Recently I was trimming my bougainvillea in my side yard when two teenage girls walked by on the sidewalk. They were talking about what teenage girls talk about a lot---boys. They would probably have been very embarrassed to know that I could overhear their conversation, but I found it to be very amusing and, at the same time, thought-provoking.
One girl said to the other, “My mother always says, ‘It’s the ugly boys who treat you like you’re everything. The good-looking ones are just after you for what’s in it for them.’” When I heard that, I chuckled inside and thought that I should go ask my teenage son who was trimming around the bushes in the front yard how he treated his girlfriend. If he said, “Like she’s everything,” then he would be admitting he was ugly. I knew he wouldn’t want to think of himself as physically ugly and unattractive. But my second thought on her comment was, “We need more ugly guys.”
Why would I make such a statement? Because I believe many men—including evangelical Christians—live as if they are the center and focus of everything in their relationship to their wives or girlfriends. Many of them are only concerned about what interests them, rather than demonstrating love for those women and encouraging them in their spiritual walk with Christ. Ephesians 5:25 tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. God the Son was entitled to all possible adoration, worship, and praise, yet He voluntarily surrendered those privileges in order to give Himself up as a sacrifice for His chosen bride. There is no greater example of what it means to love than to willingly die for those who were, at the time of His death, His enemies. Yet that is what He did, and that is the example of how men are called to love their wives.
I am reminded of the story of a young seminary student who once went for counsel to Professor Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary. He told Hendricks, “Prof, I think I love my wife too much. I’m so enamored with her that I’m neglecting my seminary studies.” Dr. Hendricks asked him, “Do you love your wife as much as Christ loved the church?” “Of course not,” the young student replied. “Well then,” said Hendricks, “You don’t love her enough! Get back to her and get at it!”
The apostle Peter expounded on how this sacrificial love for our wives is to take place. He tells us in 1 Peter 3:7 to “live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman.” Peter’s point is that husbands are to treat their wives like they would a delicate, fragile, porcelain statue that is very valuable. Even if a man’s wife is emotionally stronger than he is (and in some cases, perhaps even physically stronger), he is to protect her and cherish her like he would a highly valuable, yet delicate and breakable item of glass or china. With the same care and concern that he would show for such an item, so too, he is to show that care for his wife—especially if she is an unbeliever because that will attract her to the Lord even more.
Men, treat your wife or girlfriend like a precious, delicate, valuable porcelain vase which you would never intentionally harm. Show her a sacrificial love which gives up your rights and desires for what is of the greatest service to her. That’s the standard to which Scripture calls us. May God grant that we would be “ugly guys” for the sake of our wives and His glory!