Growing a Royal Culture: Ephesians 5:22-33: Noble Husbands
While this text includes exhortations to wives, our purpose this morning is to look at what Paul exhorts husbands to. In particular we want to consider what it means to be noble. What does it mean to be royalty? What does it mean to be a king? One very basic role of kings is to bestow gifts (Est. 2:18, Prov. 19:6, Dan. 2:48, Eph. 4:8).
Loving and Giving
Paul tells us that the husband is the head of the wife and then proceeds to explain what that means. It means that husbands are to love their wives and give themselves for them. This love is primarily giving. Exodus 21:10 records the basic gifts that a husband is required to continually bestow upon his wife: food, clothing, and sex. While the context is clearly dealing with a man who wants to take a second wife, it makes it clear what the primary duties are to that first wife. Those gifts may not be diminished; they are ongoing. And what husbands need to remember is that these are gifts. You are bestowing presents on your wives, and they are to be given with joy and delight not stinginess or grumbling.
Sanctifying and Cleansing
Why? To what end must a husband give? For two things: First that he might sanctify and cleanse her by the water of the Word. Perhaps there is an allusion here to both the Word of God and baptism. But the point is that the ‘loving and giving’ is the prerequisite for sanctifying and cleansing. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means by which God’s Word saves us. The death and resurrection of the Word made flesh guarantees and establishes its efficacy. Likewise, husbands are called to be a sanctifying and cleansing force in their homes, but this is a worthless effort if they are not first giving themselves to their wives and children.
For Glory and Beauty
Why? To what end must a husband give? That he might present his bride to himself glorious and beautiful without blemish. The pattern in Scripture is always from glory to glory, and we are not Gnostics: glory is evidenced. Husbands, your goal as husbands is to so give yourselves to your wives that they are made more lovely, more beautiful, and more glorious. The Song of Songs pictures the bride through the song as a garden enclosed, a sanctuary of flowers and fruit. This sanctuary is not glorified by ignoring it. It is glorified by delighting in it. Love bestows loveliness. And neglect of this kind of love is a form of self abuse. Christ presents his bride to himself glorious, and we are to do the same. It is not a Christian virtue to not care if you have a beautiful wife. Christian women should be the most beautiful women in the world. If Christ is not shooting for anything less, neither should we.
Conclusion and Application
One temptation for men is to either want an easy 1-2-3 checklist or to just throw their hands up in disgust. And the two are often directly related. The man says, “I tried, I tried, and nothing happens…” and so in frustration he gives up. I bought her a shirt, I gave her the money and tried to be tender, but she didn’t like the color, she said it wasn’t enough, and then when I went to hug her she went limp. Now maybe his wife has some issues, but the problem is that he hasn’t really tried to love a woman. He’s tried to engineer a result; he’s tried to manipulate the numbers by rearranging the values. He’s treated love like calculus, and when he doesn’t get the desired results, he curses the entire enterprise. But that is the way of law not of grace.
Another temptation may be to see all these gifts and then despair because you have neither the time or the money to come up with them all. I may be a king, but not that kind of king, sort of like a Christian woman reading Prov. 31 for the first time and bursting into tears because she hasn’t got any spare real estate or a fleet of ships. But these are principles, they are not snap shots. Every husband can clothe, feed, and physically cherish and love his wife. Some husbands will send their wives to the store with more to spend than others. But husbands must send their wives to the store. Cupboards may be filled differently than others as God enables, but they must be regularly filled. Sometimes if a careful look is taken at the checkbook the priorities can become very plain: hunting trips, movies, beer, or books or whatever the husbands favorite toys are, and then well there’s just not much left, sorry hunny.
But this is your calling as a Christian husband, a member of the royal priesthood, the nation of kings and priest to our God: bestow these gifts. Bestow these gifts as gifts because grace has come through Jesus Christ, grace upon grace, gift upon gift.