“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27
As a newlywed, one of my greatest concerns was how to be the husband God desires me to be. Initially, I thought that as long as I was being the best Christian man I could be that that was enough. As I have had the fortune of taking a class at Carolina College of Biblical Studies called “Family and Marriage Counseling,” I have learned otherwise; I have learned that the role of a husband is a unique one that requires specialized attention.
I am so thankful to God for becoming aware of His expectations of me as a husband while I am still so young. But whether you intend to get married, are a newlywed, or have been married for several years, every Christian husband should familiarize himself with God’s command in Ephesians 5:25. From this verse you can finally stop fumbling around in the dark as you try to do what seems best; you can finally know what God’s actual expectations are of you.
Husbands are to love their wives with God’s love.
In English, all we can see is the word “love.” In Greek, however, there are four different words used to describe four different types of love. The word used in this verse is agapao, which refers to God’s perfect, unconditional love. How in the world are husbands to love their wives like God loves? Good question. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can a husband love his wife with agape love.
Romans 5:5 tell us that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (italics added). In order to love wives with God’s agape love, husbands have to walk by the Spirit. In order to walk by the Spirit, husbands have to confess their sin to remove the barrier it creates between him and God. It is imperative, then, that husbands be quick to confess their sins so that they can walk by the Spirit and bear this fruit of agape love.
Husbands are to look to Christ as their model for how to love their wives.
Paul commanded husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. Christ is the head of church, just as the husband is the head of his wife. Even though Christ was God, He willingly emptied Himself, took on the form of a bond-servant, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-8). He did all of that to secure salvation for the church!
After Christ ascended into heaven, He furthermore sent the Helper (the Holy Spirit) to reside in each Christian. Our helper enables us to obey God and live the abundant life. In heaven, Christ even makes intercession on behalf of all believers (Hebrews 7:25), prunes them to allow them to bear more fruit (John 15:2), and will surely bring the good work he started in every believer to completion (Philippians 1:6); and these are but a few of the many ways Christ expresses His love for the church.
Husbands, do you pray for your wife every day? Do you consider your wife’s needs, preferences, desires, and goals above your own? Let’s look at how Christ loves the church and use Him as our model on how to love our wives.
Husbands are to love their wives with a sacrificial love.
What was the main example of sacrifice that Christ demonstrated? He gave Himself up for the church. Christ died on our behalf so that we might live unto Him.
Usually husbands would admit that they would die to save their wife, but how many of us are willing to die daily to ourselves for our wives? I know that I don’t, and I know how daunting of a task that is. You mean that I have to forgo my own needs and desires to please my wife and make sure she is provided and cared for? Yes. God ordained husbands to die to themselves out of love for their wives; wives that are viewed in God’s eyes as a treasure (Proverbs 18:22).
Start to view your wife as God’s treasure to you, and treat her with love like she is royalty—regardless of if she deserves it or not!
Husbands are to love their wives with a purifying love.
Why did Christ give Himself up for the church? One immediate reason was “so that He might sanctify her.” This term “sanctify” means to set apart for a specific purpose. If husbands are going to sanctify their wives, a few things are necessary.
First, this is accomplished through reading and applying the Bible. Even Christ prayed “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is of utmost importance that husbands lead their wives spiritually. This takes the form of family devotionals. Try sitting down with your wife and reading Scripture together three times a week for ten minutes—that’s a great start. Pray before you read, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what God wants to teach you. Then read an entire chapter of a book, paying attention to commands (which you should talk about how you could apply in your life).
Secondly, husbands should study their wives. Get to know your wife deeply; her desires, her goals, her talents, her spiritual gift (possibly take a free, online spiritual gifts test). Then you should help her flourish in her gifting, finding ways she could minister in your local church. Inspire and equip her to share her faith in her relationships at work. Encourage her to be a loving role model to the kids and to teach them about Jesus. We need to be strong spiritual men ourselves. Lead your wife by being a role model who is obedient to God and who faithfully reads His Word.
I recently heard about an amazing sacrifice my friend David made for his wife and family.
In order to spend more time with his family, he made a drastic sacrifice. He awoke at 4:30 A.M. To squeeze in two hours of studying (for his master’s program) before he had to leave for work at 7:30 A.M. He did that so he could give his undivided attention to his family at night while he spent time with them. His wife was so appreciative that she wrote a comment on Facebook applauding her husband.
Husbands, you’ll soon find that as the head of your household, if you initiate godliness and love into your home, your wife will respond in the same way. That is how God has designed marriage: the husband leads in love, and the wife responds to his leadership.
Reserve some time to have a “talk-date” with your wife to catch up, chat about life and what you’re both feeling and thinking. Listen to her and open up your heart with her; she is longing for it and will absolutely cherish the work you put in to your marriage.
God has called husbands to be strong, loving leaders. Whenever you meet Christ face-to-face, you will be held accountable for the marriage you had in this life. You will be held accountable for how you treated your wife and raised your household. Take heed of this command, and love your wife with God’s love, with a purifying love, with a sacrificial love, and as Christ loved the church.
by Cameron Penrose