by Ryan Castle
February 08, 2019
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their 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 Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
— Ephesians 5:25–33
May God bless the reading of his word! The mystery that Paul unpacks here is one of great significance. God created the covenant of marriage to be a microcosm of how Jesus loves the Church. Men, we are commanded to love our wives as Jesus loves the Church, giving ourselves up for her, so that we may lead her closer to Christ. This happens through patience, grace, love and the pursuing of her heart. Now, more than likely, since you are married to your wife, there was some heavy pursuing on your part going on in the dating and courting stage. I’ll bet that you bought her flowers, wrote her notes and listened to her intently to learn her likes, dislikes, passions and annoyances. Once we are married, it becomes easy to believe the lie that the work is over — the lie that, because you are married to your wife, pursuing her is of less importance. You have her now! What need is there to demonstrate your desire for her heart, now that you’ve gotten her to agree to be married to you? Isn’t being married to her enough?
I firmly believe that there is a lie going around in Christian churches that the gospel message of Jesus Christ is only for those who are unsaved, as if when we become believers, we graduate on to something bigger and better than the gospel, as if such a thing existed. The reality is that thinking this way is buying into the idea of a false gospel — one that is adequate to save us, but then sends us back to the law to be sanctified or made holy so that we continue trying to earn what has already been freely given in Christ. But praise be to God, for not only does he desire to save us from our sins, but he continues pursuing us. He desires to see us sanctified and made holy by giving us his spirit, who empowers our motivations so that we are compelled by gladness, not guilt, being always reminded of our forgiveness in the gospel, not our failures in the law. Husbands, in the same way, we must continue pursuing and chasing after our wives, affirming them, building them up in Christ so that intimacy and closeness may increase. If you think the passion that was there at the beginning of your marriage is beginning to wane, it’s time to ask yourself when the last time you intentionally pursued your wife was. Passion is something that can be increased through intentionality and planning. Send her flowers, write her notes, affirm her work ethic, appearance, and all her positive traits even (and especially) when they may not be showing through. These things are pleasing to the Lord and will help restore any lost passion.
The teaching from this Love Song series has been incredibly helpful and practical so far. God clearly gives us defined blueprints for dating, courtship, sex, fighting and growing old together. It is important that we see this teaching through the lens of what should hold the value of first importance in our hearts: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of our relationship status, the first relationship we should spend a lot of time considering is our relationship with God. And when I say that, what I mean is not that you are behaving a certain way, but that you have fully surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. Do you find ultimate gladness in Christ? Only in him can ultimate gladness be found. If we don’t understand that Christ died for our sins, and that we are loved, forgiven and adopted, then we miss out on the joy that nothing else (dating, marriage, sex) can deliver. It is the gospel and our belief in it that make marriage so incredibly vibrant. It is our understanding that God loves us enough to forgive us over and over again for the same things that should inform our patience with our spouse. It is the incredible romancing by God of us as the bride of Christ throughout scripture that should motivate our pursuit and love of our spouse. So, first and foremost, let us consider Jesus and this great salvation offered to us in Christ.
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