Ephesians 5:25-29 says,
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church.”
My wife and I were married at a very young age. She was twenty and I was twenty-one. At that time in my life, I thought I knew what love was. In reality, I had no idea. Part of my ignorance was simply the fact that I was immature and somewhat selfish. The greater issue was that while I claimed to know Christ, I was not living for Him. Therefore, I had no idea what the scriptures said about how a husband is to love his wife. The first several years of our marriage were a struggle because I was not consistently meeting the daily needs of my wife. Those needs included security, stability, affection, quality time together, appreciation, understanding and a listening ear. When it came to truly loving my wife, I was failing miserably!
As I matured and eventually re-committed my life to the Lord, I became more concerned with being a good husband and, by this time, a good father as well. One day I heard a man say, “The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.” This statement convicted my heart deeply. I considered myself to be a great father, but was it possible that I was still failing to love my wife as God instructs the man to do? The answer was “yes”! It was at this time in my life that my daily prayer became this: “Father, show me how to love my wife.” Our God is incredibly faithful, and He answered that prayer to a level and depth I could have never imagined.
I began to search the scriptures and study what it means for a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church. What I found was overwhelming, to say the least. Jesus died for the church! His death upon the cross was selfless and sacrificial. Therefore, the standard Jesus set for how a man is to love his wife was firmly established. The bar had been set extremely high by Jesus Himself, yet this is what God expects of every husband. Being selfless and sacrificial means putting her needs ahead of your own. It means finding out what is important to her, what ministers to her and then actually fulfilling those needs in her life. Jesus understood that mankind needed forgiveness, salvation and the opportunity for eternal life, so He provided all of that and more by being selfless and sacrificial on the cross.
Paul goes on to say that a life of purity should be every husband’s desire for his wife (v.26-27). Biblically speaking, the man is the leader in the home and he is to protect his wife from sin. By doing so, he not only protects the marriage but also her walk with God. Therefore, the husband is to devote himself to caring for her even more than he cares for himself. He is to nourish her spiritually and cherish her as his wife (v.28-29). The Greek word for “cherish” can be translated as “to warm” or “to tenderly care.” I’ll speak more about that in the conclusion.
1 Peter 3:7 gives further instruction concerning how husbands are to love their wives: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” What Peter speaks of here is that husbands should be sensitive to the needs and concerns of their wives. He also speaks to the protection and provision that husbands should provide. The “grace of life” refers to the marital relationship. It is an incredible blessing to fall in love with someone and share life with that individual. When a man and a woman are joined together as one, it is among the greatest blessings in this life. When the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church, the joy and fellowship they share create a life together filled with special moments, experiences, memories, and a love shared that is beyond compare.
What this husband found to be true and real in the marital relationship is simply this: what my wife really longed for was to feel cherished (“to be warmed”). As I grew in my walk with the Lord and as I prayed the prayer asking God to show me how to love my wife, my love and commitment to her happiness and purity grew. My wife was not just my wife or someone I chose to do life with–she became my very best friend. She is someone I love more than life itself. I take great joy and responsibility in her happiness and contentment. I love being selfless with her and sacrificial in my giving because my love for her has grown exponentially over the years.
One day my wife described how my love for her made her feel; she defined it as “warm and fuzzy.” Translation? She felt cherished! I praise God that He answered my prayer, and that loving my wife is not a challenge or a quest, but it comes naturally because of my relationship with Christ and because of the blessing she is to me. Husbands, love your beloved; cherish them and enjoy the “grace of life” together!