Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it Eph. 5:25
My favorite scripture when it came to me and my wife had always been Ephesians 5:22-24:
“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
I especially loved the parts about the husband being the head of the wife and the exhortation to the wife to submit to her husband “in every thing”. Whenever an argument arose between me and my wife, I would bring up that scripture and I would insist that she submit to me in everything, just as the scriptures stated.
I would tell her, “If you do not submit to me, then you are not submitting to Christ.”
Little did I know that one day, God would show me just how much I needed to submit to my wife!
It is no secret that most conflicts in marriage do not occur because there is no “food on the table”; otherwise, Hollywood would top the list of most stable marriages. There is no lack of food there.
But, on the contrary, conflicts in marriage more often come about due to disagreement issues between the husband and wife. One or both parties find it impossible to concede to the other and the result is that they engage in an eternal state of agreeing to disagree. In many cases, this leads to divorce, with one – or both – parties claiming “irreconciliable differences”.
But the truth is that no difference between husband and wife is irreconciliable. The cold fact is that people are unable to take the spiritual path of denying self, taking up their cross and following Christ.
When you are far from the cross, arguments and disagreements are the order of the day in any marriage and, on my part, being a stranger to the death of the cross meant that I as the man always had to have the last word in the constant war of words that rose up between me and my wife.
One day, however, as I was studying the Word of God, I arrived at Ephesians 5:25, a scripture which I had always glossed over. This time, for the first time, I noticed the second part of that scripture:
“Husbands, love your wives, EVEN AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT”.
I had never noticed that last part. At least, I had never stopped to think that I ought to love my wife as Christ loved His church. The idea appeared strangely new to me. So I decided to look up how Christ loved His church. And I found the answer right there. Christ loved His church by giving Himself for her.
Immediately, my justification mode kicked in. I began thinking of the many ways that I had given myself for my wife. I remembered the many good things I had done for her, especially when I had a good-paying job and I could provide for her. I recalled even how for a time, when we were both out of work, I had worked some of the lowliest jobs in order to provide for her.
But, on this particular day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and I held off justifying myself, at least momentarily. I decided to study more.
I remembered Colossians had similar words, so I looked it up. I found it in Colossians 3:19:
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
There! That had to be it. I had always carried a hard and bitter heart towards my wife. I thought she was rebellious and argumentative, and I could not take it. Over the course of time I had developed a hard heart towards her.
For the first time, I saw the situation clearly. When the Lord showed me my heart, I realised that I did not love my wife, because I was bitter towards her. For the first time, I felt I had been running from something, and I stopped running and confronted it.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and I felt I could make a go for it. I decided to work on the problem.
The first thing I did was, of course, was to stop justifying myself. I realized I did not love my wife, and that was it. The next step was to see how I could begin loving my wife in the new way that the Lord had shown me.
But I instantly realized this would be no easy undertaking. It was clear that if I was to begin loving my wife by “giving myself” to her, it meant I had to lower myself beneath her especially in the case of a disagreement. If a disagreement arose between us I had to allow her to win. The prospect was quite unnerving. But the Lord was there, speaking to me. There was no way I could ignore His voice. And so, by the grace of God, I began the long journey towards doing God’s will with regard to loving my wife.
Bending to my wife’s will is an ‘art’ that has taken me many years to perfect. Not that I am anywhere near perfect, of course. But the bitterness is gone. Now, many years later, however difficult the situation is and however hard we may disagree, the bitterness is no longer there. That is the Good News, as far as I am concerned.
I cherish with all my heart that valuable lesson… that of humbling myself to my wife by going down and letting her be the winner. That is how Christ gave Himself for His church.
[And now, for your listening pleasure…]