Walk into any “old folks’ home” and you will see very few men. On the average, women outlive men. It would be interesting if we could search the hearts of the women in these facilities to see what they remember of their childhoods and their marriages. From those who can still speak of their own, you hear very little of their joy in marriage. Most have a complaint against their parents or their husbands. Few are content. Is it possible that husbands could change this? No; but God can, through husbands who seek His will in their own lives and their families’ lives.
What can a husband do? First, you can ask the Lord to show you what you already have. Take inventory of what He has given you.
Is your wife content? Praise the Lord! Thank Him that He has given you a gem. Treasure what you have and ask how to cherish her, love her, and polish this jewel to His expectancy ~ notice ~ not yours, but His. She is not yet all she will be. She will need to grow to conform to the image of Christ. Caring for her will not preserve her so that she will live longer than you, but to enable her to give you the best care possible should you fall into the average pattern.
Remember that your former years together may be an example for her should she become your caregiver. And should you in the end outlive her, she will be much easier to care for.
The Marriage God Intended
We see in Ephesians 5 the analogy of marriage as it relates to the church ~ Christ and its members (His bride). This is another treatise altogether, but as a starting point, let’s look at four things Paul mentions for a husband and wife. I am not using the plural as relating to all husbands and wives, but singular, so as to draw you, the reader, to look at your marriage apart from others you know.
There are good marriages and bad marriages that you could compare, but here we want to settle you, the husband, as one husband, and the person God created you to be and especially to you as God’s son, redeemed by the blood of His first-born Son, Jesus Christ. I doubt that many who are not born-again believers and disciples of Christ will understand what this is all about.
The four things we will speak of are: 1) Submission 2) Love 3) Sacrifice 4) Sanctity.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Ephesians 5:22-23
Your first thoughts will probably be, “The author should be speaking to women, not men.” Bear with me, please. Think about it. Christ is the head of the church. Who came first, Christ, the head, or the bride, (the church)? Would there be a bride without Christ? Would there be a church, a body of believers, without Christ’s work of bringing believers together in one accord, for His name’s sake?
The practice and custom of a bride taking on the name of her husband is indicative of the action of a man who loves a woman, woos her, and proves his ability to take care of her. She takes his name, willingly, submitting to his proposal, entering into a covenant that he has presented to her. Marriage in this century does not have many good examples, or patterns, to follow.
Christian marriage is not much different from other marriages of our culture. This treatise is not meant to go into the various problems but rather to get a picture of what marriage could be and would be if we each see the model and the potential God gives us.
Women are getting this same teaching from other women and many are trying to adhere to this, even in marriages where the husband has no true love for them. Submission is difficult in any situation, but in marriage, where God meant it to be a pleasant and blessed thing, submission has become an oppressive word. It is difficult for those who truly want to submit, to understand how, when the husband is not able to love and lead her.
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
Husband, I implore you to cease from observing marriage from the world’s view, the example, and patterns that pervade our culture. In this first point of thinking of your wife’s submission, there are three things that apply to you.
Submit yourself to be the husband God wants you to be. Turn to God your Creator and Redeemer. In prayer and humility, submit yourself to the Lord. You may have done this at other times in your life as a new believer or in commitment to a special work for the church or God’s kingdom. The first and most important work for you as a husband is to shepherd your wife. She must see you as her leader and companion through the pilgrimage of this life. You must initiate this relationship if you want her to submit to you as she should. The love of Christ for His church is the only factor that we have to bring us into submission to Him.
Even so, your love for your wife will be portrayed in how you cherish her, lead her, protect her and preserve her. But, you cannot expect her to submit to you if you have not submitted totally to Christ, as your Lord and Savior. You cannot love her as you need to love her unless you understand the love of Christ for you, and in your love for Him, live in submission to do His will in all things.
Submission should be followed by admitting your failures, mistakes, sins, or misunderstandings about your role as God’s Son and as a husband. Time in humility and prayer, for the purpose of His searching your heart, will reveal and enable you to see, confess, and repent of those failings, even though they come from ignorance. Admitting, consenting to what He puts His finger on, is second to submission as a means of clearing the way for His working in your heart and life.
Third, committing your way, your will, your life, to the Lord as your head, will give the freedom for Him to lead you, to shepherd you and in turn for you to shepherd your wife. You are setting the example for her to follow.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
Commitment to the Lord will include presenting all that you are to be transformed by the renewal of your mind. This means you must, for yourself and your wife, have a plan for this transformation and renewal; for when your mind is renewed everything in your life will be changed. God’s Word is the means of His grace for this transformation. Through His Word, Christ will speak to your heart and write on your mind and heart His plans for your renewal. He will continue to lead you and your wife in the love that He has for you and her.
He does not marry you ~ through Christ making us His Bride ~ and leave you to yourself, but in patience and longsuffering, bears with you. Understanding His love, and His strength in preserving you, will make you stronger, more loving, and more gracious. Here is where the bond of marriage cannot be broken by anything the enemy or the world would throw at you. Christ is the head, the center, the radius, the circumference, the all of life, for the union He performs.
When you understand and experience the love of Christ and His sacrifice for you, you will know what it means to sacrifice for your wife. There is not much I will say here, because I can’t imagine; I can’t get my mind around the sacrifice Christ made for me. I can’t know what this means for a husband. Any sacrifice I have made for my husband and family are no comparison to Christ’s sacrifice or to what He asks of a husband. Each of these is personal and occurs in different circumstances for each one.
When and where He leads you will bring you up to the task. Your submitting, admitting, and commitment will prepare you in love to sacrifice for your wife. Like Christ, you will not have to ask what God’s will is for you. Christ’s love for you will work in you a supernatural love for your wife.
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one,” Hebrews 2:11
Jesus sacrificed and sanctified Himself for His bride. He set Himself apart for His people. Such is the oneness of a husband and wife brought into Christ, united in Him. Joined together in Christ, “let no man put asunder.”
As all of God’s children are one in Christ, how much more a husband and wife in Christ. A true Christian marriage is a shining example to the world of this beautiful union.
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