Men often get excited about the verse in Ephesians 5 that instructs women to submit to their husbands. But it also says for husbands to love their wives even as Christ loved the church. This is the greater calling, because His love for the church compelled Him to lay down His life. Husband, if your wife is not submitting to you, perhaps it is because you are not loving her with the love of Christ. Are you laying down your life for her, abandoning selfishness and always trying to get what you want? Just as we love God because He first loved us, so shall our wives be drawn to us as we demonstrate our love for them on a daily basis. Just as we endeavor to please Him as a natural response to the revelation of His great love for us, so shall our wives respond to our love for them.
Here are some practical ways that we can walk out the calling to love our wives as Christ loved the church:
- Pray for them. The most important thing we can do for our wives is to pray for them – often. Pray for their safety, their health, and mostly for them to see the great love and grace of God. Pray for them to have wisdom and to be secure in who they are. And pray for them to have a great awareness of the presence of God in their life. As we pray for our wives, we are walking tangibly in our role as priest of our home. Submission to authority is much easier when those asked to submit know that they are being prayed for, cared for, and battled for in the arena of prayer.
- Serve them. What?? Yep…serve them. Somewhere along the way we men got the notion that our wives are also our cooks, maids, nannies and housekeepers. Even if they work outside of the home as we do, there is this idea that it is their responsibility to cook for us, wait on us, and clean for us. Not to mention also take care of our children for us. We come home, change clothes, settle into our favorite chair, click on the television and wait for the evening meal to be prepared and served. What kind of message does this send? Jesus Himself got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of His disciples. His character and His nature are to serve, and as we understand the reality that He lives in us, it will become our character, also. Practically speaking, why not cook a meal, or wash the dishes, or fold the clothes? (On a regular basis) These acts of service will speak more loudly than saying “I love you” mindlessly from our perch on the couch.
- Listen to them. Oh boy. I know this is a tough one for a lot of us. We men are not by nature the best conversationalists. We prefer the black and white, say it and move on. Or better yet, just don’t say it at all. If we have to have a conversation with our wives, our “fix it” radars kick on and we are half-listening, half-searching for a solution so we can get whatever the problem is solved, and return to our non-conversational comfort zones. [pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Here’s a secret: Our wives don’t want us to solve their problems. They want us to listen.[/pullquote]
They want to know that they have our attention. Listening shows we care. It shows that they matter to us and that what they are saying is more important than what is on television or on the computer.
- Honor Them. A while back I was with a group of men and was amazed to hear the negative words that were being spoken by a couple of the guys about their wives. It was very disconcerting. I have made it a point to never speak negatively about my wife. It is dishonoring and totally inappropriate. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love does not dishonor others. Our Lord’s love for us is honorable, He speaks words of hope and life and love to us. So should we use our words to honor our wives. When speaking to others about our wives, we should honor. When speaking to our children about our wives, we should honor. And when speaking to our wives, we should honor. Here’s a verse to help you get started with words of honor: Song of Solomon 4:1a – “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!”
The key to enjoying a marriage relationship wherein our wives respect us as husbands is in us loving them as Christ loves the church. He died for the church, and likewise we should die to ourselves for our wives. As we come to understand the awesome love God has for us, we will be able to walk in that same love for our wives. If we see God as demanding performance from us in order to earn His love or His presence in our lives, we will transfer that mentality into our marriage relationships. We will place expectations on our wives that say, “I’ll love you if…” Rather let us receive God’s awesome, unconditional love and grace and live daily with our wives in that same love and grace. It will change our marriages in profound ways. Proverbs 18:22 reminds us “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” Let’s love our wives deeply, passionately and selflessly…the way He loves us.