that covered. Next?” Not so fast! Do you know what agape love, that you are commanded to have for your wife in this verse, even means? Let me give you a summary of its famous definition in 1 Corinthians 13:
First, “love” (Gk – agape) means a love that is initial. You are the pursuer, the aggressor, not waiting to discover how she responds before you proclaim your commitment to her.
Second, agape is a love that is unconditional. The agape love needle does not move when she doesn’t even love you back. It doesn’t waver, nor does it even notice when she wrongs you or sins against you!
Thirdly, agape love is sacrificial. All the decisions you make as the leader of the family are for the benefit of your wife and the children’s well being, even to your personal hurt, if necessary.
When you observe her rebellious disobedience to God demonstrated by a lack of respect for you as her husband, and her unwillingness to submit to your leadership, agape love is undeterred and simply prays for her thusly; ”Father, forgive her, she knows not what she does!”
Let me repeat the question in the title: “Do you love your wife?”
If we are honest and have any self-awareness at all, after seeing from the Bible what agape love is, we must all join the tax collector in Luke 18:13 (AMP “But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but was striking his chest [in humility and repentance], saying, ‘God, be merciful and gracious to me, the [especially wicked] sinner [that I am]!’”
The first step in the kingdom of God coming to my family is my admission that, no, I don’t love my wife like that and never will, and I can do nothing about it! God alone can change me. In God’s upside down, inside out life of living by faith, it is only my constant awareness and welcoming of my sin and failure as a leader to love her that is my only hope of ever doing so! It is embracing the negative that is God’s only path to experiencing the positive..
This unconditional love that a husband is to have for his wife is never leniency. It is not excusing or ignoring my wife’s sin. Breaking, compromising or ignoring the eternal law of God is never condoned or considered. No, she is accountable for that sin in her personal Christian life, but not to me, but to God alone. While the leader (the husband) is always very much aware of the condition of the flock that God has given him, he is not responsible himself for “reforming” those sheep—just to love and lead them!
So, irreplaceable kingdom pillar #1 is agape love, never law-compromising leniency. The standard is never lowered, for all involved in kingdom life. Next week we will look at irreplaceable kingdom pillar #2—strong, decisive, uncompromising leadership that is never harsh, grim, or cruel, and then how to exercise it with reluctant followers.