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Husbands are often heard complaining, “All I want from my wife is for her to be … loving … giving … gracious … co-operative, etc.” While these are wonderful ideals, and undoubtedly we should endeavor to lead our wives on a spiritual journey that would have us grow together in these areas, our responsibilities as husbands are not lessened by our wives’ lack in any or all of them. Loving our wives is not at all contingent on their responses.

Husbands, be loving your wives according as Christ also loves the ecclesia, and gives Himself up for its sake.

This is a clear, stand-alone truth. Christ’s love and giving up of Himself for us was in no way contingent on our own level of love, grace or co-operation: it was unmerited. This is the Paul’ point regarding our role with our wives. No one in the Old Testament ever could have known such a remarkable truth as this – because they never could have imagined the extent of selfless love outpoured at Calvary.

Will we ever “get” what we long for from our wives? Perhaps to some degree, but that is beside the point. Husbands have a higher calling than merely to “receive”: they are called to selfless “giving.” Some husbands are busy stressing to their wives the word “subject” (“submit”) in Ephesians 5:22, all the while avoiding the “gives” in :25. Husbands who consume themselves with their wives’ shortcomings are usually the same ones who fail to look in the mirror to see their own. To adapt our Savior’s words,

Why do you notice the splinter in your wife’s eye and fail to see the plank in your own eye? How dare you say to your wife, ‘Let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,’ and you never notice the plank in your own eye? What a hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see properly to take out the splinter in your wife’s eye (cf. Matthew 7:3-5).

Husbands’ standard excuse for not doing what God has called them to do is to follow Adam in shifting the blame to our wives. It is always somebody else’s fault. If our wives were just somehow different, we would love them more and give up ourselves for them. We as husbands must be done with our selfish victim mentality. God is behind all of our circumstances, including our marital ones, and all that we are going through is for our good.

The husband’s sacrificial love and giving to his wife are not merely petty matters; they are principles on which the divine structure of the universe is founded. The sooner we learn these grand truths, the further along we will be in our spiritual development. We will review the lessons of these divine principles over and over until Christ is formed in us. This life is the training and preparation for our celestial calling and responsibilities. Don’t waste its priceless lessons. Make the most of them. We will be thankful for every lesson learned at the appearing of Christ – and make no mistake about it: there will be a great surprise waiting for us, for many of those who have appeared to be great spiritual teachers and leaders here in this life will be dwarfed by those whom Father has privately taught the principles of divine love and self-sacrifice.

Yet now are remaining faith, expectation, love – these three. Yet the greatest of these is LOVE (I Corinthians 13:13).

One may excel greatly in faith and hope, but Paul clearly tells us that without love we are “nothing” (:2), and ALL of our other efforts, no matter how noble they may appear to others, benefit “nothing” (:3). Faith, hope and love: having only the first two out of the three leaves us destitute. Love is faith’s and expectation’s superior. Let’s learn well the lessons of Christ’s love. Let’s not come up empty at His appearing.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving.)

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March 2015
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