Love is powerful because God is love and there is none more powerful than He is. When a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church he will draw her to himself stronger than any natural gift he could ever give.
Ephesians 5:25 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Verses 5:23 & 5:25 are actually instructions to each gender on how to relate to the other in marriage. Men by nature relate to other people in a manner of mutual respect. Even if men do not like each other in the business world, but there is a mutual respect between them, they can and will overlook even major differences. Women are more likely to connect to each other on an emotional level and will be more concerned with having a good relationship where the thought of respect does not enter if the emotional connection is not felt. Boys in school can have a major falling out one day and as long as one does not show disrespect to the other they will be playing on the playground together the next day. Girls, however, can have a falling out and will not speak to each other on one hand, but will worry about the broken relationship on the other hand until the relationship itself is mended. If God did not tell the husband to love his wife even to the level that Christ loved the church, he would fail at giving her the true attention she needs for the relationship to flourish. Likewise if the woman does not show respect to her husband, he will not be able to connect to her on any emotional level.
Here is where the problem lies: A man will equate respect with love and think that if he is showing honor to his wife, and provides for and protects her, that he is showing her his love. The problem here is he is not reaching her on any emotional level that she needs to be validated. The wife with a beautiful home and nice furnishings will not feel loved just because she has those things if the husband does not make a genuine effort to connect to her on an emotional level showing her he truly loves her. On the other side, a wife can truly tell her husband she loves him and try to connect and engage him on an emotional level, but if he ever hears her put him down regarding something he has said or done, even if she is making a joke out of it, or just telling one of her friends and it gets back to him, she has lost him because he feels she does not respect him.
Ephesians 5:25 is the perfect recipe to follow for a husband to learn how to show love for his wife. The love Christ has for the church was given long before it was asked for and was never earned. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. This is confirmed in John 3:16 as well. Christ had to be a willing sacrifice in order for His death to pay the price for our sins. In this act of sacrifice Jesus took our shame and bore our pain. Likewise a husband should never take this stance with his wife, “this is your problem, so you fix it”. Men need to look at where they would be if Christ had not done what He did and in learning from that make every effort to show the same kind of love to his wife in all things. Wives, what does the word say about slanders, back biters, and gossips; they will not enter the kingdom, Romans 8:29-31. Love covers a multitude of sins and no weapon can be formed against love. A wife can best show her love for her husband by first showing him her respect first which is the key to understanding Ephesians 5:23.
If you are single these verses still apply to you and will be a huge benefit to you in the future if you learn and practice them while dating. If you both are Christians, which is the best situation to be in, the person you are dating is first your brother or sister in the Lord. There may be a physical attraction that brought you together, but a real man would never emotionally harm, nor violate his sister sexually. Even if brothers and sisters are at each other’s throats, so to speak, a good loving brother will be the first to step up and protect his sister in a bad situation, and will still try to show her his brotherly love. A loving sister would not put her brother down to his face nor behind his back and would never allow him to see part of her nakedness. Take these same two people out of the family situation and put them in a dating scenario and it changes. The man allows his lust to take over any agape love for the young woman and is willing to take what is not rightfully his. A woman’s love and physical affection belongs to her husband, and you may not be that husband. Likewise, the man you are talking about in a disparaging manor, or pointing faults out to could someday be your husband and in any case he still is your brother in the Lord. And don’t cause your brother to stumble, by showing him parts of your body that rightfully belong to your husband someday.
If a husband learns how to show his love to his wife it will be easier to translate that into an agape love for his brother and sister in the Lord. If a wife learns and understands how to show respect to her husband, then she can translate that over into all relationships in the body of Christ. Now we are getting to the underlying message Paul is teaching and sums up in Ephesians 5:32.
Wives you are called to make the decision to submit, “Respect”, your husbands, and this is not to be forced by the husband. Husbands you are commanded to love your wife as Christ loves the church even before she asks for it, or earns it.
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