The clearest picture in the New Testament of what a marriage should look like is Christ and the Church. If you want to know how you should think and behave in your marriage, think about Christ and the Church, and imitate them. If you say you can’t or offer excuses, you will downgrade God and marginalize His power in your life.
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Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.
There is the picture, the template, and the prototype that describes a biblical marriage. Yes, there are several other images that a marriage could look like, and there are many other passages that can show you how to have a better marriage, but I want you to think about this:
…as Christ loved the church.
The Husband’s Job Description
The husband is a representative (or picture) of Christ in the marriage. In an analogous way, he is “Christ.” Isn’t that helpful? Husband, have you ever wondered how you are to behave in your marriage? Being like Jesus clears up the murky waters, doesn’t it? (See Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1, and Philippians 4:9)
You are a picture of Christ. All you have to do is imitate Christ in your marriage. What would Jesus do? That gives a new meaning to that overused marketing cliche of the nineties.
Opportunities For the Husband
- In what areas are you appropriating the grace of God in your marriage?
- How are you imitating Christ in your marriage?
- Ask your wife for her assessment regarding your imitation of Christ.
- Ask your older children for their assessment of your Christlikeness.
These mature conversations could be a wonderful time of encouragement.
- What are ways you need to change to bring a clearer picture of Jesus Christ to your marriage?
- Tell your spouse where you need to change, and solicit her help.
The Wife’s Job Description
The wife is analogous to the church in her marriage. She can model the “church” to her husband. While it is true that the church is a product of the Savior’s leadership, love, and sacrifice, it is also true that the church should be humbly responding to His guidance.
“But my husband does not lead!” Passive husbands are a sad reality in too many marriages. In such cases, the wife still has an obligation and opportunity to demonstrate humility and respect to her husband. (1 Peter 3:1-6; Ephesians 5:22 & 5:33)
Opportunities For the Wife
- Are you waiting for your husband to change before you respect him or are you respecting him though he is not meeting all of your expectations?
- If you are not respecting him, consider how that attitude is counter to the gospel? Christ did not wait for you to change before He loved you (Romans 5:8).
- Do you realize the vital role you could play in your marriage as you humbly allow God to work through you to help your husband change?
The Picture is Damaged
It is a challenge to model “Christ and the church” in marriage because of ongoing sin struggles. While you may enjoy the idea of what an authentic imitation of Christ and the church could look like in your marriage, you probably struggle with the process that leads to that beautiful portrait.
Daily confrontations with the reality of sin in your individual lives can be discouraging. You both are saints who sin, and the collective sins in the picture are what mars the picture.
Call to Action
Here are more helpful opportunities for the husband and wife. If you humbly talk to each other about these matters, you will experience God doing incredible things in your marriage.
Whether your marriage is going through a difficult season or is chugging along in the good times, I appeal to you to sit and chat through all the questions in this article.
God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Husband, will you humbly lead your wife while expecting to experience new depths of His grace?
Opportunities to Encourage Your Spouse
- How have you seen the grace of God actively working in your spouse’s life (Romans 2:4)?
- How do you need to change to serve our spouse effectively (Mark 10:45)?
- Share with your spouse what God is doing in your life (John 4:29).