REAL men don't love because someone deserves it. Real men are lovers because that is how God is. And it does not depend on how their actions. No matter how a person acts ("love your enemies"), and sometimes you may think even your wife is your enemy, you still pursue their best. Love is not dependent on how you FEEL because love is a DECISION.
You are a REAL man only if you reflect God’s image. That means you hear the Apostle Paul in Titus 2:1-2, 6-8, and choose those behaviors for your life. When a REAL man demonstrates merciful qualities, he is sound in love, sound in patience, and easy to respect. While these qualities are stated for Older men, they still apply to all men.
25 Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 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. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:25-31
There are seven dimensions of a husband’s love. This is a significant challenge for any husband. Sound in love is challenging enough, but when you study Ephesians 5:25-31, it is even more challenging.
When you read the passage, there are seven elements relating to how God asks a husband to love his wife. Unconditional is extremely difficult, but God asks a husband to go beyond unconditional. Considering all seven elements, you are challenged to be JESUS to your wife!
The beauty of this passage is that you can measure whether you are moving toward or away from that target of being Jesus to your wife. Each of the seven elements is specific so that you can know if you love your wife the way God wants.
And keep this in mind; you have the life of Jesus in you if you are His child. Further, you have the Holy Spirit to energize that abundant life to do all God asks of you!
So, husbands, here are the details of “Sound Love” measuring stick.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church… – Ephesians 5:25
Obviously, the best place to start is the definition of love that we use.
Pursuing their best patiently, kindly, sacrificially, and unconditionally
Unconditional love is not dependent upon whether the object deserves it or not. It is not based on how your wife acts or lives and is not subject to the whim of your emotions. Christ did not die because the church deserved it. When you love your wife, you submit to Christ, your head, and decide to submit to your wife’s need to be safe and secure. (See The “S” Word – Submission section in chapter nine.) Notice the word “decide.” Love is a decision to pursue her best – it is not an emotion.
Men, your love is a gift to your wife to help her not follow the Judgment for Women. It turns your focus on relating to her, not “ruling” over her, and meeting her relationship design. And keep this in mind, you can do everything God asks of you, but it is still her decision to accept the love.
…and gave Himself for her… – Ephesians 5:25
Sacrifice is defined as “surrendering something you value for something else.” The Apostle Paul says that husbands follow the example of Jesus Christ, Who did not even spare Himself. God asks you to sacrifice for your wife, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church.
How do you sacrifice for your wife? You probably will not have to die for her. But perhaps you could give up some of “your” time to do something with her. How about just having a conversation with her, spend time with her, or even go shopping with her!
What are you willing to sacrifice?
The key to sacrifice is dying to self. Dying to self is similar to LOVE in that its focus is on others.
“The Army, with its emphasis on rank and medals and efficiency reports, is the easiest institution in the world in which to get consumed with ambition. Some officers spend all their time currying favor and worrying about the next promotion — a miserable way to live. But West Point saved me from that by instilling the ideal of service above self — to do my duty for my country even if it brought no gain at all. It gave me far more than a military career — it gave me a calling.”
It Doesn’t Take a Hero, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Sanctifying / Purifying Love
… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… – Ephesians 5:26
God gave you the responsibility to protect and help set your wife apart as holy, preserving her virtue and purity. Part of your role is protecting her from compromising or defiling situations and encouraging her to remove anything that brings impurity into her life.
How do you do this? Use the water of the Word to wash the dirt of the world off her. The Greek for “word” implies spoken portions, not the entirety, which implies that you know enough of God’s Word to speak it and converse about it with your wife. This is how you can help develop your wife through speaking and standing upon the Word.
You are not in the business of “making her change.” Your business is to offer, not make it happen. Hope, pray, encourage, and exhort if necessary. But do not make your happiness dependent upon your wife changing. Think about it, Christ deals with you exactly that way! He does not make you change; He invites you to participate in a better life. You either choose it or not.
The ability to cleanse and mature anyone is from Christ and His Word. You lead based on what Christ asks you to do, not doing it based on how you feel or your opinion.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. – Ephesians 5:29
Men nourish your wife! Help her to mature and blossom. What can you do to help develop talents God has given her? What can you do to help her mature in the Lord? Here are a few suggestions: Pray with her. Discuss God’s Word with her. Observe her, not judgingly, and ask if she is interested in what you see. Stop making everything about “ME”.
Nourish also means “to feed.” So, provide for her. This fits with a man’s design to work and provide, and supports the fact that man is to be the breadwinner.
…and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. – Ephesians 5:29
There is something about the word “cherish” that can make a woman’s heart melt. Men, if you tell your wife that you love her, she likes that. But if you cherish her and tell her that, she probably will feel even more valued, secure, and protected. Why? My speculation is that cherish is rarely used and still has a clear definition that is not muddled. Love is used for so many things that it does not carry the clarity and weight of cherish. Try it and see.
In Greek, cherish means to soften or warm with body heat, like a bird on a nest. In English, it means to hold dear, value highly, take great care of, and treat tenderly. So, when you cherish your wife, you provide a secure, warm, soft place for her.
God designed man to work and provide a secure, warm place for his wife, and God designed her for a safe, warm place. Few women dispute this.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. – Ephesians 5:31
Paul quotes from Genesis 2:24, which was before sin, when man and woman were still operating in purity. He reminds you that the sanctity of marital oneness has not changed. Not even the fall could abolish it.
Why a singular love? What about divorce? Some say that even divorce does not actually separate. “Joined” in Greek means “glued together”. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), and God has not changed His mind (Malachi 3:6) (see Chapter 11 for a full discussion about divorce).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… 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. – Ephesians 5:25, 27
If you take the analogy literally, all of the prior actions result in the wife being presented back to her husband. She is presented to you as the Church is presented to Christ.
That implies that doing what God asks will benefit the husband! That is exactly how God works. The picture is of a bride presented in a marriage ceremony; ideally, she will be without “spot, wrinkle, or blemish.” Preparing her is pictured as the husband’s job, as Christ is about the business of preparing His church.
Will your wife look like the idyllic pictures of marriage ceremonies, a glorious beauty, pristine in her countenance and adornment … or something less, maybe even dirty with tattered clothes?
Scripture says, “woman is the glory of man” (I Corinthians 11:7). Glory implies a shining and a reflection. Some things you do not like in your wife may reflect you! What are you doing to help her walk with God? If this visionary love is true, God will reward you for loving your wife as Christ loves the church.