Hi this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you once again to the Monday Marriage Message. This is the 8th installment in our series dedicated to unpacking the truths found in Ephesians 5:21-33.
This week we will conclude with the example from this passage given to a husband as to how to love his wife.
Ephesians 5:28-29 in the New King James Version says; So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
As with all scripture there is much more to unpack in these two simple verses than meets the eye upon first glance. The words seem plain enough, but the basis for them is founded on an incredible complexity. As I have eluded to many times in past Monday Marriage Messages, the primary purpose of marriage is to complete the process of the creation of mankind, enabling it to accurately reflect its Creator. Genesis 1:26 indicates that as His crowning accomplishment of creation week, God desired to create a being that could take charge of and manage all that He had created. As the grand finale, God desired to create someone in His own image and likeness, someone who would reflect His attributes and character in everything they did. The next verse, verse 27 tells us God did just that. And so God created man in His own Image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Thankfully we have access to the context Genesis chapter two offers which explains the complexity of these two verses.
Genesis chapter two helps us to understand that even though Adam was created first, the moment God created him, he also created the need for Eve, and provided everything necessary for her delivery on scene. Genesis 2:18 informs us that God understood that Adam was not a complete representation of Himself in a singular state. That verse says, And the Lord God said, “It is not Good that man should be alone, I will make a helper comparable to him”. I have shared in past episodes that the original Hebrew text means that Adam was merely a singular part of a complete set, both of which would be critical to their ability to fulfill their primary purpose of being in God’s image and likeness. In Genesis 2:21-22 we learn of the process by which the comparable helper came to be. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Upon being presented with Eve, Adam made a profound declaration which we read in verse 23. And Adam said; “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man”. When God created Adam, He created everything necessary to reflect Himself, but Adam was not capable of accessing everything that was God-like that was inside him. Adam was only a man, and as such he was limited in his ability to accurately reflect the totality of the attributes of God. Some of the characteristics of God are found predominantly in man, some are more easily displayed in woman. When the two are made One, the entirety of God’s image and likeness are possible. Adam declared in verse 23 that he and Eve were one flesh, that she had in fact been taken out of him, eluding to the point that at the moment “God created him, male and female He created them”(Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were created married. They were from their beginning in a “One Flesh” condition. In the next verse God said that in response to their perfect union which was capable of accomplishing the goal of reflecting Himself, He would replicate it in every marriage that would follow theirs. “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
I review all of that here because it is the basis for the two verses from Ephesians 5 that I am focusing on today. Without this starting point, the statement from verse 28, So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself; really makes no sense. Here, Paul was reminding us that as married couples we are in a “One flesh” relationship with our spouse. In just a few short verses Paul went on to state that though it is a mystery how God does this, He is still today in the business of taking a man and a woman and making them one flesh just as He did with Adam and Eve. Obviously, we are not physically one flesh as they were, but mysteriously or as I like to say, miraculously we are one flesh spiritually which has an effect on us in the physical and emotional realms as well. What Paul is saying is that a husband should care for his wife just like He cares for his own needs, because in light of their “One Flesh” condition when he cares for her needs he is caring for his own needs. Additionally he says when husbands love their wives, they are loving themselves.
Verse 29 adds to the motivation for the command in verse 28. It says; For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. In other words because we love ourselves, we ought to love our wives. Those looking for the loophole have asked me from time to time…some people are always looking for the loopholes…“But Pastor Ken, What if you don’t love yourself?”. Paul addressed these people here in this verse; I guess people in his time were looking for the loopholes as well. Here he makes it abundantly clear that we care for those we love…and we instinctively care for ourselves by meeting our basic needs, so…we do love ourselves…everyone loves themselves enough to eat when hungry, dress when cold, seek shelter when exposed to the elements, etc. Those loophole seekers then settle into the idea that in order to love their wives correctly and authentically, they need only supply the needs their wife has that they agree should be needs. If it is not a need of their own, then they have license to deny their wife of said need. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In order to drive that particular point home, Paul addressed it in his final remarks on the subject in verse 33.
When husbands are good to their wives, they are being good to themselves. When Husbands love their wives, they in effect love themselves. When husbands meet the relational needs their wives have, they find their own relational needs met. This motivation in and of itself would suffice…except it has the propensity to be misused, abused, and manipulated for personal gain. We need a higher motivation to aspire to in able to successfully avoid the temptation to allow selfish desire to enter our marriages. Without it we might love well, to be loved well. Be good to our wife to be treated good in return. We might even agree to meet her needs so that ours will be met. Each of these an intended outcome, but never meant to be the motivation. With that in mind, Paul penned the final phrase…Just as the Lord does the church.
As I noted a few weeks ago, Jesus did not do what He did for the church because he had personal need to. He was sinless…He did not need to die to live eternally with God. That was already His. Jesus did what He did for us because we had need of Him to do so. He came and lowered Himself to elevate His bride, because it was a critical need His bride had. We are His creation…essentially an extension of Himself. We had a need so He illustrated His love for us by meeting our need. In the same way, we are to instinctively meet our bride’s needs regardless if it is a personal need of ours or not. In this way we show our love for our wife… Just as the Lord does the church.
Questions to answer:
How do husbands love themselves by loving their wives?
What does that look like in a practical sense?
Actions to take:
Discuss why you think this is so important to God.
Ask God to help you make the things he prioritizes in your marriage the most important to you.
So now, giving the utmost value to the purposeful circle of love and respect that God has designed to be in the very DNA of the “One Flesh” condition…Go be awesome!