By John Smith
Four times in Ephesians 5 Paul compels husbands to love their wives. In Ephesians 5:25 the God of heaven inspired Paul to write, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for her.” We, who are husbands, have a sacred duty to love our wives to the extent that we would sacrifice our lives for their benefit. In v. 28 Paul further qualifies a husband’s love for his wife by saying that “husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” Just as we cleanse, protect, and pamper our bodies, so also we ought to do for our wives. That same verse connects loving oneself and loving one’s wife. When I fail to love my wife as my own body, I fail to love myself. Paul concludes with this same thought in v. 33, “Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself.”
In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter says, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman, and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” God in this passage ascribes to man the responsibility of caring for and honoring his wife. The wife, by God’s design, is elevated to a position in which she is worthy of esteem. She is to be treated with special kindness and delicacy as one would treat a prized fragile piece of glass-ware. Many though seem to view their wives as garbage cans doomed to abuse and mistreatment. We as husbands need to have the care and gentleness of a glassmaker not the rough-shod manner of a garbage man.
Our wives are prized companions, confidantes, and friends. We need to communicate with them, share with them, laugh with them, and cry with them. The story is told of a man who solemnly repeated his vow to love, honor and cherish his wife. He pledged to do so in sickness and in health; in good times and in bad; etc. A few months later he isolated himself behind the evening newspaper and TV. He was no longer the friend, companion, and confidante that he once had been. Having taken it as long as she could, the wife resorted to her last trick – nagging! The husband exploded, sharply rebuking her for her rebellion. It is said that he didn’t see her for about a week – and then only out of one eye! Let us as husbands realize the precious gift given us by God and treat her as such (Prov. 19:14).
Paul in Romans 12:18 says, “If possible so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Husbands, like it or not, our wives are a part of “all men” as it is used here in reference to the human race. A young man where I preach said of his girl friend, “It might be o.k. for Greg and Judy to argue and fight, but it is not o.k. for Bro. Potts and Sister Kyle.” This fellow, young in years and young as a Christian (4 months old!) made a very mature and insightful statement concerning his relationship with this young lady. Those of us whose wives are Christians need to realize that we are also brothers and sisters in Christ and ought to conduct ourselves accordingly.
Consider for a moment what effect it would have on troubled marriages if husbands would learn to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How easily might some of those problems be solved if the husband loved his wife as himself? How much more pleasant would many marriages be if the husband loved and cared for his wife as he did for himself? How many fights, arguments, and misunderstandings could be avoided if the husband honored his wife and treated his wife as a fragile vessel? What would happen to the divorce rate in this country if husbands fulfilled their God-given responsibilities to their wives?
But some might say, “I just can’t love my wife as Christ loved the church.” Then remember the words of Christ in Mark 12:31 when He repeated a commandment given by Moses, “You shall love your neighbors as yourself.” Husbands, we have no closer neighbor than our wives. For the one who still cannot bring himself to love his wife as himself, there is one last option. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus commands us to love our enemies. There you have it fellows. There is no way out. Anyway we view our wives the command remains, “Husbands love your wives.”
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 20, p. 624
October 20, 1983