Col. 3:19. “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
This seems like a simple verse, at first glance. It really isn’t. Husbands are called upon to rise above daily irritations and stress, and LOVE their wives.
A husband is any man who is married. In some cultures, wives are still bargained for and marriages are made without the man or woman being consulted. So, does this verse apply to those husbands?
Isn’t that HARD, though?
Yes. And in some cultures, it’s much harder on the wife than it is on the husband, because he is given legal and religious permission to beat her into submission.
Paul, however, was speaking here to believers. This verse removes all earthly permission for a man to be bitter, harsh, violent, against his wife.
Love: from the Greek agapao, this use of the word love is multi-layered. The love a husband is to have for his wife is further describe in Ephesians 5:25-33. This passage is written to husbands, and encompasses the incredible love that God ordained for them to show their wives.
First, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Jesus Christ willingly sacrificed His life out of His love for all who would become a part of the church, His Bride. Are you willing to die for your wife? My husband would. I don’t even have to ask. And that, gentlemen–the knowledge that he would die for me–makes it very easy for me to choose to submit to his leadership. As I said yesterday, my position is one of privilege and protection under the leadership of a man who would literally give his life in order to protect me.
We need to take few minutes to let that sink in, for both husbands and wives. Men, do you long for your wife to be submissive to you? I promise, unless there is something deeply wrong in your relationship, that if you love her as Christ loved the church, you will see amazing results.
You are to love your wife as you love your own body. You are to take care of her physical needs the way you do your own. If you are a lazy man who dislikes work, and who abuses your body with harmful overindulgence, you need to go to the Lord for help in understanding why you are what you are. The truth is, most of us do take pretty good care of ourselves. We eat when we’re hungry. We sleep when we’re tired. We wear cool clothing in the heat, and warm clothing in the cold. We provide for our own comfort. That’s what you are to do for your wife. Ephesians 5 says you are to nourish and cherish her—just as you do your own body.
I’m going to make this personal again. I have chronic pain. So does Terry. But in spite of his own pain, he takes any measure he can to ease mine. He takes over my household responsibilities when I’m having a severe episode. He bought me an adjustable bed to relieve my pain so I get better sleep. He makes sure I have my cane and a pillow for my back, double-checking when we leave the house to go to church or to a friend’s home. He knows I’m faithful about taking my pain meds, but he checks anyway when things are really bad. If he sees me even thinking about bending over for some reason, he stops me. I’m thankful that I have a really good reacher/grabber tool so I can do a lot for myself, but he watches. We do our best to take care of each other, but he resists my “fussing” at him to take care of himself.
Again, having that kind of loving care from him makes it easy for me to accept his leadership in our home. Usually. I do have that independent streak, but the Lord is working on that with me 🙂
Finally, Ephesians 5 says that a man is to leave his own parents and cling to his wife. That does NOT mean he is never to see them again; it does NOT mean he can’t love his parents any more. It’s a comparative thing, and it goes for both husband and wife: The love they have for each other is to outshine the love for their parents, not to eliminate it. Eph. 6 says we are to honor our parents, and that doesn’t end when we marry.
Be not bitter: Bitterness is usually rooted in an unforgiving spirit. You will become bitter against your wife if you fail to forgive her when she has sinned against you. If you become bitter, you will be harsh. Verbal, emotional, and physical abuse follow after bitterness. None of that is love.