Hosea 1:2-9; 3:1-3
An experienced minister was once asked about a certain person, ‘Is he a good Christian?’ The minister replied, ‘I don’t know; I can’t tell you yet. I haven’t met his wife.’ That was a wise answer.
1. Love Your Wife
This is not a suggestion or recommendation. It is a command, clearly stated in Ephesians 5:25: ‘Husbands, love your wives — ‘To put it simply: If you do not love your wife, you are disobedient to Scripture.
The same verse also tells you the way to love her:’… just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.’ Notice that this is not a taking love but a giving love – a self-giving love. It is the husband who should take the initiative in giving himself to and for his wife.
In biblical times most marriages were arranged. The decision of who was to marry whom was made by the parents. This is still true in many parts of the world today. Yet the fact that a marriage was arranged did not mean there would not be warm, deep love between the husband and wife. In fact, countries that practice marriage by arrangement produce a higher ratio of successful marriages than the so-called ‘free’ West, where the divorce rate sometimes approaches fifty per cent.
Success in marriage does not depend ultimately on how it was entered into, but on how a husband and wife conduct themselves after they are married. If both are faithful to fulfil their respective responsibilities as assigned to them by Scripture, the marriage will be successful and there will be genuine love between them.
Safeguarding your love!
The double failure of Adam and Eve set a pattern that has been repeated in every subsequent generation. The primary, characteristic sin of men is a sin of omission, not of commission. They fail in their responsibility – first to their wives, then to their whole families. The characteristic sin of women is to go beyond the limits of their authority and to usurp the functions of men. (Gen 3:1-13)
Pastors are expected to be examples to their congregations. A Baptist minister who has an affair in addition to the catastrophe that is to the marriage, spouse and children, will lose ministry, housing, children their schools, wife very often her friends …. for between five and seven years. Notice that is not because pastors are expected to simply live some kind of life unattainable by most of mankind! They are examples whilst they “prepare God’s people for works of service”.
So: Five things to safeguard – and for others to respect:
1. Values: Talk about your spouse in positive terms, making it clear that you’re married and intend to stay that way.
2. Time: Don’t have lunch with the same person every day!
3. Words: Make sure that your e-mails and other correspondence are not suggestive, inappropriate, or flirtatious.
4. Looks: Be careful not to make any lingering eye contact.
5. Touch: The only appropriate touch between colleagues of the opposite sex is a handshake.
1 Cor. 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
2. Listen and Learn
Communication failure between husband and wife is probably the most common single factor in the breakdown of a marriage.
The husband should always make room for his wife to speak her mind freely and be sensitive to what she is thinking or feeling, even when she does not express it in words. Her unspoken feelings are often her deepest, and the ones of which her husband needs to be most aware.
A husband also needs to remember that his wife has her own special kind of wisdom, often called ‘intuition.’ He may work out some conclusion by a laborious process of reasoning, but when he communicates this to his wife, he may be surprised when she responds, ‘I knew that all along.’
3. Nourish and Cherish
One word should describe the attitude of every husband toward his wife: ‘special.’ Every husband should say to himself, My wife is special. There’s no one else just like her. For this reason he should relate to her in a way that he relates to no other woman. This does not apply merely to their sexual relationship; it should apply to the way he thinks about her, the way he talks about her, the way he treats her.
In Ephesians 5:28-29: ‘Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.’
The two words ‘nourish’ and ‘cherish’ suggest an attitude of intimate concern that includes attention to what might appear to be small details. A husband should be concerned about his wife’s health, her appearance, the way she does her hair, the perfume she uses. Everything that concerns her should concern him. She should always have the confidence that to her husband she is the most important person in the world.
Let me assure you, husbands: if you sow into your wife in this way, you will reap an abundant harvest!
4. Give Praise
‘Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all."’ (Proverbs 31:28-29)
Some husbands are stingy with their words of praise. That is false economy! They would be surprised to discover how much a wife longs to be praised – and how she responds to it. Giving praise to your wife is one of the best investments you can ever make.
If a man has a faithful, committed wife, there is no way he can ever offer her in money what she is worth. The least a husband can do is offer his wife words of heartfelt praise.
Why not apply this test to yourself as a husband? Perhaps you need to focus less on yourself and more on your wife. Ask yourself – and her as well – the following questions, in order to evaluate how you are doing:
• Is she secure and fulfilled?
• Do I feel proud of her?