Being a follower of Jesus Christ changes a person. It changes the believer’s priorities and focus, it changes the way in which the believer relates to others, it changes everything about how the believer lives. Therefore, the believing husband should have distinct characteristics evident in his marriage, characteristics that come from his relationship with Jesus. I certainly do not claim to be an expert on marriage, just ask my wife, but by following God’s guiding, any man can be a better husband. Let us examine these characteristics.
A husband should be self-sacrificing
The Bible tells husbands to love their wives in a very special way, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up of her…” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV). This passage tells us that husbands are to be self-sacrificing for their wives. Husbands are not to expect their wives to be slaves that exist merely to do the man’s bidding. In fact, this same passage says, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29, 33a ESV).
A husband should be dedicated to his wife
From the moment of birth, one’s relationship with one’s parents is vitally important. Your parents nurtured you when you were incapable of taking care of yourself. They taught you what they knew, and protected you from things harmful to you. Without them, or someone like them, you would not be here today.
Nevertheless, the husband is told, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31ESV). Although a man should continue to show his parents the honor they deserve (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4, 19:19; Mark 7:10, 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2), he is also to separate from them and become one with his wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16b; Ephesians 5:31). This emphasizes the importance of the marriage relationship.
The husband should be faithful to his wife
In the Old Testament book of Malachi, as God chastises the disobedience of His people, He also expresses His view of the sanctity of marriage,“[The] Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:14-16). Several things are brought out in this passage:
(1) marriage is a covenant relationship; the husband and wife promise to be faithful to one another,
(2) this covenant is made in cooperation with God’s Spirit [one might wonder about the legitimacy of marriage for those who reject God]; and
(3) it is the responsibility of parents to make sure that their children are raised in a God-honoring manner.
The husband should be very careful to be faithful to his wife in his thought life also. Too many husbands think that, as long as they are faithful in their external relationship, they can entertain a less-than-faithful internal thought life. However, Jesus tells us that it is possible to be an adulterer in our hearts, even if the sin is never acted out, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 ESV).
The husband should provide for his wife
There may be circumstances in which the husband is unable to provide for his wife and family, but as a general principle, the husband should provide for his wife, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV). The husband should not carry out this duty grudgingly, but out of love for his wife and family…and out of gratefulness to God.
The husband should make sure he lets his wife know she is loved, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). Too often, we husbands do not tell our wives how much they mean to us. We know how we feel about them in our hearts, but we do not express it to them enough. Often, men do not like to share their feelings because of some misguided man-code, or the simple fact that we are uncomfortable expressing emotions. Nevertheless, we need to tell our wives how much we love them and how important they are to us. It is the right thing to do, and she will love you even more for doing it.
The husband should be kind to his wife
There is no excuse for a husband to be hurtful to his wife, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). We have already read the biblical mandate that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church (see above). Jesus does not treat His church in hurtful ways; rather, He treats them with love. In order for husbands to treat their wives with love, the husband must first be filled with the love that only comes from God. The Bible even ties our relationship with our wives to the success of our prayers, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Our marriage relationship has a great affect on our whole life.
A Christian husband should love his wife with the love of Jesus Christ; his marriage relationship should be the most important relationship he has, except for his relationship with Jesus. He must give himself to his wife in a self-sacrificing way and strive to love her as Christ loves the church. He should guard his heart and mind, so that he is able to resist temptations that are sure to come at him in our culture.
Husbands should remember these wise words from King Lemuel, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10 ESV).
Here are some related articles you might also like to read:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
YouTube video: “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real