This past week my wife and I spent a day in Washington, DC. Part of our morning we spent at Arlington National Cemetery where over 400,000 men and women are honored on these hallowed grounds for giving their all for their country. There is a saying in the military that “All gave some while some gave all.” Scripture tells us there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). These men and women laid down their lives for the freedom we enjoy today in this great country we live in. The men that are laid to rest here we can consider real men. It takes great courage to go into a hostile environment not knowing if you will return home. Some of these men even made a choice to purposely give their lives to save others in their unit. I know of one young man who is resting at Arlington that threw himself on an IED to protect others who were with him. Recognizing what was happening and they did not have time to escape he made the quit decision and sacrificed his life for the sake of others. This is great courage.
We may never be asked to make the sacrifice these men made but as men we still need to lead our families with courage. We are in a spiritual battle every day. As hostile as any battle can be. Though we may not see the death and destruction we typically think about, these spiritual battles will cause destruction is we do not properly prepare for them – they will come in the form of rebellion from God, trouble marriages, fatherless children (both inside and outside the home), financial and career difficulties, and we could go on listing many others. Some may even come to your mind as you read that you may be experiencing today.
One of the first battles we need to recognize is the battle that rages within ourselves to be the husband we need to be to our wife. Ephesians 5:25 tells us who are husbands or are contemplating becoming a husband one day is to “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, and a precious relationship that needs tender self-sacrificing care. Men, this is telling me that I need to die to myself. I need to die to the desires and needs of my life and place my wife’s needs and desires above mine.
Look at the verse again, it says to “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” “Gave Himself up for her!” How did He do this? By dying on the cross for our salvation. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of the church – His bride. Now we may never be asked to give our actual lives for the benefit of our wives but we can surely give up our wants and desires for her. Hard you say? You bet it’s hard. This is one reason why men need to build relationships with other men to encourage and pray with them through these times. But the reward and the blessings that one will receive when one dies to self will displace the hardship that one may feel when they realize the blessings God is granting them by blessing the marriage union and their own personal lives.
For we are also told in 1 Peter 3:7; “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
When Peter says that women may be “weaker” than men, he was not implying moral or intellectual inferiority, but was recognizing women’s physical limitations. Women in his day, if unprotected by men, were vulnerable to attack and abuse. Women’s lives may be easier today, but women are still vulnerable to criminal attack and family abuse. And in spite of increased opportunities in the workplace, the vast majority of the nations’ poor are single mothers and their children. A man who honors his wife as a member of the weaker sex will protect, respect, help, and stay with her. He will not expect her to work full-time outside the home and full-time at home; he will lighten her load wherever he can. He will be sensitive to her needs, and he will relate to her with courtesy, consideration, insight, and tact.
To me the most interesting information in 1 Peter 3:7 is that if a man is not considerate and respectful of his wife, his prayers will not be heard, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others. Jesus said that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23-24). This principle carries over into family relationships – husband and wife relationships. If men use their position to mistreat their wives, their prayers will be hindered.
And finally men, how we treat our wives will carry over to how our sons treat their wives and how our daughters will think wives are treated. We have a great responsibility. Men who demean their wives in front of their children are teaching their children it is okay to treat others with disrespect and to dishonor them. You are saying it is okay when things are not going your way to degrade others and look for a change (divorce). Our actions will be setting the tone for the next generation to follow.
Men I beg of you to not go down this road; but instead, meditate on these verses and allow God to revel to you where you stand with respect to loving your wife as Christ loves the church and in living with her in an understanding way. Examine your life and return to the Lord if need be asking for forgiveness from your wife and then God if you have not applied these scriptural teachings in your life.
I pray that if you have not been attentive to this teaching in scripture that you will seek forgiveness from your wife and God. And that you find a group of men who can pour into your life the true meaning of scripture in how you can become the husband God intends for all of us to become.
Being a husband is a great responsibility that a man must never take for granted.