Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
(Ephesians 5:25 ESV)
Its interesting that people get married on altars. Altars are used for sacrifices. What most people don’t realize is that when they get married they are actually sacrificing themselves. When a man and woman stand on an altar and say “I do” they are really saying “I don’t” as in “I don’t exist anymore”. The two have become one flesh and now live not for individual self but for the new entity – the marriage itself. To that end both parties are to serve the other person.
We just completed reading three verses in which God instructed wives to sacrifice themselves for their husbands. Today we begin to read six verses in which God instructs husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives. Evidentially, men need twice as much teaching as women 🙂
God tells husbands to love [their] wives which seems simple enough. But then he adds a blueprint. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. The way Jesus loves is the way husbands should love. As we learned the other day, marriage is a metaphor for Jesus and His followers. The church (wife) relinquishes authority to Jesus (husband). And Jesus (husband) loves the church (wife) by serving.
The Greek word for “love” in this verse is αγαπαο (pronounced:ag-ap-ah’-o) which is derived from the Greek word “agape” We’ve seen this word many times in our current study of Ephesians and our previous study in Philippians. It is one of four words for love in Greek and the only one that does not constitute a feeling. In this verse the word “love” is a verb in the imperative mood – it is a command to act.
Agape love is a giving love. Someone who loves this way seeks to benefit the one he loves rather than benefitting self. Agape love gives without demanding or expecting anything in return. It is unilateral. It goes first. Agape love loves even though it may be unrequited. It is sacrificial.
This is the same love Jesus displayed for mankind. Jesus existed as the Son of God in heaven before the world began. Yet because of His great love for us he left heaven, clothed Himself in human flesh, and eventually died a death for a crime He did not commit [Philippians 2:5-8]. Jesus made a tremendous sacrifice for our benefit. And He did it without us asking or even knowing we needed Him to do it [Romans 5:8]. He also did it knowing that many people would reject Him, mock Him, and even disbelieve in His existence.
This is how God commands husbands to lead. God is not entitling them to be autocrats who bark demands and live to be served. Just the opposite. Husbands are to love by serving without expecting anything in return.
Clearly this goes against everything our culture believes about both leadership and love. In our society leaders demand to be obeyed with penalties inflicted for disobedience. God says leaders should be servants. Culture says that love is a selfish feeling that needs to be quenched. God says love is a selfless action that seeks to meet the needs of others.
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