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  • Writer's pictureJamie Holden

February 17 Bible Reading Plan

If you've read my testimony, you know that I grew up in a family and a culture where men did not treat women with much respect. They took the "head of the house" thing way beyond what the Bible intended and expected to be treated like kings, with their wives and children as loyal servants. This was wrong.

That is why I am so thankful for the blessing of being around godly men who have shown me what it means to love your wife and treat her with respect. Over the past decade, I've been privileged to have one of these men and his wife serve on our board of directors. Throughout our board meetings, we've seen them portray exactly how they submit to each other and respect each other's opinions. It's actually been quite humorous.

You see, both of these dear friends are very lively and opinionated people. It is not uncommon for them to see things from different perspectives. I cannot count how many times the rest of the board has sat back and watched the two of them vibrantly and loudly share their perspectives with each other.

"No, dear, I don't think you understand, the problem is….."

"Yes, honey, I understand, but you're not considering this…."

On and on, they'd go until each one felt like their viewpoint had been thoroughly addressed and heard. Then, one of them would make a pass at the other one. They'd laugh, kiss, and go on with the meeting.

No anger. No disrespect. Each one was heard and valued the other's opinion.

As friends, they've told us they know each other's strengths. She knows he has more wisdom and experience in some areas, so she submits to him. He knows she is right at other times, so he submits to her. They are both open to correction to each other.

In the book Under Construction, he describes it this way:

“Ephesians 5:20-33 captures this beautiful picture of Christ and His bride. Take a close look at verses 25-28.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.  He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.  In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. (NLT)

The Message puts it this way:

“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty.

Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.”

These verses suggest that just as Christ is head of the church and takes care of it by giving up His life to make her clean and holy, so the husband’s responsibility to his wife is to love her so deeply that he is giving up his life (denying to self daily) to nurture and protect her. Our leadership is not demanding but sacrificing and giving out of love, just as Jesus did.

It was said of Jesus that He “came not to be served but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). We lead by serving as godly examples as we internalize the Word of God into our everyday lives and relationships with our wives.

When counseling marriages in my earlier years, I would come home and say, “Honey, I owe you an apology.” With a high-pitched voice, she would say, “Oh, really?” Of course, she wanted to know what I meant. While guiding a young husband to be more loving, forgiving, and helpful with his wife, I would begin to feel convicted. I wasn’t a terrible husband; I just realized there was room for improvement in applying the Word of God in my relationship with my wife.

I made a promise to my wife before God on my wedding night, “For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” This meant that I was responsible for doing the right thing before the Lord as Christ did and does for the church today.

I did not marry my beautiful wife to have her take care of me but to allow her to become all that God made her to be as a woman, wife, mother, and co-pastor in the work of Christ.

I recall times when my wife tried to invest in me and help me, but I would give her a hard time. One reason I later learned was my insecurities were so deep. I thought she was being critical and attacking me. I felt like a failure as a husband and leader. I would become defensive instead of receptive; and angry instead of appreciative of her feedback.

However, what she was really doing was caring enough that I became a better man, Christian, husband, Dad, and pastor. Over time, as I surrendered to the truth of the Word of God and honestly desired to be a godly man and husband, God healed me of my insecurities. Then, I found my security in God, not what others thought of me. Then, I could see her loving, honest feedback for what it was.

I resolved to become a better man in what I call the five worlds of mankind: Being a better Christian, husband, Dad, hard worker/provider, which sums up to number five, being a godly man.

I remember one time we were supposed to have lunch with a very reputable figure in our community. As a young pastor, I felt pressured to ensure we were on time. I didn’t want to leave a bad first impression since she was very influential. I went to pick up my wife, and I became impatient as I waited for her to come out to the car. I began to honk the horn repeatedly with little time in between; not exactly a Jesus honk!

I was getting perturbed. I waited and waited … and waited, looking at my watch. She finally came out, and the look on her face told me to be quiet, something I normally would not do. She got in the car and began to explain that a lady from the church had called, and she could not get off the phone. Wow, was I ever glad I kept my mouth shut and finally chose to practice patience.

At the time, I didn’t realize what I had chosen to do. However, today, I know I decided to be a spiritual and emotional covering for my wife. Instead of showering words that could have cut and hurt her, I simply listened with an understanding heart.

How did that make her feel? As I shared this later, she admitted she was relieved and grateful since she expected the opposite because of all the previous honking.

Not only did I choose to exercise the Fruit of the Spirit called patience, but I was practicing the Scripture – “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT)

It’s not knowing the Word of God that makes us godly; it’s practicing it. I have had to practice that particular Scripture many times with many different people and know how difficult it can be, but it always works and produces godly results.

We receive our love and nurture from God. We need to be vulnerable before God and pursue His Word and heart so we can pass on the same kind of cherishing Christ has for us to our wives and children.

My wife can be as strong as she wants to be in Christ. I can’t stop that. But how effective she becomes is my part as well. If I choose to be a spiritual husband, it will help protect and support her growth to be a spiritual woman, wife, mother, and minister.

There is mutual protection when two people pursue God and live out His Word. A healthy spiritual marriage protects and protects against harm and destruction for your family. Together, your godliness is your greatest offense against the enemy.”

I promise you that for this man, these were not just words. He lived this way. Because of his choice to truly love his wife as Christ loved the church, they have a healthy, happy marriage and have influenced many people for the kingdom of God.

We can all learn from him.

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