By Charles Boudreaux
“Mary Margaret, I receive you as a precious gift from God. I pledge to give myself to you as Christ gave Himself for the church, His bride. I pledge to build a home together under God’s leadership and for His glory. I covenant before God and these witnesses to be your loving and faithful husband in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.” (Vows spoken by our youngest son, Timothy, to his precious bride, Mary Margaret, in January 2013.)
“I pledge to give myself to you as Christ gave Himself for the church, His bride.” Treasured words from God’s Word spoken from the heart and mind of Timothy, who recognized that God’s leadership in his personal life and in his marriage would be the only way he could give himself to Mary Margaret—his bride—as Christ gave Himself for the church, His bride!
“For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church…” (Ephesians 5:23a). To be the head of something is defined in the dictionary as “acting as a leader to.” Men, to be a leader in our marriages just as Christ is leader in His church—what an awesome calling and responsibility we have! The key, then, to knowing how to be a leader in our marriages is to know how Christ leads the church.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ leads the church by loving her. He demonstrated His love by giving Himself up for her. In 1 John 3:16a, we read, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” In Ephesians 5:26-27, we read why Christ demonstrated this self-giving love 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 or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
In application, we husbands are to love our wives by demonstrating a self-giving and sacrificial love to equip them for spiritual growth and maturity.
“So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church,” (Ephesians 5:28-29). Christ leads the church by nourishing and cherishing her—by nurturing her! Nurturing is defined as “caring for, protecting, sacrificially meeting the needs of another, keeping or cultivating with care and affection, nourishing and cherishing by giving what is needed for life, growth & development, and health.”
In application, the husband is to nurture his wife by being a sacrificial servant who spares no cost to see that his wife is cared for. The Greek word for nurturer means husbandman, which is where we get the English word husband. The word husbandman means a tiller of the soil, one that plows and cultivates land—a farmer or gardener. A husbandman or nurturer is one who helps things grow. To best do this, he needs to understand the environment needed for the growth of the different varieties of plants, to know and supply the ingredients needed for growth of the plants, to spot and pull weeds, spray insects or to eliminate anything that threatens to do the plants harm, and to do his best to guard the plants against external and internal trauma.
As husbands, we are responsible for understanding the environment needed for the growth of our wives, for knowing and supplying consistently the ingredients needed to help them to grow and blossom, to spot and pull any weeds or whatever threatens to do them or our marriage harm, and to do our best to guard them against external and internal trauma.
Loving and nurturing our wives like Christ loves and nurtures His church, We cannot—but He can and will love and nurture through us as husbands, as we follow Him in trust and obedience as our leader, as we surrender to be led by His Holy Spirit who provides all we need for all He has called us to do and be! The psalmist says “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways…Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants all around your table.” (Psalm 128:1,3)
What a gift for our children this Father’s Day to have a Daddy who loves and nurtures their Mother as Christ loves and nurtures His church!
(Scriptures from New King James Version)
Charles Boudreaux, LMFT, LPC, is the Interim Counseling and Congregational Care Pastor at Summit Counseling. Visit the website at www.SummitFirst.org or call 601.949.1949 for information.