As a Christian husband, you are not left wondering or speculating about what it means to carry out your role in a way that pleases God and blesses your wife. To the contrary, the Bible provides clear guidance: You are to love your wife as Christ loves his church. In the closing verses of Ephesians 5, Paul describes how, out of love, Christ sacrificed himself to do for you what you could not do for yourself. Out of love he sanctified you to God’s purposes, to set you apart so you could live the life God created you to live. Out of love, he purified you, so he could put aside the sin that hinders you and instead give you his righteousness. He did this by the word of the gospel and through it all has a great and final purpose in mind. This is how Christ loved the church, so this is how a husband is to love his wife. Let me tease that out under these headings.
Love Your Wife with a Sacrificial Love
Husband, love your wife with a sacrificial love. I think every husband is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his wife. Wouldn’t you? If someone was holding you and your wife hostage and said, “One of you needs to die” I’m sure you’d put yourself forward. “Take me, spare her.” Good! You’ll die for her, but will you live for her? This is not a one-time act where you get to go out in a blaze of glory and get written up in the newspaper, but a day-by-day dying to yourself for her sake.
Are you willing to make those day-by-day sacrifices? Will you hold loosely to your time so you can invest it in her? Will you hold loosely to your preferences so you can cede to hers? Will you let go of some of your dreams so she can achieve hers? Will you be utterly ferocious with your sin so you can be kind and gentle with her? Ultimately, will you live more for her good than for your own? This is not a difficult burden but a tremendous honor.
Love Your Wife with a Sanctifying Love
Husband, love your wife with a sanctifying love. Jesus died so that he could set apart his bride for service to God. You need to understand that your wife doesn’t exist first for your pleasure, your joy, or your comfort. She exists first for God. Yes, she has been set apart to you, but only so you can help her be ever-more set apart to God.
Your wife exists to bring glory to God by doing good to others. This means your task as a loving husband is to be committed and creative in helping her do this. It’s your task to help her unleash her gifts, her talents, her passions, her interests in doing good to others and bringing glory to God. Love her with a sanctifying love, a love that ensures she is being set apart to do what God calls her to do and to be who God calls her to be.
Love Your Wife with a Purifying Love
Husband, love your wife with a purifying love. If a wife is to submit it means a husband is to lead, and a key part of that leadership is leading, guiding, and assisting her along the path to holiness. This puts a call on you to grow in holiness first. How can you possibly lead her where you’ve never been or where you refuse to go? You need to identify your own sin and ruthlessly put it to death. It falls to you to lead the way in holiness, to lead the way in love, in character, in worship, in repentance, in maturity. And then you have the honor of accompanying her as she grows in holiness.
Now let’s be clear: Holiness is not about correcting all of those little flaws and foibles you find annoying. It’s not about perfectly conforming her to your will. It’s all about helping her grow in purity before God. It’s about helping her put sin to death so she can come alive to righteousness. It’s rejoicing in who God is making her to be. It’s identifying God’s grace in her life. It’s encouraging her in her spiritual growth and praising and thanking God for every bit of it. It’s helping her be as pure and holy as she can possibly be. Do you love your wife with a purifying love?
Love Your Wife with a Gospel Love
Husband, love your wife with a gospel love. Christ washes his church with the water of the word, which is the gospel, and in the same way, you are to wash your wife with the water of the word which is the gospel. This means your husbanding is to be drenched in the gospel. Your love is to be shaped by the gospel. Your voice is to speak the gospel. Your life is to display the gospel. You need to speak truth to your wife, to lead her to the Word of God, to remind her of those precious gospel truths, to pray with her, to worship with her.
Are you washing your wife with the water of the gospel? If you do nothing else in marriage, read the Bible and pray with your wife. Make this a daily discipline. There are few things God uses in richer ways than a husband and wife together in the Word and together on their knees.
Love Your Way with a Purposeful Love
Husband, love your wife with a purposeful love. Wedding ceremonies are occasions of great joy, but even then there is always just a hint of sorrow because we need to acknowledge from the very beginning that there will be an end. This is why we make vows to one another that say something like, “Til death do us part.” You may get 60 or even 70 years with that bride, but then one of you will die and in that moment, the marriage will be over. But she will not be over. Your wife will not cease to exist the moment she dies. No, if she is in Christ, her life will just be getting started. She has a glorious and never-ending future beyond the grave.
You need to keep that in view. Your task as a husband, and your great joy, is to help prepare her for what awaits her in eternity. It’s helping her become today what she will be fully then. It’s receiving glimpses of who and what she will be in glory. You, my friend, have the joy of helping her toward that great day. God has chosen and appointed you as the one who will accompany her, who will lead her, who will guide her, who will protect her, who will know her deepest, who will love her best, on her way to that celestial city.
So, Live For Her
So resolve to live for her, to sacrifice all you’ve got for her good. Love her with a sanctifying love that is committed to setting her apart for the great purpose God has for her. Love her with a purifying love that helps her put sin to death and come alive to righteousness. Love her with a love that is shaped by the gospel and whose content is the gospel. Love her with a purposeful love that fixes in your mind and heart the great day when she will be all that God has created her to be. Will you even recognize her in that day for all her splendor, for all her perfection? She will be perfect then, unblemished by even the smallest sin, undefiled by even the tiniest trace of depravity. She will be beautiful and radiant and glorious beyond belief.
Christ awaits the day when he will present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. That is his great goal and he longs for that day. Shouldn’t you then fix in your mind the image of you presenting your wife to Christ? “Here is the wife you entrusted to me. Isn’t she radiant! Isn’t she beautiful! I’ve loved her. I’ve sacrificed for her. I’ve washed her with the word of your gospel. I’ve seen her grow in righteousness and holiness. And now I present her to you.” What an honor, what a blessing, that God has chosen you to accompany her to that place, to that day.