You thought that was it, that I was done bopping my brothers upside the head? Hahahahahaaha! No. We’ve talked about how we’re supposed to love our wives like Christ loved the church. That means I put her needs before my own, up to and including being willing to die for her. That means, practically speaking, that I love her as described in 1 Cor. 13.
But today we’re going to talk about another huge aspect of our responsibility, one which is frequently overlooked. A lot of guys who study the Bible are (hopefully) familiar with Paul’s command to love our wives, be willing to die for her, etc. But Paul’s instructions to husbands don’t stop at verse 25. He says that Jesus loved the church and gave himself up for her for a reason. He had a purpose in mind. What was it?
He did this “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
· He did this to make her holy. Remember that “holy” means to be “set apart,” or “different.” We are different from the rest of humanity, and we need to act like it.
· He did this by cleansing her. He did this through “by the washing with water.” This isn’t referring to physical water baptism, since the last part of the phrase qualifies the “washing” as being “through the word.” There’s no indication in Scripture that the physical act of baptism cleanses us from anything. Strictly speaking, it’s the blood of Christ which cleanses us, and he also uses his word to lead us to confession and repentance, so in that sense his word “cleanses” us as well. The point is that his love leads to his cleansing us.
· He did this with her ultimate beautiful perfection in mind. In talking about Christ’s purpose in his love, Paul says that our Lord did all this “to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” I’ve made this point before, but it’s too beautiful and poignant not to repeat it. Right now, as a practical matter, the church is far from perfect. There’s plenty of schism, back-biting, unrighteousness, greed, self-serving, individualism, and a whole host of other stains, wrinkles, and blemishes. But our Lord Jesus sees her very differently, and one day we’ll see what he sees. On that grand and glorious Day when she’s led down the aisle towards her Bridegroom, she'll only have eyes for him. All the glories of Heaven will pale beside him. But here’s something Psalm 45 tells us: On that Day, he will only have eyes for her.
Remember, I’m a practical theologian, trying to imitate Paul here. Keep this in mind: Christ’s love for the church should be the pattern for our love for our wives. Not just in the sense of sacrificing ourselves for them. No, his love for us is a purifying love. As someone once put it to me, Jesus loves me just as I am, but he also loves me too much to leave me that way.
Let’s see how this applies in marriage. In short, Gentlemen, you're the spiritual leader of your home. That’s a given. You’re the leader, whether you know it or not, whether you admit it or not, whether you want it or not, and whether you act on it or not. The question is not “Are you the spiritual leader of your home?” The question is “Are you a good leader, or a bad one?”
Your home needs to be a place where God’s word is read on a regular basis because you initiate it. Your house needs to be a house of prayer because you regularly lead your family members in prayer. The members of your household need to do things God’s way because you provide the example and make sure everyone else does it. Yes, your wife needs to be a Bible-reader and pray-er, and it’s wonderful if she initiates those things. But you're the leader on this. If you don’t lead, then your home will be spiritually crippled at best.
Let me make one more point on this, on the topic of being a leader. If you're the spiritual leader and regularly show Christ-like love to her, then you probably won’t need to worry about her submitting to you. As someone once put it to me, when the husband is doing what he’s supposed to be doing, then it should be a joy to submit to him. If she’s a godly woman, it will be.
Time for some frankness here. Do I do this all the time? Am I where I need to be as the spiritual leader in my home? I wish I could say that. I can’t. But as I’ve said before in other contexts, I’m not what I need to be, but thank the Lord I’m not what I once was, and I’m not what I one day will be. Will you join me in this challenge, in striving towards what we’re called to be? Are you man enough?
Lord Jesus, your standards are so high, and I fall so far short. The longer I’m with you, the more I realize how far short I fall. By your grace, I want to be the leader in my home that I’m supposed to be. Please.