Ephesians 5:25-26 (NIV)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word….
I want to continue our focus on men. We have looked at their responsibilities as fathers; and now we look at their responsibilities as husbands. These are roles that God has ordained for men to fulfill in His creation; notwithstanding there are men God has called to be single…. Our roles as men are not determined by the fathers we had (have) or the cultures in which we live (lived). Who we are as men was designed by God our Creator; and He has revealed this to us through His Word. We have seen where our roles as fathers have been compared to the relationship of God the Father to His own children. Here in this verse, we see a comparison of our relationships with our wives to the relationship of Christ Jesus had (has) with His Bride … the Church.
The role of men in the marriage relationship appears to be one of leadership – in the sense that there is an imperative for the man to spiritually guard and guide his wife as Christ leads and protects His Church. As Jesus is the Head of the Church (His Body), so are men ordained by God to be the head of the marriage relationship. We are to serve as protectors, providers, and “priests” over our marriages and our households in all righteousness and holiness. And while this role is associated with the male and with his given authority, the key word here is “love”. We are to love our wives just as Christ loved His Church … namely, in the same spirit and attitude with which Christ Jesus gave Himself for us. We are to serve our wives with humility and grace … even as we see these qualities evident in the lordship of Jesus Christ over us. Men, look for a moment at the example we have been given to emulate in our marital role:
Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV)
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature (in the form of) God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; 7 rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature (the form) of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He (Jesus) humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
While this passage speaks to the condition of our hearts and minds in all relationships; to me, it is especially applicable to the “mindset” men should have in their marriages. We should not consider the ordained authority we have been given by God as men to be used to our own advantage; rather, we are to be humble servants to our wives … not selfish or ambitious or full of self-pride. We are to look to the interests (physical, emotional, and spiritual needs) of our wives even above our own. Yet, I’m pretty sure if we have not attended to our own needs (especially spiritual), we will probably lack the capacity to be effective in the leadership roles of our marriages. Meaning, if we are not spending time with the Lord in regular prayer and study of His Word, we are not going to be equipped to fulfill our God ordained roles as men … husbands … and fathers.
So, men, I encourage each of us to routinely practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, bible study, and to put on the full spiritual armor of God (Cf. Ephesians 6:11) … so that we can be the men of God we were designed to be. Through healthy and sound marriages, we will be more effective in the provision for and protection of our families. To do so, we must always be connected to the Head … our Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus said we must abide in Him and He in us … because apart from Him we can do nothing. (Cf. John 15:4-5)