Grateful acknowledgments to Dr. Tony Evans
If you are a man and are married, or are betrothed (engaged to be married), or hope one day to be, the scripture has some things to say to you. Today I want to look at the five duties of a man to his woman. The five duties of a husband to his wife. And I don't care what anybody else has told you, if the husband fails to fulfil these five duties, he has forsaken the Lord and His sacred rules which he has ordained.
I'm not here to dump on you today; I'm not here to castigate you. I'm here to speak to us. To encourage us to be scriptural husbands. Now I must warn you some of the things that the scripture says won't be what you hear at your workplace, or on television, or from your friends. But then, neither should they be; because your workplace didn't create marriage, neither did the media nor your friends. This is our Father's institution and He sets the rules.
The first duty of a man to his woman, or a husband to his wife, is to love (Greek word agape) her. Now, you might say, "Well, that goes without saying! Move on to number two!" Your wife probably wants me to stay at number one. Because, often, what goes under the name of love has little to do with love. The word 'love' has become a misunderstood word. For example, people say, "I love my job. I love my home. I love chocolate cake." Generally what they are talking about is what those things do for them. "The home makes me comfortable. The cake satisfies my sweet tooth. The work satisfies my desire for a career." The word 'love' has become a word to describe the lusts of the flesh, and nothing more.
You see, when the scripture talks about love, it talks about the sacrifice that you make for the betterment of someone else. You can only measure love by your sacrifice, not by your enjoyment. If you talk about loving your wife, and you mean by that that she does a lot of good things for you, that's not love. That's her loving you. To say that a man loves his wife is to talk about the sacrifice that you make for her.
Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your own wives, even as also the Christ loved the assembly, and gave up himself for it;"
Colossians 3:19, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
Men, to talk about love is to talk about a cross. To talk about love is to talk about Calvary. To talk about love is to talk about a Saviour. We have a Saviour in Christ, and our wives ought to have a Saviour in us. We have a deliverer in Christ, and our mates ought to have a deliverer in us. When you talk about loving your wife you talk about carrying a cross.
Now, you may say, "I know. But this cross is more than I can bear!" The command for a man to love his wife is never given to a woman in scripture. That is, a woman is never commanded to love her (agape) husband in the scripture. She is commanded to be affectionate (philandros) to him and their children (Titus 2:4), and to be obedient (show respect) to him (Titus 2:5). Now, it's not that a woman shouldn't love her husband, it is that her love is a response to his salvation. If you and I are going to be scriptural lovers, it means we must become scriptural saviours.
Jesus Christ didn't die for us because we were lovable; Jesus Christ died for us to make us lovable. A man doesn't love his wife because she deserves to be loved; a man loves his wife in order to turn her into somebody who he wants to love. It is not that "My wife is right, therefore I'm going to love her." It is, "I'm going to love her that whatever wrong there is will turn from wrong to right." It is not that "She's meeting my needs therefore I love her." it is, "I'm going to love her until she learns to meet my needs." It is not that "She's being everything to me I need her to be." It is that, "I'm going to love her until she turns into somebody who can be everything that I need."
Most men date in order to marry, when the scriptural principle is to marry in order to date. Most men "turn her on" in order to get her to say "I do." Well, the scriptural idea is have her say "I do" so that he can spend the rest of his life turning her on. If you want to raise the question "Are you a lover" (and every man likes to think of himself as a lover), the measuring rod of a lover can only be measured by the size of the cross he's carrying.
Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the assembly. He loved the assembly to death! When the first man was created, God had to split his side open in order to take out his rib in order to get Eve. Christ has to bleed in order to birth His congregation. And in order for your wife to move from where she is, in order to get to where she ought to be, that means you have to take a trip to Calvary. That means you'll have to decide "I am willing to pay whatever price of inconvenience. I am willing to commit myself to her fulfillment no matter what pain is involved in that. I am willing to go the distance to turn her from where she is into where she ought to be.
The scripture says Jacob loved Rachel so much that he worked fourteen years in order to gain permission to marry her from her father (Genesis 29). That's a high price to pay, but it's the price of true love. There are men that want to run away from their wives because they are not lovable. If she was lovable she wouldn't need a Saviour. Only sinners need saviours!
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his own love to us, that while we being yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Christ looked out and said, "You're messed up. You're going nowhere. You're headed in the wrong direction, but you do have a Saviour. When a man comes home, he comes home and says, "Things may not be right. I may not be able to adjust to your personality. I may not like how you come across. But a Saviour is in the house! I am your deliverer! Whatever is wrong, I am Mister fix-it. Whatever price has to be paid, you're looking at him! I am going to be your Saviour!" The husband is the Saviour of the wife. And at the heart of that is sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice there is no love.
So the question to the husband is, "Do you really love your wife?" And if so, if I asked her what price are you paying, could she tell them? Could you show what price you are paying for her? Or do you say, "Well, I'm discouraged, I'm depressed." Are you still alive? Because if you're alive you've not paid the ultimate price. As long as you are breathing you have not paid the total price. Because a man is to love his wife as Christ loved the assembly, and that took him to his grave!
Now, you may be saying, "That's next!" But until a man has paid the ultimate price of death, he is not exonerated from love. That is why the preacher asks you up front, "Are you going to love her in sickness and in health? For better or for worse? For richer or poorer? Are you going to do this for as long as you both shall live?" Because preachers know something you may not know. They know you haven't seen the whole thing yet. And when you do, they want an up front commitment that you're going to stick it out. So your wife ought to hear from you, "No matter how you treat me I'm not going to leave you. No matter how you abuse me I'm not going to leave you. No matter how you speak to me I'm not going to leave you. You better get used to salvation because this Saviour isn't going anywhere. So, if this marriage ends you're going to have to leave me! Cause I'm not going anywhere. If you don't comfort me I'm not going anywhere. If you don't have sex with me I'm still not going anywhere. If you abuse me and mistreat me, I want to let you know, in this house, you have a Saviour. And that's me."
If you're not living like that, you're not loving. Not only must you be a Saviour, but you must be a sanctifier.
Ephesians 5:26-27, "That he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water by the Word, That he might present it to himself the glorious assembly, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any of such thing; but that it might be holy and blameless."
Now there is a the "problem" that a husband faces. When you married your wife, you did not only marry your wife, you married her history. You see, you didn't just marry her. You thought you were marrying her, but she brought with her her past, good and bad. The good parts you will enjoy, the bad parts you don't see until after the honeymoon! You get to see her with makeup on; you get to see her with lipstick on; you get to see her with eyelashes that you thought were real; and you get tricked is what you get! And after marriage you discover something. You discover that, "I didn't know you were like that! And I didn't know you were a fusser! You didn't fuss when we were dating! I didn't know that you screamed like that! I didn't know you snored like that! I didn't know that you couldn't cook at all! I didn't know all of that!"
Guess what? If you love her, you have to be her sanctifier. What's a sanctifier? The word "sanctification" means "to set apart for special use." That is, to place this woman in a unique category and take her from where she is to where she needs to go. It is called in the scripture the process of sanctification or spiritual growth. When she shows you her problems, you now become Mister fix-it. That's what it means to love. What many men want to do is marry as though they're at the end of the relationship, when you get married you're only at the beginning of the relationship. And your job is to take it from where it is to where it ought to go because you are the sanctifier. You are little Jesus in your home. What Christ is to His assembly you are to your wife. You are the sanctifier. So that if she's messed up, your job is to fix it up.
Now, what happens in some marriages is this. It's like a backup in a sink. You know when your sink backs up because there's a lot of junk in there, there's a lot of stuff in there that can go hidden for a while but it kind of builds up. Then when it builds up it backs up. And husband's get kicked off because all this junk starts backing up. "I didn't know you had that dirt over there! I didn't know you had this clog over there!" It was there all the time, it just hadn't backed up yet. When that starts backing up and all of a sudden the sink gets full of this dirt, this grime, you don't say, "I'm going to leave you kitchen, because you backed up on me! I'm not going to have anything to do with you again, sink!" You call the plumber! And when you call the plumber he brings the snake! And he takes the snake and he works that thing around and around until he opens up a little hole. And when he opens up a little hole the water slowly begins to drain, and he opens it up bigger and bigger until all the junk is flushed out!
When junk backs up you don't quit, you bring in a pro. And you are that pro. And when your wife backs up, when her history backs up, when the pressure at work backs up, when circumstances back up, you're not to leave, you're to come in with the love snake and wind that thing around and turn that thing around and make a little hole there and the watch all of that junk begin to filter out of her life until it flushes all away and you can now have free flowing running water. Bring the love snake and work that thing. You are her sanctifier. Why? So that you can cleanse her. Verse 26 says you're her cleaner upper, so cleanse her.
Heaven knows she's got some things that are not going to be pleasant to live with; things from her past, things from her history. Maybe she was abused by her father, maybe she was raised around a domineering mother that didn't disappear just because you came on the scene. You are the sanctifier.
But what some husbands do is, when they see this junk come up and it backs up, they want to run the other way! You're the plumber, bring the snake "That he might present it to himself the glorious assembly, not having spot, or wrinkle." Spot means defilement from the external; something's dropped on your shirt and you got a spot. Wrinkle has to do with internal aging, because wrinkles are evident of an internal problem, getting old. God's children have spots, the external things of the world; and wrinkles, internal decay from within.
Jesus said his job was to wash the spots and remove the aging. He says the husband is the sanctifier and the husband's job is to work with his wife in such a way that she begins to see a cleanup take place in her life. When she needs strength, you are her strength. When she needs encouragement, you are her encouragement. When she needs joy, you are her joy. When she needs peace, you are her peace. So that no matter how old she gets, she's kept eternally young because she's got a sanctifier in the house. You are her makeup. When the world crashes in on her, you are there. You are to be her power base. You are to be her strength. When she goes off, you are the ever standard one who maintains his cool even though she lost hers. You say, "Well, if she didn't scream at me, I wouldn't have screamed at her!" This is not tit for tat. What this is is showing strength. You say you're the leader, you're the strong one, you say you're the powerful one, then be that! Be her sanctifier that she might be cleansed, so that Christ might present to himself a bride not having spot or wrinkle. The idea here is to nourish.
So, first of all, if you're going to love her, you must be her Saviour, you must be her sanctifier. And then, the third part of love is you've got to nourish her.
Ephesians 5:28-29, "So ought husbands to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no one at any time hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Lord the assembly:"
What we need today are a group of men who know how to nourish and satisfy a woman. Now, the natural man thinks of 'sex' when he hear that. "Bring 'em on! I am the satisfier. Come here baby! Poppa will satisfy you! Yes I will!" Any man who talks that way doesn't know what he's talking about. He's really trying to convince himself that he is as good as he says he is. Because any man who talks about satisfying multiple women is really telling you he's not good enough to satisfy one. So he's got to spread it around so nobody calls him to commitment. When a man says, "I've got ten ladies!" What he's telling you is that he hasn't reached to manhood yet, because anybody can bounce around. It's when you stand steady, and after fifteen, twenty, thirty, fifty years, the wife says, "I'm still satisfied," now you've got a real man. When that one man is constantly nourishing and satisfying her.
The scripture says that husbands ought to "love their wives as their own bodies." The spirit here is that Christ gives himself to his assembly, and just as a man works out to make his body look good, he is to work his wife out so that she looks good. So that she is fulfilled. So that she is strong. You are her satisfier. And there are too many dissatisfied wives because there are too many unsatisfied husbands. If you're not satisfying her, if you're not her joy, then you better take a look at how good you really are.
It has nothing to do with what she's doing to you in return, because we're talking about scriptural love. “And if you hate me, I'm going to love you. And if you reject me , I'm still going to try to please you. Because I am here to feed and nourish you. Because I am your satisfier!"
Dwell with Her
1 Peter 3:7, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, with the wife as with a weaker vessel, rendering them honour, as also being joint-heirs of the grace of life; so as your prayers not to be cut off."
Husbands are commanded to dwell with their wives. This doesn't mean to just live in the same house. The Greek word for “dwell” means "to dwell in close harmony with, closely aligned, to be in proximity with." It means an intimate dwelling. Many men have this idea, “I go out, I'm the provider; you're the wife, you stay home. You do your job, I'll do my job.” That's where the problem is. The home is your job! The role of the wife is to help the husband, but she is not to replace your role in the home. You are to work in concert with her to create a spirit of harmony within. To do that you must be there.
Your wife didn't marry a paycheck, she married you. She didn't marry a car, she married you. She didn't marry a bankroll, she married you. Whenever the outside things that you do for her replace your presence with her, then you are not living with her anymore. Some men are married to their jobs, to their promotions, but God says to live with her! You can't just come home and turn on the TV, you have to come home and work with her! Sometimes it means telling her she's the prettiest thing you've ever run into. Or that you couldn't get your mind off of her all day. Sometimes it means drying the dishes while she washes them. Sometimes it means making one side of the bed while she makes the other. Why? because she was not given to you to become your slave, she was given to you to be your help partner.
Men are told to study two things. The scripture and his wife. Why? Because both are difficult to interpret. Those are hard things to read. Every man will testify that a woman is confusing, complex. You think she wants this but she really wants that. To know her might mean to give up some television programs. Men should say, “Honey, I want to listen, you talk. Tell me anything about yourself that I need to know, because when I learn it I'm going to use it to love you better. Teach me, because I don't know you, I don't understand you. I'm not going to watch TV and listen. I'm not going to read the paper and listen. I'll put my eyeball to your eyeball, my mind to your mind, because I'm here to listen, I'm here to learn, I'm here to understand if you'll only communicate with me.” Women love to be understood. And many women have said, “My husband doesn't understand me,” and she's probably right. But it takes time, you've got to be willing to listen to her.
You are to treat her like your queen. She is not another woman. It has to do with appreciating her, with treating her as special. Does your wife feel special? Many husbands do for other women what they wouldn't do for their own wives. We used to do it. They used to open up the car door every single time, now she's looking to get in before the car drives off! When love dies, marriage dies. She is your queen, and you roll out the red carpet, and pull out the chair, and open the door, and help escort her in.
She must feel special. How do you make her feel special? By your words and actions from the heart. “Sweetheart, I'm real busy right now, I'm right in the middle of something, but you crossed my mind and I just wanted to call and tell you I love you and I can't wait to see you when I get home. I gotta run now, but you're on my mind.” She's going to beat you home! Because you just made her feel special. That took 30 seconds to tell her you can't get her off your mind.
You also make her feel special with your gifts. It doesn't have to be a dozen roses, one rose will do. Writing little notes to her. When she's making the bed and underneath the pillow is a note that says, “Knowing that every night I get to sleep next to you. Knowing that I wake up in the sunshine, even if the curtains are closed. I just want to let you know I wouldn't have it any other way." She's special. She's unique. Make breakfast and bring it to her. She doesn't care that you can't cook, only that you cared enough to try. This is honoring her.
If we only do this on anniversaries and such, this is too predictable. When you were dating you didn't only do it on the anniversary, it would pop up here and there. It would keep popping up. She was bombarded with your love. First of all she didn't like you, she didn't think you were handsome. But you said, “I'm going to make you like me.” And you bombarded her with notes, gifts, phone calls. In time, she began to say, “Why, he ain't that ugly.” And you kept bombarding her, and she began to say, “He's kind of cute.” And you kept bombarding her, and she calls up her girlfriend and says, “I'm in love!”
What happened? What happened is that you honored her. But what too many husbands do is stop honoring their wives once they get married. She fends for herself. When was the last date? I'm not talking about the last time you came home and said, “What do you want to do tonight?” That's not a date. A date is, “Hey, I got this thing all planned, all you got to do is come along for the ride. Now, if you want to make some adjustments, that's fine, because I want to please you. But I want you to know I was thinking about you." Now it's not about you coming home, and having nothing to do, and saying, “What do you want to do?” Have the attitude that, “You are not left over, you are my evening!” She must be honored.
Honoring doesn't mean that you agree with her, it doesn't mean that your decision is going to be the decision she wants you to have, We're not talking about control. But to honor her means, “Honey, I gotta make the decision, and I appreciate your feedback. You've given me your thoughts, your ideas, because you're a partner in this relationship and I need to know how you feel about it. And before I make this decision, you give me your feedback because God may be giving you some things that I need to hear. But having heard what you said, I think I gotta go another way. But I want to let you know that even though I'm going a way different than how you would have me go, I'm going to be thinking about you all the way. And if I see down the line that this is not going to be in your best interest, I'm going to reverse back. Because I don't want to do anything in my decision that's going to harm you. So even though I disagree with you, I'll honour you, because you're going to be on my mind all the way.”
It's where she's significant even when you disagree. If husbands would treat their wives like thoroughbreds, they wouldn't end up with old nags. Men say, “She's a nag!” But maybe it's because how you're treating her. Men say, “I married the wrong woman!” Well, if you married the wrong woman, treat her like the right woman and she'll become the right woman.
Pray with Her
If there is no spiritual relationship in the home, there won't be any dynamic relationship in the marriage. 1 Peter 3:7 says you are heirs together. That means God is not going to leave anything for you if she is not included. Your prayers are a waste of time if she's not included. You don't have this singular relationship with God anymore because you became "one flesh." God is not going to treat you apart from her, because He doesn't see two people any more, He sees one flesh. Husbands must pray with their wives.
Husbands, you're the thermostat, you control the temperature. Your wife is the thermometer, she'll tell you how it reads. So if you have it on 80, and she's cold, the thermometer's broken. You can usually measure a man by looking into the face of his wife, because she is his mirror, letting it be known what kind of man he really is.
The question is not, “Will marriage work?” The question is, “Will you work for marriage?”
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