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Imagine with me, if you will, that we are leafing through a couple’s photo album. Early in the collection we see pictures of them while they are dating, during the period of his wooing. What a wonderful collection of pictures of the two of them with such happy faces. The next series of photographs are of their wedding and honeymoon. They vividly express images of such a happy couple. The smiles on their faces tell their amazing story of love and joy.
Now we page to the back of the album. Here we see quite a different scene. There is a long conference table with the couple sitting across from each other beside their respective attorneys. There are reflections of disgust, hatred and abhorrence written all over their faces.
The story of their marriage album is such a common occurrence in our “advanced” day. If fact, we are told that over half of all marriages – most of which began with bliss – end in gut-wrenching sadness. Did you ever ask yourself how the marriage albums go from delight to grief, from love to disgust?
Most marriages of our day are entered voluntarily. Many are the product of a woman being tenderly, lovingly and thoughtfully wooed and won. She is the focus of his attentive care. The woman standing beside the vowing groom is delighted to be there. So, how does the average couple get from the most wonderful day of their lives (their wedding day) to the hardest day of the lives (the divorce court)? More pointedly, since this is a series directed toward husbands, how does a woman go from being thrilled with the love of her life to despising the man on whom she is now having papers served?
One thing we know: this does not happen overnight. Rarely is a marriage over the day after the wedding, or a week after the honeymoon. It is usually a prolonged, slow death of love. Over the years it is a micro-demise, the minutest of day-by-day decline, which responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the husband. After all, in most husband-wife relationships, it is the husband who was the pursuer, the initiator, the wooer, the suitor, the courter, and often it his neglected duties as husband that lead to this slow death. He had made her believe that she was special and important to him, but over time, she was left to feel neglected, unimportant, valueless, meaningless, and unloved. Be assured that the husband’s love needs to be as steadfast, proactive and aggressive as when he was the fiancé, if not more so.
How many men, having won the attention, affection and hand of the woman of their pursuit, have, day-by-day, relaxed their action-of-love, consciously or unconsciously assuming that, since they had already won their prize, their labor-of-love was essentially over, or at least diminished?
Now granted, in the early stages of male/female relationships, the Creator has afforded a certain excitement and euphoria – nearly pharmaceutical in nature. This very fact means that the man’s greatest work actually lies ahead of the wedding day. What relied in part so easily on feeling, emotion, excitement, sensation and passion must of necessity be more-and-more demonstrated by the deliberate, thoughtful, concrete choices of active love.
God is the Initiator and Sustainer of love toward us (“we love Him because He first loved us,” I John 4:19), and we husbands have the honored privilege of learning the lesson of a lifetime, being His channel of divine love to our wives, “even as also Christ loved the ecclesia” (Ephesians 5:25).
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)
An Opportunity to Walk Worthily of the Evangel
Paul is telling us in 1 Corinthians 11 that the husband’s submission to Christ’s headship is to arise from his realization of Christ’s obedience to God’s headship. [A]s he grows in appreciation of Christ’s obedience to God, the believing husband comes to understand what his own headship over his wife signifies. As Christ gave of Himself for the good of the husband, so the believing husband gives of himself for the good of the wife. Headship, according as Paul presents it, is not an invitation to self-glorification and indulgence but an opportunity to walk worthily of the evangel of Christ (cf. Philippians 1:27).
As the love of a believing husband for his wife should accord with Christ’s love for the Ecclesia, the husband will be anxious at all times to examine the genuineness of his affection for his wife in the clear, revealing light of the purity, selflessness, devotion and constancy of the love of Christ. It is a revealing light, for Christ’s love was tried and its sterling worth proved in the crucible of His suffering for us.
In the injunction, “Husbands be loving your wives according as Christ also loves the Ecclesia and gives Himself up for its sake, that He should be hallowing it …” we have the highest, the ideal, the divine standard revealed to us. The feeble flicker of our affection can never attain the radiance of the glory of the love of Christ for His Ecclesia, His Body, but we can by earnest endeavor fan the flicker of our love into brightness and maintain it. With a brighter flame, betokening a warmer love towards God and to His beloved Son, we will be the better able to comply with the injunction, “Husbands be loving your wives as Christ also loves the Ecclesia.” Remember, too, that as beloved children, we are to be “walking in love, according as Christ also loves you, and gives Himself up for us, an approach present and a sacrifice to God, for a fragrant odor” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Alan Reid (1910-1992)
Unsearchable Riches, Vol. 71
What does it mean to be a husband? Our English world husband carries a remarkable connection to agriculture that reveals its meaning. Noah Webster defines the verb (transitive) of husband as,
To till; to cultivate with good management.
He defines the noun husbandry as,
The business of a farmer, comprehending agriculture or tillage of the ground, the raising, managing and fattening of cattle and other domestic animals, the management of the dairy and whatever the land produces.
Why would a man who had a wife be referred to in English by this same agricultural word, husband? It could be because of the words used to describe the husbands’ care for their wives.
For no one at any time hates his own flesh, but is nurturing and cherishing it, even as Christ also does the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:29).
Webster defines our English words “nurture” and “cherish” as,
Nurture: to feed; to nourish; to promote growth.
Cherish: to treat with tenderness and affection; to give warmth, ease or comfort to. To hold as dear; to embrace with affection; to foster, and encourage.
As powerfully telling as these English words are, the Greek words are even more so.
Nurture: κτρέφω (ektrephō)
To rear up to maturity (Strong).
To nourish up to maturity; to bring up (Thayer).
To nourish, rear, feed, to bring to maturity (Zodhiates).
To nourish out, i.e., in full, bring up to maturity (Bullinger).
Cherish: θάλπω (thalpō)
To brood, that is, to foster (Strong).
To heat, to soften by heat; to warm, make warm by incubation, hence to cherish, to nourish (Bullinger).
To warm, keep warm; to cherish with tender love, to foster with tender care (Thayer).
To soften by heat (Liddell/Scott; Vine).
Of special note are husbandry words from these definitions: nourish, brood and incubate. What heartfelt, cultivating truths these words convey. Husbandry is not simply hanging around the farm helping oneself to whatever fruit may happen to grow. Husbandry is a laborious stewardship, and husbands are divine trustees of the women in their care.
Sacrificial love does not mean that husbands give wives anything and everything they want. “Sacrifice” has nothing to do with what those who are being sacrificed for “want,” but what those who are doing the sacrificing “want” (i.e., “value.”) For, “to devote with loss” is the meaning of sacrifice. It is the giving up of something of value for another.
Christ does not give us anything and everything that we want. In fact, He loves us too much for that. We often have no idea about what we really need, and what we want is often not the best for us. He does, however, know and gives us all that we truly need and more, “abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Christ did not sacrifice to His Body what they “wanted.” Rather, His sacrifice was a giving up of what He “wanted.”
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26:39).
The nature of divine sacrifice is that which has a disregard to one’s own wants or needs and focuses on the will of the Father and the needs of the one being served and for whom the sacrifice is made.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, being rich, because of you He became poor, that you, by His poverty, should be rich (II Corinthians 8:9).
We are thankful that Christ is not like some men who are so foolish as to think that all that they need to do as a husband is to allow their wives the honor of living with them while refraining from abusing them. Such men are not Christ-like husbands but self-centered, bringing shame to the Christ Whom they have been called to model to their wives.
Most newlyweds have not yet learned the true meaning of unselfishness. The stresses of marriage and the home are designed to produce brokenness, to wean one from self-contentedness, and to produce the graces of sacrificial love and gentleness.
Because so few people understand the nature and purpose of marriage, when unexpected stresses and strains develop they are tempted to feel that they have made a mistake and perhaps have married the wrong person. The next step is to seek a way of escape by one means or another, sometimes through a professional marriage counselor or, more often, the divorce court.
If the marriage counselor is a professional and works for pay, his services, based as they are on Freudian principles, are probably worthless or worse. Except where there is organic difficulty, the root of all conflicts in the home is not mental but spiritual. Psychology and psychiatry are usually totally irreverent. A spiritual problem always has a spiritual cause and requires a spiritual solution. Many counselors, even some who are Christians, have been so influenced by Freud that they are totally unprepared to deal with a spiritual problem in a scriptural way. Many spiritually discerning persons are quite convinced that psychiatry is Satan’s substitute for the biblical remedy for disturbed relations. Many psychiatrists seek to help the person under stress by relieving him of personal responsibility for his difficulty – which only compounds the trouble. The origin of the conflict, except in organic cases, is almost invariably spiritual. The ego is inflated. Love is lacking. This is entirely a spiritual problem. The way out is not through separation or divorce.
Much marriage counseling is oriented toward the here and now. The primary goal is to heal the endangered marriage in the interest of the present happiness of the partners. Until they understand that life and marriage is an apprenticeship for the practice of agape love in preparation for rulership where the law of love is supreme, they are in danger of loss.
All of the efforts by psychologists and psychiatrists to bring about a reorientation and reintegration of personalities in marriage without dealing with the basic spiritual problem are in vain. It is one of the most lamentable tragedies of recent history.
So you have problems in your marriage? Not to worry. This does not mean that you don’t have a “good one.” Neither does it mean that it is destined to fail. God has carefully designed everything about life to be an important lesson in our development. Marriage is by no means an exception. In fact, it is one of the greatest of such lessons; and being so it is subject by divine plan to be laden with difficulties. All normal, all in course; so much so that C.S. Lovett wrote:
Marriage and the home is the center of all life on earth … It is a complete laboratory with all the stresses and strains, trials and pressures packed under one roof … Everything needed to produce Christlikeness in us can be found in the home.
Tomorrow’s Daily Email Goodie will take a look marriage as an apprenticeship for the practice of agapē love in preparation for our rulership in the heavens.
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)
We may, with delightful delectation, dwell upon the fact that no man ever hated his own flesh. No exhortation is needed there. It is instinctive, inevitable. So is Christ’s love to us. We are joined by bonds unbreakable. In loving us, He loves Himself. We need not implore Him to favor us, nor must we merit His affection. Within our own breasts we have a continual reminder of the love of God’s Anointed for the members of His body. We do not ask our members to earn our regard. Indeed, if an arm is hurt, we give it added concern. If a foot is lame, we do not discard it, but favor it all the more. So is the love of Christ. Let us not imagine that our weakness, our unworthiness, will make Him weary of us. That can never be.
A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 23
You are aware that the chiefs of the nations are lording it over them, and the great are coercing them. Not thus is it to be among you. But whosoever may be wanting to become great among you, let him be your servant, and whoever may be wanting to be foremost among you, let him be your slave, even as the Son of Mankind came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His soul a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).
If anyone is wanting to be first, he will be last of all, and servant of all (Mark 9:35).
In these passages Christ laid before His apostles the divine principle of spiritual leadership, concerning which A.E. Knoch (1874-1965) wrote,
While the Son of God was in sad contemplation of the deep humiliation of the cross, His disciples were puffed up with pride, arguing about their own greatness. They could hardly have been further removed from Him in spirit. He Who had been above all was now sinking beneath all. Higher than the archangels was His primeval position; lower than the lowest of sinners is the appalling place to which His path is winding. Higher! is the selfish shout of man, intent on his own exaltation, though he tread his fellows under foot to reach his proud pinnacle. Lower! was the cry of Christ, intent on the weal of others, though He be trodden in the mire to serve them. True greatness can never be attained by striving for self. It lies only in service for others.” (Concordant Commentary on the New Testament, Mark 9).
Likewise the servant role of husbands is about a man living for his wife and family. The husband is the foremost servant of his family. In the home, as in the Body of Christ, service starts at the top and works its way down: Christ Himself being the premiere example of self-sacrificing service.
Self-serving men will pursue creative ways to circumvent the servant-nature of leadership while attempting to hold on to its “position.” In no place is this more prevalent than in the home. Such actions bring shame, disgrace and mockery to the benevolent role of headship. Little wonder that patriarchy has become such a despised word in our society.
Thus, the husbands also ought to be loving their own wives as their own bodies. He who is loving his own wife is loving himself. For no one at any time hates his own flesh, but is nurturing and cherishing it, according as Christ also the Ecclesia, for we are members of His body. For this a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. This secret is great; yet I am saying this as to Christ and as to the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:28-32).
By loving his wife, a husband is following the example of Christ, Whose love for the ecclesia is so intense that He is continuously giving Himself up for its sake. …
This is truly showing us the depth of love which should exist between husbands and wives. The two are to be regarded as one, and no one hates his own body, but does his best to care for it. The inspiration for the husbands’ love for their wives should be the love which Christ has for the ecclesia, for we are members of His body. Then the apostle goes back to the very beginnings of humanity, and quotes from Genesis 2:24 to prove his point that “the two shall be one flesh.”
John H. Essex
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 79