It is far more difficult to daily sacrifice our pride, our reputation, our selfishness, our perceived “rights,” or our desires to be served than it is to sacrifice our lives. And yet, these daily sacrifices are part and parcel of what it means to love our wives sacrificially. I have never met a husband who would not willingly lay down his life for his wife. But I have met many who refuse to sacrifice themselves in the smaller ways and, therefore, make life very hard for their wives on a daily basis.
Most of us know that Ephesians 5:25 calls husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” but I am not so sure that we know what this Christlike love is supposed to look like in practice. There are no details given in Ephesians 5, no list of ten ways that husbands can accomplish this challenging command. There are no pictures showing us exactly how to do it and no warning lights to alert us when we are missing the mark. There are no indicators to encourage us when we are in the general vicinity of Christlikeness.
My marriage would certainly benefit from these kinds of helps. It has taken me far too long to understand even a little of what Ephesians 5:25 is calling me to as a husband. And my experience as a pastor tells me that most men are struggling at least as much as I am to understand what it means to love their wives. That is why I would like to take up this difficult subject and to talk about it here. I want to spend some time exploring, first, what it means to love our wives in a Christlike way, and second, how we can evaluate whether we are succeeding. My hope is to encourage husbands to give themselves more energetically to the work of loving their wives in a Christlike way.
So, in the first place, let’s consider what it means for husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” When we look at the text before us, we can say for sure that our love for our wives must be sacrificial. And this means that we must be willing—should it be required of us—to lay down our lives on behalf of our wives and thereby make the ultimate sacrifice. But, as important as this is, most of us will never be asked to make this kind of sacrifice.