An “Impossible” Command

It seems not a day goes by that I don’t analyze my relationship with my wife. I don’t mean that I critique our marriage, but I look at how I hold up to the duties of a husband that Scripture prescribes. There are numerous explicit and implicit commands in the Bible for husbands in relation to their wives, and one of the most dramatic and straightforward comes from Ephesians 5:25 where Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives” and this is a command. The verb “love” is ἀγαπᾶτε, which is an imperative. There is no wiggle room in a word like this.

Husbands are commanded to love their wives. This may seem easy to do because the world in which we live has distorted the definition of love. We often hear phrases like “follow your heart” or “my religion is love” or “can’t we all just love one another.” Do a quick Google search and you will find these definitions: “Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment,” “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” I hope you see the error in these definitions. The command to love cannot be based on my feelings, because I still have abiding sin and my emotions are often corrupt. We definitely cannot define love as sex, that is one of the most dangerous definitions out there! Scripture does not use love in any of these ways. Listen to how Paul tells husbands how to love their wives: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. The command to love is modeled on sacrificial service, yes, even to the point of death.

There is a definition of love. So, I ask of myself daily, am I loving my wife as Christ loved the church? The answer is most assuredly, no. If you are a husband reading this, ask your wife this question, “Hey, hon, have I been loving as Christ loves the church?” And let her, nudge her, to respond seriously.

I had a conversation about being a husband with good friend of mine, who is a husband, and he said, “of course we fail at this, but there is grace.” He is absolutely right, of course. However, we must decide where we put grace. Follow me on this one. Do we place grace before our failures or after our failures. As a husband, do I allow the knowledge of grace as the reason why I am not loving my wife as Christ loved the church? Do I choose not to serve her at any given moment because I know that there is grace through the cross? Do you?

This is an inappropriate view of grace, read Romans 6:1-2. As a husband who often fails in the command to love my wife as Christ loves the church I would like to offer some encouragement to those like me. Grace picks you back up. Grace is the reason we move forward. When you fail your wife, when you are not loving her as Christ, you know that you can abandon that sinfulness because of grace. To put it another way: grace is not a reason for sin, rather grace is our motivation for fulfilling an “impossible” command.

Go, love your wife.

 

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