Take a moment with me, ladies, to remember back to the early days of marriage. You loved to see your husband's face, hear his voice, and feel his touch.
To be near him, hold his hand, or delight in a long sweet conversation. Laughing together, taking long walks, love notes, sweet phone calls, and all the other gifts that let you know you were loved and cherished by each other.
No one had to tell you to delight and cherish him.
Let's fast forward ten years. Life happens. Days are busy. Many areas are calling for your time and attention.
There are children to care for and love, homes to clean, bills to pay, meals to cook, piles of laundry, and ministry work to be done. We are also a bit more aware of the faults of our husband and hopefully our own too.
Your husband married a sinner, and you married a sinner.
The amazing and beautiful part of that is that God forgives sinners and helps us be more like Him. When we are in Christ, God uses our marriages to sanctify us and grow us more Christlike. One of those areas is growing us in love with God and each other.
Listen to the Podcast Below:
(You can read it below in 12 minutes or listen in to the podcast (28 minutes) where I share more content)
Loving Our Husband:
In Titus 2:3-4, the older women are told to teach the younger women to love their husbands.
The word for love in this verse is not agape (self-sacrificing) but phileo. Phileo love is a tender, affectionate and passionate kind of love. It emphasizes enjoyment and respect in a relationship. I
It is the love you would see between close friends.
So we need to ask ourselves – does the love you show to your husband resemble that of a love between close friends?
The Lord knew we women were good at sacrificial love. We are good to do his laundry, cook his meals and raise his children, but the sad part is we can do that without even feeling tender affection for him.
We can get so busy serving our husbands that we don't enjoy them.
Before we think we're off the hook from showing agape love to our husbands, I want to remind us that in Mark 12:31, the second and greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves and our husbands are our closest neighbor.
And in John 13:34-35, we're told:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As a Christian, I am commanded to love my husband just as I am commanded to love others. Love in this verse is also agape love, and it is to be given where there is nothing given in return. It is a choice.
I also want to share the command in Titus 2:3 does not come with a contingency clause. It does not say “if” they are godly men or “if” they're worthy of this kind of love or deserving of it. We are called to love them regardless of their response or actions. It is a true unconditional love.
One of the best questions we can ask ourselves in regard to our marriages is, “how can I bring honor to the gospel as a wife?” One way is to show love to our husband as God's Word calls us to.
If we're in Christ, we are equipped to do this – 1 John 4:19 reminds us – we love because He first loved us.
“Put On, Put Off”:
Colossians 3:12-14 states:
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14 shares what the Lord calls us to “put on” as believers.
As a young believer, I first came across the “Put On, Put Off” principle in reading The Excellent Wife. It's based on the principles in Ephesians 4 regarding what bad habits we are to “put off” and what good habits we are to “put on.”
We're called “to put off the old self” (Eph 4:22) and to “put on the new self” (Eph 4:24). We came to Christ with habits and ways of thinking that are difficult to break in our own strength, and they can cause a lot of issues in our marriages.
As Christians, we have become new creations by the work of the Lord in us at the moment of salvation. We are made new.
But many times, the attitude in our homes doesn't match up to what we profess to believe. We can find ourselves being unloving, impatient, selfish, and angry with those we love most.
Walk in Love:
In our flesh, we don't put God and others first. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and being in Christ, you possess the fruit of the Spirit.
When our hearts are being ruled by the Spirit we will only desire the very best for someone. Jesus is our perfect example of how love acts (Eph. 5:2).When our hearts are being ruled by the Spirit we will only desire the very best for someone. Jesus is our perfect example of how love acts (Eph. 5:2).
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
I am not stating that we will be perfect because that isn't possible here on this earth, but our walk with the Lord should be continually growing and changing us more into the likeness of Christ.
We often don't see much growth because we don't take the time to replace the old bad habits with new good habits that reflect obedience to God's Word and what He desires for us. It's easy for us to fall back into our normal default mode.
One way to change our thinking is to continue to saturate our minds and thoughts with God's Word. We know from God's Word that what is inside our hearts will come out in our behavior and responses.
So a change in our behavior needs to start in the heart. God uses His Word to bring about that heart transformation in us. Every time we choose to replace a sinful desire or action with a biblical one, we're being renewed in our minds and hearts.
How Love Acts:
We know how love acts by reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and there are ways we can practically live that out with God's help. We know love is patient, so we can speak to our husbands with a calm and loving voice.
We know love is not arrogant, so we can respond respectfully and correct gently when needed.
You may be saying to yourself, “Am I a hypocrite by doing something when I don't feel like it?”
A quote I heard from Lou Priolo was such a helpful response to that comment:
“You are never being a hypocrite when you obey God's Word.”
On the flip side, when we do what we feel and don't obey God's Word, we're in sin.
Sadly, we usually just react and don't tend to see or desire change for our lives' sinful patterns and responses.
What would our marriages look like if we responded to our husbands with love instead of impatience or anger?
In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, the Lord calls us to discipline ourselves for the sake of godliness, and when we obey God's Word to do that, He helps us to supernaturally fulfill that calling. He will continue to change us to be more like Jesus.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us a beautiful description of what love looks like:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The word for love here is agape. Agape is “a caring, self-sacrificing commitment which shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved.” In His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus Christ is our perfect example of this kind of love.
How might this practically look like lived out in our marriages? (I share much more in the podcast episode, but we'll briefly look at them here).
Love is patient:
So love never tires of waiting. When I'm showing patience, I'm slow to anger; I endure wrongs against me without retaliating.
Love is kind:
I can be friendly, generous, and warm towards my husband. I can respond in kind even when responses against me aren't kind.
Love does not envy (also translated as jealous):
The descriptions of love are now turning to the negative “love is not”
Someone who truly loves another is never jealous or envious but glad for their success and even if that success works against their own.
Love does not boast:
I heard it said it is impossible to build ourselves up without putting others down. We don't need to flaunt our knowledge or abilities or accomplishments or whatever within our marriages.
Love is not arrogant:
Arrogance is big-headed. Love is big-hearted -John MacArthur
Arrogance is a lack of respect for another person in that you ignore how he would feel and assert your own decision.
Love is not rude:
Do I find myself being sarcastic with my husband? Am I polite?
“Love does not behave gracelessly.”~ William Barclay
Love does not insist on its own way:
Love seeks the interests of others (Phil 2:4), and puts their needs above our own.
Love is not irritable:
Biblical love does not easily take offense, and it seeks the well being of others.
Love is not resentful (some translations say love does not take into account a wrong suffered):
If we're keeping track of every wrong done against us, it's not going to make for a very fruitful, loving marriage. Love doesn't keep score!!
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing:
We don't rejoice in sin. When we love God, what offends Him will offend us. We grieve when others fall into sin—we don't gloat. If they repent—we rejoice.
Love rejoices at the truth:
Love appreciates good and truthful things in others, and when we see those things in our husbands, we need to rejoice and encourage them. Love builds up and doesn't tear down.
Love bears all things:
Love covers everything. Love doesn't broadcast failures; it protects.
Love believes all things:
I desire to think the best about my husband. Love always grants a do-over.
Love hopes all things:
Love will find a way to begin again
“Love refuses to take failure as final. The rope of love's hope has no end. As long as there is life, love does not lose hope. When our hope becomes weak, we know our love has become weak.”~ John MacArthur
Love endures all things:
Love never gives up on anyone or quits. Love will never stop loving. When love abounds in a relationship – many small offenses and even some large ones are readily overlooked and forgotten (1 Peter 4:8).
Err on the Side of Love:
God has laid out for us in His Word what love looks like. It should be my joy as a believer to obey His commands (1 John 5:3). When we desire to please the Lord, those old ways of thinking will have less of a stronghold on us in time.
Over time, we will see right responses being more dominant and wrong ones showing up less and less.
When we have sinful patterns in our lives that we have practiced for years, it is not a quick fix, so don't be discouraged but continue to fight the good fight.
God's grace works in and through us, but it is still man's responsibility to work with God at it (Philippians 2:12-13).
Take the time to recognize your sinful thinking. Pray and seek the Lord and ask Him what you should have been thinking. What thoughts or responses would be God-honoring?
My reminder to us is to look to Christ. He is our most important relationship.
We are a work in progress, and I'm thankful the Lord does not leave us where we are but continues to mold us more into the image of His Son. Our marriages are a beautiful tool He uses to sanctify us and expose our rough edges and continue to refine them. Give thanks in and through all things knowing that God is working all things for good to those who love them.
Pray that the Lord would help you today to dwell on the good things you see in your husband.
Scripture References from the Podcast:
- Titus 2:3-4
- Mark 12:31
- John 13:34-35
- Colossians 3:12-14
- Ephesians 4:22-24
- Galatians 5:22-23
- Ephesians 5:2
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- 1 Timothy 4:7-8
- 2 Peter 3:9
- Philippians 2:4
- Matthew 20:28
- Romans 4:8
- Proverbs 10:12
- 1 Peter 4:8
- 1 John 5:3