Husbands: You Have Been Called to Die!
- 2004 15 Jan
When my friends Todd and Liz got married, they decided that they would not kiss at their reception when people tinkled their glasses. Instead, they would only kiss if the guests got up and recited a poem. One of the guests rose to the occasion with the following limerick:
“Todd you sure have your nerve, this woman you do not deserve; but I’ve done that too, it’s God’s blessing on you, just remember: to lead you must serve!”
From a poetic standpoint, the quality of this poem is certainly questionable! But from a theological standpoint, the last five words of this poem express a fundamental biblical truth about husbands: they are to lead their wives through serving them. In fact, we could go further: husbands have been called to die for their wives.
Called to Die
In Ephesians 5, Paul turns his attention to the marriage relationship. In order to describe the proper roles of husbands and wives, Paul uses the model of Christ’s relationship to the Church. On the one hand, wives are told to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ (vv. 22-24). On the other hand, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (v. 25). In fact, Paul’s words for husbands go as follows:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).
The verses after this make clear that Jesus did this because He loved and cherished the Church and sought her best good (vv. 26-27). This love for the Church ran so deep that He put aside His rights and privileges “and gave Himself up for her” by dying on a Roman cross.
Husbands, this is a sobering message: you and I have been called to love our wives in the same way. We have been called to die.
So what does this look like?
Practical Ways to “Die”
Very few of us will actually have to die physically for our wives (though there are certainly times when our wives would like to kill us…) There are many ways in which we can “die to ourselves”, however, by giving up our rights and privileges as Jesus did and serving our wives.
1. Dying to our pride in arguments – The dynamics of many arguments go like this: some event happens that leads to an argument. The argument exists because our spouse looks at the event from one perspective and we look at the event from a different perspective. The argument then involves determining whose perspective is correct. So how does an argument get resolved?
First of all, it is normally the case that each person has validity to their perspective. One person, however, has to take the first step in acknowledging the validity in the other person’s side. A husband can lead his wife in a servant-like way by taking the first step in seeing things from the other person’s perspective. This is something that takes a lot of humility. It also goes against the grain of a man’s competitive nature. But we have not been called to win; we have been called to die. And consider God’s wisdom in calling us to do so, for once we approach our spouse in humility it often opens the door to a much quicker resolution.
In other instances, our spouse might not have validity in her position because they have misunderstood us or because we have miscommunicated. Sometimes our response in such a situation is to respond angrily, “But that’s not what I said!”, or, “But that’s not what I meant!” But the husband who leads his wife by serving her and seeking her good above his own might say instead, “Honey, I can see why you thought that. I’m very sorry for the pain that I caused. Can I explain what I really meant?”
2. Dying to our pride in seeking help – Pastors and Christian counselors will tell you that when there is a problem in the marriage, it is usually the wife who will be the one to make contact for help. Men, this is not the way that it should be! If we are to lead our wives by serving them, then we need to be the ones who take the lead in making sure that our marriages are strong and healthy, even if that means swallowing our foolish male egos and contacting our pastor or a Christian counselor for help!
3. Dying to self in the little, day-to-day things of life – Dying for our spouse is not always some big and grandiose event. It often shows itself in the simple things: going grocery shopping for or with our wives; picking up after ourselves; going on dates with her interests in mind; watching the children and letting her go out with her girlfriends. These may seem like little things at first glance, but they let our wives know that we love them so much that we desire their good above our own.
Husbands, may we be men who look to Jesus as our example for loving our bride and “giving up ourselves” for her. May we be men who seek His power and strength to love our brides well!
© 2003 Christian Family Life
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