My wife’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been busy trying to think of the perfect gift to give her. After awhile, I sort of run out of ideas. We’ve been married 24 years, dated for 6 years before that. That’s a lot of birthday presents. And the challenge is always to find something practical enough so that I don’t get into trouble, but fun enough that it’s…well…fun.
Recently, however, I was presented with a challenge that’s much more serious that what to get for her birthday. I’ve been meeting with some guys once a week for prayer, fellowship, etc. and we’ve been studying Larry McCall’s Loving Your Wife as Christ Loves the Church.
It’s essentially just what it sounds like: a book that shows Jesus as the model of what a husband ought to be. How He treats His Bride, the church, is the model which husbands ought to follow in our own marriages.
Now, a lot of this is stuff we all know. It’s stuff that if you’ve spent any time at all considering how to be a godly husband you may have come across. But at the same time, there are some challenges here, some ways of looking at things that might be new or different to you, even if other guys have known it for years. I hit one of those in the last week or so.
McCall is talking about the issue of having a “purposeful love” for your wife. He says, just as we make goals for our church, our business, etc. we ought to have goals for our marriage and our wives. He points out that Jesus has that kind of purposeful love for His Bride, seeking to make us a pure and spotless bride for that great wedding feast to come.
Likewise then, if we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, we should love with a goal in mind. McCall suggests our goal is the same as Christ’s goal for His bride, namely Christlikeness.
Now, I know that the goal for every believer is Christlikeness, I just never considered that I should have this goal for my wife; and that God has placed me in her life to help her achieve that goal. McCall says, “We husbands are primary tools I the hands of the Holy Spirit in that glorious process of molding our wives to become more and more like Christ.” Wow! What a thought. And yet that wasn’t the real challenging part.
For me, the challenge came when he points out that part of how we reach that goal is by our own example. He says: What was Paul’s counsel to the people he was leading? “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Isn’t it sobering to picture ourselves saying those same words to our wives? Can you envision yourself saying with humble integrity these words: “Honey, the Lord has commissioned me, your husband, to help you become more like Jesus. So, watch my example, and follow me as I follow Christ”? Wow, again! Or in the words of Voddie Baucham: “If you can’t say Amen, you’d better say ouch!”
And then the real kicker. McCall says this: We might ask ourselves, “Is my wife more like Jesus today than she was on our wedding day because of the influence of my Christlike example?” One more time, say it with me…Wow! Is my wife more like Jesus today because of my example. Or the opposite, is my example hindering her from becoming more like Christ.
Suddenly I realize that this is so much more significant than what I pick out for her birthday. And yet I’ve given more time and effort and thought into those gifts than I have consciously considering loving my wife with this purpose in mind.
So I thought I’d share the guilt with the rest of you guys out there! Seriously, this is an amazing challenge. One that I ask your prayers that I might meet in His power for His glory. And, yes, one that I would pass along to my brothers. Not just to share the pain, as it were, but so that all our wives might be blessed as a result.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to try and think of that perfect gift this week. But maybe she might be happier if I spent as much or more time seeking to live like Christ for her sake and His glory.