Delightful Duties in a Christian Marriage: A Husband Who Loves

August 23, 2023

Delightful Duties in a Christian Marriage: A Husband Who Loves

A few weeks ago, we began talking about the delightful duty of Christian marriage. The relationship between husbands and wives is not meant to be burdensome but joyful. However, one of the keys to its pleasantness is the fulfillment of God given roles. What is the primary duty of the husband? Colossians 3:19 says, “19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” When we read a statement like this it is easy to miss the magnitude of Paul’s exhortation. No society in the ancient world challenged husbands to love their wives. Some might have said “provide and protect” but not love. A statement like this would have been shocking to the predominantly Gentile Colossian church. In it, Paul was emphatically calling husbands to do something no one else in his day charged: Husbands, love your wives. What does it mean for a husband to love his wife?

A Sacrificial Love

When I taught Theory of Knowledge to High School students, I used to ask them to define love. Typically, I got a definition solely based upon feelings. They would say, “Love is basically an emotion, a warm personal attachment, or even a physical desire for someone.” But, in the words of the 1970s rock band Boston, “Love is more than a feeling.” The Greek word in Colossians 3:19 for ‘love’ does involve emotions, but it is not limited to it. It includes actions, as well. It means to care for deeply and to be pleased or content with; all of which is to be expressed in thought, word, and deed. This is to be true not just once or twice or when your wife has done something nice for you, but in an ever increasingly perpetual fashion. Therefore, husbands, in spite of your wife’s mood, submissiveness, and maturity, you are to love her.  You are to care for her and be pleased and content with her.  And she should know this is how you feel about her. She should hear it from your lips and see it in your deeds. That’s why, as Paul mentions, there is no room for harshness. Severity of spirit is antithetical to the kind of love God calls husbands to have for their wives. 

Furthermore, we learn in John 15:13 the extent of this kind of love. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” The word for ‘love’ here is the same one found in Colossians 3:19. This is important because Jesus said the greatest expression of love is the giving up of one’s life for another. Since husbands are called to love their wives, shouldn’t they then live sacrificially for their wives?  Shouldn’t they imitate their Savior and be committed to giving up their needs and wants for their wives?  

Paul elaborates on this in Ephesians 5:25, where he exhorts husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church.” In the highest example of love, Jesus sacrificed himself on the Cross for the church. Modeling Christ, husbands are to sacrifice themselves for their wives. They are to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ, by loving and serving their wives. And husbands, this is not something we should do begrudgingly, but gladly. Christ didn’t die on Calvary with a scowling heart. He did so with joy, and his was the much more difficult sacrifice. We have the ‘easy task’ compared to Christ. We get to love and serve someone who actually delights in being in a relationship with us. The onus is on us to love our wives sacrificially, not expecting anything in return. Sacrificing for our wives, so that we can get something in return, is not love but selfishness. We are to affectionately serve our wives, because we are seeking their good first, rather than ours. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Husbands, your delightful duty in marriage is to lovingly sacrifice for your wife. Prayerfully and intentionally seek to do so.

This can certainly be applied to young men and boys. You might be married one day.  Prepare yourself now. Serve and care for others. Be an encouragement and a humble friend to your sisters in Christ. Pray for your future bride. Seek godly wisdom when it comes to finding a wife. Learn to control your own body in holiness not in passionate lust like those who do not know Christ (1 Thess. 4:4-5). Married or not, let us pray for the husbands of CPC that they would display the love of Christ to a watching world, by loving their wives as Christ loved the church.

— Pastor Clif