[Nov 02]—Husbands, Love! Part Two

            Yesterday we read that we’re supposed to love our wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Today I’m going to get into a little more detail on that.
            Someone once pointed out to me that in some ways, it might be easier to die for Christ than to live for him. The prospect of a quick and early death (e.g. beheading) and then going straight into his arms is a lot more appealing than 70-80 years or more of living in this sin-wrecked world, struggling with my own sin, and dealing with the disappointments and frustrations that come with the Fall. The same principle applies—to a much lesser extent—in dealing with my wife. A split-second decision to step in front of a bullet for her might be relatively easy. It might be easier to die for her than to live as a Christ-like husband for however many more years the Lord gives us together.
            Of course, she’s a wonderful wife who makes it a lot easier to be who I’m supposed to be. But every day I have to choose to put her needs before my own. Every day I have to choose to sacrifice for her. Occasionally it’s a big sacrifice, e.g. stepping out in front of that bullet. But most of the time it’s a much smaller one: Vacuuming the living room because it needs it and she was planning to do it. Or going to one more store to get her the type of body scrub she likes. Or giving her a back rub when she’s had a really cruddy day. Or listening carefully to her and expressing sympathy when she complains about her boss, when I’ve had a bad day myself. Most of the time it’s not a choice of whether or not to step in front and take a literal bullet. Most life choices aren’t like that. It’s a thousand and one much smaller sacrifices.
            When I do something like that for her and she thanks me, my favorite rejoinder is “Well, baby, I’m supposed to be willing to die for you, so with anything short of that, I’m getting off light.”
            OK, I’m going to get on my soap-box for a moment. I’m going to spout off on some things I’ve seen some husbands do, and for the life of me I can’t reconcile what they’re doing with the passage we’ve read today. First off, I never even joke in public about cheating on my wife. It’s not funny. My wife and I joke about all sorts of stuff, and I’d like to think I have a good sense of humor. I can still make her laugh, which is good. But I don’t joke about cheating on her, or about abusing her, or about divorce. In all the years we’ve been together, in all the “heated discussions” we’ve had, neither of us have ever brought up the “D” word, and we never will. I constantly reaffirm my commitment to her, telling her “Nothing but the grave,” referring to the fact that nothing but death will ever separate us.
            I also never put her down, nor mock her. Not in private, much less in public. If she’s made a bone-headed move (something I've done on more than one occasion), I don’t mention it to others. If I ever need to make anything even remotely resembling a critical remark, I do it in private. And I praise her and compliment her all the time in public, whether she’s present or not.
            1 Cor. 13 is the great “love” chapter, right? That’s where Paul describes love as a virtue that you choose to display, not a feeling that happens to you. What does he say about it?
·         It’s patient
·         It’s kind
·         It doesn’t envy
·         It doesn’t boast
·         It’s not proud
·         It doesn’t dishonor the beloved.
·         It’s not self-seeking
·         It’s not easily angered
·         It keeps no record of wrongs (a huge one)
·         It doesn’t delight in evil
·         It rejoices with the truth
·         It always protects (another huge one)
·         Always trusts (Another biggie)
·         Always hopes
·         Always perseveres (no matter what it costs)

            So if I’m going to claim that I love my wife, then this is the standard. Am I patient towards her? Am I kind? Do I dishonor her by my speech about her and towards her? Do I keep a record of wrongs? Do I protect her as best I can, from wounds big and small?
            By the way, I’m going to say to you what I said to your wives the other day: God’s standards for you are not dependent on how well your wife behaves. If your wife doesn’t submit to you and doesn’t show respect to you like she’s supposed to, that in no way relieves you of your responsibility to show love to her like we’ve discussed. 
            As always C. S. Lewis puts it so much better than I ever could:
“The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church - read on - and give his life for her (Eph. V, 25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is - in her own mere nature - least lovable. For the Church has not beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man's marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs.”
            I say I love her. Do I mean it?

Lord Jesus, you didn’t just die for us, although that’s obviously the Big One. In small ways and in big ways, you show your love for us in countless ways every day. Help me--oh God please help me—mirror that love towards my wife, both now and in however many years you give us together. Help me to love her. Love her through me. Please. 

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