Thursday, November 24, 2016

HUSBANDS: LOVE YOUR WIVES!

Love! It might as well just be one of the most misunderstood words today. What is love? Songs are composed asking the question and countless lyric-poems seek to define what love is. But when God is not the root and when Christ is not the ultimate example and when the gospel is not the foundation, then all endeavors to define and explain love prove, in the end, to be fruitless and empty. True love is a self-sacrificial giving of oneself to another for their good regardless of how they respond.

Who would do this? Honestly, who in their sane mind would embark in a lifestyle of love that is foundationally characterized by self-sacrifice and self-giving -- even if nothing comes in return! Who would do this?

And where in the world can we go to see this modeled? We must turn to the ultimate one who is Love, God Himself. The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). Indeed, God has loved His covenant-people with an ‘everlasting love’ and indeed He draws her with lovingkindness (Jer 31:3). That means that God’s love fails not! That means that God’s love is a drawing, a winning, a wooing, an inviting love. Indeed, God’s love ravishes His people. It overcomes them! But still, how can we see this kind of love enfleshed and embodied for us to be gripped in our hearts and instructed for our lives?

To this we must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He enfleshed Himself so that He walked the earth as true God and as true man. He came to His own people and tabernacled among them and was full of grace and truth. And this love that He has ultimately was driven by His undying and unrelenting commitment to His Father. And this unquenchable passion and indomitable drive led Him to love and die for the ungodly. Who would do this? Indeed, our great God shows his love by sending Christ to die for us -- ungodly sinners. Moreover, sinners are ungodly, wretched, foul, filthy, and wholly blasphemous through and through and Christ, out of unspeakable and unexplainable and uninfluenced initiative, came to those for whom the Father had given Him in all eternity past, and He purchased them by dying for them. Indeed, love self sacrifices one’s passions for the well-being of another -- even to death. This is what Christ did.

And the Bible commands husbands: love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. So the blueprint for husband-like love is Christ Himself. What did Jesus do? How did Jesus act? How did He suffer? How did He persevere? How did He prove His faithfulness? And to this, the Scripture tells husbands: do likewise.

Husbands, then, should love the precious bride that God has given with supreme and Christlike love. First, it must be a sacrificial love. Love isn’t easy. It’s a choice. It’s the sacrificing one’s own wishes and desires so that the other can be blessed. Second, it must be a determined love. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. It flows from the will. It stems in the heart -- the mission-control-center of the man. This eliminates all language such as: “I’ve fallen out of love” or “I just don’t love her anymore” or “she’s just quite hard to love.” All these are erroneously based on the supposition that love is a feeling and it comes or goes. Rather, the truth is that love is a choice of the will. You choose to love and then, always, the emotions and feelings will follow. Third, it must be a dying love. You must love in such a way that you give of yourself so wholly and fully and sacrificially and extremely that you’re willing to die for the well-being of another. Christ did it. And so must husbands. Fourth, it must be a prioritizing love. You, dear husband, must prioritize your wife before everything. Yes, everything. Work, children, hobbies, yourself, TV, football, video games. Everything must take back seat to your overwhelming passion and priority that you have for your wife in your love for and care for her. It’s not enough to just ‘affirm it’ verbally. Does your wife actually know this? If I were to ask her, would she say that you prioritize her before anything or everyone else in your life?

Fifth, it must be a soul-sanctifying love. Any man can say he makes money and gives it to the woman and allows her to buy stuff for herself and call that ‘love’. But remember, true love goes beyond the physical to the spiritual. A man can make lots of money and give it to the wife but that’s not love. Love remembers what’s of utmost priority. And that is the heart of the wife. The husband’s main responsibility is to shepherd and care for and nurture his wife’s soul in sanctification on this life-journey till Christ receives us to glory. The husband, then, is to be the soul-sanctifier of his wife as he (yes, the husband!) is the primary ‘pastor-of-the-home.’ He’s the resident-pastor. He’s the soul-carer. He’s the one who is to feed his wife’s soul, give her time with God, pray with and for her, lead her in repentance, suffering, joy, gratitude, and in family worship.

Of course, when husbands fail, he must be quick to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and also ask for forgiveness (specifically and without justifying it or blame-shifting) from his wife. The God of love is the God of all grace who lavishes forgiveness upon those who sin -- even many times a day. Run into His overwhelming love. Receive His perfect grace that covers all your sin in Christ. And model this humble repentance for your wife. Go to God. Keep short accounts with God; indeed, let no sin linger and fester and grow and gain strength in your life. O men, you’ll fail. Yes, we do. But go again to Calvary! Cling with Spirit-graced resolve to Scripture and Christ! Follow Christ, your glorious Bridegroom, and love your precious wife with the same fervor, care, tenderness, and selflessness that you have have received by Christ Jesus.


More of these articles in this "Husband's Handbook" can be found & downloaded here.

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