On a regular basis, we will have posts here from one of our Elders. This week’s post is from Jason Woodard.
Recently I have been thinking about how the Biblical family model is under constant assault. God has created the family structure and it is at the center of His Church. An effective means of injuring the Church is to injure the family. Ephesians 5:22-6:4 gives us clear instruction on how the family is designed to operate. In it we see the majority of the instruction given to the husband towards his wife, as he leads the family.
Husbands are instructed to “love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (5:25). This is a calling that men will never completely reach, but we are expected to strive for it each day, through prayer and the work of the Spirit. As we consider just how deeply Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, we are left in amazement at His sacrifice. The King of the universe and Creator of all things, came in the flesh to this dirty and sin filled world to save us. “Though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus is the ultimate example of servant leadership. He came to fulfill the Father’s mission and did so while never demanding His own rights, and never once compromising on God’s perfect law. Husbands are called to do the same: setting our own rights aside for those of our wives. How can we expect our own rights to be the priority when we are directed to love her as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her? What does this kind of love look like in the daily rhythm of life and marriage? The details vary, but it is the husband’s responsibility to seek the Spirit in this and respond accordingly. We all have room to improve when Christ is the standard. It is clear that our rights must be secondary to hers, while never putting God’s law behind either of our rights.
These same words written to the Ephesians tell husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies” (5:28). Men are endlessly and intimately aware of and sensitive to the desires of their own flesh. We know when we are hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, or in any way uncomfortable. We are called to be just as aware and sensitive to the needs of our wives. How sensitive are we to her needs? How closely do we pay attention to what she isn’t saying? When you are hungry, how aware of it are you? How urgently do you respond to this? If you are like me you are very aware of it and you respond to it very quickly. How can we become that aware of a need our wife has and respond that urgently? Pray for wisdom and work to better understand your wife. Ask questions and be a student of her, working to understand her better and respond accordingly.
Ephesians 5:29 speaks of “nourishing and cherishing”. The verb “nourish” means to help rear up to maturity or to bring up. It could be translated “to grow”. Husbands should be active in helping their wives grow spiritually, which is exactly what spiritual leadership is all about. Do we set an example of spiritual disciplines by being in the Word and spending time in prayer ourselves? Do we speak about spiritual things with them and discuss our own walk with Christ? Do we encourage them to participate in activities where the Word is taught and studied with other believers? Do we set an example of serving in the Church? The verb “cherish” means to keep warm or to comfort. I do not think it is a stretch to say that “cherishing” our wives means to care for them and protect them. Do you have a material possession that you cherish? How do you treat it? How do you protect it? Our wives are to be cherished far above any material item we could ever have. Unlike the materials things I own and appreciate, my wife has gotten better with age!
God has called husbands to serve their families according to a very high standard. We all fall short and need to seek Christ for strength and guidance. This is our first earthly calling and of utmost importance to our own families and to the Church. I challenge husbands to read through and pray on this section of Scripture. Where can you grow in the next year for His glory? And remember that Peter warned husbands that their prayers would be hindered if they were not treating their wives as they ought (1 Peter 3:7). That is a strong warning and a clear indication of how seriously God takes this.