God has ordained the husband to be the head of the house, the leader in his family. How successful his marriage and family are rest on his leadership. In fact, God places the responsibility squarely on his shoulders!
Men, do you want to know how to be a good husband and leader in your family? Then look at what God’s Word says to husbands.
But first, understand this: Whatever God tells you to do, He is not saying that you must do it in your own strength, gritting your teeth! He will give you the strength when you rest in what His Son has done for you at the cross.
Notice how God’s instruction, “Husbands, love your wives,” in Ephesians 5, comes after Ephesians 1–4. Let me explain. Ephesians can be divided into three Ws. It begins with the wealth of the Christian—what you have in Christ. Then, you have the walk—the central part where it says, “Husbands, love your wives…Wives, submit...” Finally, you have warfare in Ephesians 6. Another way in which you can divide the book is like this: Sit–Walk–Stand.
Now, many Christians want to walk. They emphasize the behavior part of the Christian life and neglect the sitting. But the sitting or resting must come first.
When Jesus sat down at the Father’s right hand, it meant that everything He had done and provided for us had been accomplished. So we begin with sitting, not walking. But how well we walk out our Christian life on earth, depends on how well we sit. The more we rest in Christ and understand that everything is accomplished by Him, and not us, the more power we will receive to walk well.
If you apply this to your marriage, it means that how well you treat your wife depends on how well you rest in Christ. God is not saying, “You, by your energy, love your wife.” He is saying, “Rest in My Son and He will cause you to love your wife effortlessly.”
To Love As Christ Loved
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
We are to love our wives the way Jesus loved the church. And how did Jesus love the church? He “gave Himself”. The Bible doesn’t say, “For God so loved the world, He gave a box of candies.” He didn’t give you a bunch of flowers either! On the cross, Jesus gave Himself.
Ladies, don’t marry a guy just because he is rich and gives you gifts. He can give you presents without giving you his presence! Money doesn’t guarantee you happiness. Go, instead, for someone who is able to give himself for you. Go for someone with self-sacrificial love.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. That is self-sacrificial love. Guys, your wife will not find it hard to submit to you when she knows that you love her self-sacrificially. Take Jesus as our example. It’s not hard to submit to Him when we know how much He loves us and that He has our best interests at heart.
Let God Do The Changing
Some husbands may say, “Pastor Prince, if I just love my wife, she’ll never see her faults, she’ll never change!”
You can’t change your wife. Your part is to love her and let God do the changing. Ladies, likewise, your part is to submit to your husband and let God change him.
Many times, we tell our spouses, “I want you to change and then I will love you.” But God’s way is the opposite: “Men, love first and then I will transform her. Ladies, submit first and then I will change him.”
What Makes A Man Attractive
Guys, do you want to know what makes you attractive? In the book of Proverbs, it says that what is desired in a man is kindness. (Proverbs 19:22) The Living Bible says, “Kindness makes a man attractive”. The word “kindness” here is hesed in the Hebrew, which means “lovingkindness”. This word is usually used to refer to the love of God.
So ladies, if you are looking for a potential husband, make sure that the person has hesed because the love of God will keep him attractive. Guys, one day, your six-pack abs will sag! One day, your high forehead will become even higher! When all your good looks are gone, hesed will remain, and your wife will still find you very attractive!
Lay Down Your Own Desires
Hesed is also displayed when you lay down your own desires for the sake of your loved ones.
There are times when my wife Wendy wants to do something but I want to do something else. And I’m ashamed to say that in a few of those times, I went ahead and did what I wanted to do. But at the end of it, I felt so selfish and frustrated.
So I have learnt to allow the self-sacrificial love of Jesus to fill my heart when such situations arise. I remind myself that Jesus laid down His life with open arms on the cross for me. And if Wendy wants to do something else, I tell the Lord, “Lord Jesus, since You love me like that, I am going to love her like that too.”
Love is shown when two wills cross, and you are willing to lay down yours and fulfill hers. When I sacrifice my desires for Wendy, there is an excitement that is so much deeper, more wholesome and fulfilling than going after my selfish desires! Because when I start “laying down my life” for her, the next thing I know, she says, “I feel like I am falling in love with you all over again.”
It is fun to “lay down your life” in love for your loved ones. It makes you more sensitive to the Spirit too. When you open your Bible, the words “jump out” at you. When you pray, your prayer is a flow. When you honor your wife and love her self-sacrificially, you will find that all of heaven opens. That’s why 1 Peter 3:7 says that when a husband honors his wife, his prayers will not be hindered!
Focus On Christ’s Love For You
Let’s look at Ephesians 5:25 again: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. Here’s a key on how to love your wife. Notice it says, “as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. The focus is on Christ — the way Christ loves us.
There are times when Wendy doesn’t see my point of view and we have a disagreement. After the disagreement, we hear a song—the Sound of Silence! So I give her the cold treatment and drive off somewhere. I tell myself, “It’s time for her to learn and grow up! Like a wild horse, she must be tamed!”
So I’m driving down the road with such thoughts. I try to forgive her and love her, but the more I try, the worse it becomes! What do I do then, when I don’t feel like loving my wife?
The secret is to turn to Jesus. My part is not to try to love my wife because I’ll just get angrier. I’ll just have more bad thoughts toward her, like how she should not have done that and how she should have known better. So I must stop and focus on Jesus’ love for me.
When I see how much He loves me, the Lord begins to show me how time and time again, I myself have done wrong when I should have known better, yet He still loves me. Not once has He said to me, “I resign from being your Savior!” He always says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
When you focus on Jesus and His grace toward you despite your mistakes, you begin to see your self-righteousness—acting like you are so high up there and holy, and she is so wrong. And you begin to despise what you see in yourself and say, “Lord, if You love me despite all my nonsense, how can I treat my wife like this?”
Guys, focus on Jesus, not your wife. Meditate on His love for you. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) We forgive because He first forgave us. Love your wife and say, “I am sorry,” even if you are not in the wrong. It’s your glory to overlook a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11) It takes a real man to do that. And when your wife sees you humble, she feels loved. She won’t take advantage of you. She will end up loving you because your lovingkindness toward her makes you attractive.
Love Your Wife With Your Words
When we choose to forgive, we are loving our wives. We also love our wives when we use words to nourish them, just like how Christ uses His words to cleanse and wash us, the church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word
How does Jesus purify us when we feel condemned, guilty or depressed? He speaks to us, through a pastor, sermon CD or the Bible. He uses His words to make us feel clean—“that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle”. (Ephesians 5:27) He doesn’t use His words to make us feel dirty or guilty. He says things like, “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)
Husbands, likewise, love your wives with your words. Tell her how good she looks in that dress. Praise her for the meal she cooked.
But the problem is that we guys don’t like to communicate with our wives. Women like to speak up, but guys just keep it all bottled up!
Some of you may think that just because I am a pastor who preaches four services every Sunday, I communicate a lot with Wendy. It’s not true. When I go home, I become like any ordinary man. In fact, because I have already spoken so much in church, my tongue says, “Give me a sofa!”
As I am lying on my sofa and watching TV, Wendy sits down beside me and says, “Darling, did you think of me today?”
I say, “Yeah, I’m sure you crossed my mind today.”
Men, you know that that’s not what she wants to hear! I should have said, “Yes, I did think of you, darling, and honestly, when I thought of you, my heart felt so warm. I am so glad I am married to you.”
You are being truthful because we men do think of our wives in that way during the day. But we need to speak and say it in their language of love. We need to nourish them with our words.
The Proverbs 31 Woman
If you read Proverbs 31:10, you’ll find that it describes the “virtuous wife”, whose worth is “far above rubies”. So some husbands tell their wives, “Darling, it would be wonderful if you were the Proverbs 31 woman!”
The secret to being the woman in Proverbs 31 is at the tail end of the chapter—“Her husband…praises her”! (Proverbs 31:28) Her husband has learnt the value of praising her. He knows how to use his words to nourish her.
But we husbands are quick to criticize our wives and slow to praise them. When they prepare a meal that tastes really good, we don’t say a word. But the moment there is something we don’t like about the meal, we complain!
Guys, if you want your wife to be like the woman in Proverbs 31, learn to give her praise and honor. It will bring you success too!
Honoring Your Wife Brings You Success
When I first married Wendy, I was very ambitious about the church and my ministry. I didn’t want to have a church that never grew and where the people were lifeless. I wanted a church that is happening and on fire for Jesus.
So I got hold of books and tapes on church growth. I listened to the tapes and read the books. Yet, the church didn’t grow as fast as it did over the recent years. Why?
Because I had believed in a lie from the devil. The devil says that to have career success, you must focus on your career. The Bible, however, tells us otherwise. It says that we are to give honor to our wives (1 Peter 3:7), not our careers!
The word “honor” in 1 Peter 3:7 is kabod in Hebrew. It means “heavy weight”. In other words, if I honor my wife, I give weight or value to her presence. I also give weight to her words.
So I began to see that I was doing it wrong. I was giving my ministry weight and making light of Wendy and her words. We had just gotten married and those were some of the toughest times in our marriage because I was focusing on the ministry and church. I came to a place where I felt like a hypocrite and I didn’t like it. I had to make a choice—either I pursued the ministry or my wife.
I said, “God, if this church never becomes a success, I don’t care. I am going to honor my wife. I am going by Your Word that says, ‘Give her honor.’”
From then on, I gave weight to her and what she said. And amazing things started to happen. As I honored my wife, God propelled me and my ministry!
So guys, if you want career success, honor your wives. The more you honor your wives, the more your careers will be on track and the more success will seek you out!
Leadership And Accountability
When it comes to making important decisions, discuss them with your wife. Don’t just say, “I am the man. Submit! End of discussion!” Instead, give weight to her words. Listen to her opinions. At the end of it, if you still feel strongly that your decision is better, your wife is to submit to you.
But know this: Whatever the outcome, good or bad, whether it is your idea or hers, the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders! You are ultimately accountable to your family. If a family fails or a marriage crumbles, even if the wife is involved, God puts the blame squarely on the man. Why?
Somewhere along the way, like Adam, the man has kept quiet and allowed evil to reign. He has allowed Satan to deceive his wife. Though it was Eve who sinned first, God did not say, “Through Eve’s sin, we were all made sinners.” Instead, He said that it was through Adam’s sin. (Romans 5:19)
So men, you are the head of the house, admiral of your submarine, captain of your platoon! As the leader, God holds you responsible. You cannot say, “I can’t help it. My wife is like that.” No, take responsibility and say, “I am going to love her and trust God to change her. And by the grace of God, I will change for the better too.”
When a company succeeds, who gets the credit? The chief executive officer (CEO), not the workers. You may think that it’s unfair. But when the company fails, who gets the blame? The CEO. So it’s not easy being a leader. I know this as I am also a leader in more ways than one.
Men, God has made you the leader in your families. He has given you the honor, so take charge and be responsible. But remember that He does not expect you to do it in your own strength. Rest in His Son and He will give you the power to steer your family through the storms of life!
© Copyright Joseph Prince, 2002. All rights reserved.