When God provides a godly man with a godly woman to be his wife, that man takes on an ever so important role in being her husband. He must daily seek to be a godly husband to his bride, who is the other half of his flesh (Genesis 2:24), who is a true gift and blessing to him from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14). Married men, no one said being a godly husband would be easy. In fact, it’s a great but tall order. We all know the challenges and struggles that come in carrying out this role. We know the ways in which we have succeeded, as well as failed to love, lead, and live with our wives rightly as we ought. Yet, Christ’s Word and work must reign supreme in our hearts and minds to correct, teach, and guide us.
Out of our love for Christ, love for our wives, and in obedience to Christ’s commands, we must continue to press on and pursue godliness in being the husbands God calls us to be. Be ever thankful that our Lord gives us the picture and thorough guidance and instruction about what godly husbands look like and how we must live. Married men, take note. Young men, take note. Wives and young ladies, do the same. Three passages of Scripture that are helpful here are Philippians 2:3-4, Ephesians 5:25-33, and 1 Peter 3:7. Here are four characteristics of a godly husband that we find therein:
• Mortifies Pride and Selfishness – In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul says, “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.” This is a good place to start in our hearts. John Calvin called selfish ambition and conceit the “two most dangerous pests for disturbing the peace of the Church.” What’s at the core of selfish ambition and conceit? Pride. Too often, we really are full of ourselves. We think we have it all figured out and wish that our wives would just catch up to us. However, we must not be men who are willing to stubbornly maintain our own opinions and rage forward headstrong. Likewise, we must not be men who have tickled our own minds thinking that everyone, including our wives, will be delighted in our own thoughts and inventions. Husbands, there are foundational principles here that apply to us in our marriages. We must not always and only think about what we need, want, or are otherwise interested in. We need to be good and growing in our listening and communication skills with our wives. We need to consider and show that we value their interests. Again, this is me taking my focus off of me and putting it on her.
• Demonstrates Sacrificial Love – Paul continues this description of a godly husband in Ephesians 5. In verse 25, he says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. Take note that Paul’s comparison of Christ and the church says so much. Husbands, we are to show sacrificial, unconditional love for our wives in the same way that Jesus loves us, His bride. In verse 28, he goes on to say, “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Men, we usually have no problem loving ourselves, including our own bodies. Being sexually fulfilled, having more physical strength, having an impressive physique, and other physical needs are often top priorities. However, God teaches us, as godly husbands, to give our wives the same priority we give those physical needs. Ensure you take care of her needs. Remember also how Jesus willingly subjected His own body to abuse, humiliation, and need for the sake of His bride, the church. That is the model this passage gives for husbands to follow.
• Seeks to be Patient, Understanding, and Honoring – In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” A godly husband is to dwell and have an intimate relationship together with his wife in the home. He is to lovingly take care of all of his covenant responsibilities in his marriage with her. Importantly, he is to live with her with understanding (lit. “according to knowledge”). Marriage for a godly husband isn’t a relationship with an iron fist, nor one of blind fumbling, but rather with Spirit wrought wisdom and thoughtfulness. Men, prayerfully seek to understand and know who your wives are. Doing so is to influence and affect the manner in which you live together with your wives. Know who your wife is and how God has created her to be. You should truly be the one who, second to God, knows your wife the best. Seek to understand how she thinks, feels, loves and relates. Seek to know her struggles, her doubts, worries, needs, and joys with sympathy. Seek to know her, and live with her, as her advocate, not her opponent. Live with her as she is your helpmeet, knowing she isn’t your enemy. Live with her and seek to display tender mercy to her.
• Demonstrates Servant Leadership – A godly husband knows and recognizes his God given responsibility and calling to be a godly leader of his home. He is mindful that God has called him to be the head of his wife and household as Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). A godly husband is also mindful that such a calling means he is to be a servant leader (Matthew 23:11), not a dictator. Know that a husband cannot lead where he has not been. With this in mind, a godly husband goes first, forging the way, wrestling through spiritual issues biblically and then instructing his family. An ongoing personal relationship with Jesus is crucial in order to lead a family spiritually. Therefore, he makes personal spiritual nourishment a priority in his own life. He loves those he leads (Matthew 5:46; John 13:34-35). He is humble and teachable (Proverbs 19:20, 1 Peter 5:6). Remember that God holds men responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of their families (1 Timothy 5:8). A godly husband ensures that his wife and children are well taught in the Word of God. Further, a godly husband leads by example in church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines.
As these characteristics in many ways are just scratching the tip of the iceberg, as these characteristics are deep and detailed, I encourage you to get out your Bible and spend time in prayer, reading, study, and meditation on these truths. I know possessing biblical characteristics of a godly husband is a challenge and journey in your sanctification. In many ways, if we read these lists and think of how much we have failed and fail, that’s actually good. It’s also good to see what a great blessing and privilege it is to be given such a gift and calling by God. Remember that what God has called you to do, He will equip you to do. So, ask the Lord to open your understanding, comfort you with His grace and work in your heart and life, and reveal those areas and aspects where growth is needed. Repent of your sins against Him and your wife. Pray that He would give you His wisdom and strength to live rightly in this role and be a blessing and testimony of Christ to your wife, as well as a good witness of Christ to others in the church and the watching world.