Why do you love your wife? Do you love her simply because of what she does for you, or do you love her because of the devotion and great love Christ has for us, His church?
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Love is a very misunderstood, possibly because of all the different meanings this one simple word carries. It can be an emphatic form of the word like, as in, “I love this ice cream!” Used with some form of the word make or made, it can refer to the actual act of intimacy between two people. Love can also be used to describe the feelings of infatuation we feel when we are first getting to know someone special–the euphoric, “I’m in love!”
Love is likewise frequently used to refer to the reciprocal feelings we feel when we respond to someone’s love for us, which we express by saying, “I love you.” (Yet people sometimes say their love has died, because love based on relationship can wither when the relationship is no longer nourished.)
But none of these meanings are what the Bible refers to when it instructs husbands to love their wives. The love God commands husbands to love their wives with is so much deeper than that.
The love the Bible refers to in this passage is called agapao (the verb, to love) and agape, (the noun, love). According to The Complete Word Study New Testament (Zodhiates), agapao “indicates a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in something.” It “is used of God’s love toward man.” Also, referring to agape, “Its benevolence, however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved.”
Husbands are to love their wives with the same selfless love Christ loves us, His church, with. This kind of love is “a direction of the will”–it is a determination to do what is needed by the one loved and is not based upon feelings. Thus, it does not wax and wane, depending on how we have been treated. Rather, it finds its source in Christ’s love for us.
A detailed explanation of this kind of agape love is found in the famous “love passage:”
“Love is patient and kind,
never jealous, boastful,
proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
Love never fails!”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a CEV)
So how do you love your wife? Is it with a selfish love that is preoccupied with what you can get, or is it with a genuine determination to always do what is best for her?
Help me know–personally experience–the great love you have for me, that I may be able to love others the same way. Amen.