The Gospelized Husband

The Qualities of a Gospelized Husband

Gospelized husbands aspire to love sacrificially: reenact the cross

By nature, men are utterly self-centered. And the women said? Amen. We are. Let’s admit it. A non-gospelized husband approaches marriage with the expectation of getting what he wants out of it. What do we want? We want you ladies to admire us as much as we admire us. Here is where marriage is a brick wall. Self-centeredness does not produce the wifely admiration we desire. It doesn’t produce amorous wives every night. It does the opposite, and creates many painful problems. When my core identity is me, my marriage and my wife are tools I use for sex or ego advancement or domination. If you marry a man whose character is formed around those priorities, your marriage is going to tank. Why?

“Marriage amplifies what a person is.”[1] Both good and bad. If you are a little selfish, in marriage, you’re a lot selfish. If you are a little grumpy, in marriage, you’re a lot grumpy. But it works to the positive, if when you are single, you are kind, in marriage there are a thousand opportunities every day to display kindness. If you are joyful, marriage provides many contexts for that joy to bless. Marriage amplifies what a person is. If that person is a man whose core identity is the gospel, marriage amplifies gospel qualities and puts them on display. That’s the point. Every marriage is a showcase, an amplification of who we really are.

If at the core of who we are, is a firm belief that I am a sinner saved by grace, that identity will shape my words and actions around the example of Jesus’ sacrificial love to the church.

Gospelized husbands take their leadership seriously: reenact servant leadership

Can anyone accuse Jesus of sloughing off? Being a couch potato Messiah? Of course not. His leadership of the church is without question. His leadership is not domineering or selfish. Rather, he leads by serving. He gave us the paradigm when he took up the basin and towel and washed the disciples’ feet. Spiritually, he has been washing our feet ever since.

For a gospelized husband, love and leading looks like serving. Yes, we believe the husband is the head of the wife. Says so in Ephesians 5. But that headship is a call to serve. This requires humility, something we men don’t naturally admire. This is the meekness of Jesus. Strength under control. Strength channeled toward serving the wife.

I have found this one of the greatest challenges of being a husband. It’s hard to do because my natural self wants to be served, not to serve.

Gospelized husbands are really good at forgiving: reenact justification

 If there is anything the gospel showcases it is the love of God to forgive us for our sins. Romans 5:1 (ESV) says, “Therefore…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The gospel is a message of peace and reconciliation. You would think a Christian marriage would be a perpetual peace treaty.

I have not found that to be the case. Marriage is a daily opportunity to be offended or to be offensive. These come in big and small ways. I could list my failures in this, but I don’t have time to list them all here. 😊

My point is that a gospelized husband whose core identity is the gospel of God’s forgiveness is going to be quite good at forgiving. Not perfect. Maybe not even awesome. But pretty good.

I’ve been married 8.5 years so my experience is limited, but the ability to forgive may be the single greatest skill needed for a healthy marriage. Communication is important. Having fun is important. Love and intimacy are important. But all of those require resolving conflict and forgiveness or you never enjoy marital blessings. You have to smoke the peace pipe nearly every day.

Singles desiring marriage, I don’t know what’s on your must-have list. Must love dogs. Must hate the Packers. Having been married awhile, I’d put “good at forgiving” in my top three.

Since marriage amplifies who we are and a gospelized man is a man who gets the amazing forgiveness God has bestowed to him, a gospelized husband desires to be quick to forgive and to not hold offenses against his wife. Wives, this goes both ways.

Can you see how the gospel provides the resources of character required to be a pretty good husband? I love this quote, “The gospel welcomes us to be honest because it offers divine aid for everything we would need to be honest about.” (Tripp)[2]

Christian husbands, you have in the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit in you, the very resources you need to succeed as a husband. Have you tried that? How about this week, in a fresh way, consciously think, the love of Christ? The service of Christ. The servant leadership of Christ. The forgiveness of Christ. God help me to reenact the gospel in my husbanding.

I can hear you say, but my wife, she ain’t like the church is to Jesus. Maybe I’ll start modeling Jesus when she starts doing her part. Did Jesus wait for the church to love him? Jesus loved first. It’s one more way to reflect the gospel. Love her anyway.

A word to the wives here. Your husband might be scared to death to try anything I’ve said here for fear of upsetting the status quo. He may fear your smirk or a sense that now you’ve won. If he is brave enough to try, could you be brave enough to accept his less than perfect trying? Don’t say, you didn’t say it right! Billy Graham would have said it differently. You took too long! I sensed some self-justification in your confession. To the doghouse you go!

Your husband is reenacting Jesus without being Jesus. He’s a flawed picture of our perfect Savior and you are a flawed picture of the sanctified church.

So, do your marriage a favor. Show your man some of the grace this week you want him to show you after next week’s message and you both will be blessed by a more gospelized marriage.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2021 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Douglas Wilson, Reforming Marriage (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1995), 34.

[2] Paul David Tripp, Lead (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 124.

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