The Bible calls husbands to love their wives self-sacrificially. In Colossians 3:19 the apostle Paul writes,
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)
And again in Ephesians 5, comparing a husband’s love to Jesus’ love of the church, Paul says:
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Eph 5:28)
We could explore other passages, but you get the point. The Bible is big on husbands loving their wives.
The Type of Love
The type of love husbands are to have for their wives is a self-sacrificial love. We know this because the Greek word behind love in these verses is agape. Agape, in Greek, denotes a self-sacrificial love. It is same love Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross for our sins, sacrificing Himself for us. Agape love then is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that sacrifices.
How do we love our wives in a self-sacrificial manner?
(1) We love our wives self-sacrificially by not being harsh with her.
In the second half of verse 19 in Colossians 3, Paul specifically commands husbands not to be “harsh” with their wives. When I first read this, I didn’t fully understand what Paul was saying, so I did some research into the word “harsh”. I found it means that husbands aren’t to make their wives bitter or resentful because of unfair or abusive treatment. Instead, husbands are to treat their wives fairly, not using or abusing them. As well as husbands aren’t to make decisions or perform actions that would make their wives resentful.
What are some things that might make your wife resentful?
- An unwillingness or not offering to help with the kids.
- Not abiding by the family budget.
- Going off with your buddies all the time instead of doing things with the family.
- Glueing yourself to the TV instead of helping out around the house or talking with your wife.
- Caring or ministering to others whenever they ask, but not setting aside time to do so for your wife.
(2) We love our wives self-sacrificially by leading in a non-selfish way
Being the head or the leader of your household doesn’t mean you always get your way. That’s not how Jesus leads. Since we are modeling our love and leadership after His, we should act as He acts. When Jesus came it wasn’t all about Him, instead, it was all about us. Remember, He left His heavenly abode, took the body of a man, gave up His rights, and His life for us.
We are to do the same. We are to give up our rights for our wives, sacrificing for them, instead of always demanding our own way. When we do that, we are loving and leading in a non-selfish way.
(3) We love our wives self-sacrificially by seeking to build her up in the Lord.
Husbands are to do all they can to promote their wife’s well-being and sanctification. Marriage, then, is about more than fulfilling our own sexual appetites. It is about us working to build up and sanctify our wives, washing them with the Word of God, in order to ready them to meet their heavenly husband — Christ.
(4) We love our wives self-sacrificially by providing for her physically and emotionally.
As a husband, we are to make sure we are doing all that we can to provide for our wife. Certainly that means we are to make sure her basic needs are met. But our wife’s basic needs are just one area for which we are to provide. Along with providing physically, we are also to provide emotionally. Men, including myself, often miss the mark on this one. I believe that is because it is easier for us to spend our energy working than it is to spend our energy talking, listening, and drawing our wives out. But if we want to love our wives as Christ loves the church – self-sacrificially – we must provide for both her physical and emotional needs.
Question for Reflection
- What other ways can a husband self-sacrificially love his wife?
Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love