Monday, March 26, 2007

Pray For Your Beloved ~ Sacrificial Love

This week, we're going to pray for our husband to love us. I have often wondered at Scripture instructing husbands to love their wives. Why would it state what would seem to be obvious? Well, maybe it's not as obvious as it should be, or perhaps godly love is not so naturally attained. We will discuss and pray about the passionate love later, but this week we are focusing on sacrificial love.

Scripture gives specific instruction to husbands on loving their wives, but as I was reading through various verses, I was impressed with the example that God gives husbands in Joseph. The Gospel of Matthew gives us an account of this amazing man. "And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'...When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus." Matthew 1:19-20, 24-25 ESV. What a testimony of sacrificial love! Here is a man who must have felt betrayed and deeply wounded when he found out that Mary was with child, and yet he didn't want to bring shame upon her. Once God had made His plan apparent to Joseph, he willingly took Mary for his wife, and "knew her not" until after the baby was born. Now that's sacrificial love! He was married without the physical benefits of the sexual relationship for the duration of her pregnancy, plus the 33 days of purification after the birth of the baby (see Lev. 12:4).

God intends for the husband/wife relationship to be a model of the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ loves His church sacrificially, having given up His life for her. This is how God wants men to love their wives. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV

I think it is not an easy task for our husbands. I know that often I am not very loveable, and yet, that is what he is called to do. He is to love me in a way that sanctifies me; in a way that shows the world what Christ's love looks like. What an awesome responsibility!

Perhaps it is made easier for them if we fulfill our responsibility to be submissive and honoring to them. If we graciously accept the place God has given us, as co-heirs of grace ~ yes; but following joyfully, embracing our role as his helpmeet. "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are co-heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7 ESV

I will gently remind you at this point, that this is not about *you*. The point of this week's prayer is not to cause you to be discontent. Nor is it for you to suggest to him how he might behave, or just plain nag at him. Our desire should be to see our husband become more Christ-like, for God's glory and for his good. We will benefit, that's true, but that is a blessed side effect, not the purpose. So lift him before the Throne of Grace, fully believing that God will draw him to Himself, and refine him further into the image of Christ.

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