I have read Ephesians 5:25 quite a few times. I have recited the scripture, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” and conveniently forget the remainder of the verse, “and gave himself up for her.” Did Paul really mean I must give up my life for Marissa or was I being extra literal? What does it look like for me to love my wife as Christ loved the church? What sacrificial decisions am I making to ensure the overall physical and emotional well being of my wife? Am I communicating this sacrificial love to her without ceasing?
Until recently, my focus in my marriage has really been earthbound. Giving myself up for Marissa? Heck yeah! If there is only one life vest left on a sinking ship, best believe she is wearing that thing. Check! Sacrificial love? You know she is getting the last chicken wing if she wants it. Check! Communicating my love to her? You know it: I cook, I clean, I bring flowers, I go grocery shopping, I pamper my bride and the list goes on. Check!
These are all great gestures of love and we should do all and more. Unfortunately, this is not what Paul has in mind at all. As Christ has eternal goals for the church, I ought to have eternal goals for Marissa as well. If you pay attention, a comma separates verse 25 and 26. The continuation is, “and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle…” Now it’s obvious that only God can sanctify, but it is my God given responsibility to pray for my wife without ceasing and to live a life that brings glory to God. This means I must fully surrender my life and our marriage unto God as to not hinder Marissa’s salvation. Francis Chan paints this picture in his book, You and Me Forever, that one day, Marissa and I will be standing at the gate and she will either say, “I’m ready” or “you failed me on this side.” That is a reality check. Our sights have to be set on the millions of years of eternity, not the couple of decades here on earth.