Author: John Gillespie
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25
When I married Jenni in November 2008, I had dreams of greatness. I was convinced. I was going to be the greatest husband in history. I was going to be selfless, thoughtful, kind, engaging, communicative, caring, and so on. My marriage was going to be perfect.
Reality turned out to be a lot different!
It didn’t take long before I discovered that I was way more selfish, more opinionated, more arrogant, and downright mean than I’d thought was possible, in addition to being way less caring, thoughtful, and kind than I’d hoped to be.
You see, when you’re single, you can think you’re a super selfless person, loving and caring for others with your daily life, and the reality is that 60-70% of your time is still totally at your disposal to do exactly whatever you want, however you want. Marriage changes all of that. Even if you are a super selfless person as a single, marriage exposes all the areas where you enjoy thinking only about Number One.
Getting married for me was a real eye-opener. Suddenly, the vast majority of my life and free time was now shared. I had to include this other person (albeit the love of my life) in all of the free space in my life, house, and most importantly, my time. Jenni became involved in all these decisions that used to be totally my own. That transition was jarring, and exposed a selfishness in me that I’d never seen before!
It didn’t take me long to realize I needed help, and I needed it fast. A few of my friends were realizing similar things, and in desperation we decided to start getting together to study the Bible and figure out what God said about being good husbands.
We began meeting once a week, early in the morning, because that was the only time that would always work in our schedules! From the winter of 2009-2010, and for the following three years, if you walked into the Palani Starbucks (now Kona Coffee and Tea) on a Friday morning around 5:15am, you would have probably seen 4 or 5 guys huddled in a corner talking, studying, and praying.
We started in Ephesians 5, because, why not? Accidentally my friends and I stumbled into an amazing truth that would radically affect our lives, change my character, and make me a better husband.
In verse 25, the passage addressed to husbands starts with this amazing line, commanding husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church”. This single verse gives us permission as husbands to look at any aspect of Jesus’ love, and apply it directly to how we love our wives.
As I look back it’s incredible to think how much can change from so few words.
Week after week, as we would gather over a tall black house brew, we would choose an aspect of how Jesus loves us, his church. We would talk about it, getting wrecked by how much Jesus loves us. Then, we would begin to apply these truths inward, measuring ourselves and our love for our wives against this standard. Conviction would seep into our souls. Week after week, Holy Spirit worked in our hearts, shaping our love for our wives, molding us to this model set by Christ.
This verse sets such a high standard for every husband! We are measured against the standard of Jesus Christ’s love for his bride, which is radical, abandoned, sacrificial. His love is massive, unconditional, powerful. His kindness is unending. He even loved his bride unto death “while we were still sinners”. With no thought of Himself, no regard for His own wellbeing or safety, Jesus Christ pursued, wooed, and won His bride with passionate love. Now that we are His, He constantly speaks life, truth, hope, and joy over us, prophesying to us who we are and will be, even when we’re not there yet. He whispers to us in the darkness of His commitment. He provides for our needs and showers us with gifts “just because”.
Jesus’ love is radical, and incomparable.
Husbands are called to demonstrate this same love to our wives.
Wow! What a challenge! Measured agains this standard, it can seem like an impossibility. Actually, it is an impossibility in our natural ability. How could we possibly love with such a supernatural, inhuman love?
There is good news for you, for me, for every struggling, imperfect husband that wants to be like Jesus! God has given us a massive weapon in this struggle to love like Jesus loves. God has placed Holy Spirit, God himself, inside of us, empowering us to live and love the same way, just like Jesus lived and loved!
I can’t love like Jesus. I’m not God. But God can love like God. One of the miraculous truths of the Gospel is that when we believe in Jesus, God places his very Spirit into our hearts, empowering us to live like only God himself can live. This earth-shattering truth enables us to live a life that would otherwise be utterly impossible! Suddenly, at salvation, we are empowered to live a supernatural life, walking with God, loving like God, as his Spirit teaches us how to please Him.
Suddenly, every aspect of Jesus’ massive and radical love is within reach for me, an otherwise garden-variety husband. I’m empowered to be a supernaturally amazing lover, leader, teammate, and friend.
It’s been a beautiful journey over these years, going deep into the truth of Jesus’ love, being amazed, and being convicted to walk out that same love in my marriage. The beauty of Jesus’ love and the power of Holy Spirit have radically changed me as a husband. I’m not perfect yet, and I certainly haven’t arrived, but I’m a totally different husband now than those early months. Jesus has worked on my heart, changing me from the inside, and I love a LOT more like Him than I did before.
Let His love, His example, His Spirit change you too.