25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Reflection On This Scripture
Paul does not let the man “off the hook” after he commands wives to submit to their husbands. In fact, I believe he commands the men to a much more daunting, seemingly impossible task that will take a lot of courage and selflessness to accomplish. In verse 25, Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Did you get that? “Gave himself up for her.” That means he died for her. Husbands are not to rule over their wives or demand submission, or exercise their rule over them. They are to love them. And let’s make it clear that love is not just an emotional response. Love is an act of the will! Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” An act of the will not seeking revenge is an act of love, even though your feelings tell you otherwise.
Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (v. 22), and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Paul then talks about how Christ loved the church. He sanctified her, He cleansed her by the washing of water with the word (the gospel) so that she will be splendorous, with no spot or wrinkle or any such thing and will be holy, without blemish. Verses 26-27 relate with Ezekiel 16:1-14 which show the marriage of Yahweh and Israel. Yahweh commanded a bleeding bride to “Live!” and matured her and covered her nakedness, bathed her with water and washed off her blood, clothed her with fine leather and linen and silk. He adorned her with jewelry of gold and silver, and fed her fine foods growing in beauty, such beauty that her renown went forth among the nations. Husbands, it is with this kind of love that we are to love and serve our wives! Loving your wife as Christ loved the church is a sacrificial, selfless, and unconditional love, even if she doesn’t deserve it. In fact, you don’t deserve her submission. You did not deserve Christ and yet He died for you. So you must love your wife even when she sins in any way against you.
Look at the extent that Christ loves the church: He bore her sins (1 Pet. 2:24). He became a curse for her (Gal. 3:13). And finally, he died for her (Rom. 5:8). This is your model of love for your wife and nothing less! Through the example of Christ and Ezekiel 16:1-14, husbands ought to be committed to the total well-being, especially the spiritual well-being of their wives. This is a wakeup call to headship, men! Headship is dying to self.
John Piper gives a definition of headship that is very helpful. Piper says, “Headship is
the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection and provision.” If you are Christ-like in your service to your wife you will protect her and provide both physically and spiritually.
A husband provides spiritual provision to his wife by giving spiritual guidance and encouragement, praying with her, and if you are to feed her God’s Word, you MUST know God’s Word! Pray with her and your children daily and do daily devotions as a family. A husband will physically provide with a shelter, food, clothes and necessities to live. If you are the only one working, be a responsible employee and remember that you work as unto the Lord. If you both work, work on getting a job that will be able to support the two of you, should she decide to stay home. A husband provides spiritual protection by praying for his wife and children and leads in reconciliation. If your wife is mad at you, you are to initiate reconciliation. When Eve sinned first, God didn’t ask to see Eve, instead He asked, “Adam, where are you?” Where are you, men? When your wife sins, God will deal with her but first He will come to do business with you. A husband provides physical protection by keeping his wife from harm. If there is a noise downstairs in the middle of the night, you don’t elbow your wife and say, “Your turn.” You get up and get your baseball bat and head downstairs to check it out. If she joins you because she’s a black belt, she may take down the guy with a roundhouse kick to the face but you better be on the ground unconscious, because you stood between the intruder and your wife. If your life is required for her to live, you give it.
Men, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, turn off your phone and disciple your wife and your children. Follow the example of Christ. He taught His church (1 Corinthians 14:35), He set an example for the church (John 13:15), He spent time with the church (Acts 4:13), and delegated authority to His church (Luke 10:1-20). Lastly, if you are a man in the ministry, you are to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Husbands, you are never expected to love the church as Christ loved the church. The church already has Christ, but Christ gave you to your family. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus then gave the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Husbands, your closest neighbors aren’t the ones that live in houses adjacent to yours. No, your closest neighbors are your wife and your children. Love God first and foremost, and then you will be able to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Place God and your relationship with Him first so that out of that fellowship you can love and lead your wife and children.
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