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Marriage in the Fullness of the Spirit, Part III: Loving Leadership

November 8, 2006

Ephesians 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.


Notice first that you are commanded to love.  You are not commanded to make your wife submit.  Your wife is commanded to submit and respect you, but let that be between her and God.  You’re not responsible for your wife’s obedience to God, you are responsible for your own.  And you are commanded to love her, not to make her submit.  In 14 years of marriage I can’t remember ever telling my wife to submit.  I probably did in some pigheaded moment, but I don’t remember it and if I did it must not have worked because I learned not to do it anymore.  Husbands, if you want to take back the leadership in your home, don’t quote the submission verses at your wife.  Try this instead.  Put your hands lovingly on her and pray for her.  Say, “Lord I bring before you my wife.  Thank you for her.  I love her.  Help me to love her more like you love her.  Bless her Lord, give her joy and peace and strength and shed abroad your love in her heart and in my heart so that I can love her more.”  What do you think might happen in your marriage if you did that every morning and evening?  Try it and see.


Now wives, don’t go home and say to your husbands “How come you never pray for me like that?”  That will only discourage him.  You are not commanded to make him lovingly lead you.  You are commanded to respect him, so speak encouraging words and not belittling words to him while you pray for him to obey the command to lovingly and prayerfully lead you.


If the most important command I can give you in the way of marital counseling is “Walk by the Spirit”  the second most important thing I can think to say is “Fulfill your vow”  Do for your spouse what you promised God you would do.  Don’t worry about their fulfillment of their vow.  You just do your part and there will be a positive snowball effect.   Husbands if you will love your wife, she will respect you more.  Don’t tell her to respect you.  Just be a man worthy of respect!  If you love her, she will respect you, and the more she respects you, the more you’ll love her.  Then she’ll respect you more and you’ll love her more and she’ll respect you more and the positive snowball effect is off and rolling.


Unfortunately it also works in the opposite direction.  There is a negative snowball effect.  What is the opposite of love?  Not hate.  Let’s call it withdrawal, disinterest, disengagement.   The husband who comes home from work and hides behind the paper used to be the classic picture, now he goes downstairs and surfs the internet.   Usually the wife responds disrespectfully by nagging.  This makes the husband withdraw even more, which makes the wife nag him even more, which makes him withdraw even more, come home later and later from the office, which makes her disrespect him even more and the negative snowball effect is off and rolling. 


Husbands, do you think your wife is a nag?  It may be because you made her that way.  And it’s certainly true that you could be a part of the cure if you loved her better.  Wives, do you think your husband is a deadbeat?  It may be because you made him that way.  And it’s certainly true that speaking encouraging words instead of belittling words is more likely to cure him. 


Now I know, you’re not responsible for your spouse’s sin, don’t misunderstand me.  You are only responsible for your own sin.  But your own sin has consequences for the relationship.  We need to own up to whatever our part is in the dysfunctional dynamic of disengagement and disrespect. 


All you can do at this point, when you are about to be crushed by the disengagement/ disrespect snowball of your own making, is forgive each other, repent of your part of the problem, and start taking small steps of obedience again.   Small steps of love and respect.  You’re just responsible for your obedience.  Focus on what you can control.  Fulfill your vow.  If the forgiveness is real, it won’t take that long to get positive momentum started again.   If the forgiveness is not real, well that’s another whole sermon, but read the end of Matthew 18 and Ephesians 4 again.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.


Now in verse 26 we see that one way that Jesus loves the church is by sanctifying her, by the washing of water by the word.  And we are to love our wives like that, which means that we are to speak the word to our wives.  Don’t preach at your wife, but speak the word of truth to your wife.  In order to speak the word to your wife, you must be hiding the word in your heart and having it ready on your lips.  Share with her what you have read in the word, or read the word with her.   But don’t try to be your wife’s discipler.  That doesn’t work.   Don’t tell her to have a quiet time.  You just worry about your own time in the word and then share the word with her. 

It’s interesting that the word used for word in verse 26 usually means the spoken word.  Here’s a very important thing you need to know about wives if you haven’t figured it out already.  You need to talk with them.  Talk with them about what you have read in the Word of God.  That will increase her appetite for the word, and then if you’ll volunteer to take the kids and/or clean the house for awhile, she’ll probably go get some time in the Word for herself.


In verse 28 we read that he who loves his wife loves himself.  Let’s think about that.  It doesn’t just say that you should love your wife as you love yourself.  It does say that in the first half of the verse, but the second half says more.  It doesn’t just say that you should love your wife as you love yourself, it says that when you love your wife you are loving yourself.  When you sprain your ankle and you then show your ankle some love by putting some ice on it, you are loving yourself.  I don’t have to tell you that you should love your ankle as yourself.  You know that you are taking care of yourself when you put some ice on your ankle.  In the same way when you love your wife you are loving yourself because you and your wife have become one.  Everything you pour into blessing her is going to come back to bless you because you and your wife are one.   When you love her she will love you back.  When you fail to love her, you will be miserable yourself, because when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 


When you speak unkindly to your wife it is like you are punching yourself in the face.  Stop that, fool!  Don’t punch yourself in the face anymore.  Start loving your wife and you can be a happy man again!

One Comment leave one →
  1. egana permalink
    June 12, 2008 12:10 pm

    Sometimes I give Gorf a gentle kiss and remind him to stop hitting himself in the face.

    It is a gentle reminder that helps me communicate respectfully to him, and helps him to remember that I like gentleness. He likes to make me happy. *grin*

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