Learning To Accept God’s Love

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Do you ever struggle with unanswered prayers?

Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor.

I have had such a deep longing within my heart that I’ve desperately wanted to see come to pass. For the last several years I have waited for the Lord to answer my prayer. I wait patiently on my good days and tell myself “It’s just not God’s timing yet”  But, on my bad days I feel afraid and hurt and unworthy.

I began to wonder why I struggled with unanswered prayer so much and why I always felt defeated.  You see, I never realized the correlation between how I view God and my prayer life before; Let me explain.

I was raised in an angry, abusive home where I was sexually abused. The only role models I had were quick tempered mean alcoholics.  Needless to say,  I grew up scared of men. My life was filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.  I found myself thinking I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

So years later, after I became a believer, the concept of a kind, loving heavenly Father was a completely foreign concept to me. The words my pastor spoke sounded wonderful, like a fairy tale, but deep down I couldn’t escape the sense of God’s judgement and anger.  Even when I read my Bible, I seemed to focus on the legalism aspect of scripture. And every time I failed, messed up or fell short, I felt myself the target of God’s anger. I came to almost expect unanswered prayer, because I believed I did not deserve to be blessed.

This began a cycle of falling short all the time and making unwise choices.  Never realizing the connection between my childhood and my skewed perception of God.  The years of an unloving atmosphere filled with anger and fear had warped my brain, therefore, unconsciously blocking the truth of who God really was.

It wasn’t until after my second abusive marriage, I began to recognize that I had become comfortable with accepting less than what the Lord desired for me.  This was bolstered by the declaration from my ex-husband that the Lord had told him to divorce me and had in fact, taken me out of our marriage for his ministry.  That are marriage was never ordained by God.?  I guess in some way, this belief somehow absolved him of all the hurt he had caused me. Since I had been long ago programmed to believe that everything was my fault, I bought into his lie.  This had devastating effects on my heart and feelings of worth. I felt so much shame for my divorce and thought, “here I go again disappointing God, once again falling short, I had failed as a wife.”  I did not even sign my divorce papers when I was served, because I feared God’s wrath.

I remember sharing with my counselor that I desperately wanted to please God.  I shared how I knew God was mad at me, because I had failed again.  That I knew I did not deserve a happily ever after, like most Christians.  My counselor took my hand and said “Cheryl, God is not angry with you, He loves you, He cares for you and He understands your past and wants desperately to heal you. Slowly thru my brokenness and pain, and on my knees seeking God, that the truth started soaking in.  I think this was the first time I realized that maybe, it was true, God was not angry with me and in fact loved me.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. Psalm 145:8

This verse which says God is slow to anger, that He offers forgiveness when I confess my failures and that He does not hold my shortcomings against me, began transforming not only my brain, but my heart. And if that were not awesome enough, the fact that God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness toward us..” As I meditated on this verse I began to believe God’s truth, the massive wall that had protected my heart as a child and continued into adulthood, slowly began to come down.

The unanswered prayer that was weighing on my heart for so long, was lifted.  I began to see that the Lord is my Daddy, the Dad I never had.  I realized as I love my children unconditionally and want what is best for them, so does my Heavenly Father.  My prayers began to change, I started trusting that I could trust Him with my deepest hurts and needs.  He knows my heart and the heart of the person I was praying for.  He and only He knows how this prayer should be answered. I began to truly have a peace that passes all understanding.  Knowing if this door closes, He has something better for me.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. in all your ways acknowledge Him,  and He will make your paths straight Psalm 3:5-6

He is our gracious heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, patiently bearing with us, teaching and guiding us as we grow and mature in Christ. He is not mad at me, and He is not mad at you. God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Sometimes our past experiences shape us in ways we don’t fully understand. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God reshapes us, transforming our hearts and minds as only He can. Though it often takes time, God’s truth can work its way deeply into our hearts and completely break down walls built of lies. And oh, how He loves to bring those walls down!  I learned I am worthy, worthy of love and am a beloved child of God.  Amen

So, the sentence at the beginning; Although, every believer has unanswered prayer, it can sometimes, lead a person to conclude that he or she is not worthy enough or deserving of God’s favor. Is far from the truth, The Lord either answers are prayers with a yes, or a no and No is because we have a good Father in God, who, just like a good earthly father, desires to give His children what’s best for them even if He has to say no to something they want right now. Or He is teaching you to trust in His timing, to wait on Him, If you’ve asked God for answers but find yourself waiting longer than you planned, take a moment now to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Don’t give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond and remember that the Lord is good to those who seek Him.   The question is: Do we really believe that He is good? If we did, wouldn’t that be cause to celebrate, whether He says yes or no?

Father God, today I choose joy because I believe You are always saying yes. Sure, there are places of disappointment in my life and there are things I would like to be different, but I choose to give thanks. Starting today, I choose to respond to You as if You are always good — a Father who has my best in mind. Because You are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” Max Lucado

Living In A Hurting World

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For the second night in a row the news showed the images of a video showing a young disabled man from Chicago being tortured and beaten.  I don’t know about you, but the state of our broken world has me lying awake at night. Heartbroken over the condition of our country where something like this can happen. Grieving over the loss of his innocence and the pain and fear he must have experienced.  Horrified by the attackers lack of remorse and saddened by the idea that hate and evil has won out.

It’s 2017, and injustice, oppression and racism is rampant, causing innocent people to fear for their lives just because of the color of their skin.  Sometimes, I feel powerless. I feel overwhelmed. I feel afraid. When I watch the news and social media I see such total disregard for human life, I am slapped in the face with the reality that the world we live in is a fallen, broken, hurting, and dangerous one.  We can see it in the innocent blood that is spilled. We see it everyday in the angry political  exchanges on television and in our own Facebook news feed.  We see it in the well meaning Christians who do not know what our God asks of us because they do not open up their Bible. We see it in those who do not know God and instead seek answers from other people they deem wise.

We live in a world that needs Jesus, We need not look any farther than the scriptures to know how God responded to pain while on this earth. Jesus spent much of His life among suffering people, hurting people and His response to them shows us how God feels about pain. He always responded to hurting people with sadness and grief. When Jesus’ friend died, He wept. I am confident that Jesus wept over that young man being tortured and hurt.

We need to diligently pray for that young man.  We need to Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them by senseless violence. Pray for those who protect us along with their families that have suffered loss. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.

In our day-to-day experiences of life, we have opportunities to learn to be like Jesus, to choose to be patient, to be considerate, to feed the poor, to help others, to pray. On the job and in our homes, Jesus has something to say about what we do.

We will experience problems in life whether or not we follow Jesus. Our choice is not whether to have problems, but whether we learn from those problems. Do we react to them the way Jesus would, or do we become bitter and seek revenge and hate? We learn more about love when we love people who are hard to love; we learn more about forgiveness when people sin against us. Our character is shaped more like Jesus not so much in good times, but in difficult times. We do not always understand why God allows people to suffer. We may not see any good in it, or any lesson to learn. But God assures us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not know how—we just have to trust him.

We can begin with teaching our children to love as Christ loves, we need to teach our children that every life is precious and valued. We don’t need to paint for them a picture of a country with a history of inequality, but talk to them about the progress that still needs to be made. We need to never stop teaching them not to be hateful or mean, but to stand up for those who fall victim to hate and bullying.  Allow them to be colorblind.  My kids use to love this little song O be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little ears what you hear, There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love,So, be careful little ears what you hear.  Unfortunately, they become racist from the words they here at home and school.  We need to diligently protect them from the ways of the world.

Most important we need to pray with them for those that are hurting and be intentional about how we can actively make a difference in the lives of others.

Dear God,

Some days feel too hard. We’re hurting. Struggling. Fighting fear and worry at every turn. Thank you in the midst of it all, you haven’t left us to fend for ourselves. Forgive us for doubting you are there. Forgive us for thinking you’ve forgotten. Forgive us for believing we somehow know the better way.

You are fully trustworthy. You are All Powerful. You are Able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are Healer and will never waste the grief we carry today. You will use all things for good in some way. Anything is possible with you. Nothing is too difficult for you.

We pray for those who grieve today. We ask for your comfort to surround those who weep. We pray for the peace of your presence to cover our minds and thoughts, as you remind us, the enemy can never steal us out of your hands. He never has the final say over our lives. We are kept safe in your presence forever, whether in life or in death.

We thank you that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are bigger than our thoughts.

We lay it all down at your feet, every burden, every care. Believing that is the safest place for it to be.

We love you Lord, we need your fresh grace.

In the Powerful Name of Jesus,

Amen.

Empathy Is Important For Christians

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The one thing that I am learning is that as Christians we need empathy.  Why?  The reason is simple, so we can share in the suffering and pain of our friends and fellow Christians.

I have found in my life that the Lord often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad to our deepest calling.  It is because of the hardships the Lord has allowed in my life, I’m able to feel more than sympathy and give my friends the gift of empathy. It’s a hard-won, precious gift.

The definition of empathy according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place when you have no point of reference. But as God allows certain experiences in our lives, we don’t have to imagine empathy because we feel it automatically; it is a gift we can give a hurting person.

My second child Casey passed away from congenital heart disease.  The pain of losing my son is something I carry with me always. I know what it is to live with pain — emotional and physical. It is from that hardship (among others), I am able to draw from a deep well of empathy.

I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she started sharing how she lost a daughter a few years ago. The hurt she felt was still so raw that she started crying. Tears came to my eyes as I shared that I knew exactly how she felt, because I had gone through the same thing. I explained my feelings of loss, how there will always be a hole in my life where Casey should be no matter how much time has passed. How I often think of how old he would be now and how the pain deepens on important days like his birthday, when he would have graduated from high school etc.. Yet I know my son is with the Lord, and it is only sad for those of us left behind. My friend nodded through her tears and said no one ever understands how she feels. Empathy is a bridge of understanding; through my own loss I could share in hers.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  We are taught as Christians to share our friends emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of this statement. It doesn’t say, “Feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says we need to literally cry with them. Have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears. This is a powerful teaching Paul is trying to get across to the church in Rome and ultimately to all Christians. We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how they feel, but the true depth of empathy is achieved through experience.

Christ was our ultimate example of empathy. He literally put himself in our place when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So when God allows us to go through a hardship, we should consider it a privilege to suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered and use our experience to bless others.

It takes a brave person to pray for empathy, braver than me, but God allows experiences in my life that “teach” me this gift. Trials in our lives have many purposes; it took a long time of walking with the Lord and studying His Word for me to discover the lessons hidden in my own hardships and sufferings. They are often for our growth: to teach us reliance on God, to draw us back or closer to our Savior, or to give us empathy for our neighbor.

As Christians, we have a higher calling. We have been bought at a price and are no longer our own, but humble servants to our Heavenly Father. The greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love others as ourselves. In a world rampant with selfishness, vanity, bullying and greed, God offers us a better way. We are after all His hands and feet, and what better way to represent our Lord and serve others than with the gift of empathy?

Word Of God

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I remember being a new Christian and wondering “How can Jesus and the Bible both be the Word of God?”  As my walk with the Lord grew I began to realize some really important truths:

That the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Jesus showed us a link between the written Word of God and Himself, in that He is the subject of the written Word, it is His biography: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

I learned that the phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking to us since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9). We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him ( and really listen) in every way that He speaks.  Isn’t that good news!   All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

(Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV) “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. {12} Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. {13} And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Love More Judge Less

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As Christians, we need to love more and Judge less, allow the Holy Spirit to change a person. As this scripture shows us Peter expects our love to be a certain kind of love – an earnest love. The fact that Peter has to use an adverb after his command to love shows us there are different intensities of love. If we have to be told to love earnestly, it must be possible to love non-earnestly. Earnest means serious, sincere or deep. So Peter wants us to take our responsibility to love seriously, not flippantly and not judgmentally. He wants us to be sincere, not manipulative. And he wants our love to be deep and intense, not shallow and hollow.

How important is earnest love? So important that Peter says we should be loving one another earnestly – above all. More important than anything else in this world is our love for one another. Naturally we think of our obligation to love God as more important than our love for one another, and that’s understandable. However, if we love God, we will love one another. They go hand in hand, because the Spirit that puts the love for God in our hearts also puts a love for one another in our hearts.

As Christians, sometimes I feel we are alienating people, people need truth and love. One without the other leads to a warped Gospel. The truth spoken without love is harsh, hurtful and causes people to raise their walls, close their ears, and walk away. Love spoken without truth easily turns into a prosperity gospel, or an “all roads lead to heaven” approach. Our default is to lead with truth, but too often we forget to follow up with love. Jesus gave us many great examples of how he lead with love and followed up with truth – the adulteress woman, the Samaritan woman, consorting with tax collectors, etc. Mark 2 tells us that Jesus dined with thieves and other disreputable sinners. He knew these people needed the Truth, and he knew that what they were doing was wrong. But he also knew that they were looked down upon and scorned by the world already. They heard every single day how they were not good enough. Jesus knew that if he was going to make a difference, he should show them how much he cared and gain their trust and respect. Then the truth he followed up with would hold weight in their lives…We need to offer people hope.  Love first allow Jesus to do the rest.

God Uses The Weak

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I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse yesterday. I almost canceled, because I had a huge setback in my recovery as a survivor this week. It was a setback that almost made me stop and retreat, it was something that on the surface should have been no big deal, but left me deeply wounded and hurt.  It left me doubting my gifts and my ability for God to use me. No one ever talks about the little things, the not so obvious things that we as survivors of childhood sexual abuse have to manage privately. …The imprint of childhood trauma shows up in our lives in the smallest ways. In what we see, in what we hear or what we smell. … It’s all those things that trigger us day in and day out when we least expect it.   Sometimes, it’s what people say that tear us down, like telling us we are acting like a victim or get over it and move on. These little things can make us retreat and shut down. Every story deserves to be told and every voice deserves to be heard. We need to encourage survivors and victims to speak out and talk about it. Don’t be the cause as to why they remain silent.

The Lord in His goodness showed me that He uses the weary, feeble, powerless… Sometimes when we feel physically or spiritually weak, we’re tempted to take a “time-out,” thinking that God will use us again when we are stronger. In Judges 6, we’re introduced to Gideon who was taking a “time-out.” It was wartime, and Gideon was hiding when an angel of the Lord appeared to tell him that he would be the one to save Israel. Imagine Gideon’s astonishment: “How can I save Israel? Lord, I come from a nobody family, and I’m the lowest nobody in my family. And You’re going to use me?”

After God enlisted the nobody Gideon, He got a nobody army. Then God took those nobodies and won the battle! God takes us in our weak state and uses us so He alone can be glorified. Thank you, Lord.

Why does God delight in choosing the weak:  The first reason is found in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 29: “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” When we get to heaven, not one of us will be able to say we got there on our own merit. We’re saved simply by the grace of God. The second reason is found in verse 31, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” If we operate in our own strength and not God’s, we risk taking the glory and credit for ourselves. Scripture tells us that we must be weak and low enough in order for God to use us.

God wants to take us down to the very depths of ourselves to teach us that if there is any power, it is the power that is in God, and not in us. God doesn’t need to make us into performers or superstars in order to use us. Instead, He’s looking for men and women who have hearts that say, “Lord, I’m a nobody. I’m nothing without You. Will You use me?” When God finds such a heart, something extraordinary happens — that nobody is promoted to the ranks of God’s nobility.

Don’t allow the enemy to convince you that God cannot use you because you are “flawed”, weak, or seemingly inconsequential. Like I almost did! No, instead, remember that He uses the ordinary, often broken, people…to do extraordinary things. Our God is not looking at your wealth, your social status or your education — He’s looking at your heart! If your heart is willing and your life is available, then He is more than able to perform miraculous work through you for His Kingdom’s sake. With so much work to be done, don’t allow the enemy to stifle or steal the Lord’s vision for your life –- He has a plan to use you to confound the wise of this world, and to bring to naught the things th

Unshakable Love Of A Godly Husband

Imagine how precarious your relationship with Christ would be if He only loved you when it was convenient for Him, or only when you were most attractive to Him. Everyone knows what it’s like to be loved imperfectly—and, if we’re honest, what it’s like to love someone else imperfectly.

Believers ought to be perpetually grateful that God’s love for us isn’t conditional, and that He loved us even while we rejected Him (Romans 5:8). In Ephesians 2, Paul wrote about God’s transcendent love for us in the midst of our rebellion.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins. . . . Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-6)

So moments later, when Paul penned the instruction for husbands to love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), he was not speaking about God’s love in vague terms. His original audience understood that he was not telling husbands to love their wives if the wives deserved it, or if the husbands felt like it.

He gave an absolute command. Biblical love is a willful commitment to self-sacrifice, and it is not at all based on how we might “feel” at any point about the object of our love.

Sacrificial Love

A husband who is unwilling to sacrifice for his wife does not even know what true love is. Those who regard their wives as servants under their sovereign headship haven’t begun to appreciate the true biblical pattern for marriage and family. Selfish husbands therefore will never know what it is to have a fulfilled marriage and family. True happiness in marriage is possible only to those who follow the divine pattern.

Properly understood, Ephesians 5:25 demands that the husband die to self. In effect, he is called to crucify himself for the sake of his wife. It’s not talking about some petty sacrifice, such as helping with the dishes now and then. It means the husband must devote his entire life—and quite literally even be willing to die—for the good of his wife.

Remember, genuine love “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The man who is concerned only with getting what he can from marriage is sowing the seeds of destruction in his family. To love your wife as Christ loved the church is to be preoccupied with what you can do for her, not vice versa. After all, Christ loves us not for selfish gain, but because He is a gracious Lord who delights to bestow His favor on us.

Protective Love

The love of a godly man for his wife is not only sacrificial, it also safeguards her purity. Paul said Christ’s sacrifice for the church had this ultimate object in mind: to sanctify and cleanse her “that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:26–27). Her purity was His primary concern.

Likewise, in marriage, it is every husband’s solemn duty to guard his wife’s purity. No one would ever deliberately defile someone he really loves. How could a loving husband ever delight in something that compromises the purity of the one he loves?

On the contrary, the husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church will naturally hate anything that defiles her. He will guard her from anything and everything that might dishonor her, degrade her, demean her, or tempt her to sin. He will never knowingly lead her into any kind of sin, but protect her against any threat to her virtue. He won’t deliberately provoke or exasperate her so that she succumbs to anger or any other temptation. And he himself will be an example of purity, knowing that whatever defiles him will ultimately defile her too.

Notice the primary way Christ maintains the purity of the church: “by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Husbands have a duty to ensure that their wives are regularly exposed to the cleansing and purifying effect of the Word of God. The husband is to be the spiritual leader and priestly guardian of the home. It is his duty to make sure the Word of God is at the center of the home and family. He ought to lead his family in participation in a church where the Word of God is revered and obeyed. And above all, he himself needs to be devoted to the Word of God and proficient enough in handling the Scriptures that he can be the true spiritual head in the marriage (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34–35).

Caring Love

Genuine love also involves tender care, and Paul expressed that idea this way: “Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). We take care of our bodies constantly—giving them whatever food, clothing, comfort, recreation, relaxation, or rest they need. We’re attentive to our own bodies, concerned with their needs, sensitive and responsive to whatever they desire.

That is the kind of love Paul commanded husbands to show their wives. Notice, once again, Scripture is not describing love only as an emotion. This sort of love is active, voluntary, dynamic—something we do, not something we passively “feel.”

It’s only reasonable that a man would love his wife the way he loves his own body, because in marriage, “the two . . . become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). That is the way God designed marriage. Paul was actually quoting from Genesis 2:24, which describes how God first ordained marriage itself. It applies universally and it has been true from the beginning. Husbands ought to love their wives with the same care they give to their own bodies because, after all, the two are one flesh.

Enduring Love

Since the husband’s love for his wife pictures Christ’s love for the church, it must also be the kind of love that outlasts every trial and overcomes every obstacle. When Christ was questioned about divorce, He quoted the same verse Paul referenced from Genesis, then underscored the permanence of the union: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Every marriage is consummated in an earthly sense by a physical union: “The two shall become one flesh.” Children conceived by that union will literally bear the genetic pattern of two people who have become one flesh. But marriage also involves a spiritual union. God is the one who joins husband and wife together. Marriage is the union of two souls knitted together in every aspect of life. Their emotions, intellects, personalities, desires, and life goals are inextricably bound together.

Naturally, then, God also designed marriage to be a permanent union, unbroken and uncorrupted. The biblical terminology of Ephesians 5:31 stresses the permanence of the marriage union: “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife.” The word translated “be joined to” is a Greek term (proskolla) that literally speaks of gluing something together. It describes a permanent, unbreakable bond. That is an apt description of God’s ideal for marriage. It’s a union held together by lasting love that absolutely refuses to let go.

Christlike Love

Scripture is clear: God’s plan for the family begins with life-long monogamous marriage, which is grounded in sacrificial love. Why is this of such supreme importance? Paul gave the answer inEphesians 5:32: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” In other words, the husband’s love for his wife is a sacred duty because of what it illustrates.

Christ is the heavenly Bridegroom and the church is His bride (Revelation 19:7–8; 21:9). Because marriage pictures that union, the husband must be Christlike in his love for the wife, and she must be submissive to his headship. Otherwise, the divine object lesson is destroyed.

What higher motive could there be for a husband to love his wife? By loving her as Christ loved the church, he honors Christ in the most direct and graphic way. He becomes the embodiment of Christ’s love to his own wife, a living example to the rest of his family, a channel of blessing to his entire household, and a powerful testimony to a watching world.