June 4, 2023
Rocking the Roles – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ephesians 5: 22 - 33

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Well, I invite you to take your Bible and turn to Ephesians chapter five. We’re actually in a three-part sermon called Rocking the Roles. We’ve been looking at this passage, and we’ve considered the role of a wife in submission. And then, we have started to look at the role of a husband in leaving and leading and loving, and we come to consider that third aspect today, to keep your Bible open at Ephesians 5:22-33.
The late Bum Phillips was the coach of the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints, both professional football teams. He was a very good coach. He was the master of one-liners. Like most coaches, he worked day on night, to a point where his wife got a little irked and felt that she wasn’t being cared for and he wasn’t paying her the attention she deserved. While he was at work one day, she called him up and said, “You know what, Bum? I’ve come to this conclusion. I believe you love football more than me.” It went a little quiet, and then he replied, “Well, yes, I do, but I love you more than basketball.” That’s a good one-liner. That’s a good line, but it’s a bad lifestyle.
God’s men are called to love their wives without comparison and without competition. Their love for their wives trumps all other human affection. Their love for their wives is one that seeks the highest good of their wife regardless of the cost to themselves, because it’s rooted in God’s love for us in the cross of Jesus Christ, which was God seeking our highest good regardless of the cost. That’s the message of Ephesians 5, that husbands ought to love their wives in a manner where they give more than they take.
We’re in a three-part sermon, Rocking the Roles. We’ve looked at the role of a wife, and we’ve begun to look at the role of a husband. We saw that there are three things in this text concerning the rule of a husband. Leaving, leading, loving. We’ve covered the first two, and now, we come to consider the third. Look at verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church.” Scroll down to verse 25, “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” Scroll down to verse 33, “Nevertheless, let each of you, in particular, so love his wife as himself three times.” Paul underlines this idea of loving your wife. Leaving, leading, loving. In fact, [inaudible 00:02:51], to the second and the third point, God calls the husband to be a loving head. God calls the husband to be a ruling lover.
Did you notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands, rule your wife”? He says, “Husbands, love your wife.” First and foremost, you and I are to be loving heads of our home. There’s this beautiful counterbalance to submission and it’s love. The wife submits, the husband loves. And when you consider that, no right-thinking woman would be afraid to submit to the loving headship of a man whose model is Jesus Christ and whose motivation is the cross. Biblical headship is not exercised by issuing cold commands but by fulfilling a command to love one’s wife. It’s often said that the man is the head of the home and the wife is the heart of the home, but according to our text, the man is both the head and the heart. He’s a loving ruler. He’s a loving head.
Another thing, by the way, when you first read this text and the three commands to love, one feels it’s rather elementary, it’s rather redundant. Well, of course, we’re to love one’s wife. After all, do we not get married because we love the woman we’re marrying? Do we need to be reminded of that? Yes, we do. Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, points out that newlywed love is like drunken joy. It’s irrational. It’s short-lived. You wake up and the wine will wear off, and you’re left with this woman, and now comes the real test, the real deal. Will you love the real person you’re married, with all of her weaknesses and shortcomings? Will you work hard to retain that first love? Because it can ebb and flow. We all know that.
Love’s not static. It’s dynamic. You just don’t say it once. You don’t do it once. You say it many times, and you repeat it over and over again in practical action. When we were returning from vacation in Maui a couple of years ago, we sat down in our seat and as passengers filed in, I noticed there’s a little bit of distance. It was clearly a husband and wife because they’d got matching T-shirts on that said, “Just married.” It was hard to miss it.
As the girl approached me first I said, “Is this real deal?” She said, “Yeah, we just got married three days ago in Maui.” I said, “Congratulations.” She filed by me. The guy comes up behind me, he looks at me and he says, “So far so good.” Well, of course, you’re three days in, but you’re going to waken up to the reality that your spouse has got faults. You’re going to get past that kind of newlywed drunken joy. And so when you come to a passage like this, this is the challenge to keep on loving.
There’s several things about this love. We’re going to start to work our way through the text now, if you’re taking notes. Number one, it’s a surpassing love. The love between a husband and wife is a surpassing love. Look at verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ love the church.” Can I tell you something about Christ’s love for the church? Extreme, supreme. That’s the character of his love for the church. God spurred nothing when he delivered up his son, right? Romans 8.
In fact, if you go to Ephesians 2:4, this love between Christ and the church is described as a great love. If you go to chapter 3:18-19, we’re told to spend some time comprehending the width, the length, and the depth, and the height of Christ’s love for us. A love, notice, that passes knowledge. That’s why I’ve called this a surpassing love. It’s a very simple thought, but God’s love for us in the Lord Jesus Christ is unrivaled, unparalleled, uncontested. That’s the Romans 5:6-8, right? There’s some aspects of sacrifice we understand. Dying for a good man, we get that, but dying for the sinner, dying for your enemy, that’s a different kind of love.
I’ve always enjoyed that kind of explanation of John 3:16. For God, the greatest lover, so loved the greatest degree, the world, the greatest company, that he gave the greatest act, His only begotten Son, the greatest gift, that whosoever, the greatest opportunity, believes, the greatest simplicity, in Him, the greatest person, should not perish, the greatest promise. But, the greatest difference, have, the greatest certainty, everlasting life, the greatest possession. It’s all great, isn’t it? We will spend eternity measuring its depth and its height and its length.
I want to extract a very simple thought just to get going. A Christian husband’s love for his wife should know no bounds. You’ll never get to a place where you’ve given enough, where you’ve done enough. There’s a surpassing quality to Christ’s love for us and there ought to be a surpassing quality for our love for our wives. It should exceed societal norms. Whatever the expectations for love out there, Christian love exceeds it. Christian love goes beyond it. It should exceed societal norms. It should exceed personal standards. Because you see, you are not the standard of your love for your wife, what you are willing to give, Christ is the standard for what you ought to give. You’ve got to surpass any idea you have ever thought would be acceptable manner of love. It exceeds family history.
When it comes to a Christian husband, [inaudible 00:09:16] he cares for, talks to and deals with, his wife should always be uncommon and unconventional and uncontested. Remember that verse in Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus talks about forgiveness to his disciples. He says, “Look, if you forgive someone that you know and you love and has treated you well, if you forgive that person, what do you more than others? Anybody can do that.” For the most part, it’s easier to forgive a spouse, a child, a relative, a mother, a father. You get it? But he says, “I call you to forgive your enemies.” See, that’s uncommon, that’s unconventional. I love that little phrase, “What do you more than others?”
We need to bring that to the issue of marriage. When it comes to marriage, what do you more than others serve? What makes you a distinctly Christian husband? Do you show this surpassing quality to your love for your wife? There ought to be no getting by. Are you getting by? Has your wife settled for what you’re willing to give her? What a shame, what a sadness, because the measures Christ and his surpassing love, there ought to be no getting by. There ought to be no minimalism. A Christian marriage ought to keep soaring to new heights of intimacy and joy, not leveling off in the mediocrity and certainly not descending into rancor and bitterness.
Here, man, no matter what you have done to love your wife, no matter how long you’ve done it, there’s more to do. You got to zero the clocks this morning and start all over again. There’s no ceiling to Christ’s love for us. John 13:1, He loved His own to the very end. [inaudible 00:11:24] there is He loved His own to the fullest extent. To perfection. That’s the standard. Now, you know and I know we haven’t perfectly loved our wives, so you need to catch a second wind and go at it all the more.
I love the story of the man who came to Dr. Harry Ironside of our well-known preacher of a past generation, pastored Moody Church in Chicago. Most young preachers and older preachers have a copy of some of his books in their library. He says that one day a young man came into his office and said, “You know what, pastor? I think I’m loving my wife too much. In fact, I put her on such a high plane, I fear it’s become sinful.” Ironside had never faced that before, and so he kind of thought from when he said, “I’ve got a question. Do you think you’ve loved your wife more than Christ loved the church?” Well, it didn’t take the young man long to confess, “Well, clearly not.”
And then, Ironside advised him to go home because he hadn’t loved his wife half as much as he should. And should he ever love his wife to the degree that Christ loved the church, he could come back and they could talk about it. Brothers, you may have loved your wife in wonderful ways, and you may have done it over many years, but you haven’t loved her half enough because it’s a surpassing love.
Number two, it’s a sacrificial love. Christ’s supreme love is our model and Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross is our measure. Look at verse 25 again, where we’re told, “Love your wife as Christ has loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I like what Warren Wiersbe says, “The devil took Jesus and told Him in Matthew 4:3-4, ‘Serve yourself.’ Peter said in Matthew 16:21-23, ‘Pity yourself.’ His unsaved relatives said in John 7:4, ‘Show yourself.’ The crowd at Calvary said, ‘Save yourself.’ But Jesus was deaf to all these appeals and He gave Himself.” Now, that’s the standard, that’s the measure. We’re not to save ourselves. We’re not to preserve ourselves. We’re to give up ourselves for our wives. This literally means give himself up.
This takes us to Philippians 2, doesn’t it, 5-11. It incorporates the incarnation, an obedient life of submission to the Father and death upon a cross. This speaks of self-denial, humility, loss, and sacrifice to the point of a cross. That’s what we’re talking about here. It’s a sacrificial love. Paul wants Calvary love to be the measure and motivation for our love for each other. The doctrine of atonement is the key to understanding the nature of love between a husband and wife. Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. How many of us have realized that we are always to think of the married state in terms of the doctrine of the atonement? Is that our customary way of thinking of marriage? Where do we find what the books have to say about marriage? Under which section? Under ethics? But it does not belong there. We consider marriage in terms of the doctrine of atonement.
Marriage books belong in the gospel section of a library because it’s the cross, it’s the atonement, it’s the self-giving, self-substitution of Jesus for his church that is the grind of our love for one another. Karl Barth was somewhat of a liberal theologian. Nevertheless, he was asked one day what he considered to be the most important word in the Bible, and he said, “Huper.” It’s the old Greek word that means for, in the [inaudible 00:15:26]. He’s right. That’s the most important word in the Bible, because it reminds us when Jesus came and died on the cross, he did it huper, for, in the place of you and me. He gave himself up for us, and that’s what husbands are meant to do for their wives.
The husband is called to love his wife in a manner where he surrenders his rights and he lays down his life. It’s a love that’s devoid of self-interest. Marriage is a call to die. John 15, Jesus said, “Greater love is no man than he lay down his life for his friend.” Isn’t your wife your greatest friend, and you need to lay down your life for her? “Every marriage begins with a funeral,” said Edwin Rogers. In fact, every marriage begins with two funerals, where each die to self and live for the other.
Now, when it comes to laying down your life, I think, in theory, we all like to imagine, guys, don’t we? We’d push her away from the oncoming bus. We’d take a bullet for her, and generally, we know that 90% of the time, we’ll never have to do that, so we feel good. I’m loving my wife like Christ loved the church. I’m willing to give myself up for her. Well, it’s the big things and the small things. What about every day martyrdom? What about dying every day?
Listen to these words by Kevin DeYoung, “This can mean little things, coming home early, taking care of the kids, participating joyfully in something she likes to do, overlooking an offense, running errands, fixing something around the house, cleaning up after yourself. Loving your wife can also entail bigger sacrifices. You may need to forfeit climbing the corporate ladder in order to be a decent husband. You may be called upon to give up your hopes and your dreams in order to take care of your wife should she fall ill. You may sacrifice the big house or the best neighborhood and live at a lower lifestyle so that your wife can stay home with the kids.”
I don’t have time to develop this story, but you can look it up for yourself. Wayne Grudem was many years the theologian at Trinity Evangelical School alongside D.A. Carson and others. It was the dream team of theologians at that school for well over two decades. During that time, Wayne Grudem’s wife developed fibromyalgia. Very painful, limited her ability to get a bike. They were invited by friends to go to Phoenix for a holiday and they learned that the heat helped her. She felt her best for the first time in years. Wayne Grudem started thinking, “Maybe we should think about moving here.” She said, “But there’s no seminaries here for you to fulfill your giftedness.”
But he saw an advertisement for a Phoenix seminary. She would love to do it, but she didn’t want to force her husband’s hand, and so she left decision to himself. He engaged that seminary in conversation and it turned out there was a role that suited him. In fact, it was a limited role where he had more time to be at home with her and more time to write, and we’re all the beneficiary of that. But just a little example, as we said, dealing with a sick wife, Wayne Grudem moved to Phoenix Seminary, because he gave himself up for her. It’s the big things, it’s the small things.
Let’s move on. It’s a sanctifying love. A husband’s love is to be surpassing, sacrificial, and thirdly, sanctifying. Go back to chapter 5, verse 26, that He, that is Christ, might sanctify and cleanse her, that is the church’s bride, with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself, a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish, so husbands ought to love their wives.
I got a question. What is Christ’s purpose in salvation? Is it simply to help you punch a ticket to heaven to give you a far insurance policy against hell? No. Well, yes, certainly, the fruit of knowing Christ, isn’t it? To have your sins forgiven, to be justified and brought into a right relationship with God, because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to you as a gift. And now, in union with Him, you’re as perfect as He is before the Father. But it’s more than that. Christ desires to make us holy. He desires to redeem a people zealous for good works. He wants us to be pure and blameless and set apart for God’s kingdom. If you go to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, Paul will pray for the church that they might be sanctified in body and soul and spirit, and preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord Jesus.
See, there’s three phases to salvation. There’s justification, where we’re delivered from the penalty of sin. That happens the moment we trust Jesus, where we’re declared righteous before God because Christ’s perfections have been imputed to us and our sins have been forgiven through His blood. The moment you do that, you are justified. There’s no progress in that. That’s instantaneous. It’s irrevocable. But you know what? The moment you put your faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes inside you to indwell you and do some interior redecoration of your life. You begin to take on the image of Jesus Christ, you begin to look like the one you now profess to love. That’s a process, and it ebbs and flows. But that’s kind of where we’re at here and that’s what Jesus wants to do.
And then, there’s glorification where He will deliver us from the presence of sin. Here, Jesus is setting about sanctifying, cleansing, washing His church with the word of God. John 17:17, “Father, I pray that you would sanctify them through your truth. Your word is truth.” God uses the agency of the word to sanctify us, challenge us to come into greater conformity to Christ. But here’s the point, Christ’s love for His church honors qualities such as chastity, purity, honesty, integrity, goodness. He has justified us. He has sanctified us, and someday, He wants to present us to God without spot and without wrinkle.
There may be an allusion here to the bridal bath in which a young woman preparing for her wedding day will ceremonially bathe herself, signifying the washing away of her former life and the cleansing of her body for marriage and her husband exclusively. The church is being bathed in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through the agency of the word, so that we can take on the beauty of the Lord Jesus. Here’s the point. The fundamental end, guys, of loving your wife is not your happiness. If that’s where you’re at, you got the wrong end of the stick. The fundamental end of loving your wife is not your happiness, it’s her holiness. Her spiritual welfare to a large degree rests on you, because you want to present your bride to Jesus Christ as one who’s part of His bride. You want to advance God’s work in her life.
In fact, when you go back to Ephesians 1:4, we read that God wants indeed, from the foundation of the world, He wants to make us holy and blameless before Him. And the husband is called to love his wife by participating in Christ’s work in his wife, so that she can become all that Christ saved her to be. Notice these little phrases, wrinkle and spot. Spots are caused by defilement on the outside. Wrinkles are caused by decay on the inside. The husband must protect his wife against moral defilement and spiritual decay. Just as Christ’s love for the church is transformative, he wants her to become a glorious church. So, a husband’s wife or his wife is transformative. His leadership, his love, his life will move her to greater likeness to Jesus.
What would that look like? It’s a sermon in itself, but I wrote down a list of myself, and I commend it to my brothers here. Set her a good example. Be a benchmark of intimacy with Jesus and biblical fidelity. Don’t ever lead her into sin by your own behavior. Be filled by the Spirit, it’s the only way you’re going to pull this off, and this whole passage is predicated on that. Be filled by the Spirit. Be controlled by the Spirit, so that you can have a spiritual influence on her and make sure that it’s spiritual, not fleshy.
Take the initiative in spiritual things. Your headship in the home is not about ordering her around the home, getting her to do what best serves you. Your spiritual headship in the home is you taking initiative to benefit her, to lead her to Jesus, to lead her to greater conformity to God’s word and greater maturity of spiritual character. You need to lead her in prayer. You need to lead her in Bible study. You need to lead her to the church and show her the importance of being committed to Christ’s bride and together serving. Speak the truth in love.
Protect her from worldly defilement. Watch what you watch. Watch the encroachment of a godless culture and it’s thinking of materialism and self in your home. You’re the point, man. You are the guard of the gates of your home as the world encroaches. Forgive her of her sins and encourage her towards godly repentance, as she turns from sin to likeness in Jesus, and encourage her to develop her giftedness. She’s got talents and strengths that under your leadership should blossom. Don’t be intimidated by her strengths or her giftedness. They’re a gift from God. She’s helping you in being who God gifted her to be.
Anne Morrow married Charles Lindbergh, and when they married, she was a rather shy, nervous woman, lacked a little bit of self-confidence. In many ways, marrying someone like Charles Lindbergh might have seen to be a bad decision given he was a hero, a national figure. He was the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic. That’s rather intimidating, isn’t it? But amazingly, she grew in confidence because of their marriage, and in time, she became one of America’s most popular authors. Later in life, she said this about their marriage. “The sheer fact of finding myself loved was unbelievable and changed my world, my feelings about life and myself. I was given confidence, strength, and almost became a new character. The man I was married to believed in me and what I could do, and consequently, I found I could do more than I realized.”
Now, that’s an unbelieving home. That’s not a Christian marriage, but Charles Lindbergh made her something more than she was. Anne didn’t become something less for being married to such a great man. She became something more because of his love for her, and he gave her confidence and he wanted her to blossom. How much more ought that to be true of your marriage and my marriage?
This love is not only a surpassing love and a sacrificial love and a sanctifying love. Fourthly, it’s a sensitive love. Look at verse 28. Husbands ought to love their own wives, notice, as their own bodies. What does that mean? He who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hi his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes just as the Lord does the church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
Lot there. Going to have to simplify it. Paul would remind the husband that his wife is not merely his partner. She’s his other half. Not just his partner, someone external to himself, but his other half. Someone he has joined himself to in marriage, joined himself to in sexual intimacy, where they have become one flesh. Paul takes that idea. Now, you’re one flesh, almost like one body in this union. You are now intimately and inseparably connected to one another in this one flesh union. Therefore, a man cannot ignore his wife any more than he can ignore his own body, because she is an extension of him. Not to a point where her individuality is erased, but they have become one. That is why the husband must care for his wife like he would care for himself, because they are members of one another, just like Christ and the church.
Now, this is extremely practical. You and I, man, are to love our wives like we love ourselves, that we take care of our own bodies. That’s not hard to get your head around. Now, loving our wives like Jesus loves the church, and His love is surpassing. That’s a challenge. I don’t know where to begin with that, but I can kind of get my hands around. I know how to take care of myself. I do it, to a fault. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m tired, I rest and shush everybody away because I want to sleep. When I’m in pain, I relieve myself of the pain. When I itch, I scratch, and I could go on. It’s literally impossible to catalog all the ways we care for our bodies or by our day by day. We’re constantly feeding, providing, protecting, listening to our bodies, prioritizing our bodies. Paul says, “Okay. Now, do that to your wife, because you’re one flesh. She’s an extension of you in a large measure.”
I wrote down some words, pamper, ponder, provide, prize, protect, prioritize. That’s what I do. I pamper my body where I can. I give it what it wants. I ponder it. I think about it. Hey, need to get down to the gym here. It’s overhanging the belt a little bit too much. I ponder all kinds of things. I provide food and rest. I prize my body. I want to live as long as I can. I value it. Life is a precious thing, and the body is the vehicle by which I get to live this life, so I prize it and I prioritize it and I protect it. You get the point. Just go home, guys, and ask yourself, “How do I take care of myself, and am I taking care of my wife to the same degree or to the greater degree?”
Back to Martin Luther’s analogy, yeah, we start out taking care of her. Her every wish is your command. We open the door, we ask her how she’s doing. We buy her gifts, and time goes by and we start to focus more on ourselves and our bodies and our needs. There was a humorous parody made, some musical called The Seven Stages of the Married Cold. Have you heard this? The first year, the husband says to his wife, who’s got a little bit of a cold, “Sugar dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You have a bad sniffle. No telling what this thing could become. Strep is all around the place at the moment. I’m putting you in hospital for an afternoon. General check up, good rest. I know the food’s lousy. I’ll bring you in some meals from Rosina’s. I’ve already got it all arranged with the floor superintendent.” That’s year one.
Year two, “Listen, darling, I don’t like the sign of that cough. I call Dr. Miller and ask them to rush over here. Now, you go to bed like a good girl just for papa.” Year three, “Maybe you’d better lie down, honey. Nothing like a little rest. When you feel lousy, I’ll bring you something to eat. Have you any canned soup?” Number four, “Now, look, dear, be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes and finished the floor, you’d better lie down.” Number five, “Why don’t you take a couple of aspirin.” The sixth year, “I wish you’d just gargle or something instead of barking like a seal.” Number seven, “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing. Are you trying to give me pneumonia?” See, we’re back to self by the seventh year. Well, that’s humorous, but the sad thing is that it also is more than a parody. It’s a biography of so many marriages, where the decline of interest in the other has taken place.
Okay. Finally, it’s a steadfast love. For the sake of time, I’m not going to drill down into this, but if you look at verse 31 of Ephesians 5, we’ve got one more aspect. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, we covered that, and be joined to his wife, or cleaved to his wife, as the old King James, and they shall become one flesh. Just as Christ is faithful to his bride, the church, the husband must be faithful to his wife. There’s an enduring quality to love, isn’t there? Go to 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, you’ve got love endures and love never fails. This is until death do us part kind of love. The word cleave means to glue together two pieces of wood or metal permanently. It means that divorce is to be avoided at all costs. We know in a fallen world there are exceptions, adultery, abandonment, but as a baseline, God hates divorce.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:6, What God has joined together, let no man pull asunder.” In a day of disposable marriages, prenuptial clauses, and escape agreements, we need to remember that marriage is a covenant, a lifelong commitment sealed with the sacred oaths before a holy and covenant-keeping God. We need to do all that we can to stay together, to become one socially, sexually, spiritually, to increase the points of connection and intimacy so that we’re cleaving to each other, that we’re seeking to establish until death do us part kind of relationship.
Joel Beeke says, “If a husband is to follow this pattern, he must love his wife consistently and unalterably through her struggles and failures.” He says, “Love must be a love which flows every day. To see him not fervently today and coldly tomorrow, freely today and meagerly tomorrow, cheerfully today and begrudgingly tomorrow. His love must be a love with no provocation can alter in which burs all her infirmities with patience, understanding and sympathy, endeavoring in love first to overcome evil with good, and then to correct what he can and accept what he cannot.” That’s what it means to cleave. It’s an unconditional love. Agape.
There’s several Greek words, right? Storge, the love of family and friends, eros, physical attraction, sexual love, and then agape. The love that God put on display in the cross. See, the other two are fine in their place, but they’re reciprocal. You kind of get back what you give. There’s attraction there, and there’s a bond already established. Agape love. No, that’s unconditional love. That starts with your will, making a choice to love a person regardless of the cost to yourself, seeking their highest good. That’s what we’re called to show a steadfast love.
We don’t want to be like the guy who, at the wedding ceremony, was asked by the minister, “Do you take this woman for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health?” He replied, “Yes, no, yes, no, no, yes.” We want the health. We want the prosperity any day of the week, but poverty sometimes comes. Sickness is part of the relationship. Challenges are there. It’s got to be yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes, as you cleave to your wife.
Okay. As we wrap this up, one last little insight. I think this is a good place to finish. A couple of years ago, more than that, 2018, I was invited to speak at the installation of a young man who I married, Kent Dresdow, and his beautiful wife, Julie. He had become the senior pastor at NorthCreek Church in Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area. The night before the service, we went out to dinner, a little intimate dinner with them and the family. Steve’s severance was Julie’s father, and he’d been with me at Placerita Baptist, and he’s a good man. We were just talking. I said, “You know what? Wow, Steve, you got to be happy. Marriage, beautiful family, God’s blessed their marriage. And now, Kent gets to have his own pulpit.”
He said this, he said, “Philip, I prayed for Julie. For many, many years, I prayed for Julie that God would give her a husband who loved Jesus more than her. That’s all I was looking.” I’d never heard anybody say that before. It kind of struck me. Wow. I prayed that God would give her a husband that loved Jesus more than her, and then I got it. Because if that’s the kind of guy he is, she’s going to be well taken care of. She’s going to be loved to a point of feeling safe and secure and satisfied. Because, you see, Jesus’ love is surpassing. Jesus’ love is sacrificial, and steadfast, and sanctifying, and sensitive. If a man loves Jesus, and then he is going to love his wife like Jesus loves him, that’s a good prayer, sir. You’re a father with a little girl. You start praying that prayer, that God will give to your daughter a man that loved Jesus more than he loves her, because she’ll never be shortchanged.
Let’s pray as men, as we leave today, that we would love Jesus more. That we would understand the gospel in a greater fashion. Because if we do that, our wives are going to be the beneficiaries, because we will love them the way Christ has loved us. We must. We will. There’s no other path.
Father, we thank you for our time in Ephesians 5, this rich vein of biblical truth. We have brought some of its nuggets to the surface, and Lord, we thank you for what we have learned this morning. We’re challenged a man. We haven’t half begun to love our wives, given the all-surpassing love and grace of God in Christ. Lord, help us to make sacrifices big and small. Help us to be a spiritual accelerant in their lives, not an impediment. They don’t see Christ in our anger, impatience, bitterness. Forgive us for treating our wives harshly.
Help us to be sensitive. Just like we listen to our bodies and feed it and groom it and clothe it, pamper it, our wives deserve no less attention and affection. Lord, given a no-fault divorce culture, given disposable marriages, throw away relationships, one night stands, help us to stand on this. That what God has joined let no man pull asunder. Help us to work at steadfastly loving our wives until death do us part, and then we join the bride of Christ in heaven to be married with Jesus forever. Amen.