"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (Eph. 5:29). What does it mean to nourish and cherish? To nourish is to feed, and to cherish is to hold in high esteem or value. How do we feed our wives? To feed, we must have something to feed with. That means that we also must be feeding from Christ. He is nourishing those who are hungry. Christ feeds us by opening up a place to move and walk in God.
God is infinite, and it will take eternity to comprehend all that He is. But eternity does not begin at the grave--it begins now. The Holy Spirit is taking the things of Jesus and making them ours, and Jesus is revealing the Father to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. When we then walk in what Christ is showing us, the food is made nourishment to us, and we grow and are strengthened in our relationship with God. Jesus knows just what we need, and only feeds us what we can take--just as a wise mother recognizes what her children need, and day by day, little by little, she feeds them food that will bring strength to their bodies.
We are to nourish our wives. How do we know what they need? We must have vision from God. How do we feed them? We must have wisdom from God. Are we concerned with their spiritual strength? Jesus is concerned with ours. Do we take responsibility for the spiritual health of our wives, or do we leave that to the preacher? As the head of your wife, you are responsible for her spiritual nourishment and growth. If she is weak, it is your fault. You have not fed her in such a way that she can digest it and be strengthened.
If we really saw our wives as "one flesh" with us, we would give much more diligent attention to their nourishment. Their weakness is our weakness, and their strength is our strength. Do we care about our growth together? We cannot be strong if they are not strong. Our place is to feed our wives the riches of God so that they can move in faith with us, in response to God. It is a great responsibility, but God gives the grace.
What does it mean to cherish? To cherish is to hold our wives as extremely valuable in our eyes. The proverb writer asked the question, "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies" (Prov. 31:10). Sometimes the way we treat our wives indicates we do not really value them at all. We don't spend time with them, we are not concerned with their burdens, and we talk to them as though they had no feelings. God's love working in our hearts will cause us to hold our wives in the same place God does, and He is no respecter of persons. He loves every person equally as much, and covets a personal relationship with each one.
A women who is valued in her husband's eyes feels very honored, and rather than inspiring pride, it will encourage her to a place of humility, feeling that she is not worthy of such honor. Her response will be one of submission, desiring to please the one who loves her. The more worth she feels she has in the eyes of her husband, the more diligent will be her labor to do his will. He who nourishes his own wife nourishes himself, for she is one flesh with him.
Husbands, my heart's cry and challenge to each one of us is to ask God for a fresh vision of our responsibility. Yes, it is a great responsibility, but unless we can be faithful to God here, how can we move on? If a man does not know how to take care of his own household, how can he take care of the church of the living God? Our first responsibility, beyond our own relationship with God, is our wives. And if we cannot fulfill that, we can go no farther.
May the Lord encourage and strengthen each one of us today. Let us stay before God until a fresh revelation breaks upon our hearts. When it does, let us walk in that revelation until every part of it finds expression in our relationship with our wives. All will benefit and God will be glorified. Glory to His name!