Global poverty. International terrorism. Destruction from typhoon Haiyan.
If you’re anything like me, when your eyes race by these immense topics, they acquire more glaze than a Krispy Kreme donut. These are enormous issues and problems, and addressing or even understanding them in any depth seems daunting. Who has the time or energy to dig in? How could one person possibly help?
At times, exhortations in the Bible can seem just as overwhelming. This is no problem with God’s word, but rather a problem with me. Here’s a BIG command.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25–27, NASB)
In the pages of Scripture we read of the way in which Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and this command takes on colossal status. How can I possibly do that? How can I love my wife that way or to that degree?!
And soon, we let the size and glory of this command wash over us and knock us down, and we only have a mouthful of salt water and sand to show for our ocean-wading efforts. But a large command is still a command, and as we grow in holiness we grow in obedience to the Lord. What he commands he also gives grace and power to accomplish.
Elsewhere on the web you can find helpful and accurate applications of this command: lead your wife, read the Bible with her, pray with her and for her, give your strength for her and not for yourself. But our obedience to the command doesn’t just take the form of a grand, beautiful quilt; we need to obey right down to the threads.
One of Christ’s chief works in his substitution for the church was taking on her burden of sin and offense against God. So too, I can take on my wife’s burdens. I should certainly be willing to take on large burdens for her, including working hard to provide for the family, initiating pastoral love toward her and the children, etc. But there are small, everyday burdens that I can shoulder as well.
The floors of houses with small children tend to accumulate toys and “art” the way a loop of tape acquires fuzz, and so it is in my home. My wife is neat and organized, and even she cannot defeat this armored Philistine alone. Because she has miraculously found places for these toys, my instinct is to leave the tidying to her, lest I have to bother her about gizmos every 90 seconds1. But since she is exhausted by the end of the day after being spun like a top, God is teaching me to bear the burden for her. Let me scramble and reach under the bookcase for that Lego. I will wrestle the stuffed animals into the plastic bin. Leave the plastic beads to me.
You may think this insignificant, but as I crawl on the floor, God really does teach me. I learn a bit about bearing the burden for my wife, and it gives me a small, new perspective on worship.
Husbands, will you bear the burden for your wife? Will you love her and give yourself up for her?
- Of course we make our children pick up their toys. But, like big meals, sometimes cleaning parties have leftovers too. ↩