Tim Keller says that relationships are messy because people are messy; therefore expect messiness. He’s right. When you think of marriage, so many factors are flying all over: gender differences, individual history, personality differences (whoa!), family of origin, personal goals, ad infinitum.
Men, as we follow Christ every responsibility we have in marriage can be summed up in two words:
Love her consistently, selflessly, deeply, and tenderly. Scripture puts it this way:
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
God’s wisdom is so perfect, so direct. There are a million books written on different facets of marriage, most of which are very helpful. But here’s the foundation upon which you build, maintain, and develop your relationship: LOVE.
Here’s the catch. It’s easy to love someone when they love you back. When they respond well. When you’re on the same page. When life is going well. But that’s why most wedding vows read for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Love is tested and shines when it doesn’t come easily or when you struggle to express it.
Plenty of authors have touched on how to communicate well, keep the spark, and to be happily married. I’ll leave that to them, and keep this more focused on a deeper and underlying issue.
If we men keep in mind the how and why in loving our wives, everyone in our families benefit from this leadership in the home.
How many Disney movies end with, and they lived happily ever after. In real life the “ever after” bit isn’t always happy and it always takes commitment, patience, and teamwork to build a healthy marriage. And Hollywood highlights feeling good. Feelings come and feelings go. As far as loving our wives is concerned, love is not a feeling; it’s an action (decision). Seasons of ambivalence are not reasons to stop loving – it’s when you need it the most.
Thank God Christ did not love me conditionally, I’d have no hope. “OK, you’ve done it now. I’m through with you.” What if He really did call down legions of angels while pinned to the cross? That’s the point and it’s why no-fault divorce is so outrageous. Christ never walked away from me; in the same way, marriage is acommitment. Love is not just feeling, it’s an action. We don’t love only if we receive something in return, we love because of Christ’s example and it’s the right thing to do. When the Apostle Paul tell us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, this is what he had in mind. Love her unconditionally, in the big and small things.
Why love our wives? Here are three simple reasons.
You’ll become a better person. Marriage highlights our self-centeredness and helps us become others focused. Everyone likes being with the latter, trust me.
She’ll respond. Show me a woman who feels loved, and I’ll show you a wife who responds by giving it everything she’s got. Selfless love breathes life and hope to people who are hurting, even people who are mad at you. And guess who benefits from a wife who is motivated to love you back…?
Your testimony. Paul said my love for Christine is a mirror of Christ’s love for me. That’s deep. When people come into our home, they ought to encounter God’s love. Our Christian witness is tainted if others see I do not love our wives well. Love is a primary trait of a true Christian, and it shines brightest within marriage.
One last thought. Don’t be intimidated by figuring it all out at once. Paul asked you to love her right after he told everyone to love each other. You have plenty of time to figure her out (good luck with that, BTW). For now, put your best foot forward and practice being considerate, selfless, helpful, attentive, and thoughtful. You can’t lose with these. Christine and I will celebrate 20 years this year; I have learned a LOT during this time and have plenty more to learn. But it helps to know my primary game plan in my marriage and where I need to grow.
- Pastor Colin