“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22-33). Those who do not understand the Bible or its context often criticize Christianity for being male-centered, old-fashioned, and (at least in the eyes of some) anti-woman. Women do not participate in the worship; we say that the husband is the head of the wife; women are not allowed to be overseers of the church; many Christian women leave lucrative job opportunities behind to raise children and tend to the home. All of this comes as a shock to those who have been raised in a more liberal environment. To feminists, Christianity seems to mock and despise women, relegating them to second-class citizen status. But nothing is further from the truth, dear friends! There is no place in the Bible that asks men to abuse their wives, ignore their needs, or discourage them. In fact, the opposite is true. A man needs to cherish his wife, as if she was a part of his own body (Ephesians 5:29). Women are to be held in honor in the household (Proverbs 31). They are supposed to be captains of the home, and held in high regard for their work and service. So what are the most practical ways of appreciating the women in our lives, especially our spouses?
The Woman of Your Youth
The more that happens in life, the more we come to appreciate and understand the Bible. As the days pass by, so many things change and so many people come and go, hopefully leaving us a little wiser and more mature than before. Recently, a verse in the Bible has become more significant to me than ever before, leaving me awe struck at the wisdom of God and His everlasting, unchanging, perpetually applicable Word! “Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life, and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). What a glorious thing it is to fall in love with the woman of one’s dreams and finally realize how true the inspired writer is in his assertion that life is a grand affair when it is tempered by the calming, unselfish love of God’s final creation.
It is interesting that King Solomon would write such a statement, however, considering he had 700 wives! Perhaps it was in such a colossal multiplicity of wives that he realized the veracity of this verse. Truly, It is better to have one wife who you love, and who shares all the ups and downs of your life, than to have 700 wives and be miserable – it would be hard to remember the names of all of those women, let alone gain any deep, spiritual marriage bond with any one of them! It is an undeniable truth that Adam and Eve had all they needed in each other, otherwise God would not have looked on His creation with such adoration and concluded that it was all very good (Genesis 1:31).
While not everybody finds their mate at the same time in life, and even others are confronted with the realities of illness and mortality, the lesson for us is that as long as we have the woman whom we love, it is our duty to love her all of our days together. What a shame it is to see people – who had love at one point – waste their living days in a marriage fraught with arguments and bitterness. Rather than spend their days in the joy of marriage, they throw away time with the evils of disunity and disdain. “Therefore, be careful how you walk… making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). God condemns the man who would fritter away his marriage with evil, stating in Malachi 2:14, “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.” Our wives (or fiancées in my case) deserve better than treachery, and it is reprehensible when men do not appreciate, love, cherish, and enjoy every moment with their companions.
The preacher of Ecclesiastes understands how important a worthy wife is to her husband, which is why his exhortation Ecclesiastes 9:9 is so clear. The effects of a bad wife (Proverbs 21:9, 27:15) are contrasted starkly by the benefits of a good wife (Proverbs 18:22, 19:14, 31:10-31), intimating that if we want our wives to be worthy then we must be willing to treat them as such. Amazingly, people around us will often reach the kind of potential we expect from them – if we expect very little and treat our wives with disrespect, it should not surprise us when they offer very little; but if we expect great things from them, and give them the treatment that the matron of a household deserves, they will rise to the occasion and make life so much more joyful than we could have ever imagined.
Finally, notice the way the preacher qualifies his statement by saying “all the days of your fleeting life.” It is possible to be in love with someone every single day, regardless of the conditions surrounding us. In sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, a husband and a wife have the ability to love each other always. Every day can be made more joyful by a home filled with love, honor, dignity, and Christ-like unselfishness (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Recognize and Value Your Mate’s Opinions
She will always see things from a different perspective than you, so keep this in mind when making decisions for the family. Do not be hasty when it comes to putting your foot down and pulling a “man of the house” bit. “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19).
· Respect her opinions on matters of the home. She spends more time there than you do, so she know what works and what does not.
· Even in home repair, there are times when women have a lot of men beaten!
· When it comes to disciplining the children, listen to your wife. Sometimes men allow tempers to rule the level of discipline (especially physical discipline), and she may be able to tell you when you have gone too far. Often, when we step back and look at what we have done, in hindsight we took it a step in the wrong direction.
· Do not be too quick to write off her opinions on buying a car (especially if it one she will be driving all the time), style and color of furniture (most men are color blind, anyway), and arrangement of possessions in the home.
For She Has Done A Good Deed…
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it upon His head as He reclined at the table” (Matthew 26:6-7). This act would have been considered truly reverent to people with a proper heart. Indeed, the woman does not seem to have an ulterior motive behind her deed, but simply desires to honor Christ in the best way she can. If this was a very expensive bottle of perfuming agent, then it would have been quite a financial sacrifice to pour the entire bottle upon one man’s head. It is for this reason the disciples chide her, saying, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor” (26:8-9). To the world this was an appropriate response to the situation. Somebody without a mind for spiritual matters would not have seen the reverence for Christ, the honor bestowed on Him, or the deep sense of humility embodied in the woman. All the disciples saw was a waste of good perfume! In fact, should we take the verse at face value, it seems that the disciples may have even been a little jealous of the piety of this woman – they had followed Jesus for years, forsaking everything they had, and yet Jesus allows this strange woman to adorn Him with perfume, accepting her honor as if she had been a disciple all her life! Consider this: the disciples viewed the deed as a “waste.” How do we view the service of other people? Do we ever become indignant when we learn that somebody else at church puts more in the collection plate on Sunday than we do? Do we become jealous when another Christian is always praying, and yet we shirk our prayers? Do we become annoyed with people who we consider too “preachy”? The disciples mocked the worship of this woman because they thought she was going overboard. But is it possible to sacrifice too much for Christ? Is it possible to reach a point where our worship is just a waste? How shameful it is that so many people feel like they do not owe Christ everything they have, and get indignant over a bottle of perfume!
“But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me’” (26:10). Is there ever a time that our Lord is unaware of the attitudes and thoughts in our hearts? Never, and it is for this reason that Jesus saw right through their words and into the rotten motives within them. When there are people around us who are getting involved with serving the Lord – in teaching Bible studies, volunteering to help out at church, perfecting their skills at leading songs, etc. – let us never act like these disciples. In the end, it is a disservice to everybody when we try to stop others from doing good deeds in the name of Christ.
“For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have Me” (26:11). This is the reasoning behind Jesus’ decision not to interfere with the woman’s activities. As this is an oft-misunderstood verse, let us consider the point that our Lord is trying to make. At that time, the problem of poverty was rampant and overwhelming. It was pervasive and would continue to be a problem in the world – even to this day poverty strikes many countries. But the life of Jesus was short limited. What Jesus is trying to tell His disciples is that there will always be an opportunity to help the poor, as we ought to! But the opportunity to give honor to Jesus Christ in person would only last so long. For just a few short years, people could speak to Jesus, listen to Him, touch Him, be healed by Him, and give Him gifts. The difference between the woman and the disciples in this text is that the woman has he mind focused on Christ, and not on things of this world.
“For when she poured this perfume upon My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial” (26:12). Again, Jesus makes it clear that He would be dying very soon. Soon enough, in fact, that it was not unreasonable for this woman to begin anointing Him with preparatory perfumes. The manner with which the Jews took care of dead bodies involved many acts of preparation before burial. Among these acts would be anointing the body with spices and oils meant for preservation.
“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her” (26:13). And thus it has come true. How many people in the history of this world have their names in the Bible? Relatively speaking, only a miniscule number of people ever got to be mentioned in the Word of God, so what an honor it is for this unnamed woman to have such glory laid upon her by our Lord.
Do Not Be Quick To Judge
· If you come home and find that the house is not exactly the way you expected it would be, do not be too hasty to judge the situation. If your wife has been wrangling multiple children all day long, perhaps you could look at it this way: the house could be a lot worse!
· Be careful not to criticize your wife’s cooking. It is amazing how sensitive this matter can be to women, especially if they are trying a new recipe or attempting to replicate one of their mother’s favorite recipes. In most cases, the food is not poisonous and it will not kill you to eat something you find distasteful.
· Be sensitive to your wife’s emotional roller coaster. We all know what happens during particular times in a woman’s life, so do not get cranky just because she is, do not get mad just because she is, do not hate the world just because she might. Instead, be consistent and loving, and do not be judgmental. Be understanding and know that there are some emotions that are hard to control. “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” (1 Peter 3:7).