The Needs of a Husband and a Wife
Ephesians 5 explains their needs
We have been studying Ephesians over the last many weeks --looking at it from the perspective of the needs of a woman and of a man. The basic need of a woman is to know that she is cherished (that's how King James has it in chapter 5). Another way of putting it is a woman's greatest need is security. The husband needs respect --same chapter 5 passage.
Security is not merely physical (shelter, food, clothing), it has much more to deal with emotional needs. A woman wants to know that she is the most important person in the world to her husband. So when he is out in public, how he introduces her to other people can make a great statement if he lets them know how important she is to him. There are so many ways to demonstrate his affection: small gifts, phone calls, notes, tender touches...
To the husband, respect is a concept of repaying him in kindness what he does for her. It's not a fearful thing, nor is it demanding. Rather, it is response for his love. True respect doesn't happen immediately in their relationship. It can only occur after the woman has experienced the security he provides for her.
The story comes from that passage where Paul is explaining that it's up to the man to see his wife as perfect, without any defects at all. Of course we all have flaws, but husbands can choose to overlook them just because of love. His love should provide a safe haven for her where she can be secure in that man --not having to worry about being criticized or humiliated or abandoned.
The way God loves us
The explanation found in Ephesians is that we are not really talking about a husband and a wife, but of Christ and His church. We, the bride, need to be secure in our relationship with Him. That's shown in that 1 John verse which says "It's not that we loved Him, but that He loved us first." To have a proper two-way relationship with Jesus, we must grow in our trust of Him. He lets us know how faithful He is with His word, His comforting Spirit, and little blessings along the way.
There are so many ways that religion has perverted the message by telling us that we can lose our salvation, that we need to constantly confess our sins to Him, that we must do various works and demonstrate spiritual gifts --else He won't be pleased with us. What a horrible message! It strips away the security that He lavishes on us. He loved the world so much He died for us. His word says that He will never leave or give up on us. We have been made equal to Him in His father's eyes (brothers and coheirs with Him). It is He --through His Spirit-- that keeps us clean (washed, sanctified and justified).
He desires respect. Again, that's not being fearful or even stricken with awe. He just wants us to return His love. And it's not directly to Him either; it's to the members of His body. He asks us to love them like He loves us. In that Ephesians 5 story, it says that no one ever mistreats his body; instead he cares for it. That's referring to Jesus taking care of us --His body. He is not about to beat us, require us to be embarrassed publicly via confession, or even break fellowship with us because of our sins. All of those would cause us to be fearful of Him.
Secure in God's love
In the 1 John 4 passage mentioned above, it says that we can have confidence in Him and on the day of judgment. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. He builds us up in love. That's how we grow in faith --faith in the fact that He is our compassionate husband.
With all that said, let's live a life that has value to it. That's what it means to worship. The word worship comes from the old English word "worthship." Simply said, live a life that has worth to our Husband who also just happens to be the King of kings.
So returning His love is done by treating others like He does us. He doesn't keep records of our wrongs. Instead He thinks only good about us and keeps reminding us that we all belong to one another as well as to Him. What an amazing husband that we, the bride of Christ, have!
Continue reading more of Doug's blog: "Praying for Strength"
Be Reconciled to God
Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:13-14 - NIV)