Peninsula Community Church
What Kind of Lover are You?
April 12, 2015
Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
I have entitled this message “What Kind of Lover are You?” The purpose of the title was chosen in part to grab people’s attention but to also emphasize the key word in this passage which is love. Language has always been an interesting tool of communication. What and how we communicate often varies depending on what region or area we live in or where we were raised. Think about it. Depending on where you were raised you will order a soda, a pop, or a coke at a restaurant. You will eat a hero, a hoagie, a grinder, or a sub.
The problem with various languages and dialects is that if we do not understand the language we will miscommunicate with others. I can illustrate this in a very personal way. In 1995, I had the privilege to lead a mission team to Morelia, Mexico. While there, I was trying so hard to learn the language and communicate the best I could in Spanish. At the end of dinner, one evening, our host asked if I were still hungry. In my feeble attempt to reply in Spanish, instead of using the word for hungry which is HAMBRE, I used the word for man which is HOMBRE. So, I ended up saying “This was so good that I am no longer a man.” Needless to say, the host and those around the table got a good chuckle at my expense.
As we have noted before, the Greek language was a wonderful language as specific words were used to define specific actions or ideas. By properly defining these words we can understand what the Bible is communicating in a more precise manner. The key word in this passage is love, but if we interpret the word love only through the template of the English language, we can misunderstand what love in this context means. The reason is that the word love is used for almost anything and everything. In regard to the word love in the Greek language, there are three primary words for love. There was the word PHILEO which is brotherly love. There was the word EROS which is a sensual or sexual love. And then there is AGAPE which is the love initiated by God and it is a love that is self-sacrificing. Agape is the word that is used here in this passage. Paul was intentional about using the word Agape and not PHILEO or Eros. He wanted us to love with a love that only God could create and reveal.
In thinking of agape love, the first idea to be considered is that agape love is a sacrificial love. Paul states “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” He left the splendor of heaven to come as a humble servant to give Himself as the sacrifice for our sin. To live in agape love, we must place not only our wife’s needs before our needs but other’s needs as well. This does not mean that we are not concerned about our needs, it means that we are not self-absorbed with our needs. Paul describes this sacrificial love in Philippians. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8). Jesus’ love for the church is graphically represented through His death on the cross. Our love for our spouse will be best demonstrated through the sacrificial giving of ourselves to them. To be sacrificial means we consider our spouses ideas and we listen to her concerns and then do our best to fulfill those needs where possible. So, are you a sacrificial lover?
Second, agape love is a caring love. Paul proclaims that as the man cherishes and nourishes his own body, he must nurture and cherish his wife. To nourish something is to feed it. This is accomplished by feeding our spouse on every level: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It means that we are aware and considerate of her feelings. The second idea presented by Paul is that the man is to cherish his wife. The word cherish carries the idea of warmth or kindness. It is used of a mother who holds her baby close to her body. It is the idea of being gentle and caring. When our spouse is wounded or hurt emotionally, spiritually, or physically; we must nourish and cherish them back to health. This is not the time to say to her suck it up and get over it. It is also not a time to ignore her or minimize what she is experiencing.
I have in my hands a violin. Suppose for a moment that this is a Stradivarius violin. I read recently that an original Stradivarius violin just sold for more than 10 million dollars. Let me ask you, how would you treat this violin especially if it were a valuable Stradivarius. Would you toss it around? Would you hand it off to others and let them play with it? Or, would you cherish it and care for it because you realize you have something of value in your hands. Well let me say this; our spouses and loved ones are more valuable than any violin made by human hands. They are a creation of God and that makes them highly valuable. We must therefore treat them as the valuable gift they are. So, are you a caring lover?
Thirdly, agape love is a committed love. This commitment is implied in the fact that Paul states a husband is to leave his mother and his father to cleave to his wife. The two are to become one flesh. They are to be committed to each other. We must understand that commitment is much more than sexual purity even though that is critical. To understand commitment, we must understand that it must be a realistic commitment. Two people on their wedding day may seem to be so perfect but the fact is they will have problems and they will encounter issues after they are married. A true commitment remains steady regardless of what is happening in the marriage. This commitment is also a growing commitment. Our commitment does not run on auto pilot. It must be nurtured. We must also understand that this commitment is a total commitment. We don’t hold anything back. We must include our spouses in every major decision we make. We are a team. So, are you a committed lover?
Fourth, agape love must be demonstrated. Agape love can only be known by the actions prompted by it. We are to love others as we love ourselves. For men, Paul is not suggesting that we learn to love ourselves as much as he is pointing out that men generally already love themselves pretty well. You see it is not the content of our love that matters as much as it is the intensity of our love. Think about this for a moment. What if we approached loving our wives with the same intensity we approach our golf game, our love for hunting, sports, other leisure activities, or our jobs? Would it make a difference? You bet it would. We need to understand that our words and our promises can be worthless. It is our actions that make a difference. Commit to love and keep that love burning bright. So, are you a committed lover?
Fourth, agape love is an engaged love. To be engaged means we seek to protect our spouse and shield them from things that would harm them or cause them to walk in sin. We are not to be passive observers in this process but we are be connected and engaged. The story of Adam and Eve is a reminder of this need. Do you remember who received the word from God? It was Adam. Adam communicated God’s purpose and plan to Eve but, when it mattered most, he left Eve in the lurch and she succumbed to the temptation brought by the serpent. What do you think would have happened if Adam had been the man he should have been and stepped in when the serpent was tempting Eve? This world would certainly be a better place. One way to do this is to establish an atmosphere that leads our spouse toward sanctification and holiness. This is not something that is forced but it is modeled and lived out. We must be engaged in our relationship with our spouses. Our wives especially need to know we are engaged. So, are you an engaged lover?
As we bring this to a close let me ask you. What kind of lover are you? Are you a sacrificial lover? Are you a caring lover? Are you a committed lover? Are you an intense lover? Are you a lover who is engaged? By doing these things you will not be perfect but you will enhance your relationship and strengthen your marriage. Christ was all of these things and more to us. He charted the course for us and He made the way possible for us to become the kind of lover that builds and not destroys. He modeled what it means to be sacrificial and not self-centered.
Before we pray, let me tell you that each of you are a creation of God. You have been bought with a price. You are valuable. No matter where you fall in the love spectrum, you can begin again and start over. That is the beauty of the risen Lord which we celebrated last week.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom