Monday, November 10, 2014

love your wife

Had a men's breakfast this week... an incredibly encouraging time to come together as the men of our church and seek to go deep into the Word. I nearly didn't make it, I really wanted to make it, I deeply need deeper relationships with men. I made it there, late, but there. Not only did I make it there, but I also managed to sit down at a table full of an incredible, multi-generational mix of men. Listening to a bit of teaching on spiritual leadership of the home and family worship amid a group so dynamic was refreshing and wonderful.

Through all the scriptural references and real-world application, one verse stuck in my mind, and sent me into focusing on one very important aspect of spiritual leadership: our relationship with our wives.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-29)

If we read this to be an instruction on how we, as men, are to love/lead our wives, then we should be following the example of Christ. Jesus washed over His bride with the water of His word that she would be without blemish in His sight. Instead of following the example, our culture of men seems to accept the idea that a man is to expect our bride to simply present herself into our presence spotless, wrinkle-free, and beautiful, completely disconnected from our words or actions. Our expectations of who our wife should be, how they should speak, look, act, continue to grow... and yet we do nothing but expect. And we start to wonder why it is that our wife doesn't quite "do it" for us anymore. We don't feel about her the way we used to... our minds (and eventually our eyes) begin to wander. We find ourselves discontent, and we run from our marriages, blaming our wives for just letting themselves go and not caring about themselves like they should. 

Perhaps one giant leap to be made in the turn-around of the abysmal numbers associated with marital struggles in the church, up to and including divorce, would be for us to start actually start heeding the word of God. Perhaps we, as men of the church, need to step into the ordained office we accepted at the moment we chose to enter into the holy union of two becoming one. God's design for marriage includes an inherent need for the husband to be the spiritual leader of the home, and that starts (and primarily remains) in the husbands role to lead his wife. The example of Christ's love for the church includes an exhortation and instruction of how we are to accomplish this leading. We are to wash over our bride with the water of our words, that she would be without blemish in our sight. We should be building our wives up with our words, thoughts, and actions. We need to be praying for her, and praying that we would love her as we love ourselves. A wife who is made to feel and believe that her husband is purifying his bride, that he would be presenting her to himself will feel the nourishment and adoration their husband has for her. Likewise, the husband who earnestly seeks to wash over, cherish, and fulfill the needs of his wife's soul will consistently find her beauty to be without flaw. We should see the promise in the words to the Ephesians that the effort that is invested by a husband into the leading of his wife will return on that investment, as filling and gratifying as loving himself. 

Men, lead your wives. Pray earnestly for their fulfillment and joy, but do not dare to stop at only those prayers, put feet to them, and actively seek to wash over her. Even on the hard days, especially on the hard days. 

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