Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"...Love their husbands,..."

Before I delve into this new series on Titus 2:4,5, especially since verse 3 of this passage states that the older women are to be the ones admonishing the younger women (and I'm definitely not in that older or, more experienced category), I feel the need for a disclaimer.  Please understand that my intention is not to come off as one who "knows it all," or has everything "figured out."  I am not an "older woman" and I certainly have not perfected the wifely role God has blessed me with.  I'm writing this because this is an area in which I want to grow and improve in myself, and so I'm sure there are others of you who have this desire as well.  I just want to share my studies, thoughts, and research with you so that you may be able to grow and improve, too.  So please, if your heart is open to learning what God requires out of us as wives and you want to try and better yourself in this area, please read on.

A quick surface reading of the above passage may lead a woman to say "Of course I love my husband!" and mentally check this admonition off the list of ones we need to be continually improving upon.  However, a deeper study of this verse, passages that teach us about the husband and wife relationship and the topic of love can leave a woman feeling humbled, ashamed for the lack of sincere love she has shown her husband, and driven to make drastic changes in how she sees and conducts herself in the marriage relationship.  How do I know this?  Because these are the thoughts and emotions I felt as I wrote this.

In the Greek, the phrase " to love their husbands" is represented by a single word: philandros.  Here are two definitions for this word/phrase according to two credible and accurate Bible dictionaries:
   Strong's:  "loving her husband"
   Vines:  "to be lovers of their husbands"
The word philandros is composed of two root words: philos meaning "friend" and aner meaning "husband."  Using the definitions from Strong's and Vines, we can conclude that loving our husbands means thinking of them as friends , in my opinion, our best friends.  Consider this whenever your husband does something sweet and thoughtful that "messes up" your day, fails to read your mind (which is impossible for him to do anyway), or puts things away in the "wrong place" because he wants to show you love by helping out around the house.  How would you respond to your girlfriend if she popped in unexpected, suggests you go out for Chinese when you've been craving Mexican for days, or helps clear off the table after a meal and puts the potholders on the wrong hooks?  Does this help put things in perspective?  Why do overlook the "mistakes" of our dear friends because she's "only being thoughtful" and pick at our husband every time he doesn't do everything exactly to our liking?

There are several verses in the New Testament that teach us more about how God intended for the husband and wife to be in relation to one another.  If we are claiming to love God and be his daughters, we would do well to study these passages, so that we can apply them in our marriages.  This is one way we can show our husbands (and God!) love.

I Corinthians 7:3 -"Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband."
- "affection" (NKJV) = "benevolence" (KJV)
   Strong's, Vine's and Thayer's:  "good will, kindness"
- This "affection/benevolence" covers everything from opening doors and giving compliments to speaking respectfully towards and putting each other first.

I Corinthians 7:4 - "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."
- "authority" (NKJV) = "power" (KJV)
   Strong's and Thayer's:  "to be master of the body; to have full and entire authority over the body"
   Vines:  "to exercise power over"
- Whenever my husband expresses the desire to be intimate with me it would be sinful of me to refuse him.  My body is no long mine, but his.  I cannot use sex as a bargaining tool, because my body is not mine to bargain with.  We wives would do well to remember this and to always give our husbands the intimacy they need, because they really do need it!  If we are willingly intimate with our husbands and even initiate from time to time they will be much less likely to turn to other ways of fulfilling this desire/need.

I Cor. 7:34 - "There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband."
- "she may please" (phrase)
   Strong's and Thayer's:  "to please, to strive to please, to accommodate one's self to the opinions, desires and interests of others"
   Vine's:  "to be pleasing to, to be acceptable to"
- If we are to please our husband and strive to be acceptable to him, then we cannot seek to please ourselves.  If I'm only seeking to please myself I will have one unhappy husband.  I need to put his desires before my own.  Much to the world's mistake, pleasing others doesn't leave one unhappy.  I've noticed that when I go out of the way to make sure my husbands pants are ironed by the time he wants to wear them, even though I dislike ironing and when I get up and fix his breakfast in the morning though I'd much rather sleep in another hour, the joy I feel in seeing him happy and knowing I contributed to his happiness is much greater than the annoyance of ironing or being a little extra tired throughout the day.  I feel this goes beyond these little things, though.  I need to be sure that I'm conducting myself outside the home and around others in such a way that is pleasing and acceptable to my husband.  Would wearing a short skirt and exposing cleavage to any other man make my husband happy?  Certainly not!  What about being short with the cashier because she doesn't know how to apply a coupon?  No, that wouldn't please him either.  Not only are those two actions unacceptable for me as a wife, but also as a woman professing godliness. God isn't the only one who cares who I am when I leave them home.  How I conduct myself in public reflects on my husband.  I wear his name, and I need to do so in such a way that brings honor and respect to our household.  Otherwise, any good he may do while at work may be undone by my actions in the supermarket.

Eph 5:33 - "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
- "she respects" (NKJV) = "she reverence" (KJV)
   Strong's:  to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience
   Thayer's:  "to show reverential fear"
- This is something I've struggled with throughout our marriage, often completely unaware that my tone/facial expressions convey disrespect.  I find myself repeatedly checking my tone and attitude, and pausing to put myself back in check.  Ladies, this is so important!  Our husbands, in order to be strong, confident, godly leaders of our homes need to know their knowledge, understanding, and decisions are respected.  We can share our thoughts, concerns and ideas with our husbands, and they would do well to listen, too.  But we MUST make sure we present them out of love and respect with a sincere desire for what is best for our family.  Talking to our husbands like they have no idea what's going on or what they're doing is NOT a good idea, EVER!  They may not have all the insight we do as mothers, but they aren't idiots.  Give them some credit, and when they say or do things that don't make any sense at all, gently express to them why they should consider another alternative.  This will help them grow and learn as fathers and husbands, rather than degrading them to a state where they feel useless and powerless.

Obviously, there are many, many more passages I could include in this study.  For sake of time and effectiveness of the study, I'm going to leave it at this for now.  It will do us more good to sincerely focus on these four passages than to lightly brush over a dozen.  May we all have open hearts as we continually work with our husbands to improve our marriage relationships.  

God bless you all!

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