Recently, Chuck and I invited my cousin Christopher and his wife, Ingrid, over for an impromptu dinner where I cooked parmesan tilapia, asparagus and potatoes, finishing with a yummy (but healthy) pear crisp for dessert. After dinner, we moved downstairs to our family room to play Wii bowling amongst other Wii games.
Throughout the evening, no matter how well Ingrid would bowl, Christopher would compliment her and lift her up. If Ingrid bowled a strike, Christopher would celebrate her achievement. If Ingrid bowled a gutter ball, Christopher would tell her how much he loved her and how beautiful she was to him. No matter how successful or unsuccessful Ingrid's gaming abilities proved, Christopher made sure to extend his full attention to his lovely wife while encouraging her to keep on. And Ingrid, filled to the brim with Christopher's love, responded in like. It was a wonderful relationship to witness.
After the party was over, Chuck and I were reflecting on the evening. I commented on how nice it was to see another husband who openly revered his wife rather than ignore or talk down to her. Equally so, it was wonderful to see a wife receive her husband's love and treasure him without focusing on his faults and/or being discontent with something about his character. In a world peppered with divorce and marital strife, such a relationship is indeed a rarity.
Yes, our evening with Christopher and Ingrid proved delightful and inspiring. It was a small but significant testament to what real love should look like between a husband and wife. In fact, it made me start to think about how I receive Chuck... not only in social gatherings, but overall.
Do I remember to show him respect and honor his headship? Do I make a point to share with him how much I treasure who he is in ways that he can see, hear, taste, feel, etc.? Do I love him more than I love pointing out his sin or finding fault in his character? Am I content to leave his shortcomings aside and give his life over to God to protect and influence? In fact, do I pray for him? Do I support him and care for him enough to frequently point out God's goodness in our lives? Do I share biblical truth with him regularly? Do I set a good example by living and speaking to and about him as my Savior would? Do I inform him of what I need or desire without playing games or complicating matters? Do I choose my words wisely rather than poisoning the air with nagging or excessive talking? Do I manage my emotions and remain fair and non-judgemental in our dealings? Do I intentionally make myself as attractive as possible for his sake rather than others? Do I always receive him and speak romantically to him while actively guarding and warning him against others who may wish to see him fall away from God's grace? Have I taken the time to learn about what he is interested in? Do I care about the things He cares about? Is he the most important person in my life, second only to Christ? Have I sacrificed myself for his sake, just as my Savior did for me? Do I reject and stand against his sin, but love Him more than I love my own self? Am I willing to lay down my own hopes, dreams, expectations in order to help my husband grow closer to The Almighty? And whether he chooses to receive me or not... whether he loves me in return... whether he holds true to his role or maintains his responsibility as the head of our household... do I still show up every day with a holy resolve to be his co-pilot... his helpmate?
We are told in Ephesians 5 to submit to our husbands the same way we submit our lives to the Lord. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit their lives to their husbands in everything." In short, God clearly instructs wives to respect and submit to their husbands.
Now, I know in reading this, many women will come ready to argue against the men that have failed them in their role as husband. Many will spit venom at me for using the word "submit". But, to be fair, let's consider the husbands role too. Scripture says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself." (Ephesians 5:25-33a)
When I read the Lord's command to husbands in Ephesians, all I see is submission. Husbands must love their wives. They must give themselves up so that they are able to help their wife become more and more holy. They must give her the room to become radiant, dripping in Jesus' beauty. They must treat their wives as they would treat themselves... caring for her, loving her, cleaving to her. Yes, it seems to me that both husbands and wives are bound by the same set of rules in how we are to relate to one another... how we were meant to treat one another... how we are to lay down our lives sacrificially for one another and uphold Jesus as our primary role model - - not only in our marriages... but in our lives.
This is the formula for a happy marriage - a biblical partnership. However, when one party does not hold up their end of submission and sacrifice, it does not mean that God's perfect plan should be thrown out the window. No, God has a reason for every marriage... for every life. To turn from His prescribed way and drop the ball on our covenant to Him and each other (irrespective of our spouse's actions) is unhealthy. Think about it... where would we be if our Savior dropped the ball on us whenever we didn't deliver? No, that is not how Jesus treats us... so it should not be how we treat our mates. No matter what we do, Jesus will ALWAYS seek after His beloved. Jesus loves us. He will always love us and will always strive for us to be with Him. Period. Without Jesus' faithfulness, we would be doomed to death and corruption. Without our Savior, we would be lost and hopeless. No, Jesus clearly hates hates hates divorce and division. Jesus is about building relationships. Jesus is about intimacy and closeness with God and each other. Why else would he emphasize the first two commandments to love God first and to love each other as we would love ourselves? Jesus shows up engaged and at the ready to be our spiritual helpmate. He is on our side always. If we "bowl a strike" and succeed in His Name, He celebrates our achievement with us. If we fall short and "bowl a gutter ball", He still holds true and tells us how much He loves us... how beautiful and precious we are to Him. Jesus' love for us is unconditional and His commitment to us is eternal. Jesus will always help us, encourage us, and teach us how to get closer and closer to The Almighty Father. His is the example we must follow and mirror. When we recognize this... when we follow His way... when we are filled to the brim with His secure love and leadership, we can become living witnesses and showcase His unchanging love to our spouses, our families, our friends, our co-workers, our world.
The questions shown above that both Chuck and I now regularly ask concerning our own marriage, are honest questions that all husbands and wives should biblically seek and sacrificially respond to daily. They are building blocks for each of us to measure our hearts independently and as a partnership while we seek to follow God's selfless way of life.
Ladies, I encourage every married DW to consider how you submit to your spouse. How you love and respect them. Ask yourself, does your husband see Jesus' delightful and inspiring way of life when he witnesses your own words or deeds? Are you a living testimony that represents your Redeemer's sacrificial heart and eternal commitment? Do you love your closest neighbor, your spouse, as you would love yourself? Are you resolved to lay down your life to serve the person you once claimed as your best friend... the one you swore before God to be bound to in marriage while living on this earth? For that is what marriage is - a holy union of two people living as one and representing God's love and union to His church. If you claim Jesus as your Heavenly Husband, should you not mirror His love to your earthly husband?
Please think about it. Please act on it. Please, please follow Jesus way and live it.
Love you all! Blessings!
Blog Post Written By Victoria Anderson
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