Husband, Do You Love Your Wife



Husband, Do You Love Your Wife?

Richard Hollerman

Probably most of us have read or heard the admonition of Paul, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The apostle says the same thing to the Colossian brothers: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (3:19).

We read this counsel, noting that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved those for whom He died.  Thus, we are to love our wife with a self-giving, self-denying, and self-sacrificing love, one that is willing to lay down our life for the benefit of the wife.  Further, if we truly love, we will not become bitter against them.

But what is love? We know that the term Paul uses is the usual and basic one for love in the Greek language. The verb, agapao, and the noun, agape, refer to a love that seeks the highest good of the beloved.  But perhaps we want a fuller explanation of this kind of love. How is this love to be expressed?

This question is answered in another of Paul’s capital letters, his first letter to the Corinthians.  It is here that he discusses how “agape” love manifests itself. Although written in a general way and not specifically to the husband in regard to his wife, still we may learn something well by applying Paul’s words to the marital relationship.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul discusses the supremacy or primacy of true (agape) love. Let’s notice the various components or facets of this love and see how this may be expressed in marriage, toward a man’s wife.  We know that men may find themselves in a wide variety of situations in life in regard to a wife. Some men may be separated from a wife or even divorced. Others may be in a marriage but there is constant friction or conflict—because of their own failings. On the other hand, still others may be in a marriage where there is conflict, but much of this may come from a negative, selfish, or belligerent wife.  We know too that a man may be married to a total unbeliever, such as an atheist, or maybe a devotee of a false world religion, or maybe a false sect of Christendom.  Finally, a man may be married to a devoted, loving, submissive, quiet, gentle, and Godly wife—one who is attentive to Scripture and earnestly seeks to obey the Lord.

Whatever your own situation in life, God calls on you to exercise genuine outgoing love.  There must not be any excuses for not carrying out your own responsibility in this, although it is understandable that in some situations, it may be very difficult to carry out all that you would like. On one extreme, you may be married to a Jezebel, one who makes life miserable. On the other extreme, you may be married to a woman that openly receives your love and enjoys it. Do what you can, and use 1 Corinthians 13 as your guide.

After the rendering in the NASB (the first line), we’ll include several other translations below, then we’ll include several comments to make each point personal:

Love is patient

·      Love is patient (ESV)

·      Love is patient (NET)

·      Love is patient (NIV)

·      Love suffers long (NKJ)

·      Love is patient (RSV)

There is an implied object to the statement. Love is “patient” to whom? In our illustration here, it is the husband whose love is to be patient—toward his wife. So we must ask, “Husband, are you patient with your wife? Do you truly love your wife to the extent that you patiently endure her and ‘put up with’ her negative responses?” If you love her, you will not react impatiently toward her.

Love is kind

·      Love is kind (ESV)

·      Love is kind (NET)

·      Love is kind (NIV)

·      Love is kind (NKJ)

·      Love is kind (RSV)

Kindness is one of the most desirable and amiable qualities that you can possess. The translations consistently say that true love is expressed in genuine kindness. Of all the people who should receive your love-motivated kindness, your wife should be of primary importance. Instead of a kind attitude, are you sometimes unkind, cruel, and hurtful toward the woman God has given to you? Husband, this should never be!

Love is not jealous

·      Love doe not envy (ESV)

·      Love is not jealous (NET)

·      Love does not envy (NIV)

·      Love does not envy (NKJ)

·      Love is not jealous (RSV)

If you love your wife, you will want her to succeed and achieve in all that God wants for her (primarily in the home).  You will not be envious of her accomplishments, or jealous of her admiration by others for her qualities. You will not resent her achievements but will rejoice that God is using her to bring glory to Him.

Love does not brag

·      Love does not boast (ESV)

·      Love is not boastful (NET)

·      Love does not boast (NIV)

·      Love does not parade itself (NKJ)

·      Love is not boastful (RSV)

How negative it is for a wife to constantly hear her husband boast about his own accomplishments and achievements. It is grieving (and shameful) for a spiritual wife to hear her husband boast in the presence of other people. You will bless your wife greatly by maintaining a humble and lowly attitude before her and before others. God will only give grace to the one who is genuinely humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Love is not arrogant

·      Love is not arrogant (ESV)

·      Love is not proud (NET)

·      Love is not proud (NIV)

·      Love is not puffed up (NKJ)

·      Love is not arrogant (RSV)

Closely related to the previous aspect of true love, this quality will cause you to refrain from exercising a proud or arrogant attitude. This is the very opposite of the quality of humility.  Husband, walk in humility before God—and also your wife. Never allow arrogance to stain your character or nullify your development of inner qualities.

Love does not act unbecomingly

·      Love is not rude (ESV)

·      Love is not rude (NET)

·      Love is not rude (NIV)

·      Love does not behave rudely (NKJ)

·      Love is not rude (RSV)

Sadly, some wives must endure their husband’s rudeness. They may “act unbecomingly” before her friends, before the family, before the neighbors, and before her.  If you love your wife, determine that you will have a kind, considerate, patient, gentle, and thoughtful attitude toward your wife under all circumstances—even when she may be selfish and disrespectful toward you.

Love does not seek its own

·      Love does not insist on its own way (ESV)

·      Love is not interested only in himself (NET)

·      Love is not self-seeking (NIV)

·      Love does not seek its own (NKJ)

·      Love does not insist on its own way (RSV)

Selfishness or self-centeredness is the very opposite of outgoing love toward people. Is your goal in life to seek your own desires and agenda? Are you selfish—or selfless?  Do you insist on your own way, not because your way is better but just because you want to be No. 1? Are you interested in yourself—but also in her?  Do you seek her benefit—or your own? If you truly love your wife, you will seek to bless and do good toward your wife. You will seek to bless her body, her mind, and her soul.

Love is not provoked

·      Love is not irritable (ESV)

·      Love is even-tempered (NET)

·      Love is not easily angered (NIV)

·      Love is not provoked (NKJ)

·      Love is not irritable (RSV)

Many wives must put up with a man who has a bad temper that manifests itself in angry outbursts. Such men are irritable and ill-tempered. They are quickly provoked and hard to get along with.  They can make life miserable for the wife. Instead, we must be filled with a gentleness, kindness and deliberateness that does away with a bitter and angry disposition.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered

·      Love is not resentful (ESV)

·      Love does not hold grudges (NET)

·      Love keeps no record of wrongs (NIV)

·      Love thinks no evil (NKJ)

·      Love is not resentful (RSV)

When someone wrongs you (or you suspect it), do you continue to have a kind and outgoing attitude toward him or her? Or are you filled with resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, and even hatred? Do you even imagine that someone has done something against you when you are not even sure of their attitude? Instead of being overcome with bitterness toward your wife, I encourage you, husband, to cultivate a forgiving attitude toward your wife.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness

·      Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing (ESV)

·      Love is not happy when someone does wrong (NET)

·      Love does not delight in evil (NIV)

·      Love does not rejoice in iniquity (NKJ)

·      Love does not rejoice at wrong (RSV)

If we love righteousness and seek to have a pure heart (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5; Matthew 5:6, 8), we won’t rejoice when unrighteousness prevails. If your wife does anything wrong or sinful, you must never rejoice in this failure to live up to God’s will. You should grieve and pray for your dear wife that she would walk in holiness and love.

Love rejoices with the truth

·      Love rejoices with the truth (ESV)

·      Love is happy when truth wins (NET)

·      Love rejoices with the truth (NIV)

·      Love rejoices in the truth (NKJ)

·      Love rejoices in the right (RSV)

The husband with genuine love won’t lie or participate in lying with his wife, but will delight with the truth at all times. He will be a man of integrity. He will be a man she can depend on under all circumstances.

Love bears all things

·      Love bears all things (ESV)

·      Love never quits (NET)

·      Love always protects (NIV)

·      Love bears all things (NKJ)

·      Love bears all things (RSV)

Every man will need to endure some negative situations in his marriage, but his love will carry him through. He will “bear” with the aspects of his wife’s character and behavior that displease him or grieve him. While not excusing her faults, he will be willing to endure them out of love (cf. 1 Peter 4:8).

Love believes all things

·      Love believes all things (ESV)

·      Love always trusts (NET)

·      Love always trusts (NIV)

·      Love believes all things (NKJ)

·      Love believes all things (RSV)

We know that some women are not trustworthy. Their character simply doesn’t engender a husband’s confidence, especially if she is not at all God-fearing. But, as much as possible, the husband will love his wife and believe in her.

Love hopes all things

·      Love hopes all things (ESV)

·      Love always hopes for the best (NET)

·      Love always hopes (NIV)

·      Love hopes all things (NKJ)

·      Love hopes all things (RSV)

The husband will manifest love by hoping even in the worst of situations, always placing that hope in God who alone can solve some marital disagreements.

Love endures all things

·      Love endures all things (ESV)

·      Love always keeps on going (NET)

·      Love always perseveres (NIV)

·      Love endures all things (NKJ)

·      Love endures all things (RSV)

The husband with true love (of the agape variety) will be willing to endure difficult marital circumstances. He will persevere when life is hard and his wife makes life miserable.  With God’s help, he will continue on, with hope and faith in God Himself.

After he writes of all these aspects of true love, Paul says that “love never fails” (v. 8).  Maybe you are a man who has read over all of these manifestations of true love and you are now convinced that this is what you want. If you are a man of God, with a trust in and love for Jesus, and with a respect for God’s authority in the Scriptures, you are determined to love your wife with a renewed love and devotion. This is just what the apostle’s instructions would demand.

If you are saved yourself, having come to God through Christ, you have the assurance that the Holy Spirit is working in you. Paul wrote, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). And God works in us through His Holy Spirit. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22). Even if you feel incapable of loving your wife in yourself, you do have God’s supernatural help at work in your heart.

Determine to love your wife today! Sometimes this genuine display of love will touch a cold and unresponsive heart. This is a blessed result of obeying God in this vital matter of love. But even if there is no response at all from your wife, be willing to continue to love for God’s sake.  As you love the unlovely, you are following in the steps of God who loved us when we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8). Love and you will be like our loving God (cf. Ephesians 5:1-2). And as you love your wife regardless of her response, you will surely grow in your love for all people!



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