How To Die
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (KJV)
One of the more frustrating things to me is the tendency we have as the body of Christ to retreat to high level statements when what we really need is a kick in the pants. We sit in circles and admonish each other to do things like “…love your wife like Christ loved the church” without going any deeper and looking at what that really means. Being a very black and white kind of guy, I’m seldom satisfied with the high level answer and find myself asking “yes, but what does that look like for me today?” Each of us has to answer that for ourselves and defend it before God, of course, but here’s what I think it looks like to “…love your wife as Christ loved the church….”
First and foremost, we know from Ephesians 5:25 and John 3:16 that Christ’s expression of love for the Church was that he died for it, so that’s a pretty good starting point. What does it mean to die for my wife? I think we insulate ourselves from the real answer by another set of high-level, non-threatening answers. “It means we sacrifice for them” or “we put their needs before ours.” Again, these are fine and dandy answers that enable us go on with our lives exactly as we did before convinced that we are obeying the command to “love our wives…”
In stark contrast to the statements above, here’s the operative set of guidelines I’ve come up with for myself to determine what it means on a daily basis to die for my wife. I fail on these regularly, but they continue to be my measuring stick:
1. Commit daily to make your wife what God intended her to be – the ONLY woman in your life. This means immediately and permanently ceasing ever looking at or thinking about another woman lustfully (especially supposedly innocent things like looking at the woman jogger by the side of the road). If you can’t control this then get help, as you will never be able to love your wife sacrificially if you reserve a part of your mind for any other. When you practice this, one thing that may surprise you is how much more beautiful your wife becomes to you.
2. Whenever your needs and the needs of your wife conflict on non-scriptural grounds, you lose. Automatically. Your wife wants to talk? Put down the newspaper. Your wife would like you to go along to the fabric store to help pick out material for the new draperies? Turn off the game and go along (with a smile!). Now that’s dying to self.
3. On any scriptural issues, you sacrifice the peace in your home in order to educate and model Christ to your wife. This includes EVERYTHING in scripture, no matter how emotionally traumatic you think the results will be by standing firm on truth. This is an act of love if ever there was one.
4. You daily lay your expectations of what your wife will do for you before God and not your wife. Only one thing is certain – she will not meet them. God owns that, not your wife.
5. Determine for today and every day forward that you have no rights, nor even a right to be right. Conclude that being right doesn’t matter – you are there to serve, and that’s it. Had a fight? Apologize, even if you think you were right. This may seem to be a stark existence, but I can tell you that when put into practice you will see your wife (and yourself) in a different way – the way God had intended. Feel free to add your guidelines as well.