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Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

What If... I Loved Her Well?

What if I loved my wife well?

I went to the website of Barnes & Noble and did a word search. I typed in the word "marriage" and the search results gave me 44,360 results. Then I typed in the word "husband" and 5412 results appeared from my search. As I browsed the available titles I began to realize that there is an enormous amount of resources available to me regarding my marriage and my role as a husband.

After wading through the overwhelming titles I decided to refine my search a bit. I typed in the words "Christian husband." My results were now limited to only 87 choices. There were books about being a role model, how to find the perfect husband, and the benefit of prayer as a husband. I found titles that will help me in the area of sex and romance, how to understand my wife's mind, and what wives wished I knew about them...

So, after perusing many titles I came to one thought. What about the Bible? In all the searches I did, whether Christian marriage, husbands, wives, etc... the one book I never saw as an option was God's Holy Word. Sure there are many excellent books on Christian marriage and my role as a husband. I even recommend some on this blog from time to time. But today I am encouraged by the Words that were transcribed two thousand years ago by a guy wearing rags in a filthy prison somewhere in Rome .

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Verse 28 also states: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

What does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. I am sure many of you have heard this next verse several times from the book of John.

Joh 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

What does this kind of love look like in the context of marriage. We all think it is noble to say, "Oh ya, I would lay my life down for my wife... if some guy came into our house in the middle of the night I would be the first one out of bed and I would lay my life down to protect my loved ones..."

And good for you. YOU SHOULD! You are the man...It's your job. If you are the kind of man that sits on the edge of the bed when the garbage can rattles in the middle of the night and you let your wife walk out back, then you may want to check yourself. It doesn't matter if she is a black belt in karate and you are a white belt. If it takes you getting your butt kicked before she takes down the intruder then that is the way it goes. At least you can say you tried to protect her...

How do we display this unselfish love in our everyday walk? Why should we love our wives like Christ loves the church?

Let me give you just a couple of thoughts:

First: Look at Eph 5:26-27. When you married your wife you set her apart from the rest of the world. In so doing you, as the head, made a covenant (which you may not have known...) to sanctify her. This means that you are going to help her to become all that God designed her to be. When we understand marriage in this way we are able to look differently at our spouse. Rather than expecting to get something from her, we are willing to give to her so that she can be all God created her to be. For Him. Not for us. Not to meet our needs and desires. (Though you just might find that to be the case when you love her like this)

Here are not some reasons why you are loving your wife... Did that make sense?

  • You aren't loving her so she can be happy, though she probably will be if you love her like Christ loves the church.
  • You aren't loving her so she will be nice to you, though she will be if you love her like Christ loves the church.
  • You aren't loving her so she will fulfill you sexual desires, though she probably will if you love her like Christ loves the church.
So why should we love her like Christ loves the church?

  • You are loving her like Christ loves the church so that you can present her blameless before the Lord. The goal behind this kind of love is to build her up and allow God's purposes to be fulfilled in her.
So how do we love our wives like this. Well, first of all we need to have the love of Christ in us. Spend time at the tree. The best resource I have found to being able to attempt to love my wife in this way is to be in Christ every day. It is hard to be impatient with her, unkind to her, unloving toward her, or angry at her when you are connected to the tree.

Also, when we discover that we will never have the feelings of excitement for our wife the way we did early on in our marriage we discover new things about love. Certainly love can cause us to have a rush of emotion... and that can be good. But it is really far more than that. It is a commitment that even when the emotions settle down and the thrill is gone you will always be there for your wife. No matter what.

C. S. Lewis puts it this way in his book "Mere Christianity." (A bit of a lengthy quote but worth the read)

The idea that "being in love" is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits one to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.

But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her. But there is also another reason of which I am very sure, though I find it a little hard to explain.

It is hard because so many people cannot be brought to realize that when B is better than C, A may be even better than B. They like thinking in terms of good and bad, not of good, better, and best, or bad, worse and worst. They want to know whether you think patriotism a good thing: if you reply that it is, of course, far better than individual selfishness, but that it is inferior to universal charity and should always give way to universal charity when the two conflict, they think you are being evasive.

They ask what you think of dueling. If you reply that it is far better to forgive a man than to fight a duel with him, but that even a duel might be better than a lifelong enmity which expresses itself in secret efforts to "do the man down," they go away complaining that you would not give them a straight answer. I hope no one will make this mistake about what I am now going to say.

What we call "being in love" is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust.

No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, "the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs." Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life.

It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called "being in love" usually does not last.

So men, I implore you to love your wives as Christ loved the church. Go to the source for your strength. Be in the Word. Treat her with tenderness and compassion. Build her up to become all God created her to be... What If I loved my wife like that?

What if...

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