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How to Have a Thriving Marriage

February 1, 2021 Save Article

Ephesians 5:23-33

Someone has said the difference between courtship and marriage is the difference between pictures in the seed catalog and what comes up. Some of us have been disappointed by what comes up in our homes. Maybe we need to learn how to cultivate a marriage.

The foundational problem in America today is in the family, and within the family, it’s primarily the role of the husband. Stu Weber, pastor and author of the bestseller Tender Warrior, said, “The problem in America is failure in the highest office of the land, that office being husband and father.” 

You cannot function in any area—church, work, school, or your home—if you don’t understand authority and aren’t willing to be under it. Can you imagine the chaos if we tried to live without authority—without the laws God established in society?

Imagine an army that didn’t understand who was under whom or who had what responsibilities. It would collapse in chaos. God wants to give us Kingdom authority, but He does not and will not give authority to those with a rebellious spirit.

We can never be over those things God wants to put under us until we get under those things God has put over us. For cultivating your home, it’s the same principle. But men and women haven’t understood their responsibilities and authority in the home.

God’s word says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and He [Christ] is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).

When God says husbands are the head of the home, He’s talking about responsibilities, not rights. Husbands need to see their responsibilities first. Marriage isn’t a contract. If you think it is, you’ll be looking for loopholes. It’s a covenant between a man, a woman, and God, who assigned them each awesome responsibilities.

What Jesus is to the Church, a husband must be to his home. If you don’t understand that and exercise the authority God has assigned, you’ll miss an incredible blessing.

Since the problem begins with the role of the husband, let’s look at a husband’s three major responsibilities:

1. Servant Leadership

Those two words are linked on purpose. A home needs a head. Anything with no head is dead; anything with two heads is a freak. God established headship in the home as the husband’s responsibility. That doesn’t mean he’s a dictator, using the Bible as a club. As Sovereign Lord of the Church, has Jesus Christ ever forced you to do anything? Not once. He’s not the dictator of the Church; He’s the head.

The Bible says, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Does that mean God is the boss, the dictator? There’s no need for dictatorship among equals. Where is the Lord Jesus Christ today? Seated at the right hand of the Father on the throne, submitted to the Father not out of fear or dominion, but because of love. So it should be in your home.

Headship equals responsibility. Husbands carry the weight of responsibility for the home just as Jesus does for His Church. If you say, “I’m head of the home,” it doesn’t mean your wife should bow to you, but you’re responsible to meet her needs just as Jesus meets the Church’s needs. She has every right to look to you to meet them. It’s not a chain of command, it’s a line of responsibility.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are coequal and coeternal. One isn’t inferior or superior. As head of the home, the husband isn’t superior to his wife. My wife, Joyce, is superior to me in many things. I freely confess it. When I was a teenager, she beat me in a speaker’s tournament. In Christ, husbands and wives are equal. (See Galatians 3:28.)

Jesus said, “… who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).

That’s servant leadership. Jesus as a leader washed His disciples’ feet and told them to wash one another’s feet. (See John 13:14.) Mister, if you want to be the head of your home, wash your wife’s feet. Jesus set the example.

But equality doesn’t mean sameness. The devil, under the guise of making us equal, tries to make us the same. But the Bible is against the blending of genders. A man is a man. A woman is a woman. From the beginning, God created us male and female—different, not unequal—so He might make us one. In football, when the quarterback calls the play, it doesn’t mean he’s superior to the running back. There just has to be someone to call the plays so you’re all going in the same direction. Who determines who calls the play? The coach. Who says the husband is the head of the home? Almighty God. There must be a line of responsibility.

It’s not “mutual submission.” That’s nonsense. At times you may submit to her and she may submit to you on certain issues, but that’s not the point. Four-star Admiral Hyman Rickover, developer of the U. S. Navy’s nuclear fleet and perhaps its greatest ever naval officer, said, “Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you’ve never had anyone really responsible.”

In the home, gentlemen, the responsibility is on you. You cannot dodge it.

I’ve been around long enough to know that the major problem in America isn’t rebellious wives, it’s slacker husbands who aren’t doing what God called them to: loving, serving leadership. No man can be head of his home until he’s under the headship of Christ. If he’s not willing to be under, he has no right to expect the anointing and power of God to be the husband God wants him to be.

2. Sacrificial Love

The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

I’m to love Joyce as Jesus loved the Church, and He died for the Church. Sacrificial love is:

Passionate love.

Not sexual passion. That’s part of married love, but it’s something far deeper: emotion and commitment coming from the deepest part of your being. Jesus gave Himself up for the Church. There’s nothing too precious for me to give up for my wife except my relationship with God. Nothing. She is my highest love on this earth apart from the Lord Jesus. A man owes his wife passionate love.

Purifying love.

Why did Jesus give Himself for the Church?

…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle…that she should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27).

Jesus loves the Church with a purifying love. Just as Christ is pastor, priest, and prophet to the Church, husbands are pastor, priest, and prophet to their wives—interceding, teaching, leading, and protecting spiritually, saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). My assignment is to make Joyce a more radiantly beautiful Christian, just as Jesus purifies the Church.

Protecting love.

The Bible instructs, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

Only a sick man wouldn’t care for his own body. Only a sick man wouldn’t protect his wife. 1 Peter 3:7 tells us the wife is the weaker, not inferior, vessel. Gold is weaker, not inferior to steel. It’s more refined, fragile, intrinsically beautiful. God made husbands to be men of steel and wives to be vessels of gold.

Husband, protect your wife, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Satan wants to get at your wife and children, but he can’t unless he comes through you, because you’re the head, the doorkeeper, the guardian of the garden. If he can go through you, he can get at them easily. Stand in the place God has put you as the protector. You must be under the One who’s responsible to take care of you.

Providing love.

Scripture says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church” (Ephesians 5:29).

You provide for your wife’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as you do your own body because she’s a part of you. If you’re wise, you’ll be good to yourself by taking care of her. Otherwise, you commit spiritual and matrimonial suicide.

Meet her emotional needs by praising and admiring her. Praise her for more than just physical traits; find those things God says makes her radiantly beautiful, and praise her for those. It’s your duty, joy, and responsibility to give to her the emotional paycheck that says, “Sweetheart, thank you. I appreciate what you do. Thank you for your patience, for your prayer life, for the way you love our children, for how you make our home beautiful.” Encourage her. Meet her emotional and spiritual needs. Your task is not to “figure her out” but to love her.

3. Steadfast Loyalty

Many men stand at the marriage altar, make a holy vow, then when the going gets tough, walk out. God have mercy on them.

“Well, I owe it to myself to be happy.”
You owe it to God to keep your promise.

“It’d be better for the children.”
Why don’t you ask the children about that?

“I prayed about it. God told me it was alright.”
You’re a liar. God does not transgress His Word.

Don’t walk out on your wife. Love her as Christ loved the Church. When will Jesus ever walk out on the Church? Never. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

She has become your very flesh and blood.

"For we are members of His body [the Church], of His flesh and of His bones. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:30, 33).

Your wife is a member of your body.

So then, they are no longer two but one flesh (Matthew 19:6).

Servant leadership. Sacrificial love. Steadfast loyalty. When men begin to live this way and get under the authority over them, they can live in the authority God gave them. A wife can submit to a man willing to die for her and who shows it by the way he lives for her. Then our homes will be what God wants them to be.

You say, “I don’t have what it takes.” I’m glad you recognize that. Neither do I. The only way to fulfill Ephesians chapters 5 and 6 is to be filled with the Spirit. When you give your heart to Jesus Christ, submitting to Him, the Holy Spirit comes in and gives you the Spirit of Jesus so you can love like Jesus. Then your home will be all God intends it to be. Give your heart to Jesus so you can give your home to Him.


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