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Lesson 14 – The Marriage Relationship

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Husbands: Is Marriage

Your Highest Priority?

Ephesians 5:25-33

 

 

 

Can there be any higher calling than the one the God of the Universe has given to husbands? God says, love your wife just like Christ loves His Church. That is a very high calling, and perhaps the most sobering words any married man, who knows and loves God could hear.

 

Paul explains marriage is unlike any other role we fill in life as a man. Marriage is unlike any other job we do. Marriage is elevated, by God, speaking through Paul in Ephesians 5, to one of the highest places in life.

 

There are few things in life that God singles out to be done in a way that clearly imitates how Jesus did it.

 

Husbands Are To Imitate Christ’s Ways

 

Please open to those amazing words that raise the institution of marriage from a mere building block of society, to the level of being among a man’s highest earthly priorities.

 

Before we read, remember that these words are primarily addressed to believing husbands.

 

So, just the born-again husbands (whether or not your wife is saved or even here) please stand. By standing you are saying to the Lord that you want to hear and to respond to what He is saying to you as a husband.

 

As the men who are believers in Christ Jesus and married, stand with me, all of us can follow along, but those who are standing are the target:

 

Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

[That means see that you do not point out his every failure, his weak attempts, or his inadequacies. Wives are commanded to respect whatever their believing husband tries to do, since he will answer to the Lord for whether of not he obeys, just as she will.]

 

Now, just before we pray, if you are a wife to a believing husband, (whether he is even here standing right now), would you stand up (beside him if possible) for the prayer?

 

By standing, you are declaring to God that you want to respect his attempts to love you as Christ loves His Church, and that you will pray for your husband to grow in that Christ-like love, and not discourage him by any lack of respect.

 

Pray

 

Husbands Are to Love Like Jesus Loved

 

When you get married and become a husband you immediately have started a family unit. As the husband of that family you are to operate under the dominating control of Christ’s love.

 

  • Loving like Christ loves means being led by the Spirit. Jesus was led by the Spirit in His earthly, human life, and we can also walk in the Spirit.

 

  • Loving like Christ loved means being empowered to do God’s will by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was empowered to do God’s will in His earthly, human life, and we can also do God’s will in the power of the Spirit.

 

  • Loving like Christ loves means wanting to please God in every part of life: at the job, in all routine work, in daily relationship, and in the big and small decisions of life. Jesus pleased God in His earthly, human life, and we can also in the power of the Spirit.

 

  • Loving like Christ loves means responding to those we love in a God-honoring and correct way even when we are tired, hungry, tempted, and attacked. Jesus responded correctly in His earthly, human life, and we can also respond in a Christlike way by the power of the Spirit.

 

So that is what God’s Word says to husbands. Loving our wives as Christ loves His Church means: all our decisions are to be prompted, led, and touched by His love.

 

That is what God clearly and specifically asks from husbands. That is what God says should become the life long, daily, highest priority from which flows all other activities in life. How are you doing men?

 

If we listen to God’s Word, He has told us that our marriage is to become our highest earthly priority.

 

Accepting God’s Priorities for our Lives

 

Since God thinks so highly of our marriage, and since all other joys are to flow from that relationship—it must be our highest earthly priority!

 

Priorities are putting choices we have into an order of importance. As we serve God through life, if we are married, God says we must accept the priority of a Christlike marriage.

 

The second biggest choice in life, and the one that impacts everything else after salvation is your marriage. So what we need to consider is how to obey the Lord and serve Him by making your marriage[1] your primary ministry priority.

 

A Christlike marriage as a reflection of Christ’s love was the primary ministry each one of us husbands publicly affirmed before God and many of our closest friends and family, at our wedding.

 

We have many responsibilities in like including: our job, parenting and educating our children, serving in Christ’s church though missions, or Sunday school, or youth work, or evangelism.

 

All of these are important to God, but only our marriage is given the place of greatest priority as the Lord declares that we are to care for our wife with as single a focus and as clear a love as Jesus showers upon us His church. That is our first calling.

 

Marriage is Primary in God’s Plan

 

If we want to most fully serve the Lord then we shouldn’t get married is what Paul said. In other words certain people (like Jeremiah and the 144,000) and certain times (like the persecutions of the early church) are times that marriage may not be best.

 

1 Corinthians 7:32-33 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.

 

But for most of history, and for most of God’s servants: their marriage is to be their PRIMARY MINISTRY. Marriage is what God created us for.

 

Looking at God’s Original Design  

 

As we turn to Genesis 2, remember God has already made the entire Universe and crowned it with His last creation, in His image called a man.

 

Then, God finds the first thing in the entire Universe that was not good—it is right here in verse 18. God states that man should be alone. So God crowns the creation of man with the creation of woman.

 

Watch this great event unfold in Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV). There is a wealth of marriage-changing-truth in these few words from God. Look at each piece.

 

  1. 18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

 

Men Need Close Companionship

 

First, v.18a says literally “not good is man’s aloneness”. That is as clear as can be. Aloneness, solitary living is not good. One of the deepest pains sociologists have measured in society is living and isolated and lonely life. They report that such people ache with a deep pain they can’t even fully describe. Adam ached, God observed, and announces the solution for this great need.

 

Next, in v. 18b is God’s plan, “I will make him a helper comparable to him”. Notice God’s first reference to woman is by the title of ‘helper’. English just doesn’t convey what that Hebrew word means; hence it is not seen as a great title. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines help as a noun meaning “one that helps, especially a relatively unskilled worker who assists a skilled worker, usually by manual labor”.

 

But that English definition is exactly not what ‘helper’ meant to God. The Hebrew word God chose means something grand, literally it describes a person “who assists another to reach complete fulfillment”. When the same word is used in other places in the Old Testament it is used of someone who went and rescued another person. Now there we have it.

 

Wives Rescue Husbands

 

God made woman to come to man’s rescue and save him from his lonely existence. Eve was designed to rescue Adam from not only loneliness, but also to completely fulfill Adam.

 

Then in v. 18c, God continues with another word that captures even more of the beauty of marriage. This helper was “comparable” to Adam. This suitable, or comparable helper was literally “corresponding to” Adam. Man before woman had some missing pieces in the puzzle of his life and God said that was not good. So Eve was the one who provided the missing pieces to Adam’s life. Husbands by God’s design are incomplete until they receive that one God designed to correspond to them.

 

God promised that He would design her exactly to specifications for Adam. And that is the plan of God for marriage. Eve was to fulfill a God-designed-necessary-role that rescued Adam from missing his fulfillment—and in that process of being God’s special creation for man—Eve also found her completion and fulfillment. Marriage was such an incredibly designed wonder of God!

 

God Designed the Missing Piece To Adam’s Puzzle

 

From the start each partner was unique, each partner was vital, each partner was distinct, and each had a God designed role that provided immense satisfaction, fulfillment and completion. So Genesis next records the performance of this promise God made.

 

  1. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

 

What an incredible moment. God removes part of Adam (a rib) and made woman out of it. The Hebrew word for “made” is “fashioned” and literally means “to build or rebuild so as to cause to flourish”. The missing piece of Adam’s life that caused him loneliness was not good.

 

But when that missing part of his life was taken by God and fashioned—that missing piece of life’s puzzle flourished into Eve. Adam’s rib under God’s design sprang to life as Eve. She was his helper, his rescuer, his completer, his satisfier, and the one who fulfilled every dimension of his life as a man.

 

There was an incredible equality about them: both were made by God; and both were made in the image of God. They were made to complement one another, but not to compete with one another.

 

God Brought Eve to Adam

 

Note Adam’s response. God brought her to him. And every man or woman enjoying the privilege of marriage should at that statement lift their heart in gratitude to the Lord.

 

He designed the woman you have joined your life with, to be your helpmate that corresponds to every missing piece of the puzzle of your life.

 

He gave you a partner, soul-mate, and best friend designed to be all that is needed to have a life-long fulfillment.

 

  1. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

 

Adam exclaims that his wife Eve was made by God, given to him by God, especially designed, and intentionally made for his needs, as he was for hers.

 

Note once again in the last part of v. 22 that God personally brought Eve to Adam. You will start a whole new chapter of your marriage and open an entirely new dimension to your relationship when you realize that God Himself designed your husband or wife just for YOU!

 

All of the differences you share in perspective, in taste, in personality, in mood, and in ability are all placed there by God for His glory and for your good.

 

THE HUSBAND’S MANDATE

 

So, when this perfectly designed, and Divinely given woman becomes our wife, we have a very high calling. Paul clearly tells all husbands that they are to love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church,” we must ask, “How does Jesus love us?” We know from Scripture that:

 

  • Christ’s love has no conditions (Rom. 5:8).
  • Christ’s love is focused upon us (Deut. 7:7; Eph. 1:6,7).
  • Christ’s love is strong and giving (John 13:1; Eph. 5: 2, 25).
  • Christ’s love never ends (John 13:1; Jer. 31:3; Rom. 8:39).
  • Christ’s love is not selfish (Phil. 2:6, 7).
  • Christ’s love is sacrificing (Eph. 5:2, 24; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 3:18; Rom. 5:6-11; 1 Pet. 2:24).
  • Christ’s love is expressed in ways we can know (John 10:1-14; 14:1-3; 13:34,35; 15:9-10; Rom. 8:32; Phil. 4:13, 19; Heb. 4:14-16).

 

Since God wants us to love our wives with Christ’s love, where do we start?

 

Learn to Follow Christ’s Example

 

Here are just a few ideas of some little choices to reorder our priorities, that will make us increasingly Christlike in our love for our wives.

 

  1. Godly husbands seek to Imitate Christ’s A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will be like Jesus. Jesus as a leader was first and foremost a servant.

 

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 

John 13:1-15 gives us the same picture of what it means to be a leader. In this passage, the emblem of leadership is not a throne or a club but a big towel and a basin. In other words, a leader must have a servant’s heart. And if he has a servant’s heart, he will act like a servant and react like a servant – when he is treated like a servant.

 

  1. Godly husbands seek to Imitate Christ’s SERVANTHOOD[2]. A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will be the family’s biggest servant. He is to be the head of his wife even as Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23). His great model in leadership is Jesus Christ, who made Himself a servant (Phil. 2: 6-8); who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Whatever Jesus Christ does, He does for our sake; He does with our best interests at heart. In similar fashion, the husband is to live for the sake of his wife, always keeping her best interests at heart. He is to be his wife’s servant-leader.

 

  1. Godly husbands seek to Imitate Christ’s KIND WORDS. A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will practice one of the simplest, yet most neglected, ways of communicating love – by way of words spoken kindly, warmly, and directly toward his wife.

 

John 7:46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”

 

  1. Godly husbands seek to Imitate Christ’s KIND DEEDS. A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will love his wife by providing for the satisfaction of her varying needs.

 

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 

  1. Godly husbands seek to Imitate Christ’s A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will express his love by sacrificing his interests and desires for hers (Eph. 5:25; Phil 2:5-6).

 

Learn to Obey God’s Word about Sanctification

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will express love to his wife by assisting her to fulfill her chores and responsibilities.

 

1 Peter 5:3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will love his wife by allowing her really to share the deepest parts of his life (1 Pet. 3:7-“heirs together of the grace of life”).

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will express his love by refusing to compare her unfavorably with other people, especially other women (I Cor. 13:4-8).

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will express his love by demonstrating to his wife that, apart from your relationship to Jesus Christ, SHE has first place in your life. She is the singular target of our focused eyes (Matthew 6:22).

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will express his love by giving her a lot of tenderness, respect, chivalry, and courtesy (Eh. 5:28; Col. 3:19; 1 Cor. 13:4, 5). Do not use jokes about her or make cutting remarks to her in front of other people. Speak to her in a gentle and respectful way. Treat her as you would a valuable jewel rather than a piece of cinder or a garbage can.

 

  1. Godly husbands also seek to Obey God’s Pattern of: PRAISING HER. A husband who believes his primary ministry is marriage will love her by expressing appreciation and praise generously and in large doses (1 Pet. 3:7; Prov. 31:28).

 

Getting Back On Track

 

Each of us husbands need to serious examine whether we have the priorities that reflect Christ’s love. Remember them?

 

We as husbands love our wives with Christ’s love as we choose to cultivate priorities of: humility; servanthood; kind words and deeds; your presence; helping; sacrifice; sharing; loyalty; your wife above all others; tenderness; and a priority of praising her.

 

If these priorities are in any way absent we can get on track today. Remember “No matter how many steps away from God we get, it’s only one step BACK!” Here is the way back:

 

  • Specifically note areas where you are failing and where you should improve.
  • When you have identified those areas: repent by confessing that sin to God and to your wife (1 John 1:9; Matt. 5:23, 24; James 5;16).
  • Prayerfully seek cleansing from this sin and all your sins through the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7).
  • Then, after this obedient response to God, ask the Holy Spirit for power to be different (Luke 11:13; Gal. 5:16, 22, 23), and His grace will empower you to move out in obedience to the Word of God, and make the necessary changes (Phil 2:12-13; James 1:19-24).

Husbands are to Love Like Jesus Loved

 

When you get married and become a husband you immediately have started a family. As the husband of that family you are to operate under the dominating control of Christ’s love.

 

Loving like Christ loves means being led by the Spirit, like Jesus. Loving like Christ loved means being empowered to do God’s will by the Holy Spirit, like Jesus was.

 

Loving like Christ loves means wanting to go God’s will in every part of life: at the job, in all routine work, in daily relationship, and in the big and small decisions of life, like Jesus did. Loving like Christ loves means responding to those we love in a God-honoring and correct way even when we are tired, hungry, tempted, and attacked, like Jesus did. Loving our wives as Christ loves His Church means: all our decisions are to be prompted, led, and touched by His love.

 

So that is what God’s Word clearly says to husbands. That is what God says should become the life long, daily, highest priority from which flows all other activities in life.

 

 

 

090215AM GEH Love

Wives Loved by

Grace-Energized Husbands:

Who Love Like Jesus

Ephesians 5:25

 

 

 

 

As we open to Ephesians 5, think about the end of Creation Week, as God looked over the entire scope of the Universe He fashioned, only one element was “not good”. It was man. Adam was alone, and God said that wasn’t good. So God crowned the six stellar days of creation with Eve, the perfect partner and friend for Adam. When God designed marriage, it was to perfectly complete those He had fashioned in His image. God established a vital truth: a designer marriage would be one lived the way God designed it to be. Sadly, most marriages are not designer marriages.

 

This morning if you are married, or ever want to be—it would be wise to seek out having a marriage as God the Designer wants it to be. In modern society families are drawn to buying “designer” clothes, or living in “designer” homes. That means clothes or houses that were specifically designed by a master at the art of clothing or home comforts. Usually, designer property and clothes are better made, more beautiful, and much different that run of the mill, average things. But often those same people who prefer everything else to be top of the line, neglect to see that at the deepest level of their life, home and family they are missing the best “designed” element—a designer marriage.

 

Today, as we celebrate marriage, and the relationship God designed for us in His image to have, do you have one of those “designer” marriages?

 

Any believer, at any stage of life or marital status can cultivate a marriage as God designed it to be. That means a marriage that follows the layout and plans fashioned by the Designer Himself. All the codes, passwords, and instructions to access a marriage as God designed it to be, are in this Book, God’s Word the Bible. So the first question we all need to ask ourselves is:

 

Do you have a Designer Marriage?

 

The focus of God’s plan and design for marriage is simple; and the description is short. God says that a designer marriage starts with a man who will love and lead His wife in the same way Christ loves His Church. Please open there with me to Ephesians 5:25-33, and stand as we listen to God, the Designer of Marriage, share that design planned by Him, to make every marriage good.

 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

Pray

 

As we comb the Scriptures we find that marriage is the crowning point of creation. God’s Word begins with a wedding in the paradise called Eden, and ends with a marriage banquet. Marriages as God designed them become wonderful, joy filled havens in an increasingly emotionally empty, tenderness desolate, and relationally hopeless world.

 

As believers, all husbands are to be growing representations of Christ. That means that born-again husbands will seek to love and lead like Jesus. Few words can describe the sheer delights of marriage lived in this manner—one day at a time—just as God designed it to be!

 

Descriptions of God-Designed Marriages

 

If you are carefully following the instructions in the Scriptures, here is what God designed your marriage to be. We can each check these Scriptural portraits to see how we’re doing in our marriage:

 

  • A God-designed marriage is one we enjoy so much that for the past 4,000 years godly men get so deeply in love with the wife God blessed them to have, they can’t hide their complete attraction to their wife—just like Isaac and Rebekah got caught “sporting” (Genesis 26:8, KJV).
  • A God-designed marriage is such a wonderful gift that, like Jacob, waiting for your bride seven years, even at the cost of hard labor, would seem but a moment (Genesis 29:20).
  • A God-designed marriage is like a joyful river of intoxicating blessings (Proverbs 5:18-19); that becomes like a fruitful vine delightfully growing around two covenant-joined lives (Psalm 128:3).
  • A God-designed marriage is an endless subscription to regularly delivered packages of goodness and favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).
  • A God-designed marriage gives the complete security of a trusted companion—with whom we share a God honoring, not to be broken, life-long covenant (Malachi 2:14-15).

 

All who are blessed in marriage can testify that what has just been described in the Scriptures really is exactly what we, who follow the Lord, experience. A Word-filled marriage becomes a no-regrets marriage, and reflects a small snapshot of the delights of heaven. Such a marriage is a living portrait of the perfect love of Jesus. No one can understand or plumb the depths of Christ’s love, but this much we can know and experience by His grace.

 

Husbands, if I were to confidentially ask your wife would she know that Christ is the One whose love you seek to model? Does your wife know that you are striving to be more like Christ in your relationship with her? Would she understand that the pattern of God’s Word is where you seek to head your marriage?

 

You will never get to your destination or goal unless you have a plan for getting there. All unattended marriages begin to slowly decline in closeness, intimacy, fruitfulness, and blessing. Therefore, it is a good idea to periodically have a refresher course in what the Lord has to say about our God-designed responsibilities as husbands. God simplifies the plan to just two aspects:

 

Godly Husbands Love and Lead

 

There are many scriptural passages that reveal what God has designed as a husbands responsibilities in marriage[3].  God has given the plan in His Word, and the power by His grace empowering us by His Spirit living within. God clearly revealed, as you read through His Word, that the husband has two primary responsibilities to his wife.

 

  1. Godly Husbands Love with Sacrifice (Ephesians 5:25-33) This week

 

Love is imperative. That is what the Spirit of God told Paul. Three times, in almost as many verses in Ephesians 5, Paul commands that husbands love their wives. Either they really need love, or we really have trouble loving. Either way—love is the imperative of a Word-filled husband’s life. Paul says—to help us men who need guidance—to love our wives with the same attention we care for ourselves (v. 28, 33); and love them with the same selflessness as Jesus shows His bride, the church (v. 25).

 

We as men carefully protect and provide for the needs of our bodies. We do not deliberately do anything to harm ourselves. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are thirsty, we drink. When we are tired, we sleep. When we are in pain, we go to the doctor. When we cut ourselves, we wash the wound and bind it up. When we see an object coming toward us, we put up our hands for protection.

 

In other words, we very carefully and fervently nourish and cherish ourselves. So God says, “Love your wife as carefully as you care for yourself. Nourish her, cherish her, protect her, satisfy her, provide for her, care for her, and sacrifice for her to the same degree and extent, and in the same manner, as you do for yourself.”

 

Wow! That is a high standard of love for a husband to keep, but there is an even higher standard God adds: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

 

There is no mystery to how Christ loved. It is practical, plain, and simple. It is the record of the Bible. The Scriptures are the Word of Christ. In them we find countless examples of how Christ Jesus loved individuals. And it is with this caliber of love that we must sacrificially love our wife.

 

  1. Godly Husbands Lead with Humility (Eph. 5:23; I Cor. 11:3) Next week

 

If we want to be godly leaders, and follow Christ’s example, we must lead our wives with love (Matthew 20:20-28). Like Christ patiently explained His ministry to the disciples, we must invest the time together with our wives to explain, discuss, and work through the way that we will fill our lives as a couple, based on the Designer’s plans in His Word.

 

Godliness is always the key. Nothing is more irresistible for a spiritual woman than a godly man. (And correspondingly, the woman clothed in a meek and quiet spirit is beautiful in God’s sight—and a godly husband’s.) Just as Jesus led in love, ministered with love, and expressed His love, so a godly leader must also be a passionate lover to his wife. So how can we as husbands love our wives with that quality of love?

 

So God says love and lead. He calls husbands to model that plan—not perfectly, but humbly, as fellow heirs of Christ. Peter explains more about sacrificial love and humble leadership in husbands than any other New Testament writer. Turn there to I Peter 3:7 for a moment. Peter explains that every husband needs to learn:

 

How to Love Our Wife With Christ’s Love

 

Jesus wants us to intimately know Him; He has promised that He is engaged to us (2 Cor. 11) and will soon return to marry us (Rev. 19)—all of which speaks of an intensely loving relationship. What are the elements of loving our wives like that? By God’s grace, a husband who believes that his primary ministry is his marriage will faithfully strive to be like Jesus wants him to be. What are the characteristics of such a man? Peter introduces us to the first of these five elements of Christlike love which God designed for marriages that operate according to His plans:

 

  • First, spiritual intimacy is the direction a godly husband moves his marriage;
  • Second, godly romance is the glue that God designed for keeping marriages closer and closer;
  • Third, genuine humility is the model of Christ’s love and must be for ours;
  • Fourth, growing transparency is the habit of a godly follower of Christ; and
  • Fifth, humble service is the plan for each day of his marriage.

 

Now, looking closely at Peter’s explanation of God’s design for marriage we see that in a husband who is committed to God’s Word, first:

 

  1. Intimacy is his direction. A husband who follows God’s plans allows his wife to share his life fully, for they are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). This grace-energized husband will allow his wife to see and hear that he cherishes her, and delights in her as a person, just as Christ delights in His bride (as we saw in Eph. 5:28-29). Part of God’s blueprint for marriage in Genesis 2 was that husbands by God’s design are to cleave to their wives.

 

Cleaving means intimacy, which transcends sex; God expects husbands’ lives to encompass every dimension of their beloved wives’ lives—emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This requires a great amount of time just plain old “being around each other.” Life so often becomes like a busy highway in which marital partners are always heading in different directions. We must choose to stop this treadmill lifestyle and take conscious steps to stay close to each other—in conversation, with eyes locked onto theirs, and most of all with our hearts listening and sharing.

 

That is cleaving—intimacy—and that should be our direction.

 

A husband that wants to grow closer to his wife, as God wants him to do, will assure his wife that he is listening, agreeing, and understanding on major issues. This strengthens spiritual harmony, displays a sensitive appreciation of a mate’s physical and emotional responses, and encourages deeper sharing. As the discovery of similar values is strengthened, there can be even more imparted secrets.

 

Cherishing your wife like this leads to a lifelong delight in her as the one with whom you have developed a genuine understanding of goals, plans, desires, feelings, and fears. Tragically many wives have only developed this with either their mothers, sisters, and closest of friends; and similarly many husbands only come to this level with a cherished dad, or very close friend, and rarely with their life-long partner.

 

Husbands, decide right now that intimacy is your direction—you are going to pursue being closer than anyone else on Earth with your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

  1. Romance is his glue. A Word-filled husband understands that intimacy opens the way for the ultimate union of life with his wife. Sex is so much more than body; it is soul, spirit, heart, and mind.

 

  • Romance starts at the kitchen sink when a husband steps up behind his wife (like he used to do in those first weeks of marriage) and says with all his heart, “You are all my dreams come true!”

 

  • Romance builds by calling our wives sometime in the day and honestly expressing that we can’t stop thinking about them, and just had to hear their voice.

 

  • Romance fills the room with the fragrance of love. It is not a stop at a fast food drive-through.

 

  • Romance flavors life like an exquisite five-course meal which causes you to savor every bite … each course … and, at the end of the meal, you sit back and feel satisfied—completely. Always remember that sex is beautiful and godly because the Lord designed it, commanded it, and blesses it. The Lord even inspired Solomon to use sexual terms to help us understand the beauty of Christ’s love for His bride.

 

If a husband has a wrong view of the marital sexual relationship, he will have an unsatisfying marriage, an unfruitful personal life, and an unfulfilled family. God points out the importance of loving a wife intimately in what is often called the “newlywed verse”:

 

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5).

 

God in the New Testament again instructs husbands (and wives) to not be neglectful in loving each other in this manner:

 

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4, NIV).

 

“Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control” (1 Corinthians 7:5, NIV).

 

A godly marriage is like a fountain that overflows with delights. But if that fountain is unkempt, the spring can get fouled, and the waters polluted. So the joys of those early days of marriage can fade fast. Therefore, never take your wife for granted.

 

  • Talk to her often of the vital role she plays in every part of your life.
  • Share with her often of your loving need of time with her.
  • Write to her many love notes and cards—rather than regretfully wishing someday that you wish you’d done more.
  • Say to her daily “I love you” in some manner every day!

 

Husbands, decide right now that romance is your glue—that you are going to stick closer than anyone else on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

  1. Humility is his goal. Husbands in God designed marriages will lead as Jesus did, who Himself was, first and foremost, a servant. John 13:1-15 provides the same picture of leadership. Like Jesus, godly husbands are to lead by being servants.

 

Just as Jesus knelt and washed the feet of His disciples, we kneel in our hearts and humbly serve our wives. Our emblem of servant leadership is the basin and towel. And the greatest is the one who serves the most. This principle is found in 1 Peter 5:3: “… nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock ….” Nothing can destroy a marriage faster than a husband’s unyielding pride.

 

Why not practice saying some of these words:  “Honey, let me do the dishes tonight and you go sit down.”  Or rush after her and say, “Why don’t you go to the grocery store without the kids, I’ll watch them for you and give you some time alone.”

 

This simple, practical way of modeling humility is the very best way to love our wives (and children)! Paul told us that in our pursuit of Christ we must seek His attitude:

 

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, … He humbled Himself and became obedient [to the point of] death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7a, 8).

 

Husbands, decide right now that humility is your goal—that you are going to become the greatest servant on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

  1. Transparency becomes his habit. Husbands who live the way God designed them to live give their wives complete openness, communication, and vulnerability. Just as Jesus loved His own to the end, so we should love our wives. Just as Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, our wives need to know, feel, and hear from us of our lifelong loyalty. One of the best ways to encourage our wives is to clearly and regularly say how much they fulfill our lives.

 

I tell my wife, Bonnie, in every way I can think of, just how much I need her help, her counsel, her companionship, and her presence. If she loves my time—I give her time; if she loves gifts—I give her something she’ll cherish; if she loves words—I give her quiet times of talking about whatever she needs to hear. It is vital that she feels all of her needs are being met in a loving manner.

 

Our marriage, over the years, has truly been deepened and enriched by the hundreds of godly couples we have met, known, loved, and learned from in the ministry. Here are four valuable lessons others have shared with us.

 

  • A Biblical Husband will: Ask for help. Some husbands are like cavemen—they mumble, grunt, and go through life in a cloud of silence at home. But the way God wired wives is so that they want to be asked to help because they like to spend time with us. Therefore, we must leave the cave of silence, and let them know what we are doing. We should ask our wives to do things, even if it is something simple like holding a tool we need for a project or going somewhere together to buy this or that. In other words, as our best friends, they should be included in our lives, words, and thoughts, and in doing this, it will make our wives feel like a valuable member of the team.

 

  • A Biblical Husband will: Share burdens. A burden shared is cut in half; a blessing shared is doubled. God’s math in marriage is perfect. We should share the load, as Galatians 6:2 directs. If we don’t, we are robbing our precious wives of what God has made them to be—lifelong helpmeets. If we pray about our burdens with them, soon they will likely open up to us and share their own burdens, so that we can help them better bear them. A marriage is only complete when both partners love one another, fulfilling the law of love God calls us to obey.

 

  • A Biblical Husband will: Confess struggles. No one can protect our integrity better than our wives. We therefore ought to share our struggles with them. For example, whenever I think a woman is too friendly, I talk about it with Bonnie. She can see things as a woman I never could as a man. As husbands, we should discuss with our wives any ideas, problems, fears, or pains we’re going through because they want to share real areas of our lives—to know our struggles. Such shared burdens will bind hearts together like nothing else. The vulnerability of sharing honest struggles will do far more to affirm a vital partnership with our spouses than any fancy presents or expensive toys ever could. Our wives will know that we belong to them if we share our real problems in life!

 

  • A Biblical Husband will: Express needs. Nothing motivates a godly wife more than knowing that her husband truly needs her. Remember—God designed women to be completers. Wives want to invest their time and strength in what will matter to their husbands in life. Nothing will warm their hearts more than to hear these words: “Honey I really need—(you fill it in).” Perhaps time to talk, time alone with them, to get away for a night, or whatever you really need. Telling your wife how much you need her is the greatest thing you can do because she longs to meet your needs!

 

Husbands, decide right now that transparency will become your habit—that you are going to become the closest friend on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

As believers, all husbands are to be growing representations of Christ. That means that born-again husbands will seek to love and lead like Jesus. Few words can describe the sheer delights of marriage lived in this manner—one day at a time—just as God designed it to be!

 

 

090222AM

Wives Led by

Grace-Energized Husbands:

Who Lead Like Jesus

Ephesians 5:25

 

 

God desires every marriage in Christ’s church to be led by a husband clothed in humility. That is the goal God has for every man here who is a genuine believer, and is married or hopes to be someday.

 

All of us husbands are asked by God to represent Him here on Earth. As we saw last time in Ephesians 5:25 our first command is to LOVE our wives. Sacrificially like Jesus. Today we look at the second half of the plan God left for us: we are to LEAD with Christ’s humility.

 

Humility Reflects

Christ Jesus

 

This simple, practical way of modeling humility is the very best way to love our wives (and children)! Paul told us that in our pursuit of Christ we must seek His attitude:

 

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, … He humbled Himself and became obedient [to the point of] death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7a, 8).

 

Husbands, decide right now that leading with humility like Christ’s is your goal—and that you are going to become the greatest servant on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

How do we get clothed with Christ’s humility to even start leading our wives? Living as a humble servant of Jesus Christ is part of what the Bible calls “sanctification” or more simple, “God changing my behavior”. We are to agree with God’s desires as expressed in His Word, and consciously deny the way we were born (which was selfish) and start living like the new creations we became in Christ. Salvation begins us in a constant process of scraping off the old us and putting on the new us.

 

Turn with me to the “put-ons”, the sanctified behavior we must consciously seek to live out each day. This new us, is described as a wardrobe every believer is to draw from and wear each day. Men, we are to lead the way in wearing Christ’s humility.

 

Colossians 3:12-14 is our Scripture for today, as we turn there, listen to what God asks and consider whether you are obeying Him. We are looking at how this command impacts husbands today, but it is for every believer today, and God wants all of us clothed in Christ’s humility!

 

Please stand as we read God’s Word:

 

Col 3:12-14 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

 

Pray

 

God has asked each of us to participate in personal sanctification. Everyone in His family, men, women, boys, girls, husbands, wives—are each to get clothed by conscious choice, each day. That act of obedience will transform each of us as we take on our God-given role. For believing husbands, our God-given role is that He designed us to lead, and we glorify God as we lead[4].

 

As believers, all husbands are to be growing representations of Christ. That means that born-again husbands will seek to love and lead like Jesus. Few words can describe the sheer delights of marriage lived in this manner—one day at a time—just as God designed it to be!

 

How to Lead Our Wives

Like Jesus Led

 

God designed men to lead, and women to respond. It is the role of men to initiate and pursue, no matter how hard it may be. Christ’s example of gentle, compassionate, servant leadership is a model for all of us who want to be godly husbands and dads. The characteristics of Christ’s leadership are what each of us men should emulate:

transparency, sacrificial service, kindness, strength, tenderness, and praise.

 

He leads humbly because:

Transparency becomes his habit

I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

A husband who leads with humility will live the way God designed him to live and give his wives complete openness, communication, and vulnerability. This is the basic requirement God set down in I John 1 as those who ‘walk in the light’. We do not hide our lives from those we love, we share our life with them.

 

Just as Jesus loved His own to the end, so we should love our wives. Just as Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, our wives need to know, feel, and hear from us of our lifelong loyalty. One of the best ways to encourage our wives is to clearly and regularly say how much they fulfill our lives.

 

I tell my wife, Bonnie, in every way I can think of, just how much I need her help, her counsel, her companionship, and her presence. It is vital that she feels all of her needs are being met in a loving manner.

 

  • If she loves my time—I give her time;
  • If she loves gifts—I give her something she’ll cherish;
  • If she loves words—I give her quiet times of talking about whatever she needs to hear.

 

Our marriage, over the years, has truly been deepened and enriched by the hundreds of godly couples we have met, known, loved, and learned from in the ministry. Here are four valuable lessons others have shared with us.

 

Four Steps on the Path of

Humble Transparent Leadership

 

  • Humbly Transparent Husbands: Ask for help. Some husbands are like cavemen—they mumble, grunt, and go through life in a cloud of silence at home. But the way God wired wives is so that they want to be asked to help because they like to spend time with us. Therefore, we must leave the cave of silence, and let them know what we are doing. We should ask our wives to do things, even if it is something simple like holding a tool we need for a project or going somewhere together to buy this or that. In other words, as our best friends, they should be included in our lives, words, and thoughts, and in doing this, it will make our wives feel like a valuable member of the team.

 

  • Humbly Transparent Husbands: Share burdens. A burden shared is cut in half; a blessing shared is doubled. God’s math in marriage is perfect. We should share the load, as Galatians 6:2 directs. If we don’t, we are robbing our precious wives of what God has made them to be—lifelong helpmeets. If we pray about our burdens with them, soon they will likely open up to us and share their own burdens, so that we can help them better bear them. A marriage is only complete when both partners love one another, fulfilling the law of love God calls us to obey.

 

  • Humbly Transparent Husbands: Confess struggles. No one can protect our integrity better than our wives. We therefore ought to share our struggles with them. For example, whenever I think a woman is too friendly, I talk about it with Bonnie. She can see things as a woman I never could as a man. As husbands, we should discuss with our wives any ideas, problems, fears, or pains we’re going through because they want to share real areas of our lives—to know our struggles. Such shared burdens will bind hearts together like nothing else. The vulnerability of sharing honest struggles will do far more to affirm a vital partnership with our spouses than any fancy presents or expensive toys ever could. Our wives will know that we belong to them if we share our real problems in life!

 

  • Humbly Transparent Husbands: Express needs. Nothing motivates a godly wife more than knowing that her husband truly needs her. Remember—God designed women to be completers. Wives want to invest their time and strength in what will matter to their husbands in life. Nothing will warm their hearts more than to hear these words: “Honey I really need—(you fill it in).” Perhaps time to talk, time alone with them, to get away for a night, or whatever you really need. Telling your wife how much you need her is the greatest thing you can do because she longs to meet your needs!

 

Husbands, decide right now that transparency will become your habit—that you are going to become the closest friend on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Serving is his plan

“Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be [a] servant … just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26b, 28).

 

A husband who leads with humility will be his wife and family’s best servant: A servant has a master. Since Christ is our Master, a husband leads his wife, even as Christ leads His church (Ephesians 5:23). Fruitful and satisfying marriages start with the attitude of Jesus. Paul explains that Christ’s motivating heart of servant ministry flowed from an attitude of joyful submission. Paul asks each of us in Philippians 2:3-11 to “let” (“allow, invite, welcome”) the attitude of Jesus to become ours. As we embrace the humility of Christ, we stop being absorbed by self and begin thinking of others.

 

When Jesus called the twelve disciples, He distilled His plan down to one word. We see this one-word key to discipling in Mark 3:14: “that they might be with Him” (Emphasis added). We need to spend personal, face to face, heart to heart time with those we are nurturing. Jesus was there with His disciples when they needed Him. We should follow His example[5].

 

We, as servant leaders, need to lead in person—not from afar or by extension, but in the presence of those we serve. If you read the Gospels closely you will see how clearly Christ’s words communicated exactly what His disciples needed. He anticipated their fears; He expected their questions; and He guided their growth. Just like Jesus, we should long to “create understanding,” which is the primary purpose of communication.

 

Husbands, decide right now that serving will become your plan—that you are going to become the dearest friend on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Sacrifice is his method

Matthew 20:28 says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 

A husband who leads with humility will love his wife by sacrificing to meet her needs. Jesus told us that because God loved, He gave. That gift was the ultimate sacrifice. Husbands are to have that type of sacrificial love as their way of life with their own wives. Authors Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg report, in a survey of over 700 couples, that wives indicated their top five love needs as follows: 1. unconditional love and acceptance, 2. emotional intimacy and  communication, 3. spiritual intimacy, 4. encouragement and affirmation, and 5. companionship.[6]

 

The Rosbergs make a very valid point: Human nature is strange. Something in us assumes that if we treat our spouse the way we would like him or her to treat us, we are meeting our partner’s needs. But when it comes to needs, the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) does not always apply. Why? Because in many cases a husband’s needs are different than a wife’s needs. That is why our method must be sacrifice. We learn to love our wife in the way she can feel, know, experience, and receive that love.

 

It is really true that God wired men and women differently, and this doesn’t apply only to sexual needs. For that reason, establishing a routine of intimate dialogue between husband and wife is essential so that each understands how to best make his or her partner feel loved. And then, after learning something that is special to your wife, sacrificially offer that as a gift to her: whether accepting her without reservation, or communicating with her even when exhausted, or reading God’s Word to her instead of watching TV or going online, or affirming one thing each day that you noticed that she did, or just following her around until she notices you want to spend time with her. Find which of these 5 she likes and keep at it.

 

Husbands, decide right now that sacrifice will become your method—that you are going to become the closest friend on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Kindness is in his touch

Colossians 3:12 (NIV) says: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

 

A husband who leads with humility will practice one of the simplest, yet most neglected ways of communicating love—by the tender touches of love. Husbands who love this humble way are in a constant habit of giving their wife tenderness, chivalry, and courtesy.

 

If you have never felt the touches of Jesus[7] through the pages of the Gospels—I invite you to do so. Why not take a few moments and look up those passages and see how compassionate and gentle were Christ’s hands as He touched with love so many people. Jesus had a loving touch of kindness.

 

Jesus didn’t just speak, He didn’t just heal, He didn’t just feed, protect, and provide—He did all those things with the recorded addition of His special “touch”. People whether they acknowledge it or not need touching to be healthy. From babies in nurseries to the aged in care facilities: those who never get touched have many more problems and struggles. Jesus knew how much we needed to feel the touches of His love, so He came to His fallen creatures; and stretched out His hands, and touched them.

 

Husbands, decide right now that kindness will be expressed by your touch—that you are going to become the most loving and expressive friend on Earth to your wife. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Strength is in his presence

Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

 

A husband who leads with humility will love his wife by being there for her, protecting her, and making her feel secure in his love (Ephesians 5:28). Your beloved and precious wife needs to feel that, like Christ, you her husband will never leave her, or forsake her (Matthew 28:20b; Hebrews 13:5). The strength that you can offer your wife is a learned art. Become a student of your wife. Learn her patterns.

  • Does she get “the blues” in the gray of winter? Know when that is happening, and surprise her with something she loves.
  • Does she need time alone (away from the burdens of home and family) during her monthly cycle? Then send her off to a bookstore to drink tea and read her Bible, or just look at magazines and think.
  • How about the loss of a parent in the past—do you remember and comfort her?

 

These are just some suggestions to start a lifetime of sacrificing your time to show her she is special, loved, and your focus. Be there for her needs by studying her life because you love her so much.

 

Husbands, decide right now that strength will be offered by your presence—that you are going to become the greatest student in the world, on your wife’s needs. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Tenderness is on his tongue

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

 

A husband who leads with humility will practice one of the simplest, yet most neglected ways of communicating love—by words spoken kindly, warmly, and directly to his wife. Jesus spoke with such grace that even His enemies confessed in John 7:46: “No man ever spoke like this Man!”

 

Do you remember those words in Austin Mile’s hymn “In the Garden”? Describing Christ’s love for us, he wrote: He speaks, and the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing

 

You are probably saying, “I could never talk like that!” But that is just the point, we can’t, but Christ in us CAN! Husbands, what effect do you think demonstrating that same spirit might have on our wives? Since women are so responsive, I imagine that such sweet speech would be a beautiful service of love!

 

Decide today, that by the grace God offers constantly, your words will be seasoned with the salt of His grace (Ephesians 5:28; Col 4:6). That means you will make some choices prompted by gracious love:

 

  • Tenderness means you will refuse to compare her unfavorably with others, especially other women.
  • Tenderness means you will not use jokes about her, or make cutting remarks to her in front of other people.
  • Tenderness means you will speak to her in a gentle and respectful way, and treat her as you would a valuable jewel.

 

Personally, I have chosen to believe that Bonnie is the dearest friend I’ll ever have on earth—and I treat her that way, think of her that way, and talk about her in that way!

 

Husbands, decide right now that tenderness will be on your tongue—that you are going to become the best voice your wife could hear speaking to and about her. The rewards will last forever!

 

He leads humbly because:

Praise is his gift

Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her:

 

Husband who lead with humility will see Proverbs 31:28 as their goal for their marriage. Many people talk about the Proverbs 31 woman; but few men strive to be the Proverbs 31:28 husband: “Her husband … praises her.” Shouldn’t we likewise practice that grace until it becomes part of our daily life? It is so rewarding to see the long-term results!

 

Proverbs 31:28 is the only Scripture I know of that describes the way a godly husband speaks in public about his wife. Are you doing what God says? Are you also praising your wife in front of your children? That is the way of the godly, tender servant-leader!

 

All of us husbands are asked by God to represent Him here on Earth. Our first command is to LOVE our wives, sacrificially like Jesus; and the second half of the plan God left for us is: we are to LEAD with Christ’s humility.

 

God desires every marriage in Christ’s church to be led by a husband clothed in humility. That is the goal God has for every man here who is a genuine believer, and is married or hopes to be someday.

 

How to Lead Our Wives

Like Jesus Led

 

  1. Transparency becomes his habit; and humbly transparent husbands: Ask for help, Share burdens, Confess struggles, and Express needs.
  2. Serving is his plan;
  3. Sacrifice is his method;
  4. Kindness is in his touch;
  5. Strength is in his presence ;
  6. Tenderness is on his tongue; and
  7. Praise is his gift.

 

 

Danger Signs of a Man

Disobedient to the Word

 

It is when we are without a growing relationship with our wives as was just described, and are not faithfully following Christ’s Word, that we husbands commonly end up with one or several of five common danger signs that will lead to lifelong regrets[8].

 

  1. He doesn’t lead obediently: When he abdicates his God-given role: This husband is nothing but a little boy in search of a mommy, and he seems to have found one in his wife. He is thoroughly self-centered, but manages to appear to others as a loving and devoted husband.

 

  1. He doesn’t lead obediently: When he disengages his emotions: This man may be recognized as one of the most stable and even-tempered men in his community. He is frequently asked to serve on the boards of numerous organizations because of his organized mind and methodical way of making decisions. However, in his home he is about as detached and emotionally unavailable as a man can get.

 

  1. He doesn’t lead obediently: When he demands rather than earns: This man’s idea of “head of the household” means that nothing happens without his approval. When his wife dares to question his authority or decisions, he resorts to intimidating tactics and, if that doesn’t work, he goes into a blind rage.

 

  1. He doesn’t lead obediently: When he serves his job not his family: This man never leaves work mentally or emotionally. He lives under pressure, and sprays his family with his frustrations.

 

  1. He doesn’t lead obediently: When he refuses to lead spiritually: This husband is a believer and a church attendee. But beyond that, he’s generally unresponsive to spiritual matters; he therefore never exercises spiritual leadership in his home. And that void blocks the intimacy for which his wife yearns.

 

We have seen, in conclusion, characteristics of both a no-regrets husband and a husband with regrets. Now, let’s make this more personal. If I were to ask your wife how your husbandly love compares to what we’ve just learned, what would she say? Would she categorize you as a no-regrets husband—or a husband with regrets? How would God evaluate the fruitfulness of your primary ministry to your wife?

 

Get Started

Now

 

You have a specific calling—love your wife, and sacrificially lead her—just as Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us. This is not a fact to learn; it is a lifestyle to live. And as Jesus said, it is not those who say they love, but those who show it—that really love. Matthew 7:21-23

 

Just as with every other facet of our spiritual lives, we must repent and go back to where we got off the path. Christ’s course for each of us to follow is so clear. If you have lost the joy, lost the vibrancy of your daily walk with your wife, repent and go back to where you veered away. Do as Jesus said in Revelation 2:4-5: Go back to your first love—the love of choice, the love of sacrifice, the love of priority, the love that draws you to sacrifice for her. Start today! Make a list, and follow it back to where God wants you to be:

 

  • From this chapter, note what areas you have neglected, or were even unaware of that needed to be done (1 Peter 3:7).
  • Humbly agree with God that you have failed. Ask for the cleansing of forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Matthew 5:23-24; James 5:16). Then sit (or even better—shock your wife and kneel with her) and pray for God to forgive your failures and give you a fresh start together.
  • Start over again by remembering that God is the God of New Beginnings (Lamentations 3:23). By God’s grace, the whole life of a believer is but “a series of new beginnings.”
  • Realize that marriage is just like every other dimension of our life in Christ—it only works by the power of the Spirit. Yield to Him, and ask for the fullness of His power to bear the fruit of love in your life, your marriage, and in your family (Galatians 5:16, 22-23).

 

God says so often, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” (John 14:21; Philippians 2:12-13; James 1:19-24)  Decide now, in the power of God, to overflow with His love, to begin anew and afresh in this walk with your wife. Ask Him to make His love overflow in your hearts (Romans 5:5).  Don’t wait—ask now! There is so much that we have not simply because we ask not (James 4:2b).

 

What an opportunity to have such a rare and precious ministry. And that is exactly what the Lord offers to each of us. How about it? Are you a no-regrets husband? Is your marriage a no-regrets marriage—or full of grief? Where is your marriage headed? I believe the choice is yours. Why not decide to start in some of these suggested ways—heading toward a marriage that thrills your wife and pleases the Lord?

 

Why Not Start

Two Simple Habits?

 

Life is so full, days are so short, and time passes so swiftly—so I have chosen two simple habits to freeze time into precious snapshots of my love for my wife and children. Here they are; think about them and try your own version in your family. I’m sure you will be glad you did.

 

First, I have an ongoing list that I have made for Bonnie. It took about an hour to start, and now I add to it whenever I can. I call it my “Reasons Why I Love You” list. I took her out to eat, talked over our wonderful blessings, and then read it to her the first time. Need I say how she received it? She was overwhelmed, overjoyed, and blessed beyond measure. Since then, I add at least one new reason before the special events in the life of our marriage. I give my wife a new and updated list on each of her birthdays and our anniversaries. (I even find the list taped in a place where she can read it over and over each day—to remember just why I love her so much!)

 

My second simple habit is another important list. Bonnie and I, as a couple, sat together and prayerfully assembled a list we call “Spiritual Goals for Our Marriage and Family.” It will bless your wife and children if you do the same; begin simply, and watch the list grow. When Bonnie and I started our lives together, for example, we planned to do the following things with each of our children. And as the Lord allows these goals to become reality in our family, they become praise points that encourage us along the road of our marriage and family. Here are just a few examples of simple goals we have made, prayed for, and will rejoice to see God accomplish through us:

 

  • Lead each of our children to Christ.
  • Teach them how to have personal devotions with the Lord.
  • Train them in simple Bible study methods (marking key topics, study subjects through the entire Bible like “prayer,” etc.).
  • Begin our children’s memorization habits for life.
  • Teach them how to mark their Bible with the “Romans Road,” and then teach them how to use that to lead a soul to Jesus from the Scriptures. You will find the “Romans Road” at the end of this chapter; these are the four simple truths I mark in every Bible I own, as soon as I obtain it. I hope you will too, and then help your wife and family mark theirs.
  • Read God’s Word aloud with them at the meal table—aim to read the entire Bible before they grow up and head off to college.
  • Look for a time to pray every day with them, either as a couple or alone with them, at the start or end of their day.

 

Guess what? God has given us every goal we had—every goal we prayed over regularly! He loves to respond to whole-hearted praying:

 

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek [Him] with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

 

Start with a simple habit like one of these, keep going on it, and you will be amazed at how it keeps your marriage and family focused on what will really last!

 

 

Ephesians 5’s Walk Passages:

 

Ephesians 5:1-33 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And [#1 walk in love] walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling aroma. [#2 walk in purity] 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. [#3 walk in the light] Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” 15 See then that you [#4 walk wisely] walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [#5 walk in the Spirit] 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

 

[Now, believing husbands who know they are to walk in love, in purity, in the light, in wisdom, and in the Spirit, here is your high calling for all of life]:

 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

[That means see that you do not point out his every failure, his weak attempts, or his inadequacies. Wives are commanded to respect whatever their believing husband tries to do, since he will answer to the Lord for whether of not he obeys, just as she will.]

 

 

[1] 021014PM GDGW-34

[2] A servant stays close to those he serves. Jesus Christ practiced the principle of continuous association with those whom He led. He did not lead His disciples by long distance telephone calls, or by writing them a few letters or by infrequent visits. For over three years, He spent great amounts of time with them. (Compare John 1:39,43; Mark 1:17; 3:14; 4:10; 5:1,30,31,40; 6:1,30,31,32,35; 8:1,10,27,34; 9:2,30; 10:13,23,46; 11:1.) Biblical leadership requires association with those who are being led. A servant clearly talks to those he serves. Jesus Christ carefully and relevantly instructed His disciples. A servant clearly lives before those he serves. Jesus Christ led His disciples by being a good example. A servant clearly does his job for those he serves. Jesus Christ led His disciples by making decisions and delegating responsibility to them. Compare John 4:1,2; Mark 1:35-39; 6:7; 6:35-43; John 11:39-44; Matt. 10:1-14; 16:21-23; 21:1,2; 28:18-20, where Jesus made decisions and delegated responsibilities to His disciples. Similarly, Christian husbands are called upon to lead their wives by making decisions and by delegating responsibility. To be the leader does not mean that he must bear all the responsibility and do all the work while his wife bears nothing and does nothing. It does mean that he will see to it that the work gets done and that everyone knows who does what. In marriage someone has to be the final decision maker. Someone has to delegate responsibility, and God has ordained that this should be the husband. Indeed, the husbands must make decisions and delegate responsibility as a servant of his wife.

[3] Some key passages are: Genesis 3:16; Psalms 127-128; Proverbs 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 7:3-4; Ephesians 5:23-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; and 1 Peter 3:7.

[4] You may be asking where exactly does it say that husbands are to lead. Good question, it is explained by God very clearly in I Corinthians 11:1-11. It is all part of Scripture’s gender-specific roles that God has laid down for those who seek to honor and obey Him.

[5] John 1:39, 43; Mark 1:17; 3:14; 4:10; 5:1, 30-31, 40; 6:1, 30-32, 35; 8:1,10,27,34; 9:2,30; 10:13, 23,46: 11:1.

[6] Gary Roseberg, The 5 Love Needs of Men & Women, (Wheaton: Tyndale, 2000), p.8.

[7] There are at least 40 passages recording Christ’s touches, here are some in Mark: 1:31,41; 5:41; 6:5; 7:33; 8:23; 9:27: 10:16.

[8] Hendricks, Rocking the Roles (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), p. 156.

 

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