The Christian Husband: Loving Your Wife Part 2
About the Guest
What does it mean to be a husband in our culture today? Join us for today's broadcast when "FamilyLife Today" co-host Bob Lepine explains what it means for a man to be a lover and protector of his wife and family.
What does it mean to be a husband in our culture today?
The Christian Husband: Loving Your Wife Part 2
Bob: Gentlemen, how would your wife rate you as a lover? Before you jump too quickly to an answer, consider these characteristics of love from Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Love is patient, it is not self-seeking; it always perseveres. Take those three, and I want you to take them to your wife, and I want you to ask her, "Honey, which of those three would you like to see me grow the most in and maybe even give me some specific ways or areas that I could grow as a man.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. And, as we just heard, being a world champion lover, as a husband, it's a little harder than most of us thought it would be.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We're spending some time this week talking about how we, as husbands, can do a better job of loving our wives and do it according to the Scriptures, to love our wives as Christ loves the church and as He gave Himself up for her."
Dennis: And our guest on the broadcast today is Bob Lepine. He has written a book called "The Christian Husband." We've got to tell folks about your book so they give it away to the husbands who need to get it, because a lot of husbands out there need to know how to be better Christian husbands.
Bob: You know, it's been real encouraging since the book came out. I've heard from husbands who have gone through this book in small group settings, some who have given it as gifts to engaged men or newlywed men.
Dennis: That's a great idea.
Bob: And it's just been real gratifying to get the feedback from guys who said, "This has helped me. It's challenged me, but it's also given me some practical help on how I can live out my assignment."
Dennis: You know, Bob, I've got to do this to you. You're a good friend, and I don't want to jeopardize our friendship here on the air, especially, but I've got to ask you this question. I've been waiting to ask you this question long enough for your book to be out.
Dennis: After you've written a book – and you folks in the audience need to understand this – when you write a book about a topic, whether it's raising children, being a husband, having a Christian marriage, if you write a book on a topic that is an intimate topic that is still being lived out, like "Parenting Today's Adolescent." I wrote a book by that title, and I have had at least 100 occasions on which to say, "Where is that book? We need to get them all and burn those books, because I'm a lousy parent today. I'm just not winning."
You have had to have a classic moment, Bob, as a husband, where you have asked yourself the question, "Why did I write a book and put my name on the front and have the audacity to say, 'The Christian Husband,' by Bob Lepine, and they even spelled your name right at the bottom of the book. Have you had one of those moments? And, if so, take us there right to your house.
Bob: Well, you do refocus as you write something like this and, interestingly, I teach an adult Sunday school class, and we were going through this passage, Ephesians 5:25 in the adult Sunday school class, and so I was pulling in material from my book, only this time my wife was in the audience as I was going through it and every time I'd throw out some principle, I'd kind of look over at her.
Dennis: A witness, a witness.
Bob: I'd realize – I know how to teach this stuff much better than I know how to live this stuff. But I got home, and I said, "Honey, I just wanted you to know that I know that I'm not doing a lot of the stuff that I was saying a husband ought to do this morning in Sunday school.
Dennis: This was without her saying a word to you?
Bob: Without her saying a word, and she looked up at me, and she said, "So when are you going to start doing it?"
Bob: And I went, "Well, I thought just by confessing that I knew I wasn't doing it, that was good enough.
Dennis: [whistles] Hello.
Bob: She just gently kind of nudged me back toward my assignment to be the kind of husband that the Bible calls me to be.
Dennis: You know, I want our listeners to hear this. It takes a while for a man to become an excellent Christian husband. You don't stand before a pastor or the justice of the peace and seal the deal of marriage and instantly become a Christian husband, at least not a good one.
It is a process, it is one filled with trial and error, but you have to do it according to some blueprint, and one of the major problems in our nation today is that we are taking our cues of what it means to be a husband from the world and not from the Word, and we need to be going to the Scriptures directly to find out how we should love and lead and sacrificially care for our wives.
One of the things we talked about on yesterday's broadcast was redefining love, and we talked about how there are four facets of love – unconditional love, covenantal love, incarnational love, and sacrificial love. Today I want us to look at 1 Corinthians 13 and talk about aspects of love.
Now, I want to just read this here at the beginning of the broadcast – love is patient; love is kind; it does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud; it is not rude; it is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs; love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects; always trusts; always hopes; always perseveres.
Bob, there is a load of truth in that passage.
Bob: There is, and I remember learning that passage in high school. I don't know if you had these in Ozark, Missouri, but we had, in St. Louis, what were called "head" shops. Did you ever have any head shops in Ozark?
Dennis: No, no, Ozark was not big enough to have a head shop. The guy who would head that up would have been arrested.
Bob: Well, the guys in St. Louis should have been arrested, but there were all these psychedelic posters. This kind of betrays the era in which I grew up. But they'd put 1 Corinthians 13 on a psychedelic poster because, man, this was the time of love, and we all wanted to be about love.
Dennis: Until we started talking about what love really was.
Bob: That's right. And when you look at what the biblical definition of love is, it has little to do with feelings and a lot to do with actions. I remember somebody saying one time, "Read through that passage that you just read through and instead of putting the word "love" in there, put your own name in there. Read through and say "Bob is patient, Bob is kind, Bob's not jealous, he doesn't brag, he's not arrogant." Just go through the whole passage and say, "How are you doing as a love?" And that's what husbands are assigned to do.
We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and here is what that love ought to look like – we ought to be patient, and we ought to be kind. That's the place where it starts.
I heard a story one time about a young Christian who went to a friend of his, an older believer, and said, "I'd like you to pray that I would grow in patience." And the older believer began to pray right then and there. He said, "Lord, I pray you would bring trials and tribulation into this man's life. I pray he would experience trouble this morning, trouble again this afternoon," and he just started going, and the guy said, "No, wait, wait, I wanted you to pray for patience." And the older man said, "That's what I was doing. You see, the Bible teaches us that we learn patience through endurance. We learn it as we go through trials, and God's going to take men through trials to teach them patience. That's a part of our assignment, and then we've got to express that kind of patience and that kindness to our wives."
Dennis: Okay, let's say we've got a young man who is in his first year of marriage, and he says, "Okay, Bob, I've got my pencil out. Let's talk about some of these ingredients of love from 1 Corinthians 13. Let's start with this one, 'Love is patient.' What does the word 'patience' mean?"
Bob: Well, you remember the old King James translation here? The King James Bible would say, "Love suffereth long."
Bob: Isn't that a great word? You see, that's what patience is. You suffer for a long time – that's patience.
Dennis: Yeah, and you think about our culture today, we don't want to suffer for a short time.
Bob: No, we think we've suffered long enough at the first hint of pain, and yet suffering long is what patience looks like practically. And so you look at a husband, and he says, "I just don't know how long I can take this. It's not what I thought it was going to be. I'm not getting my needs met. We're not connecting as husband and wife," and I said, "Are you suffering?" He says, "Yes." "How long have you suffered?" "Well, for a while now." And I say, "Love suffers longer. Keeping going."
Because what God is trying to do is grow you up, He's trying to mature you through the river of suffering and love suffers long because you grow up in the process and because love covers a multitude of sin.
Dennis: There are two things guaranteed to happen in any young man who gets married. Number one, after he's married and turns 25, his car insurance is going to go down. That's a promise. And, number two, if he even attempts to become God's husband, God's man in that family, I promise you he is going to learn how to suffer, he is going to learn how to be patient as he loves and leads his wife.
You know, in our marriage there is an area where my patience has been repeatedly tested with Barbara. Now, I want you to know, I'm married to a wonderful woman. She is a great lady, but there is something within her, I don't know what it is, when it comes to looking at the clock, she does not have a good sense of geography and time married together to know how long it takes to go from point A to point B and arrive at the place where you intended to be on time.
And it's not just church, it may be other places that you're going. And I've got to tell you, it takes a heart that dies to self and say, "Lord Jesus, will you help me be patient with my wife, because right now I am feeling very pressed. We're going to walk in church – and when we walk in church, Bob, it's not just two people who walk in church. It's like a bus walks in church. It's like a covey comes into church. So it's an event for the church for us to come in late.
I've gotten better at this, because I've realized one of the ways to do this is to head this off at the pass, but sometimes it's still not going to work. Your spouse is going to be late, they're going to spend too much money, they are going to make too many commitments and allow your children to get involved in too many activities, and, again, you're going to be faced with a weakness in your spouse – I just want to remind you – God put you two together, and love looks at that spouse and says, "You know what? I love you even though – I will be patient. I will manifest the love of God for you," and, Bob, it's at that point where you've got to ask the spirit of God to fill you and control you and empower you and to help you keep your mouth shut, not say a single word.
Bob: Well, all of the aspects of love, all of the characteristics of love that we see in 1 Corinthians 13 are characteristics that can be summed up under the heading of "other focused, unselfish, looking out for the best interest of another person rather than your own interests." I mean, that's what it means to be patient and kind; that's what it means not to be arrogant or prideful or boastful.
All of these things really have the other person as more important than you. It puts them in the position of priority, and I'm convinced that a marriage where the husband and wife are continually trying to put the other person in the position of priority, that marriage is destined for success.
Dennis: You know, it took a number of years for me to grow up as a man on Sunday morning, and to realize that my wife needed certain things done for her to serve her, and that meant helping get children ready, that mean help preparing food, et cetera, et cetera, and not reading the newspaper or watching the news on Sunday morning while everybody else was scurrying about just because it took me less time to get ready than the rest of the crew.
And, I've got to tell you, I'm still learning, but one of the ways Barbara recently said I could help her is by making her breakfast for her. Going downstairs, since it doesn't take me long to get ready, and fixing a shake, she likes a fruit shake in the morning, and preparing that for her and taking it back upstairs so she can drink it as she's getting ready.
Because she's braiding hair, she's combing out the curls from the curling irons and helping choose different dresses for different girls who change at least three times on Sunday morning before we leave for church, and there are a lot of agendas, and she does need help.
Dennis: And I think, as husbands, we are wise if we would go to our wives, not in the middle of the crisis but when the lake is calm and saying, "Sweetheart, I've noticed that on Sunday morning," or "I've noticed in this situation with money," or "I've noticed" in this situation over here. What do you need me to do as a husband? How could I exhibit love to you and help you in that circumstance? And you know what? She may not know on the spot, but she may be able to answer a couple of days later.
Stay after that issue. Don't make her mad about it, but stay after the issue and find out what it is that you need to provide for her in being the lover of her soul.
Bob: Yesterday I went home from work, I'd had a long day, I was tired when I got home. It started early, I'd gotten up for a meeting at 6:00, so I had started my day earlier than I normally do, and when I got home, I was whipped.
Well, Mary Ann had had a busy day, too. She'd been carting the kids here and there, back and forth, a lot on the agenda. We got home and had dinner, and the boys needed a haircut. And she said, "I'm going to take the boys out to get a haircut," so she took them and left, and I was home alone, and I had this hour, it was just wonderful – nobody there – I just kind of sat down and vegged out and just unwound.
And she got home, and the boys were looking good, and they kind of bounced into the house, and she'd been at the grocery store, and I went out and said, "Do you need help carrying in the groceries," and carried those in. And then I looked at the boys, and I thought, "Two of these boys need to have a shower, and they need someone to help them," and I looked over at Mary Ann and looked back at me, and I thought, "Okay, who is it going to be?"
Dennis: The couch had gotten a little too comfortable by that point, huh?
Bob: Is it going to be me or is it going to be her?
Bob: Now, she walked in thinking the same thing. These boys needs showers, somebody's going to need to help them. Neither of us said anything to the other person.
Dennis: No, no, she didn't walk in thinking the same thing. She walked in thinking you would do it. That's not because she's selfish, it's just that our wives after an all-day experience with children, they do think about as husbands picking up the slack and carrying the load in the evenings.
Bob: Well, I cinched it up last night.
Dennis: Did you?
Bob: I don't always do this, but I just said, "Let me take the boys up, and I'll give them a shower," and there was this look on her face of, "Thank you." She didn't say it, there was just this look like "that ministers to my soul." So I took the boys up and got them ready for bed and did all of that while she had a few minutes downstairs, and she didn't go to the sofa, I think she was busy in the kitchen and doing stuff there.
That's what a husband's got to do. He's got to look around and say "How can I die to self now and serve you? How can I love you in a visible, tangible expression that says you're more important than anything else I've got going on in my life right now."
Dennis: You know, later on in that same passage, in 1 Corinthians 13, it says "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things." Now that's a weighty passage. What's the spirit of God getting at for us, as husbands, as He calls us to bear, believe, hope, and endure?
Bob: You know, I came across a great quote that kind of sums up this whole chapter. The writer, Ray Lauren, said what good is patience and kindness, the things that 1 Corinthians 13 has been talking about? What good is generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good nature, charitableness, sincerity – all of these qualities – what good are they unless they continue?
Most of us can be kind for a day, but love is kindness that endures. Most of us can be patient for a while, but love is patience that endures. When the Bible says love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, it says love goes the distance."
It's really what the preacher tried to say when he said the vows. He said, "Are you in this for sickness or for health? Are you in this for better or for worse? Are you in this for richer or for poorer? Are you going the distance on this? Will your love continue in the face of adversity?"
And that's what I think Paul is summing it up with. He is saying, "Real love doesn't change when the circumstances around it change. Real love stays with it even when the circumstances are fighting against that feeling or fighting against the flesh. Real love bears, believes, hopes, and endures, and that's what a husband's got to do. In the middle of circumstances that would press him back to his selfishness, he's got to endure, he's got to bear, he's got to believe and hope his wife needs him to provide that kind of commitment, stability, and certainty in their marriage that says, "I'm going to love you no matter what you do, no matter what the circumstances are, I'm here for you and for us for good?
Dennis: You know, I really like that. In fact, what I'm about to do reminds me of a time in grade school where the bell would ring, and it was time to leave class, and there was an occasional teacher who would keep us after the first bell rang and make an assignment. Well, hear the bell? I'm about to keep our listeners beyond the bell for just a moment, okay?
Bob: You got an assignment?
Dennis: I've got an assignment for the husbands. I want you to take these three things we've talked about today about love – love is patient, love isn't selfish and, third, love goes the distance. I want you to take those three, and I want you to take them to your wife, and I want you to ask her, "Honey, which of those three would you like me to most grow in over the next 12 months as your husband?"
Now, I've got to tell you, no assignment that you ever received, not even in trig or in physics may be as hard as this assignment right here, because this is a risky assignment. But if you really want to have God's marriage, a Christian marriage, it's made up of two people who are expressing expectations and are expressing wants and dreams and longings, and they're sharpening one another.
I'm going to do this. I'm going to take these three home tonight with Barbara, and I'm going to ask her, "Love is patient, love is not selfish, and love goes the distance. Now, which of those three would you like to see me grow the most in," and maybe even give me some specific ways or areas that I could grow as a man?"
Now, I realize this, again, is risky but, again, what are we talking about here? We're talking about the riskiest relationship that two people ever establish on the planet. Don't allow marriage to rob you of growing as a couple. We used to stay up late talking about these things when we dated. Now is the time to put some romance, some intrigue, some intimacy back in your marriage.
So, okay, guys. I know you've got to leave, the bell's rung, but go ahead, write this down, take it home tonight – how can you grow in being patient, in no longer being selfish, or in going the distance?
Bob: You know, for the last several months I've been meeting once a week, most weeks, with a group of guys. We get together at a local restaurant on a Wednesday night, and we – I order cheese dip every week, and we just sit around, and we've been talking about our walk with Christ, how we can honor Him, and we've been spending a lot of time talking about our marriage, and I've found that when you get together, and you've got a book like this one to help guide you in your discussion, it can produce the kind of growth you're talking about.
Each week, as we get together, we've got some fresh examples, some fresh illustrations, to bring to the table, or some fresh issues that have come up, and iron sharpens iron, as we look together at the Scriptures and what they have to say and as we think about what it is God's called us to do and to be as husbands.
And it's been encouraging for me. In fact, I got a note this morning from a guy who said, "We've used your book, 'The Christian Husband' with our men's group at church, and it's been very helpful, and we appreciate your writing it, and that's been very affirming – to know that guys haven't just read the book and said, "Well, that was interesting," but God's used it in some way to really make a difference in their marriage.
We've got copies of the book, "The Christian Husband," here in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if this is something that you want to consider to do with a men's group or just to read on your own, you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and if you click the red button you see in the center of the home page that says "Go," that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about how to get a copy of the book, "The Christian Husband."
You can order online, if you'd like. Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team will let you know how you can get a copy of this book sent out to you.
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Now, tomorrow we want to talk about God's assignment to a husband to help his wife become all that God wants her to be. That's a unique assignment, and we're going to pick up and talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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