Charles Dickens’ famous “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,“ from A Tale of Two Cities, beautifully describes the world today for Christians. From a human perspective, the world is going to “Hell in a handbasket,” with Marxist, atheistic globalism seemingly in unstoppable ascension. But for the knowledgeable, believing Christian, they know that “God’s got ‘em right where He wants ‘em!”
At the very heart of God’s eternal purpose is the family, designed to supply godly, well-trained, educated, spiritual warriors for both the church and the civil government. That, of course, is why Satan has focused the brunt of his counterattack on destroying the family, beginning with an all-out, blatant, universal attempt to completely neutralize husbands, the family’s leaders, and make them irrelevant. Homosexuality, transgenderism and “women’s rights” have been the tools he has used to mount what appears to be a very effective assault on godly masculinity (what Satan’s minions call “toxic”).
However, his attack has been so blatant and obvious that even a slumbering church is slowly coming alive and waking up to recognize the “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). I believe that Satan has overplayed his hand in his attack on the family, just as he did at the cross in his rage at Jesus. A revival in the church is brewing!
In this awakening, the church will again teach the biblical view of the husband’s role in the family: 1.) To love his wife, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25), and 2.) To lead his wife, with strong firm decision-making as her head and the head of the family (1 Corinthians 11:3).
Today we will look at the first of these responsibilities and next week the second one.
1.) To love his wife, as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Do you love your wife? Most earnest, committed husbands would answer, “Yes.” But do you love her “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” as God, through Paul, tells us to do in this verse?
If we are at all self-aware as husbands, we will admit that we are failures at loving our wives in this way—an agape (unconditional) love that makes no demands whatsoever. If we say simply, “Oh, nobody does that,” as if to excuse our failure, we are simply proving my point by stating the obvious! None of us measures up to God’s instructions to husbands.
Paul could have been speaking to all husbands everywhere when he wrote the following to the Romans: “There is no one who is righteous, no one who is wise…. All have turned away from God; they have all gone wrong; no one does what is right, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
The solution to my failure to measure up to God’s standard is not discouragement, shame, or a renewed, more diligent effort to try harder to do my very best. Instead, it is to face my failure to love my wife with agape love head-on, eagerly embrace that fact, rejoice in God’s limitless, undemanding forgiveness, and then walk in the light about this ever-present but forgiven sin, proclaiming that to all who will listen!
I want to look at Jesus’ agape love for the church in some detail to show us what that would mean if we loved our wives in such a way.
First, Jesus loved us INITIALLY. He did not wait to be sure we would respond before He committed Himself fully at the cross. He committed Himself before we gave any indication we would respond to that love and love Him back! And its a good thing, because we denied Him at that cross and ran the other way to be sure we weren’t associated with Him!
Men, as we search for the one that God has to be our wife, our tendency is to wait to commit ourselves only to the woman whom we are sure is already committed to us in her heart. After all, we want no uncertainty. If she has chosen me already, I will not suffer the embarrassment of rejection. In essence, she has chosen me, and, unknowingly to both of us, made me the responder. She has unconsciously set the tone in our new relationship as the one who makes direction-determining decisions like marriage. She has become the leader!
On the other hand, if the man initiates the relationship, he is doing as Jesus did at the cross—loving his wife INITIALLY, whether or not she responds.
Second, Jesus loved us SACRIFICIALLY. Nor only did He love us first, but that love also cost Jesus His life. He literally sacrificed His life for us, and we are called to do the same for our wives.
This may not include giving our physical life for her as it did for Jesus (although it may). However, every decision we make as husbands, and everything we do in our role as leaders of our families, is done, not for ourselves, but with our wives’ and children’s growth and well-being as our all-consuming motivation. This is “sacrificing our lives” in the 21st. Century.
Third, Jesus loved us UNCONDITIONALLY, and that agape love is summarized in a single phrase in 1 Corinthian 13:5 AMP: “It (agape love) takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].” The husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church doesn’t see his wife’s sin as against him (even if she intends it to be so) but as a difficulty she is experiencing that his love and leadership will resolve. He knows that most likely it was his lack of those two God-given responsibilities that are at the heart of her sin (i.e., his inattention and lack of love made her vulnerable to involvement with other men).
Next week we will examine the husband’s leadership responsibilities.