Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This is part 2 of the 'Cultivating a Godly Marriage' blog series.

Part I — The Meaning of Marriage

Part 2: the husband leads with love
The Bible clearly presents the function and duties of a biblical husband. They do not come naturally and easily to man battling the sins of the flesh. The natural, unsaved, man cannot perform these tasks. To the unrepentant man, these qualities seem foolish, outdated, and outright ludicrous. But to the man of God, these not only are glorious and radical charges, they are personally experienced since every child of God has received this kind of love from Jesus Christ, the delightful Husband.

In what follows, I want to speak of some ways that a husband must lead with love.

1. He must have a SPECIAL LOVE.
A Godly husband has a special, particular, definite and exclusive love for only his wife. Just as Christ has one Bride who receives His love, protection, care, and leadership, so a godly husband has only one wife who receives his love, protection, care, and leadership. This means that the husband has an eye, a heart, a body, and affections only for her. She delights him. Her body enthralls him. Her love excites him. Her character gladdens him. This man has a very special, particular love for his wife. Just as Jesus specially died only for His elect, so also the husband has a special love only for his chosen bride.

2. He must have a SACRIFICIAL LOVE.
Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of His people. He suffered, was forsaken, was abandoned, became a divine-curse, received the wrath of God, appeased God’s judgment toward sinners and died at Calvary. The love of Jesus is a sacrificial love. Christ loved the church and gave His life up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Christ has loved His people and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). True love sacrifices. The perfect demonstration of this love finds expression in the self-giving of Jesus on behalf of His bride, the Church. In the same way, every husband must have a sacrificial, self-giving, self-emptying love for his wife.

3. He must have a SEEKING LOVE.
To love is to seek. To love is to pursue. To love is to have longings for something accompanied with action. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus fulfilled the God-given mission for Him to take on human flesh and atone for people’s sins. Jesus sought sinners. Jesus pursued rebels. So it must be with a husband toward his wife. He must seek his wife and pursue her. Without the pursuing love of Jesus, no person would ever receive the gift of salvation. Husbands must initiate love toward the wives and they must pursue them lovingly, tenderly, graciously, winsomely, and consistently.

4. He must have a STEADFAST LOVE.
The love of Jesus never wanes. It never fades. It cannot grow dull, dim; nor can it decay. His love endures through the ages. Great is God’s steadfast love (Psalm 103:11). The love of a husband toward his wife must endure, it must continue on, it must live on consistently. The husband’s love should not wane after time, it should not grow dull after a season, the fire should not die out after a brief period. No! The love of Jesus remains flaming hot with zealous love for His people. In the same way, every husband should steadfastly love his bride. To love this way means the husband should find strength every day from the great giver of strength, joy, and grace — God Himself. The biblical husband must come before the Lord perpetually in prayer asking for His enabling grace and gracious power to love his wife persistently, steadfastly, and unendingly.

5. He must have a SANCTIFYING LOVE.
The passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ is to make His church look dazzlingly gorgeous. Every Christian husband must have one primary ambition in this world that must trump every other desire, goal, achievement, hobby, and time-consuming event, namely, to make his wife the most spiritually beautiful woman that she can possibly be. Jesus gave Himself up for the church so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus cleanses believers through the Word and sanctifies her through being in the Word of God. Jesus prayed that God would sanctify believer in the truth; God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). No Christian husband can lead at home and sanctify his wife if he does not open the Bible, read the Bible to, and lovingly instruct his wife/family in the truth of God, the ways of God, and in the glory of God. In other words, for a man of God to live like Christ in the marriage relationship, he must have one preeminent goal that far exceeds all other ambitions: he must read the Bible with his wife, he must pray with (and for) his wife, he must teach/instruct her, he must humbly repent of his sin to her and model Christlikeness for her. He must sanctify his wife.

6. He must have a SPIRIT-ENDOWED LOVE.
No Christian can live the Christian life apart from the Spirit of God’s enabling grace. When Jesus walked the earth, he relied fully on the power of the Spirit. He was led by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, rejoiced in the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit. So it must be with every Christian man in the home. He must live by the power of the Spirit. And the Word of God wonderfully reminds that believers must “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). In the very next paragraph after describing what this filling — or, controlling — of the Spirit looks like, Paul launches into the roles of the wife and husband in the home. The husband cannot love biblically on his own. The man cannot serve in his own strength. He cannot live selflessly and sacrificially in his own resources and energy. He needs the Spirit to endow him with grace, power, patience, humility, and love. This must drive every Christian man to his knees every morning so as to beg from the Lord, the gracious giver of all things, to impart spiritual power and grace so that he may love his wife in a way that exemplifies the relationship of Christ to the Church faithfully.

Thus, the man of God who has received the outpouring of God’s love in Christ should make it his pursuit to love his wife similarly. He has received love from Christ, so he must impart love to his wife. He has been granted forgiveness in Christ, so he must give (and ask for) forgiveness. He has received abundant pardon, so he must pardon his wife when she humbly confesses and repents of her sin. He has received the sacrificial gift of Christ’s atoning work in salvation, so the husband must sacrifice himself for his wife. He meets with the Lord in daily communion in the prayer and the Word, and so the husband must daily sanctify his wife in both prayer and in the Word. May husbands continually see how Christ has loved them so as to then learn how to love their wives.


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