The Husband's Core Role - Part Two
May 21, 2017 | Randy Smith
The Husband's Core Role-Part TwoEphesians 5:25-30
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
Two weeks ago we looked at the core role for a wife in marriage in verses 22-24. The principle is clearly stated in God's Word, goes back to creation and is intended to show the picture of the wonderful relationship Christ has with the church. Wives are to treat their husbands as the church is expected to treat Christ.
Then last week we looked at the core role for a husband in marriage. Husbands are to treat their wives as Christ treats the church. Beginning in verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:25-27).
That was last week's sermon. Let me sum it up in three sentences: Men, our core responsibility is to love our wives. The love we demonstrate is be modeled after Christ's love for the church. We are talking about a sacrificial love that ultimately aims to see our wives grow to be more holy in their relationship with Christ.
This morning I would like to continue with the husband's role in marriage by examining verses 28-30. Last week was, "Love your wives as Christ loves the church." This week is, "Love your wives as you love yourself." And before you ask, "Why do the guys get two sermons and the ladies only one?" Answer, because God devoted twice as many verses to the men. Is it because we are twice as special? No, it's because we need twice as much work!
So the first model Paul uses for the men in verses 25-27 is the need to understand the love of Christ demonstrated through service, example and sacrifice and imitate Him in the way we love our wives. I'd love to re-preach that message, but gentlemen you can find it on the website.
Now, in verses 28-30 the model for husbands changes a little. It goes from understanding Christ's love for the church to understanding your love for yourself. In these verses we are called to love our wives as much as we love ourselves. I would characterize the former model as understandable, but daunting. I would characterize this model as often misunderstood, yet more attainable.
Look with me at the first half of verse 28. "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies." The "common interpretation": "You can't love someone else until you learn to love yourself." This verse, along with the "love your neighbor as yourself (Mt. 22:39)" is even provided as fuel for the modern self-esteem movement.
Sorry to break it to you, but the "common interpretation" is incorrect. It not only ignores the immediate context of these verses, but also ignores everything we read in the entire Bible. The Bible presumes self-love, but it never encourages it.
Do you know why the promotion of self-love is not stated in the Bible? Because it's not wholesome and because we already do it! Look at verse 29. "For no one ever hated his own flesh." There you go, right from the Bible. "No one ever hated his own flesh." We all already love ourselves. We, verse 29, "nourish and cherish" our bodies. We all think of ourselves more that we think of others. We all pursue what's in our best interest, even if it means, the crazy belief that we'll be happier if we take our own lives to the pain of all those who love us.
You already love yourself and according to Scripture think too highly of yourself as it is. Low self-esteem is only a saddened state because others don't think as highly of you as you do of yourself! Didn't Jesus say, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Mat. 16:25). The Christian message is that we might find ourselves in Him and then really experience the true inner peace of a healthy self-concept that we all desire.
Our friend, Ed Welch said, "Pastors of many growing churches preach almost weekly about healthy self-esteem, as if it were taught on every page of Scripture. Too many Christians never see that self-love comes out of a culture that prizes the individual over the community and then reads that basic principle into the pages of Scripture. The Bible, however, rightly understood, asks the question, "Why are you so concerned about yourself?" Furthermore, it indicates that our culture's proposed cure - increased self-love - is actually the disease. If we fail to recognize the reality and depth of our sin problem, God will become less important, and people will become more important" (When People are Big and God is Small, p. 81).
My friends, everything about the Christian faith is a death to self. "And [Jesus] summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'" (Mk. 8:34). 1 Corinthians 13:5, "Love "does not seek its own." There is nothing supernatural about loving yourself. Jesus Christ did not deny Himself and give up Himself to make us learn to love ourselves more. He needed to die because we already love ourselves too much! We are experts at putting ourselves first. And those who do it the best are usually the unhappiest. Jesus died that we might be forgiven from our idolatrous self-love find our identity in Him, an identity of true joy, purpose and satisfaction.
Let me give you one more from the great Jonathan Edwards. Way back in 1741 he said, "What is the surest character of true, divine, supernatural love that distinguishes it from counterfeits that arise from a natural self-love? It is the Christian virtue of humility that shines in it. Divine love above all others renounces and abases what we term 'self.' Christian love or true love is a humble love… In that person we see a sense of his own smallness, vileness, weakness, and utter insufficiency. We see a lack of self-confidence. We see self-emptiness, self-denial, and poverty of spirit. These are the manifest tokens of the Spirit of God" (Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God).
So, if these verses in Ephesians 5 are not teaching the husband to self-love himself, what in the world are they saying? I read them again. "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies… for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, (Eph. 5:28a-29a). Listen carefully. These verses are not teaching a self-love. They are only presuming a self-love (not of which all self-love is necessarily evil). It is just a reality. We all love ourselves. We give proof of that because we all nourish and cherish our lives.
Think with me for a minute, men. How much time have you already devoted to yourself this morning? Got yourself out of bed. Showered, shaved, fixed your hair, brushed your teeth. Put some thought into the clothes you'd wearing. Dressed yourself. Took an aspirin if you had a headache or possibly some allergy medicine. Grabbed some food that satisfied your appetite. A cup of coffee? Maybe read the Bible. Spent some time in prayer. Adjusted the temperature in your car. Possibly thought about what you need to do at church or what you'll be doing after church. Got yourself to church on time. Talked to people you wanted to speak with. Found a seat in the church that interested you the most. I'm sure there is much more!
There are just the basics and the things most of the men would have done for themselves before the 8:30 am service on a Sunday morning! Look at how much time you devoted to yourself already! Oh the effort and money we spend to pamper, protect, indulge, nourish, decorate and comfort our bodies. We all do it!
And men, by way of contrast, what percentage of your time did you devote to someone else this morning? Five percent? When you rounded up the family to lead them into the minivan? Ten percent? If you read the Bible to the family. Okay, I'll give you twenty percent because you made the family breakfast.
You get the point. Men, we love ourselves very much. All the Bible is saying is - to the degree that you love yourself, love your wife. To the degree that you nourish and cherish yourself, nourish and cherish your wife! In other words, your life (obviously easy for you to understand) becomes the object lesson as to how you need to love your wives.
You see, these verses tie into the ones we studied last week. God would never go from the mountain top of Christ's love in verses 25-27 and turn to the valley of self-love in verses 28-30. The focus here is still on Christ. Never should we take our focus off of Him and then look to ourselves. Yes, there is a danger in examining how much you love yourself, but the goal is not to boost your ego. Rather the goal is to humble you and make a clear point as to how we should love our wives.
Even Paul can't stay on the "look at yourself" part too long as he immediately reverts back to Christ. He agrees that we would do well to nourish and cherish our wives as we do ourselves, but immediately adds at the end of verse 29 that we should nourish and cherish our wives as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. Or verse 30, that Christ nourishes and cherishes us "because we are members of His body." After all, the church is the body of Christ. As we nourish and cherish our own bodies, as Christ nourishes and cherishes His body, we should nourish and cherish our wives!
Nourishing and cherishing, Impressive words! Nourish - to help something grow. Cherish - to prize something invaluable. What comes to mind when you think of them? It's much more than seeing your wife as a roommate, housekeeper, cook, chauffeur driver for the kids and occasional companion. It's clearly the opposite of Colossians 3:19: "Husbands…do not be embittered against [your wives]."
What do these two words "nourish" and "cherish" bring to mind for you? Affection? Comfort? Support? Encouragement? Provision? Care? Tenderness? Value? Delight? Men, you have some accountability this morning. Most likely, your wives are sitting right next to you. So wives, are you receiving these traits from your husbands?
After all, that is the command. I agree, application takes effort and selflessness, but the principle is clear. We already know what needs to be done. We already know how we nourish and cherish our own bodies. And we already know how Jesus nourishes and cherishes His body, the church. We probably even made a vow before God to love, honor and cherish our wives until we are parted by death. So specifically based on what we already know, how do we, how can we nourish and cherish our wives?
Here are some practical thoughts. I included them in your sermon notes. I don't believe they need any elaboration.
Be sensitive and responsive to her needs.
Let your actions and words show her respect.
Pay attention when she talks to you.
Demand the children honor her.
Use gentle and kind words.
Plan times alone together.
Speak well of her to others.
Accept her feelings.
Be humble and submit to the authorities in your life.
Tell her that she is beautiful.
Sacrifice for her.
Encourage her especially in her steps toward godliness.
Take care of yourself.
Tell her you love her.
Be available if she has a need.
Pray for her regularly.
Be a gentleman.
Lead the family spiritually.
Take the lead on difficult decisions.
Ask her opinion before making decisions.
Learn what makes her feel special.
Be faithful and loyal.
And people complain that the Apostle Paul was a chauvinist and woman-hater!
Now while I believe all that is in line with our passage and we probably could keep this list going, I am the first guy to say there is a lot on that list. We realize that. I have areas that need additional growth myself. We all fall short. That's why we can't do any of this without the Lord's strength and the Lord's forgiveness. We only have hope because of the Gospel as we live in the shadow of the cross. To be even somewhat successful, we need to be not only believers in Christ, but also believers that are filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
Also, how you practically apply this list is up to you. Custom-design you own actions, but be sure you have some actions! It doesn't need to be expensive or extravagant, but it should be creative, spontaneous and planned, regular and genuine.
Here's an example I heard about this week.
One night several years ago, after [my wife] had gone to bed, I took a notepad and a pen and sat down at the kitchen table to write her a series of short, one-line love notes. Each one said something very simple: "I'm glad you're my wife;" "I love you very much;" "I still find you wildly attractive."
Once the notes were written, I went to work. I placed them strategically all over the house. One was in a spot where she would see it the next day. Another was tucked away in her Bible. A third was put in a recipe file in the kitchen. And so on.
For the next few weeks and months, the notes continued to pop up in unexpected places-glove compartment, mailbox, fine china cabinet. That one night of note writing sent its message for weeks to come. In fact, the one in the recipe file is still where I put it, more than a decade ago - not because [my wife] hasn't found it, but because she has left it right where I put it!
The Christian Husband by Bob Lepine
Men, honoring this section in Ephesians is without a doubt in your wife's best interest. It's also in the Lord's best interest because it is a command He has given to us that He expects us to follow regardless of our wife's behavior. And it's also a command in your best interest as well. Look at the end of verse 28. "He who loves his own wife loves himself."
When you and your wife got married, God in a mysterious way made the two of you one flesh (Gen 2:21; Eph. 5:31). In other words, since you are one, hurting her only hurts yourself. And loving her shows respect for your natural and God-given desire to maximize your own joy. Men, the Bible teaches that pursuing your private pleasure at the expense of your wife will destroy your highest joy. Remember this, you can't hurt wife without hurting yourself.
A long time ago, Charles Hodge said, "It is just as unnatural for a man to hate his wife, as it would be for him to hate himself or his own body. A man may have a body that does not altogether suit him. He may wish it were handsomer, healthier, stronger, or more active. Still it is his body, it is himself; and he nourishes it and cherishes it as tenderly as though it were the best and loveliest man ever had. So a man may have a wife whom he could wish to be better, or more beautiful, or more agreeable; still she is his wife, and by the constitution of nature and ordinance of God, a part of himself. In neglecting or ill-using her he violates the laws of nature as well as the law of God ... If a husband and wife are one flesh, the husband must love his wife."
So brothers, the command is very straightforward and easy to understand. Know Christ's sacrificial love for the church (verses 25-27) and love your wives in the same way. Know your sacrificial love for yourself (verses 28-30) and love your wife in the same way.
Thank the Lord for His grace that forgives us when we fall short. Thank the Lord for His grace that gives us the desire and strength to be successful. Husbands, the command is to love your wives and our last two sermons taught us exactly how to do it.