Dear radio friends,
Marriage is given by God to be a picture of Christ and the church. We cannot say that too often. We cannot remind ourselves of that too much.
Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church. We have seen that marriage, therefore, is built upon forgiving grace to each other. We have seen that marriage, therefore, has fixed roles. If it is to be a picture of Christ and the church, then the husband must be as Christ and the wife must be as the church. The calling of a husband, we saw in the last message of this series, was to be the head of his wife. From the Scriptures we learn that there are two key concepts in the headship of Christ over the church. Those concepts are: 1) that Christ, joyfully and in love, takes responsibility for His church; and 2) that Christ is the One who has the authority, that is, He rules and guides His church out of His heart of love.
So a husband is to become responsible before God for the direction, for the good, of his wife and of his family in marriage. And he is also, then, to provide that leadership, that guidance, out of the Word of God for his family and for his wife.
Now the apostle speaks of all of this in Ephesians 5:23, where we read, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviourof the body.” There the apostle says to us that that headship of Christ is seen concretely in two ways. Those two ways are that Christ protects and Christ provides for His bride, the church. Christ’s leadership, which is His responsibility and His guidance of the church, takes these forms: He protects and He provides. As Christ is the Husband of the church, so also must a husband protect and provide for his wife and family.
Christ, as the head of the church, protects His bride. We read in Ephesians 5:25 that He gave Himself for the church. Jesus said in John 10, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” And in John 18, “If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me, have I lost none.” As the head of the church, Jesus Christ protects His bride. He delivered us from the utter ruin and death that was ours by placing Himself in between us and our judgment, in order that we through Him might be reconciled unto God. And He not only did this upon the cross, but He ever lives to continue this protection of the church, for He is the head of the church. Therefore He is able to say concerning His wife, concerning the church, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Or, as we read in Psalm 121, “He, the Lord of the church, never slumbers, never sleeps; He that keepeth Israel keeps Israel day by day. The Lord is our keeper, the Lord will maintain and preserve His people.” His love means that He brings the needed rescue from sin and the necessary defense that His church requires in this world. So Christ, as the head, protects His church.
But as the head, Christ also provides. The apostle Paul says that this aspect of Christ’s headship over the church is to be expressed in these words (v. 29): “No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” As the head, Christ provides for the church by nourishing the church. He does what a parent does for a child—He feeds, He provides. And He cherishes the church. That word “cherish,” as it is used in verse 29 of Ephesians 5, is used there and in only one other place (I Thess. 2:7), where the apostle says that, as a nurse cherishes her children, so were we among you Thessalonians—that is, we exercised a tender, loving care. Christ has a compassionate, tender, heart-felt care for His church. As the head of the church, Christ protects and provides for the church.
Why these two? Because without these two the life of the church is threatened. Because without these two the church cannot exist. If Christ does not protect us; if Christ does not assume responsibility to stand between us and the punishment that our sins deserve; and if Christ does not faithfully provide and nourish us with spiritual life—if He does not do that, we will perish! We, the church, are not autonomous. We are not nuclear-powered, we are not self-sustaining and self-supporting. We are sheep. We are defenseless. We need One to protect and to provide.
So, as the head of the church, Jesus Christ provides and protects.
Now, husband, God has made you to be the head of your wife. As Christ is the head of the church, so must you be the head of your wife, to protect and to provide. If we fail in these two callings (to protect and to provide), there will be nothing left for us to be the head of. A husband’s headship, his leadership, his responsibility is expressed in his providing and protecting his wife and family in both the spiritual and physical senses. The calling, then, of a husband as the head of his wife is to provide for her and the children both physically and spiritually.
First of all, to provide physically. The primary responsibility of a husband is to be the breadwinner, as the head of his wife. Yes, the wife may help make ends meet at times. But Scripture sees the wife’s primary calling as a homemaker and a manager of the home. Yes, husbands, you may share in her domestic labors. You may learn to help her out in her duties in the home and all of those many things that come before her. You may certainly help her. But the heart of a husband is a heart that longs to provide. That means that as a husband we will position ourselves, we will lay down our lives, in order that we might put bread on the table, to provide for the physical needs of our wife and family. Maybe a man, you say, is disabled. Or maybe he is temporarily in school. Nevertheless, his heart, as it is indwelt by Christ, wants to provide, and his heart moves his body and moves his use of his talents and mind so that he might provide for his wife. And he prays, “Lord, help me. Bless my labors.”
Secondly, as a husband we are to provide spiritually. You can provide spiritually for your wife, as the head of your wife, only if you are growing spiritually yourself. You can provide for her spiritually only if you are daily feeding your own soul. If you have ever flown on an airplane and actually listened to the stewardess before the take-off as she explains various things and talks to you about the oxygen mask and says that, in case of emergency, this oxygen mask will drop down before you, and if you have a child with you, put your mask on first and then the child’s. That is the way it goes in the spiritual life. You have to take care of your spiritual life first. That is why the devil wants you, as a husband, to sin. Because your spiritual life affects the whole family. Your sin, your guilt, your unfaithfulness—who will be affected by all of that? Just you? Do not believe that lie of the devil. When you are made the head of your wife, when you are the head of the family, your spiritual life affects your entire family. You must believe that your spiritual life is the best gift that you can give to the family. Your maintaining your spiritual walk with the Lord is the best thing that you can ever do for your family. You must understand that your pride and your impenitence and your waywardness and your toying with sin will bring woe upon your family. As a spiritual provider, take care of yourself.
But, then, as the spiritual provider, you gather your family together for worship, for worship under the Word of God, for prayer, and for family worship. You see to it that your family attends a faithful, biblical church, where the gospel of Jesus Christ and His powerful saving grace is proclaimed. And then you also organize your family time of worship. You take the initiative. You say, “But I don’t know how, I don’t have any background in this. I don’t know really what to do. What do you mean—family devotions at the meal table? What do you mean?” Well, ask your brothers in the church of Jesus Christ. Ask the elders of the church, or ask your wife! You say, “Well, my wife is smarter than I am. She could really do this better than I.” No, brother, this is your calling. See that your family reads the Bible each day and prays each day and goes to a faithful church twice on the Lord’s Day and discusses spiritual issues. And see to it that your spiritual life is always an example for them to follow. That is what it means to be the head of your family.
But the leadership is not only for the physical and spiritual provision for your family, but it is also for the physical and spiritual protection of your family.
I would like to emphasize here the spiritual, that you are spiritually to protect your family. Yes, there is a physical side to this protection. You do not say, as a husband, when your wife and children are in the car and you are on the way to church on Sunday morning, and you get a flat tire and you pull over to the side of the road, “Well, I changed the last one. It’s your turn.” You do not say that. You get out there and you change the tire. You are the head, you are her husband. You are to lay down your life, physically, for your wife. You are to be considerate. You are to open the door for her. And you are to teach your sons to be considerate to women. Physically you are to honor them.
But above all, we are to honor them spiritually. We are to protect our wife and family spiritually. There are spiritual dangers coming at our homes from all sides. There are bombs and terrorists, there are the wiles of the devil, there are the powers of darkness. We need men, we need warriors, we need men of courage and discernment for the spiritual protection of our wives and family.
How do we do that? 1) Pray. Pray for your wife and children every day, over and over and over again in the day. “Lord,” you pray, “lead them in paths of righteousness. Protect them from temptations. Draw them unto Thee in all of their perplexities.” You are the high priest of your family. You are to call down God’s blessing upon them. You are to pray for your wife and for your children in their daily needs.
2) You protect your family spiritually by setting the standards for your wife and family. You make things happen in the moral sphere. You protect them. You take the leadership. What is watched on the television? What music is heard in your families? What is going on in the life of your teenager? Your teenage daughter needs you as a father. She needs you in dress. You do not simply say, “Well, let the wife take care of that.” No, she needs you to celebrate with her when she gets it right and she looks modest. And she needs you to say to her, “You’re not going out of the house dressed like that.”
And your wife ought to be able to say, “Go talk to your Dad about boys.” Girls sometimes simply do not get it. They do not understand the way boys are wired to see and to lust. They think that they are being cute. You are the one who must talk to your daughter about these things.
You must protect your family. You must protect your family by allowing no unresolved anger in your family. We read in Ephesians 4:26, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” There are intruders that come into our home. There are arsonists that want to burn it down. There is the devil who wishes to get into our bedroom. You ask, “How does that happen?” That is when anger, unresolved conflict, comes into your home and you do not deal with it. You are the head. It means that you have to go up to the room of your son, and you have to deal with the things that are making him angry. Maybe you need to apologize. Maybe you need to say, “Son, the way I responded was not correct. But, nevertheless, this is what I want you to understand.” Perhaps you need to talk with your wife before you go to sleep. You say, “But it’s her fault.” And then maybe you say, “Because she is at fault, my head is hitting the pillow tonight and I’m not going to do anything about it.” Is that the way Christ treats His wife? How many times has He come to you? The fault is yours—all yours, is it not? It is not Christ’s. Yet He comes to you. Do not let anger into your home. Protect your home. Be clothed with humility and wisdom.
I know, this does not always work perfectly. A son and a daughter may be unwilling to humble themselves. But you must try. You must lead. You must pray. For, as the head of your wife, you are accountable to God.
That is where this word leaves us. The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.
Now, what do you hear there? Are you hearing this: “She’s supposed to do what I say, and that means I am supposed to be served”? If that’s what you’re hearing, then you are hearing through your flesh, but not through the Spirit. When you hear that Word of God, you will hear this: “God gave me my wife and children in His love and wisdom so that, with all the gifts that He has given me, I might lead them in ways that are pleasing to Him, in order that I might always be ready to answer my God for what I have done with my wife and my children.” This humbles us. This shows us our need to be constantly following our Lord Jesus Christ in faith.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God came and said (now remember, Eve had sinned first), “Adam, where are you? What happened Adam? You are the head. Where are you?” So also, when there are problems in your marriage and in your home, God comes and He says, “Husband, where are you? Is there something not right in your home?” Maybe God has an issue with your wife. Maybe your wife is indeed at fault. Or maybe it is with your kids—your teenagers are indeed at fault. I can assure you that, when God comes to your house tonight to deal with those issues of your wife and your teenagers, the very first question He is going to ask is: “Is the man of the house at home? Where are you? You are the head.”
Let this be an encouragement to us. For God designed marriage this way. He did it for His own glory and for our good and He will give grace, always. He delights in using the weakest of means for His good.
So, man of God, you who are chosen and redeemed by His mighty grace, here is your calling from the Master Jesus Christ: Joyfully bear the responsibility of your family. Lead your wife and children for their spiritual well-being. Heal discord. Lay down your life for them. Your wife and your children will thank God for you. And God will be pleased in you.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Holy Word. We pray again that it may enter into our hearts by the work of Thy Holy Spirit. We pray that, as husbands, we may take up our calling before Thee both to protect and to provide for our families, in order that Thy name might be honored by us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.