Christ gave up His physical life when He died on the cross for the Church. But He also gave Himself in that He died to His self-life. He laid aside His own desires, comfort and pleasure in order to serve a higher calling.
Scripture reveals that Christ came to obey the Father’s will and word (John 5:19, 30; 14:31) and to serve the Church (Matt 20:28). Christ lived only to obey God the Father’s will and for the benefit of the Church. Christ did not require anything from the Church except that she, too, learn obedience to God.
As a result of Christ’s selfless love, the true Church chooses to love Christ and submit to Him. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In that same way, when a wife is loved by her husband she will more readily respond with both love and submission.
In order for a husband to truly love his wife in a Christ-like way, he will also have to lay down his self-life. Putting his own wants and desires behind the needs of his wife may be very hard to do. It takes much more than romantic feelings for a husband to love his wife in such a selfless way. But a husband is to lay down his life if he truly desires to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. But what does that mean?
Philippians 2:3-8 helps reveal the self -sacrificing kind of love required for a husband to love his wife: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Believers are exhorted to let the mind of Christ be formed in us (v.5). We are also told not to focus on our own selfish desires, but to instead consider the needs of others first (vs.3, 4). What better place to practice this kind of godly behavior than with our spouse!
A DEEPER KIND OF LOVE
Jesus was truly God (v.6), but He did not hold onto His “position”. Rather, He emptied Himself of His privileges (2 Cor 8:9) in order to become a servant for our sakes (Phil 2:7). He chose to walk humbly and obey the Father, even though it meant dying a painful and horrible death that He did not deserve (v.8).
Why did He do this? Because of His great love for us, His Bride!
This is the same kind of selfless love a husband is to have for his wife. This type of love goes far beyond feelings. It must be rooted in a heart-felt desire to obey God and be shaped into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18).