The Meaning of Love
|The Author and Finisher of Our Faith|
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Lesson 11.. LOVE .. The Many Facets Part 5
LOVE ... Your Husband / Wife
This was a study that raised much discussion between Stan and myself and self examination for both of us.
Since it concerns how a husband is to love his wife and how a wife is to love her husband, I asked Stan (my husband) to do the study with me. Of course, he, in his typical male logic, said right off the bat that God had to ask the husband to love his wife in a more special way because after all, it was Eve who got us into this whole mess in the first place, therefore the wife needs special attention to keep her out of trouble. He was kidding, or so he said! (smile now ladies) I'm not so sure he was that far off. OUCH! Did I really say that?
Kidding aside, we discovered by searching the scriptures that address the subject of the love between a husband and wife that the words used are vastly different and the way we are to love is in some ways as different as men are from women.
There are two main words I'll use with this study. They are:
The following scripture passages cover the main theme of this study.
Titus 2: 1 - 5
Let's start with the husband. Remember the agapao - 25 love ... the love that's more of the head than the heart and akin to agape - 26. God's love for us. This love is a very strong love in that its attributes are intentional, devotional, sacrificial, a matter of principle, duty, willful consent. Of course it's also related to phileo somewhat, of the heart, as well. So you see, it's actually the highest form of love that a human can have .. just under agape, which as you recall, can only be possible by the the Holy Spirit. Well, that's the love that a husband is told to have for his wife. I read a commentary written by Wiersby which echoed what was forming in my mind about the love requirements of a husband for his wife, and that is ... Paul had much more to say to the Christian husbands than to the wives, setting for them a very high standard. After all, he compared that kind of love to the kind of love Christ has for the church. The analogy is that this kind of love in a Christian home is a good illustration of the love that Jesus has for the church. He's the HEAD, the Protector, Spiritual Guide, Provider, The One who Sacrifices, the Comforter, the Giver .... If a husband patterns himself after Christ in his home, he is then walking in God's will for his family and is rightly submitted to the Lord himself. He will love his wife sacrificially, as Jesus gave Himself for us. So you can see by the use of the word which describes a man's love for his wife that he was given the most serious responsibility in that relationship.
Now as to the love that a wife is told to have for her husband ... philandros - 5362 tender affection. Nowhere is a wife told to agapao - 25 her husband. At first I found it strange that the word was different for the wife's love. Then I began to see that many times she's commanded to obey, submit, give reverence to, be subject to her husband. I'm fully aware that this a very controversial subject among modern believers and I don't intend to get into that subject in any depth, except where it fits into this particular study. I believe, and most of the best writers of commentary agree as well, that this does not mean that the husband is to be a dictator. Jesus being the example of the absolute HEAD washed Peter's feet to show that the greatest in authority used His authority to minister and build up, not tear down and oppress. Actually husbands and wives are to submit to each other as well, as believers are to do the same. And in no way was Paul saying that women are inferior. There is simply an operation of authority that works perfectly if all parties are submitted to and walking in the will of God. So, women being of a different mental disposition than men, are likely to be more prone to tender affection for a man who is loving, giving, protective, strong in spiritual headship, etc. And men, naturally tend to be the strong one, the protector, the one who feels most responsible to lead his family in the ways of the Lord. As stated before, this is the ideal, and only works as well as the commitment to and submission to the Lord in the husband's own walk.
I have to give a personal example here to illustrate a principle. I consider myself fairly intelligent and I've had a good education, more education in fact than Stan, though he's not lacking in intelligence by any means. But in the early years of our Christian walk I began to think of myself as even more 'spiritual' than he because I enjoyed studying the Word more and would spend long hours doing so. Of course I had more time because Stan was willing to make the living while I was able to stay at home and care for the children. I began to feel critical of him because I didn't think he was doing enough as the spiritual head of our relationship. I started to nag and complain, thinking I could goad him into being the perfect Christian husband that I pictured in my mind he should be. Well, ladies, I can tell you ... THAT DOES NOT WORK!!! That's God's business with a husband.
Actually, as we discussed all this preparing for this study, we looked back at some major mistakes we'd both made. I, in thinking I could mold his spiritual performance and he in neglecting some of the things that could have made our relationship a happier, more productive one. Those things are all water under the bridge now, and God in His infinite love and mercy for his disobedient children taught us well about husband and wife love. We now have a much better understanding of our roles as married believers, therefore a happier and more fulfilling marriage.
One specific example ... I've been in the singing ministry for some time now, and I've been involved with many different people in that area. First of all I want to say that I've worked in ministry with some wonderful, anointed people. But, there were some times when I made very poor judgments about who to join myself with, in my desire to do something in ministry trusting my own enthusiasm instead of the calling of the Lord. You see, I thought that since I was reasonably intelligent that I could make ministry decisions on my own, especially since I was a student of the Word. After all, didn't I know more Word than he? But Stan saw, on many occasions, that it wasn't something that he could feel good about, sometimes questioning the motives, character, or reputation of the person or persons involved, yet didn't have the heart to disappoint me, letting me go on and hoping for the best. Invariably we paid the price with things turning out to be great disappointments for us in the long run. We finally came to the conclusion that our disobedience to God's order of authority was not only hurting us but others as well. That's the way it is when we're not in God's will. Stan was wrong in not making a decision that he knew he should make, and I was wrong in not being willing to submit to his decision if he had. And we both knew without saying it that it would have been WWIII. You see, we were not operating in the proper love for each other. Yes, we had the phileo love (the emotional, sweet, tender love) for each other, but not the Biblical kind of love operating in our relationship. These commands are NOT to make a hardship on us in our marriage, but rather to make a better marriage, and a stronger one.
I'm not trying to 'air our laundry' here .. just trying to give one example of the results when the Word of God is not operating in our lives and marriages because of disobedience. My heart was not submitted to my husband, and therefore not submitted to the Lord in those areas, and Stan's heart was not submitted to the Lord because of his unwillingness to be obedient to the Lord. So we both suffered. And I for one learned the hard way that God gave my husband a wisdom that I didn't have about some things simply because it's the husband's place to do certain things and make certain important decisions. And Stan learned that it's so much easier and more loving after all is said and done to assert himself when it's needed to protect me from disaster. When we both realized how it could work if we were both submitted to God in the operation of authority that He ordained, we were both more than willing to try to do it the right way! I now can breathe a sigh of relief that I don't have to make ministry decisions alone, and Stan knows that he can use the wisdom God gave him as my head to help me with those things; we now work smoothly as a team, Stan being the head of my ministry in a practical way.
And oh yes, I must mention that since we're both submitted in proper order this ministry has flourished as never before!! I always knew that God had called me do certain things such as teach and sing, among others, but it seemed as if every effort failed to produce the fruits that I knew a ministry must if ordained of the Lord. Now I see clearly His Hand in what I do in this online minstry, and I see Him minister through me in a way that lets me know I'm in His will. I'm more willing to be obedient to the direction He has for me, and I feel very comfortable about leaning on and trusting Stan's insight regarding the operation of the website, and in matters of importance I know I don't have to rely on my judgment alone. This kind of submission has produced Freedom! And you know, there's a weight I no longer carry on my shoulders. See what that little word can accomplish? You know, the 'O' word.
All this to say,
"Husbands, Love your wives as Christ loves the church!" It will not be hard to know how .. just look to Jesus as your example. By the way, tender affection is included! There is a kind of love with a unique strength and honor that only a man is able to give .. and God gave that to you. Look within .. it's there, and can grow strong as your commitment to our Lord grows.
"Wives, love your husbands with the tender affection that only a woman can give." God gave us a beauty of spirit as women, that's characteristic only to us. When it comes from a heart that loves the Lord and desires to be obedient, it is a love that honors not only your husband, but God as well.
I know that as long as we're in this flesh we will not attain total perfection .. in our marriages or anything else, but the guide line is there for us to strive for the best we can be, and to the extent that we obey His Word, our marriages can be better and better as each day passes, and we can know that the Word of God will not be a mockery in the world because of a shabby love relationship, but instead a truly loving relationship between a man and his wife who profess to be Christians will bring honor to Him and His Holy Word!
I want to thank you again for having a love for God and His Word and wanting to study with us here at this online ministry. I thank you for your faithfulness, love and prayers for me and my family, and those who work with me in this ministry. You've become partners together with us by the bonds of love in the household of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We love you and appreciate you, and are blessed by your visiting and praying for this ministry! In Christ, you are the reason we can go on!
And we pray that what we do is making a difference in lives and bringing honor to our Father in Heaven!
With that in mind, I'd like to invite you to view the page in the theme page section that speaks about online friendships, those precious, godly relationships that God has allowed us to cultivate in these end time days. That page is entitled: In Spirit and Truth ... To read that Special Message that reflects how I feel in my heart for you, my faithful friends in the Lord - CLICK HERE!
God Bless You and Keep You in His Love as We Exalt Him and Give Him Glory and Honor and Praise! In Jesus' Name I ask Him to Bless This Lesson to our Understanding and Benefit!
I pray you're standing in faith and love as the United States is now engaged in war; and praying for the outcome to be one of victory over evil. Join with us in praying for our military personel who are sacrificing so much for us. Remember them and their loved ones who are sacrificing as well. Remember that we're always engaged in a battle with our enemy, the devil, and all the more so as the day approaches when our Savior, Jesus will return again! We must stand strong in that battle too, ever watching and ever on our guard, praying in the power of the Holy Spirit, with faith and love that we may be prepared and ready, and be about our Father's business until that day.
God's blessings and Love ... Until
next month, (May-'03)
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Love In Christ,