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TEXT: Ephesians 5:33b
SUBJECT: Family Life #13: Respect Your Husband
Today, with the Lord's blessing, we'll continue our study of Family Life. Although every Word of God is useful to everyone, I hope you wives will listen with special care. The duty is one you know perfectly well, but are apt to forget. And sometimes, to justify. Here it is: Respect your husband.
The verse doesn't need much expounding, does it? It says "Let the wife see that she respects her husband".
This is not an option to be explored or an arrangement to be discussed. It is a commandment to be obeyed. Who gives the order? Not Paul the private man with his own personal likes and dislikes, but "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ". Thus, it is the Lord Himself who issues the command. "Wife, respect your husband".
What wife does He have in mind? Every wife, it seems to me. And, at least every believing wife. Even if you're very smart and strong-willed. Jesus Christ says to you, "Wife, respect your husband".
What husband deserves the respect of his wife? Let's face facts: Not every husband commands the respect of his wife. Some men are weak and lazy; others are downright wicked. They haven't earned the respect of their wives! Yet the Word remains, "Wife, respect your husband".
On this point, Douglas Wilson has an interesting comment.
"Respect is to be rendered to husbands because God has required it, and not because any husband has earned it. It is good to remember that God requires wives to render more than their husbands deserve".
Is he right? He is, for the Bible says so. I Peter 3:1 could not be clearer,
"Wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the Word, they without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives".
Peter assumes that some believing wives are married to unsaved husbands. They're not good men; they don't provide spiritual leadership. Yet wives are to "be submissive" to them. And this is to be "Accompanied by fear" which is the very word Paul uses and our Bibles translate "respect" (or, "reverence").
In summary: God wants you to submit to your husband.
What does it mean to "respect" your husband? It means to recognize his authority over you. In short, it means to live as though "The husband is the head of the wife".
We must be careful here. To acknowledge the husband's priority in the home is not an abstract thing! It is not "the generic husband is the head of the generic wife". It is "My husband is the head of me".
That's what it means to respect your husband. It is to recognize his leadership.
If that's what respect it, then it's the opposite of some other things, such as:
1.Fighting him for the leadership of the family.
2.Granting it to him in word while ignoring it in practice.
3.Showing outward respect, while resenting it on the inside.
4.Seeking your leadership elsewhere--a parent, a friend, a pastor, or someone else you think more highly of than your husband.
5.Speaking evil of him to friends.
6.Especially, by undermining him with the kids.
Why should you respect your husband?
It's not because he is stronger, smarter, or holier than you are. Many wives are very superior to their husbands. My wife, for example, is. But, of course, that is irrelevant.
Every wife should respect her husband because "the husband is the head of the wife". It doesn't say, "he ought to be" , but "he is". How did he obtain that place of authority? God gave it to him! Paul puts it this way,
"I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man...for Adam was formed first, then Eve" (I Timothy 2:12-13).
[The context--I know--is different, but the principle is the same, cf. Genesis 2:21,3:16; I Corinthians 11:8-9; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:6].
In short, God made and calls husbands to lead. He made and calls wives to follow. When the roles are ignored or reversed, nothing can follow but sin and misery.
Thus, respecting your husband is more than a family matter. It is a matter of religion. Respecting your husband (with all his shortcomings) is a way of honoring God and His will for human life "under the sun". One day, your husband won't be your husband any more. But as long as he is, "Wife, respect your husband".
HOW TO SHOW RESPECT
In most societies, this is an obvious one. There's an etiquette for showing respect. Everyone knows it. And most people observe it. But, in the US, most people lack these formalities. So, let me give you some general ideas for showing respect for your husband.
1.Pay attention to body language. There's a way of looking at a person that implies contempt or defiance. The look is hard to describe, but we all know it in others. Now, look for it in yourself. Do you roll your eyes when your husband's talking? Do the corners of your mouth turn up? And so on. This is in the Bible, Proverbs 30:17,
"The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out and the young eagles shall eat it".
2.Listen to how you say it--as well as what you say. There is a way of saying, "Yes, Honey" that means "No way, Buster!" We call it sarcasm. Good words that connote bad things.
3.Give your husband the benefit of the doubt. Assume he knows best. In other words, say "yes" unless there's a strong reason to ask "why".
4.When you have to question him or even disregard what he says, do it without defying him. There's more than one way to say No. Choose the humblest way.
5.Never ever overrule him in front of the children!
These are some ways for the wife to show respect for her husband.
Let me close the sermon with some special words of advice.
Firstly, to the wives. It is not "Hearers of the Law who are just before God, but doers of the Law". If you don't respect your husband, confess your sin to the Lord, apologize to your husband, and through prayer, study, and self-denial, start respecting your husband. Don't wait. Do it right now.
Secondly, to husbands. Brothers, it is not easy for any wife to respect her husband. Especially in our society where she has few role-models and very little support. And where deferring to a husband is criticized and ridiculed. Don't make it any harder on her than it has to be! Live in a way to earn the respect of your wife. Take the leadership of the family; be consistent; be thoughtful; be loving.
Thirdly, to unmarried women and girls. Look for the sort of man you can respect. God commands you to respect your husband--whatever his character. But why make it hard on yourselves? Look for a man who fears God and who takes responsibility.
Fourthly, to men who aren't married and boys. If you want a happy marriage, you must have your wife's respect. Her love and affection won't be enough! If she despises you, it will eat away at your soul. You can't force her to respect you, but you can become the kind of man a good woman would respect. The time to start becoming that man is...right now.
May God make every wife here "respect her husband" and make every man worthy of it. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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