LOVE YOUR HUSBAND
Titus 2 urges older sisters to teach the younger sisters to love their husbands. It seems to me that a woman married a husband in the first place because she already greatly loved him. But Titus states that this is something that young wives need to learn and apparently it is something that older wives should have already learned through experience. For with each passing year of marriage, the need for love and commitment becomes greater. So the Titus passage is not speaking of the "feelings" of love so active among the young, but the acts of love learned by experience. The early days and weeks a bride and groom spend together are usually full of the "feelings" of love - they giggle, embrace and kiss often. Those of us who have already been down that road look on with the deflating knowledge that time usually has a way of cooling off those intense feelings. The struggles and trials common to man have a way of invading every marriage and wearing down the "honeymoon" feelings, making our journey more difficult and our life a lot more serious. But the genuine affection that is born of a life-long commitment to each other is deeper and more meaningful as each year passes and each trial is faced together.
True love does not depend on how you feel (or don't feel) - it is something you do - and do - and do - and do. Love is not an inclination, it's a demonstration in giving. For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten son. And Christ himself taught us that there is no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends.
There is a popular cafeteria here in Texas called Luby's where customers pass in front of a long line of delectable foods. There are servers standing side by side in front of the dishes and as the line of customers passes by, each server is calling out "serve you?" - "serve you?". I love this example and bring it to mind often as a reminder of the attitude I desire to manifest. We use this saying in our family, in the Ecclesia and in Sunday School when we notice an especially loving service. We often repeat to one another - "serve you?" - "serve you?".
HOPE LOOKS UP,
LOVE LOOKS AROUND TO SEE WHO IT CAN HELP.
Wives, every day ask yourself - "How can I serve my husband today?". Plan your service, put some thought into it, pray for God's blessing on your plan and do it, whether you "feel" like it or not. Of course we are all working toward a genuine attitude of willing and cheerful giving. But don't let a weak attitude stop you from doing good, especially to your husband. The heart follows the hand and your attitude will be greatly helped along if you will put your hand to good works. Prov. 16:3 assures us that if you "commit your works unto the Lord" that "your thoughts will be established." God will help you both to will (feelings) and to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Don't think that just because you do not feel anything loving or kind toward your husband that you will be excused from obeying the commandment to do the works of love for your husband. Trust God, He will establish our feelings if we will put our hands to loving works.
I believe most women have a special ability to sense and anticipate other's needs. We know what is helpful, kind, comforting and encouraging to our husbands. We need to turn our thoughts deliberately in that direction and do the works of love for our husbands as our daily priority.
The virtuous wife in Proverbs 31 shows us many examples of loving works for her husband:
She is faithful and trustworthy (v. 11-12)
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She does her husband good "all the days of her life." She does her husband no harm. She is prudent. She is able to discern what is proper to be done under various circumstances of time and place. She has good judgment. Faithfulness and trust are every wife's first and foremost obligation to her husband. For an unfaithful wife shames her husband and causes rottenness to his bones, grief to her children, and brings dishonor and disgrace to herself, to her Ecclesia and to God's Holy Ways.
What we sisters need to understand clearly is that if we do evil to our husbands, be it by unfaithfulness, disinterest, lack of affection, mismanagement of the household, etc., we are destroying the very basis of our own happiness. The way to peace and happiness is God's Way through Christ, not through the flesh.
We must keep ourselves mentally and physically only unto our own husbands. We must be careful to keep ourselves out of any situation where we are alone with any other man besides our husbands. One-on-one private or public activities, however seemingly wholesome or innocent, are inappropriate and in the very least an appearance of evil. Wives, first and foremost, we must commit ourselves to be chaste and faithful to our own husbands. This commitment is not based on our husband's worthiness, it is based on our Godly duty and character. Nothing shows our true character and virtue more than the faithfulness and loyalty we maintain to our own husbands.
Abigail's example comes to mind in this regard (1 Samuel 25). Being married to a self-centered, obnoxious, drunken fool such as Nabal did not change Abigail's obligation as a wife to do good to her husband. Nabal's unworthiness as a proper husband only intensified the beauty of the integrity and wisdom of Abigail. Her refreshing wisdom and humility before a Godly man like David was genuine because she had practiced it in her life in dealing with a fool like Nabal.
She is industrious (v. 13-22)
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands . . . she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household . . .with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. . . her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle. . . she stretcheth out her hand to the poor. . . all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings .
She not only works hard, she deliberately plans to work hard. This shows in her children, her housekeeping, her meals, her financial thriftiness, and the multitude of her good works. Her plans are mostly for the aid and comfort of others.
One aspect that greatly adds to and enhances her efficiency is her willingness to rise up early in the morning before her household. (Compare Mark 1:35, an example of our Lord's rising up a great while before day - before his disciples - and praying to prepare for the day's work.) The virtuous wife is the manager of the home and the day's activities. In rising early, she can begin her day in prayer and can see that her husband and children are properly cared for before they leave for the duties of the day. The specific scriptural habit of early rising has much to do with the welfare of the family. It takes a great deal of self-sacrifice to implement this early rising as a habit in your life. If there is one thing I remember well about being a young wife and mother, it is the desire for sleep. However, the benefits of your availability and service to your family in the morning far outweigh the few minutes of sleep time you give up. "Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty: open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread." (Prov. 20:13)
She speaks with kindness and wisdom (v. 26)
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
"The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom. . . the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable." (Prov. 10:31-32). There are many scriptures about the tongue of a woman - mostly negative. But a virtuous wife will keep the law of God in her heart that she may be able to remember to do righteousness and speak with wisdom. (Prov. 37:30-31) Kindness is a "law" to be kept and obeyed.
Many of the Jews have a habit of adding a blessing or a cursing after they speak names - like, "may his days be prospered" or "may his bones rot." While the cursings do not fit into the "law" of kindness, endearments do. "Speaking comfortably" to your husband can be a blessing to you both. It will enhance your loving attitude and be a constant reminder to you of your commitment to your husband. Sarah used this kind of speaking even when she was speaking within herself (calling her husband, "my lord." Gen. 18:12). Speaking with the tongue of kindness has a healing and calming effect on both the hearer AND the speaker.
Try to deliberately season your words to your husband with grace, truth and your best courtesy. "Let your conversation be always with grace, seasoned with salt." (Col. 4:6).
Your relationship with your husband parallels your relationship with God.
What will a life-long commitment of obedience and love to our husbands teach us in relation to God? Is there a spiritual lesson in God's commandment for wives to have a steadfast, life-long dedication to our husbands?
What is true in God's requirements in our marriage, is all the more true in our relationship with Him. We can all remember those exhilarating days when we first learned the Truth. Everything was full of excitement and our hearts were bubbling over with wonder. We watch the newly baptized today with the same understanding that we watch the newly married. We all remember the feelings Revelations 2:4 speaks of as our "first love." But as our life in the truth rolls on into years and even into decades, it's so easy for our enthusiasm to erode and our worship and service to become simply a burden to be borne; or like Demas, to actually forsake the commitment altogether and embrace the world (2 Timothy 4:10). It's those "first works" that can bring about those "first love" feelings that keep our hearts burning for the living God.
How long have you been in the Truth? It doesn't take long for the troubles and trials of this life to cool us off and put distance between us and our love for God and His Truth. Those who have endured the strains that inevitably come with Ecclesial life know the value of working through problems, remaining steadfast and setting our faces like a flint to keep our vows to Yahweh at all costs. Each year in the Truth should produce a growing and deepening love for and service to God. Likewise, each year of marriage should produce a growing and deepening love for and service to our husbands. But we must understand the true meaning of love in order to receive the benefits it brings. Christ defines it thus in John 14:23, "If a man love me, he will keep my words..." Obedience is the tangible proof of our love for God - it's the barometer measuring the depth of our relationship with Christ. How often do we selectively obey those commandments which are convenient to our lifestyle (or whims) instead of obeying God's Word completely? If we want a love relationship with God, He requires that we demonstrate our love by obedience.
So the respect and love we demonstrate to our husbands is a reflection of the respect and love we demonstrate to God - both done "all the days" of our lives.
Who then are those wives who will receive praise?
They who have kept their sympathies awake.
And scatter joy for more than conscience sake;
Steadfast and tender in the hour of need,
Gentle in thought, benevolent in deed;
Whose looks have power to make dissension cease,
Whose smiles are pleasant, and whose words are peace;
They who have lived as harmless as a dove,
Teachers of truth, and ministers of love.
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