Although growing up in Northern Ireland, I had the privilege of attending Columbia Bible College in the United States. In March of 1990, Robertson McQuilkin, the former president of Columbia Bible College, announced his resignation with the following letter.
“My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about 8 years. So far I have been able to carry both her ever-growing needs and my leadership responsibilities at Columbia Bible College. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and almost none of the time I am away from her. It is not just “discontentment.” She is filled with fear – even terror – that she has lost me and always goes in search for me when I leave home. Then she may be full of anger when she cannot get to me. So it is clear to me that she needs me now, full time.
Perhaps it would help you to understand if I shared with you what I shared at the time of the announcement of my resignation in chapel. The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part.” So, as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her the next 40 years I would not be out of debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But, there is more; I love Muriel. She is a delight to me – her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I do not have to care for her, I get to! It is a high honor to care for such a person.”
Two words go together in Scripture to demonstrate the love of Christ: the words “loved” and “gave.” Paul talks in Galatians 2:20 about “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Ephesians 5:2 exhorts us to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” That is the love that the Christian husband is to have for his wife.
Paul uses the Greek word agape. It’s the highest form of love. The world’s love is always object oriented. The person is loved because she’s pretty or because he’s got lots of money; but the moment a person looses that quality, the love based on that quality disappears. But agape love isn’t like that. It gives and it gives sacrificially.
Of Oliver Goldsmith it was said, “He gave away his life in handfuls.” That’s the Christian husband.
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