.Chapter 8 "Manages His Own Household"
He must be one who manages his own household well . . .
but if a man does not know how to manage his own household,
how will he take care of the church of God?
—1 Timothy 3:4–5
Many men feel it is their responsibility to punish or chastise another who sins, especially their wives. Scripture teaches us differently and tells us that we will realize adverse consequences for these prideful actions. The husband is to be the authority over the wife, this is true, but what if the wife rebels? Are we then to punish her as we do our children? Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” And 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
Discipline. Discipline is referred to 90 times in the Old Testament. Discipline, Scripture says, is for training, correcting, and punishing. God is the Father, and we are His children. Christ’s relationship with the church is to be our example of a proper husband and wife relationship. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Then what does Christ do to discipline the church? We see no discipline from Christ; all discipline comes from God our Father. Instead, from our Lord Jesus, we see the epitome of love. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . .” (Eph. 5:25). This love is what draws us to Him; it speaks to our hearts and is the reason why we desire to obey Him. “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:24).
Proverbs. References to discipline are found 36 times in Proverbs and are almost always used to give us instruction concerning the parent-child relationship. Though there are many Scriptures that refer to husbands and their wives in the Bible, none instructs the husband to discipline, chastise, or punish his wife.
Know the love. Paul followed our Lord’s example and lived out love for those in the church. He wrote, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you . . . You should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Cor. 2:4–7). This is so important! “He heals the brokenhearted . . .” (Ps. 147:3).
Encouraged to love. But, aren’t women also commanded to love their husbands? No, they are to be encouraged to love their husbands and their children by older “Titus women.” “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior . . . teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children . . .” (Titus 2:3–4). The feminist movement has changed the way everyone thinks. Unless what you are talking about or referring to is unisex, it is not “politically correct.” This has resulted in pastors, Christian radio and television shows, and Christian publications being extremely careful not to violate this new way of thinking. But God said, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). We need to teach our sons and daughters to understand and be pleased with their distinct male and female differences, since that is how God created them.
Honor and obey. Children are also never commanded to love their mothers or fathers; they are commanded to honor and obey. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you . . .” (Deut. 5:16). Children are commanded 15 times in the Bible to honor their parents. It is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Are you training your children to follow this commandment? Could your behavior be causing them to stumble? “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2). Are you a drunkard, a sluggard, or a lover of self whose sole purpose is to play? (See Chapter 14, “Father’s Instructions,” for more knowledge.)
Grant her honor. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
Love your wife. Wives are commanded to submit to and respect their husbands. They are not commanded to love or honor us. Yet we husbands are commanded to love and honor our wives.
Love your own wife as yourself. “Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband” (Eph. 5:33).
Love your wives. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . .” (Eph. 5:25).
Love your own wife. “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself . . .” (Eph. 5:28). Does this mean we are to love ourselves before we can love our wives? No. God tells us that we all love ourselves: “He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one everhated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church . . .” (Eph. 5:29). If you love yourself more than you ought then you are just an example of man in the last days: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self . . .” (2 Tim. 3:1).
Love your wife. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Col. 3:19).
We love, because He first loved us. The foundation of love is found in 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” Christ’s example toward us is what we should follow. “For you have been called for this purpose . . . leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:2). A wife cannot give love without being loved first.
When we give our love first, only then can our wives learn to love us. Love motivates submission and respect. In the same way, when we grow more in love with our Lord, we are motivated to righteous living. Does your wife respect, love, and submit to you? If not, could it be due to an inadequate expression of your love for her? Your love is evident in the way you look at your wife, in the loving words you speak to her, in your loving touch, and in the time you spend with her. Does your wife feel your love?
Also, notice that loving words came before loving touch. Men, we have a habit of not speaking the loving words that our wife wants to hear, but we expect her to respond to our touch. Our wives may be begging us (in their hearts) to say that we love them. Some of us say we love them and yet don’t talk to them. Is your wife constantly begging to talk with you? “Talk—meaning that you actually participate and share in the conversation. Learn to be a good listener first, and then comment on what she has said. If you see a man who is not receiving affection from his wife, you can be sure he is not showing her proper love.
If you love her, show her. Stop pretending that you love her just because you provide for her or because you tell her.“For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Love is an action. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians chapter 13 to find out more about love.
What then is love? Thousands of authors, play writers, and movie directors have provided us with what they think love is. Let us go to the Author of Love for the true description: “And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the Truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:2–8). Love is more than just saying that you love your wife; it is your actions or reactions towards her. Let’s find out more about acting out our love.
Love Never Fails
Love is patient. Patience, which seems to be in short supply with many of us men,is a reaction and it is, therefore, very important that we learn to react to our wives with patience. “And we urge you, brethren . . . encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). Did you notice that this verse also says to “help the weak”?
Men, are you guilty of not helping your wife with tasks she needs done because of your laziness? God gave physical strength to you that He did not give to your wife. Women who have husbands who don’t help them will usually resort to all kinds of ways to get the job done. They will either learn to do it themselves, ask a neighbor, or wait for their sons to grow strong enough to help them. Isn’t that pathetic?
Of course, many of us are quick to accuse our wives of nagging us when they remind us about something we promised to do days, weeks, months, or even years ago. We may even laugh about this behavior with our friends. And then we wonder what happened when our wives become bitter! “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12).
Our next step is usually to judge that bitterness in our wives as sin. Brother, are you quick to judge your wife? “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1–5). God did not command your wife not to be bitter toward you, but He did command you not to be bitter toward her. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Col. 3:19).
Love is kind. We seem to forget that kindness goes a long way when dealing with our wives. Isn’t that why your wife married you? Would she choose to marry someone who would later be unkind to her? “And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged . . .” (2 Tim. 2:24). When you are having a conversation with your wife, give her your full attention, look into her eyes, and speak to her in a kind and gentle way. Most of us don’t listen or comment on what our wives are saying; then we suddenly bark out our response. Non-participation will usually result in our wives yelling at us.
Does your wife seem to repeat the same thing over and over again? When this happens, you obviously have not shown her that you’ve heard her by answering her, nodding your head, grunting, or whatever. Men, we know we are all too often “zoned out,” in “another world.” We feel it’s our right to come home to find peace and quiet; it’s our place to relax, unwind. We don’t want to be bothered by listening to another thing, do we? Men, make sure you tune in to your wife rather than the television or the newspaper. Of course our excuse is that “She will never leave me alone until she gets her own way. She doesn’t just want me to listen!” Try listening, commenting, and responding during your conversations with her and see what happens. Our wives are supposed to be under our authority and our protection. Let’s not make it so hard for them to be under our authority and be obedient to God’s Word.
Again, we’ve got to remember that women are different than men. They don’t just “get to the point”; they tend to take the “scenic route” in the conversation. Yet, we are still commanded to be patient and understanding with them. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). When your wife doesn’t feel you understand, she’ll either tell you so, or she’ll go away broken. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear?” (Prov. 18:14). How has her countenance been lately? “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Prov. 15:13).
Love does not act unbecomingly. Acting unbecomingly has become commonplace in too many of our homes. Major “scenes” or “ranting and ravings” go on all too often. Do you have control over your spirit? Love your wife enough to control your spirit. Don’t expect your wife to control her spirit until you can control your own.“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit” (Prov. 25:28). You are her leader; she is the weaker vessel.
Love does not seek its own. Men in today’s society are encouraged to “do their own thing” and to “just do it.” Not long ago, that attitude would have been considered selfish and self-centered. God’s Word brings us back to the truth: selfishness will reap only sorrow and regrets. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself . . .” (Phil. 2:3). Consider the responsibility you have to manage your household, to love your wife, and to instruct and train your children. If we are doing all that God commands, then how can we have so much free time to play sports, watch television, hunt, or tinker with hobbies? It is, obviously, because we are seeking our own interests and dumping many of our responsibilities on our wives.
Love is not provoked. How short is your fuse? Are you quick to fly off the handle? Is most of what you say expressed in a raised voice? “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention” (Prov. 15:18). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). We must learn to control our emotions and practice discretion when we are offended or disappointed. Those who are born into royalty are taught from an early age to control their feelings and emotions in public. We are adopted children of the King! We should therefore act accordingly in the presence of others, especially our wives.
Love bears all things. The burdens we bear as husbands and fathers can sometimes seem overwhelming; don’t be too proud to run to Him. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah” (Ps. 68:19). “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly” (1 Pet. 2:19). Many men run to their wives for help. Others run to another woman, to the bottle, or to drugs for help. Remember to run to Him and Him alone!
Love believes all things. Sometimes following Scripture, when it comes to dealing with our wives, takes a lot of faith, but God promises us that we will not be disappointed! “. . . For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:10). For the Scripture says, “. . . Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Rom. 10:11). Trust in our Creator and the Author of life for a real change!
Love hopes all things. Would you describe yourself as a positive or negative person? Perhaps you are able to fool others into believing you are a very upbeat person, but what would your wife say if she were asked to describe you? Do you have faith? That is what a positive attitude is—faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off” (Prov. 24:14).
If you are lacking faith, seek God’s Word, pore over it, and meditate on it. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does,he prospers” (Ps. 1:1).
Love endures all things. When we feel we are at the end of our rope, God encourages us to hang on to Him. “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Mark 13:13). Most of us endure certain types of hardships, without complaint, like a man should. But if we examine ourselves we may find areas where we are unable to “endure,” areas in our lives where we are we acting like babies, or quitters.
Men, we need to act like men; we must be examples for our sons, daughters, wives, and this effeminate-accepting society. We’ve got to demonstrate, through our example, what the Scriptures say. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10).
Love never fails. This is one of God’s greatest promises that His love for us, and our love for others, especially our wives, will never fail! “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). There is a proper order for everything, since God is a God of order. We need only look at the perfect order of the universe, the perfect order of the seasons and the days to see God’s way of order. God has also set up the order of authority: “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). So God is over Christ, Christ is over man, man is over woman, and parents are over children. The interesting thing to note is that all love is to be given from above, not from beneath. The love is initiated by the authority figure, and, if given properly, it is responded to and reciprocated by those under authority. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
God is the origin of love. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God states His love for us and also demonstrates His love for us. We, in the same way, must tell our wives that we love them and then demonstrate it with our actions as stated in 1 Corinthians 13. But how are we to possess the proper love for our wives? “. . . and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). We must first know and experience Christ’s love. When was the last time you ran to Him for your love? We all need love. Where do you get your love from when you’re running on empty? Many times when we don’t get the love we would like to have from our wives, we turn cold toward them or downright mean.
Men, don’t blame your wife if she’s not meeting your needs; you are most likely reaping what you have sown by your lack of love for her. Remember, you are to get your love from Christ and give that kind of love to your wife. Then she will respond by giving you the love you desire from her. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . .” (Eph. 5:25). “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?” (Matt. 5:46). “And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Giving our wives love when they don’t deserve it (loving the unlovable) is what Christ-like love is all about!
Unchanging love. “Who is a God like Thee . . . He [God] delights in unchanging love” (Mic. 7:18). Begin to demonstrate your unchanging love for your wife and children by showing, with your speech and actions, that you love them in all situations. Make sure they know that you will always love them.
How to Really Love Your Wife
Love her with your time. When we like someone, we enjoy spending time with him or her. Where is most of your time being spent? When you prioritize all that is important to you, where does your wife fit in? Most of us are guilty of wasting too much precious time on things that will mean absolutely nothing years from now. When you do spend time with her, where do you go or what do you do? Is it always you who decides where you will go or what you will do? Do you give your wife time to do the things she enjoys doing, or do you expect her to be the only one who cares for the children as she waits at home for you while you do your thing? Do you give her some of your time to fix, make, or move things, or is your “Honey Do List” more like a “My Husband Never Will Do” list. Show your wife you love her by giving her your time and attention.
Love her with your eyes. Even though our lives can be hurried, stressful, too full, and much too tiring, we must take the time to look lovingly into our wife’s eyes. She needs to know that she is the apple of your eye! David desired this from the Lord in Psalm 17:8: “Keep me as the apple of [Thy] eye . . .” All the activities that seem to keep us so busy are usually temporary; therefore they have only temporal value. “. . . while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Put your paper or magazine down, turn away from the thing you are tinkering with, turn off the television, and give your wife some attention. Look her in the eyes and shock her by asking her something like, “How was your day today, sweetheart?” Then be prepared to show her your love by being patient and listening. Keep eye contact with her and respond by nodding your head and making short comments like, “That’s great,” “Did she really?,” “I wish I could’ve seen that,” etc. This may sound silly, but most of us have gotten so complacent with our wives, after years of marriage, that we need a basic lesson in communication! We often use proper communication skills with others, but we neglect them with our wives.
Love her with your touch. Touch is very important, as it is able to deliver both comfort and healing powers. What kind of touch do you give your wife? Do you only touch her when you want to be intimate? Do you make her feel cheap by grabbing her in embarrassing areas? What does your touch say to her? Do you comfort her by hugging her when she is crying, especially when you were the one who hurt her? Can she trust you enough to tell you what has hurt her, knowing you’ll understand? Husbands, let’s be honest. When our wives are giving us the “cold shoulder,” it is almost always because they are reacting to our inappropriate behavior toward them. Most of us don’t care to look at the uncaring seeds we have sown, and, if we do, we tend to pout or sulk about it instead of being man enough to sow good seed. Sow the “seed” of a loving touch and enjoy the harvest of a loving and affectionate wife.
Love her with your comfort. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3). Do you comfort your wife when she is hurt or when she cries? The truth is, we men are many times indifferent to our wives’ tears. Maybe it’s because we feel their tears have manipulated us in the past, and since we don’t want to fall for that again, we remain cold. Men, don’t miss an opportunity to comfort your wife. These are priceless moments that can be used to draw the two of you into the oneness that you desire. Your wife won’t want to be intimate with you when she feels emotionally distant from you. Make it easy for her to love you by comforting her when she hurts.
Love her with honor. Honor is defined as “to regard highly.” We are to regard our wives as worthy of honor—honor we should already be showing them. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). Remember, by showing honor to our wives, we bring glory to God. When we don’t give our wives this type of respect, we are dishonoring God and His Word. We are saying we are Christians but our deeds deny it. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16). Are you understanding of your wife? “Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard” (Prov. 13:15). If you find that you can’t understand your wife, maybe it is because you have lived with her in a treacherous way. Honor her from your heart. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me” (Matt. 15:8). You must be humble: “And before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33). “But humility goes before honor” (Prov. 18:12). The result will be honor from your wife. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit obtains honor” (Prov. 29:23).
Love her with your appreciation. Appreciation is defined as favorable recognition. To appreciate means to cherish, enjoy, value, understand, treasure (especially in the marriage vow), take loving care of, and keep alive (in emotion). We spoke earlier about doing things from the heart. If your wife is not one of your treasures, your heart is not with her. “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also” (Matt. 6:21). Often when we lose something that we take for granted, we begin to realize how very important it is to us. Do you need to lose your wife before you’ll begin to treasure her? If you think that could never happen to you because your wife is a Christian, think again. There are countless numbers of couples, many of whom you probably know, whose marriages have ended in divorce because the wife did not feel loved and treasured as she did when they were first married. Don’t wait. Demonstrate your love for your wife now by showing her and telling her that you appreciate her.
Love her with your kind words. “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:4). If you have been speaking unkind words to your wife, then most likely her spirit toward you has been crushed. Have you been putting off doing things that you promised you would do for her? Then her heart may be sick toward you. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12). How can we take care of our wives spiritually and keep their love alive for us emotionally? We need to consistently speak sweetly and kindly to our wives. This blessing then can be yours: “All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Prov. 15:15).
Love her by taking your burdens to the Lord. When you have financial worries or job-related worries, take your troubles or worries to the Lord. “Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov.12:25). Turn the pages of your “neglected-except-for-Sunday” Bible and find God’s promises, so you can learn to lean on Him. Stop leaning on your wife when you have troubles; she was not designed to carry your burdens. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Once you have gone to the Lord with your problems and have grabbed a promise to stand on, you will be a new man when you get up from your chair! “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). Let your face show the joy that is in your heart. “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Prov. 15:13). Be truly thankful. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). Learn to be content in all situations. “. . . For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means . . . and in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12). Amen!
Why Should You Love Her Like This?
You should love her because the Lord has been a witness. “And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit” (Mal. 2:13–15). What is the definition of treacherous? Strong’s Concordance defines this word as “to pillage, deal deceitfully or unfaithfully, to offend, to transgress, to depart.” Have you ever done, or are you doing, any of the things in this definition? If so, you are living treacherously with your wife. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the Lord is very aware of how you treat her.
It was God who gave man the woman as a helper suitable for him. Let’s not forget the love that the Lord feels for our wives. Is your wife crying out to the Lord because of the way you have been treating her? Are you neglecting her? Are the words you speak to her cutting and cruel? Maybe you’ve even knocked her around. Men, the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord. Do you fear God? Let us all remember a portion of the above Scripture and burn it into our minds and meditate on it: “. . . The Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit” (Mal. 2:15). You have not even a “remnant of His Spirit” in you if you have been unkind to the wife the Lord has given to you!
You should love her because it’s never too late. You may be sitting there thinking that it’s too late because you haven’t been loving your wife properly for years. But the truth is, it’s never too late to show your love for her. Begin with your words. Our wives need a kind word from us before they will accept our touch. A good place to start may be with a humble apology. Your words should be ones of deep conviction, sharing with her how wrong you’ve been, and then asking for her forgiveness. Be sure you don’t forget to say, “I love you.” Many a dying man has regretted not saying those three words more often to his wife and children.
You should love her in spite of your pride. Is your pride getting in the way? Maybe you would use the word self-esteem. Our world has taken God’s command “to esteem others better than ourselves” and twisted it to try and deceive us into building up ourselves, rather than others. “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Do not look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Have the attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:3–7, KJV; v. 4, NASB
What About Submission?
Kept entrusting. A woman called Restore Ministries and asked, “How far does God expect a woman to go in regards to submitting to her husband?” Why are women afraid or unwilling to submit to us as their husbands and leaders? God asks Christian husbands and wives to follow in Christ’s steps: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, . . . and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:21–23).
Follow Him “in the same way.” Jesus asks women specifically to follow Him and His example, as He immediately begins 1 Peter 3 with “In the same way.” He tells our wives to submit to us as husbands as He submitted to His heavenly Father, the direct authority over Him. The second example God gives our wives is Sarah: “Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (1 Pet. 3:6). Our wives are to strive to obey us as their husbands like Sarah did. So why is this so difficult for them to do?
Frightened by any fear. “Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (1 Pet. 3:6). Is your wife afraid to obey you? What could she be fearful about? Well, what was Sarah asked to do by her husband Abraham that could have caused her to be fearful? In Genesis 12:11–13 and also in Genesis 20:2, we see that Abraham asked Sarah to lie! To sin! When Abraham told her to say that she was his sister, this caused her to fall into another sin, to be taken as another man’s wife! Have you asked your wife to submit to (or go along with) something that she felt was wrong or sinful? So many women fear submission because they have been asked to sin by their husbands. If a wife cannot trust that her husband is following after the Lord, it makes her submission a burden of fear. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Hey, I never asked her to be another man’s wife!” First of all, to set the record straight, neither did Abraham. When he asked Sarah to say she was his sister, this was not only a “little lie,” it was a “half lie” since she was his half sister. Nevertheless, this little “half lie” resulted in Sarah being taken twice as another man’s wife!
The iniquity of the fathers to the third and the fourth generations. Did you know that Abraham passed this identical sin on to his son Isaac?“When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ for he was afraid to say, ‘my wife,’ thinking, ‘the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful . . . Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, ‘Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, ‘She is my sister’? And Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her’” (Gen. 26:7). Isaac’s sin was worse because Rebekah was not a half sister.
You may be unaware of the verses that remind us of the enormous consequences of a father’s sin: “. . . visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations . . .” (Exod. 20:5). “. . . Yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exod. 34:7). “The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations” (Num. 14:18). “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations . . .” (Deut. 5:9). Men, we would do well to keep this in mind when we even think of compromising the Truth!
You husbands likewise. The wife’s section in 1 Peter is followed by the husband’s verse that begins, “You husbands likewise . . .” (1 Pet. 3:7). How are we as husbands over our wives to behave? Let’s read on: “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet. 3:9–12).
For the husband is the head of the wife. This portion of Scripture explains that our relationship with our wives is to mirror that of Christ and His church. “Wives, be subject to your own husband, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:22–24). Isn’t it sad that many churches don’t submit to Christ and His teachings, just as so many women don’t submit to their husbands? Probably a correlation here, don’t you think?
Your companion and your wife by covenant. Why is it so important that we act according to God’s Word? Because when we don’t, our actions dishonor God and make a mockery of His Word. “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. . . . So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously. You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Mal. 2:14–17). As a Christian couple, our lives are supposed to reflect a picture of Christ and His church. When a husband loves, honors, and understands his wife and she doesn’t submit and reverence her husband with a gentle and quiet spirit, then her husband is called a “wimp” or “henpecked.” When a wife does submit and reverence her husband with a gentle and quiet spirit and her husband doesn’t love, honor, and understand his wife, then she is told she is a doormat! Only when they are cleaved to each other and moving in the direction of the scriptural principles will God’s Word be lifted up. (See Chapter 9, “Man Alone,” for more knowledge.)
Now that we have searched the Scriptures, let us answer some questions with God’s Wisdom . . .
Is submission applicable today? Some men who are kind or maybe just easygoing don’t exercise authority over their wives because they feel that it’s not applicable today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). In Matthew 5:18, Jesus says, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.” “. . . For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1). There is a false teaching that has permeated some churches. This teaching attempts to deceive men and women by saying that Jesus broke all bondage and therefore wives no longer must submit to their husbands. Well, there are a couple of big holes in this theory. First, Ephesians (where the topic of subjection is covered in great length) was written after Jesus’ resurrection. And secondly, wives are not to be under their husbands in bondage but rather for their protection. If your wife doesn’t feel protected but instead feels she is in bondage, you need to make a definite change in your actions and attitude toward her!
If our wives don’t or won’t submit to our authority, should we use “tough love”? In 1 Corinthians 13, it says that love is gentle and kind, not tough. In 1 Peter 2:23, Jesus uttered no threats when suffering and He says we are to follow in His steps! In 2 Timothy 4:4, it says that in the last days we will want to have our ears tickled and will turn to myths. Using “tough love” with our wives is a myth. And in 2 Timothy 4:3, it also says that we will accumulate teachers who go along with our own desires. It feels good to our flesh to give ultimatums and confront others. But, the Spirit and the flesh are in opposition to one another, “so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:16).
Give a blessing instead. Instead of dishing out tough love, respond by “. . . not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Pet. 3:9). “. . . And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously . . .” (1 Pet. 2:23). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Again, we are to pattern our way of treating our wives after Christ’s example of how He loves and treats His church.
How can we possibly do all that the Lord asks us to do as husbands in today’s world? By grace! And how do we get grace? By humbling ourselves. In James 4:6 it says, “God hates the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And in 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” And yes, contrary to the world’s foolish opinions, women are weaker than men. First Peter 3:7 says, “You husbands, likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman . . .” We must search for the Truth in God’s Word. We are to protect our wives, “. . . for among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth” (2 Tim. 3:6–7).
Personal commitment: To manage my own household. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I commit to walk in love with my wife. I will lead my family by my godly example. I promise to never ask my wife to sin, and I will protect her, so she will not fear submission.”
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on, in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).