Any man worth his salt will think often about protecting what is valuable to him. Money in the bank, documents in the cloud, guns in the safe; we protect what we value. We take proactive steps to ensure the safety of what we treasure. When it comes to our flesh and blood, this caution levels up big time.
No man in his right mind would ever allow danger to come at his wife and kids. So we act different than the fairer sex. We keep our head on a swivel when out in public, looking for danger close. We check the locks before we go to bed at night. We put up walls around our homes, install alarms, and sleep with our boomstick close to hand. Double-aught baby. We exercise great caution to avoid danger, but prepare to handle it should it ever get close. We protect what we love.
In Colossians 3:19, Paul reminds men to apply this protective mindset to the person they should love most–their wife. But this isn’t protection from danger outside the walls. It is protecting love from the enemy inside the walls, the enemy of bitterness.
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.”
We get the love part. At least we know we are supposed to love our wives like Christ loves the Church. But how often do we think about bitterness toward our wives?
Bitterness is the dried out and twisted heart. It’s the remnants from the slow-burn of anger that smolders on the inside. It is under the singed heap of unmet expectations, irritations, frustrations, and anger that we choose to direct toward the one who is to instead be a well-spring of life. Bitterness is the silent killer that wraps the piano cord of selfishness around your neck and twists without mercy until your marriage lies lifeless on the floor. Bitterness is the enemy within.
Ironically, bitterness is the enemy that we let slip inside. We choose to let it in. We let it happen. Hence the command to not let bitterness poison the love of a husband for his wife.
So how do we guard against bitterness? How do we kill this silent but powerful enemy? We go back to the beginning and find the answer in one word, love. If we make it our business to love our wives, bitterness will be kept on the outside. Love is the wall that keeps bitterness out. And if bitterness ever finds its way inside, love is the weapon we choose to take up that will slay this mortal enemy. Christ centered, Spirit empowered love.
So men, protect your love toward your wife. Watch your heart toward her. Remember, that bitterness is the enemy that will do great harm against your wife. Stay on guard for bitterness. Check that the doors to your heart are locked against it. Watch out for it. Be ready to shoot it down if it creeps in. Protect what you value most. Protect your love for your wife.