Many people mistakenly believe that love is just a special kind of feeling you have for someone you like. Love does involve our feelings. However, true love goes far beyond just what a man feels for his wife. Real love involves a choice of the will, and results in actions that demonstrate that love.

Scripture tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Eph 5:25). How then did Christ love the Church? How did He demonstrate His love? Verse 25 says that Christ “gave Himself for her [the Church]”. Christ loved the Church by the example of His selfless death. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8; see also John 15:13).

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!