The Heartbeat of the Remnant, February 1999
by Kary Martin
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh ashemed is as rottenness to his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4).
What comes to your mind when you think of a crown? Something hiding in the closet collecting dust? Hardly. We immediately picture something glorious; something very beautiful to behold. Almost unconsciously we envision the honor, dignity, and power which a crown represents. Try to imagine a crown of pure gold, inset with thousands of diamonds and hundreds of pearls. Wouldn’t it be beautiful? Now think of a woman who is ‘made of pure gold.’ Her heart is set on following Jesus. Her motives, actions, and words are pure before God. She has hundreds of little attributes that make her shine. Doesn’t this sound just as beautiful? Doesn’t it sound like an outstanding woman? Does it sound at all like your husband’s wife?
Now what comes to mind as you consider rottenness in the bones? My mind immediately went to my husband’s uncle who died of bone cancer. The cancer started in his leg bones and was slowly ‘eating’ away at them. No one could actually see it happening, but watching the symptoms, no one doubted that it was true. One day the bones became too weak to support the rest of his body’s weight and the bones broke. With the condition his body was in, the bones could no longer repair themselves, as a normal, healthy body does. What a likeness for the husband-wfie relationship! I believe if we could see behind many scenes, we would see this happening over and over again. There are many, many wives who are ‘eating away’ at their husbands and finally one day the husband is so weak that he ‘breaks.’ Thhe damage that is done is irreparable outside of Jesus Christ.
Are you a shining crown to your husband, or are you a rottenness that is slowly eating away at his very life? The Bible doesn’t give any middle ground. Now we are going to dig into a few of the ways that you are either honoring your husband or destroying him.
The Heart of Her Husband Doth Safely Trust in Her
We all want to be trusted, especially by those closest to us, and just now we will focus on our husbands. Trust is at the very heart of a marriage relationship. Our love and affections are built on how much we trust each other. A wise person does not naively bestow his trust on just anyone. If your husband does not trust you, don’t blame him; it is most likely your own fault. You have, in one way or another, given him reasons to believe that you are not trustworthy.
As I was meditating on this, the Lord gave me a very profound, yet simple thought: “How much your husband trusts you is a good gauge of how submissive you are to him.” Selah. (Stop and think about that for a little!) If your husband can count on you, and knows that you will subjit to him “as unto the Lord,” I guearantee that “his heart will safely trust in you.”
Now, what is submission? A close look at it would say that it is an attitude, not simply an action. Submission knows what her husband’s heart is and uses it as her guide. Submission will never try to see what she can get away with or how far she can stretch the limits. That is not submission at all; that is rebellion! Submission also allows her husband to make mistakes and never comes back with “Didn’t I tell you?”. Submission at times may need to say, “I don’t understand and I think we ought to do this instead, but if you choose to go ahead anyhow, I will be cheerfully by your side helping you.”
I recently observed a woman ask her husband his opinion on something. His opinion did not correspond with the way she was leaning, so she fussed and stewed about it until she finally made up her mind which way to do this certain thing. The whole scene didn’t last more than 10 minutes; it was not an important issue, but it told me something about their relationship and who has the last word in their home.
Your husband knows whether or not you are submissive. He knows how highly you value his opinions and whether nor not you will follow his heart’s wishes if it conflicts with yours. Stop and consider for a few moments – are there certain areas that your husband cannot trust you in? Do you give him good reason to worry about what you might do? Is his heart at rest while you are out shopping, equipped with the checkbook and credit cards? Does he wish you wouldn’t spend so much of his hard-earned money? Does his heart safely trust you while he is off at work and you are home with the children? Are you training them in the way his heart desires or does he groan to think of all the ‘catch-up’ work he’ll have to do again tonight? Can your husband safely trust you with confidential information or is he reserved for fear that the whole town will know it by the end of the week?
There are many little areas that either build up or tear down his trust in you. You are daily showing, in the little things, whether or not you are working to please your husband. Thinks like the food you fix for him, the way you treat his personal items, the remakes you make to your children, if you say his name with a groan and a sigh, or the looks you give him that he never sees.
Work hard to please your husband; the results are sweet: “His heart will safely trust in you!”
And Let the Wife See That She Reverence Her Husband
Let me repeat that verse again as the Amplified Version gives it:
“And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband (that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, loves and admires him exceedingly).” (Ephesians 5:33).
And also 1 Peter 3:2 “… your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer, to revere him – to honor, esteem, prize, and in the human sense, adore him, that is to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].”
Wow! What a big order! But what husband wouldn’t shine if he was treated that way?! To sum it all up briefly we could say, “Make your husband feel like the most worthwhile, most important person in the world!”
How do you treat something that you esteem, prize, honor, prefer, etc? Watch your children, they will show you. If they ‘prize’ their bicycle, will they leave it lying in the middle of the driveway? If they ‘prefer’ that piece of candy, will you find it smashed on the floor somewhere? Just how do you take care of your husband? Some women can do the right things, but since it was not done in a heart of love, their time and efforts were wasted. You are constantly sending signals to him about how highly you esteem him. If in your heart you do not highly regard your husband, he will know it and so will your children. If you treat him as though he is a detriment to your family’s spiritual progress, you are tearing down any desire he has to make any progress at all.
Did you notice that there are no ‘if’s’ included in the above verses? You are not supposed to wait until your husband becomes Mr. Perfect to reverence him, you are to praise, love and admire him whether he deserves it or not. That is what God requires and expects of you.
Now let us think a bit about the opposite of reverence. She is known in the Bible as a contentious woman. The meaning of contentious is this: “an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes.” Synonyms to the root word, contention, are rivalry, competition, and discord.
Howe does a woman like this effect her home? Many men hate all the fighting and allow their wife to ‘grab the reins’ hand have her own way. Then the wife wonders why she has a weak-kneed husband who stays aloof from the affairs of the home. She lays the blame on him and little suspects that she herself is at the very root of the problem.
Here is what God’s Word says about a contentious woman: (from the Amplified Bible) “… The contentions of a wife are like a continual dripping [of water through a chink in the roof].” (Proverbs 19:13b).
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome and faultfinding woman.” (Proverbs 21:9).
“Whoever attempts to restrain [a contentious woman] might as well try to stop the wind – his right hand encounters oil [and she slips through his fingers].” (Proverbs 27:16).
Have you ever observed a contentious woman? Do you know she can dress in modest clothes? She can go to church, put on a smile and act like a wonderful person. A peek behind this nice mask would show you quite another person.
Sit back and observe yourself for awhile. How do you act and react to those around you – your husband in particular? If you were another person, would you like to live with some one just like you? (Maybe you can sympathize a bit with your husband!) By God’s grace, the testimony of your life can be that of Proverbs 31:12 “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
She Girdeth Herself With Strength
Strength? I thought that is a masculine trait! Does my husband care if I’m strong or not?! Well, maybe not in muscle power, but I’m sure he wants an emotionally and spiritually strong wife. A weak wife, in that aspect, is a drain to any man!
Here are a few characteristics of an emotionally weak person: First and foremost, she is a very self-centered person. This is the root of most of her other problems. Her life rotates around “me and my feelings”. She is very moody, easily discouraged, and her life shows a lack of consistent joy. When a challenge comes her way, she is full of fear and doubt, rather than take the challenge and allow it to mature her. It is very hard for an emotionally weak person to accept criticism or advice that goes against her will without becoming personally wounded.
An emotionally weak mother is tearing down her home faster than dad can build it. He’s trying to lead the family in ways of holiness. He’s trying to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but mom’s tender feelings are working hard against him. After a spanking, the child knows mom will have a pity-party with him. If dad won’t let him have his way, he knows mom will. (It won’t take long until he’s smart enough to ask her first!) A weak mother tries to sweet-talk or manipulate her children into obeying, rater than applying the ‘rod of correction.’
I recently heard a story of a woman who was praying for her son who had become careless and indifferent. Of specific concerns to his mother were his driving habits. This praying mother began entreating God for her son to have a wreck with his car. God arranged circumstances to answer her prayers. One day her son was involved in a bad accident. No one was killed, but it was enough to turn the boy’s heart towards God.
Wow! What a strong woman! Her goals were set on eternity. She was not overly concerned about the monetary value of the car. She knew it would be painful to her, seeing her son badly hurt. Perhaps it would mean several weeks in the hospital – and that would have had a big effect on her, too. But she managed to look past the earthly, temporal things and desired for her son to be saved at any cost!
Are you an emotionally weak person? The next prediction is that you are also spiritually weak. It is nearly impossible to be emotionally weak and spiritually strong. There is a vast difference between a spiritual baby and a spiritual weakling. A baby simply has not had time to mature yet; a weakling is refusing the maturing process. They find it much easier to be spoon-fed than to go find their own food. They love the attention of sitting down with the preacher and mulling over their problems. They are continually struggling with the same basic problems, although they come with a new face on now and then.
Have you ever considered what Proverbs 31:18 could mean when it says, “her candle goeth not out by night?” Here’s how the Amplified Version says it: “Her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].” Doesn’t that sound like a strong woman? Someone you can count on ‘through thick and thin.’
A weak person reminds me of the story of Peter in Matthew 14. Yes, you have bravely gotten out of the boat and started towards Jesus. Or in today’s terms, you may have left behind everything that was once dear to you to follow Christ’s call to “Come”. It was a very brave, strong and courageous thing to do. But as time goes on, somehow, just like Peter, you have taken your eyes off of Christ. You are now focusing on the wave and turbulence around you. You may not even realize it, but you are sinking, just as surely as Peter was. You need to, as Peter did, get your eyes back on Jesus and cry out, “Lord, save me!” You need to recognize this ‘weakness’ as sin. There is a master deceiver behind all these ‘waves’ and his only inent is to get your eyes off of Jesus , for then surely one day you will become his prey.
Who Serves Who?
“But for Adam there was not an help meet found for him.” (Genesis 2:20)
After Adam realized he was not complete alone, God made Eve. When God made the woman, he made her for the man. She was to be a helper who was suitable and complimentary (meet) for him. This was God’s original plan and He hasn’t altered it in the several thousand years that have elapsed since then.
Dear sister, this is your first and highest calling – to be a complimentary counterpart for your husband. Yes, I know God also wants you to bear children and guide the house (1 Timothy 5:14), but how can you do these effectively if the very foundation is not solid? If your husband’s personal life is not bettered because of you, one of the basic stones in the foundation of your home is missing. Notice I said, ‘personal life’; I mean something more than washing clothes and cooking food. I am referring to his own personal character qualities.
There are women around, and you may be one of them, who seem to have God’s idea all turned around. They seem to think their husband is there to make life easier for them. They treat him like he is their servant boy. There are things which they are perfectly capable of doing themselves, but they whine and beg for their husband’s help. He was not made to serve you – you were made for him! ONe of the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman is that ‘she worketh willingly with her hands”. It doesn’t say anything about whether she enjoys the job or not, or whether the job is easy or difficult, or whether she is well rested or tired. It simply says she works willingly.
There are things that we need our husband’s help with and these things can be presented to him in a sweet and submissive manner. Pick your time and place carefully. Unless the need is urgent, wait for a time when he is not pressured with other things (his job, church work, etc.) and also wait for a time when he is not overly tired or hungry. Eccl. 8:5 says, “A wise man’s mind will know both when and waht to do.” (Amplified Version). Women, be wise!
Do you wish your husband would help out a bit more around the house? Consider several things. First of all, who feels like helping a whining, nagging wife?! Of course she does it in a bit more of a grown-up way than a 4-year old does, but it is just as wearisome and disgusting. If your husband’s wife does this, by the grace of God, make her stop it right away. Your husband is to be the leader of the home and it is not your place to manipulate him into doing things. If he chooses not to help you at all, you need to silently, sweetly submit to this and get along the best you can.
The second thing to consider is that your husband probably has just as much or more pressure at his job than you do around the house. Perhaps it would open your eyes a bit if you’d spend a day with him at work. Then you could see first hand how hard he works and how much stress he is under. When he gets home he wants to relax and enjoy the family – not simply change bosses for a few hours.
The third thing I have for you to consider, figure out how your husband shows you love. Just because so-and-so’s husband washes dishes for her at least once a week does not make their marriage any better or worse than yours. There’s a good chance your husband does other things for you and you just aren’t appreciating them. Perhaps he gives you back rubs frequently. Maybe he puts the children to bed every night and lets you enjoy a bit of time to yourself. There are hundreds of possibilities. Stop wishing he’d do certain things for you and start appreciating the things he is already doing!
If you were not raised in a Christian setting, what I have written may be hard for you to digest. The world is so geared to trying to ‘equalize’ everything; they know nothing about the joys of servanthood. Women selfishly pursue what they think will make them the happiest. In the process, men are being torn down and women are still lacking the satisfaction they long for. God did not make women inferior to men, just different from them. He wants to give them a special place of protection – under man! We find peace, joy fulfillment and satisfaction only as we live out our God-ordained roles. If you choose to take the world’s path, you will doubtlessly live with their results: fighting, bickering, broken marriages, wrecked homes and juvenile delinquents.
The Only Hope of Winning an Unbelieving Husband
If you are the wife of an unbeliever, 1 Peter 3 was written for you. Read it carefully. According to this chapter, God wants to use you to reach your husband. Your life needs to represent the power of a living Christ. Your husband needs to feel respect from you, he needs to see that you are sweetly submitting to him. He needs to sense that you are teaching the children to respect and obey him. As he observes your Godly life, this will speak volumes to him about Jesus. There may be times you absolutely must go against your husband’s wishes, simply because you need to obey your higher authority, which is God. This can be done in a submissive spirit and not a rebellious, “I know-better-than-you” attitude. Never use obeying God as a religious cover-up for things in which you just do not feel like obeying your husband.
If you have your own ideas about how to change your husband, you may as well forget them. They won’t work; they will only make him bitter. Only God’s methods can bring about a genuine change in him. There are two things you can do for him. Only two: 1. Give him a sweet and Godly (God-like) wife. 2. Pray and fast for him. Here is the source of all power. And remember this one thing: God has higher aspirations for your husband than you do.
If your husband is a believer, but a very weak one, these things are for you, too. These are the only ways of strengthening your husband. No amount of pleading or condemning will change him. At best, they could bring about a reform for awhile, but unless God works the changes in his heart, they are bound to fail.
A Few Closing Thoughts
Although this article is far from being all-inclusive, I trust it has stimulated your thinking enough to examine what kind of effect you are having on your husband. I encourage you to study the personality of the Proverbs 31 woman. If you find you are not measuring up, do not simply determine to do better. Don’t make out a list of things and resolve to do them. If the mirror (the Bible) has shown that your face is dirty, determining to stay out of the mud is not good enough. You need to start by hating the mud and then allowing yourself to get a good wash job.
This chapter, Proverbs 31, is so wonderful in that it not only sets for the ideal, but it gives us the secret of how to accomplish it! Today’s business world hurriedly puts a patent on any good ideas os that no one else can copy them, but our gracious Heavenly Father discloses His secrets to all who search for them. The secret lies in verse 30: “A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Why praised? Because she has been this virtuous woman. And how has she accomplished it? By fearing the Lord!
On the other hand, if you are not that crown to your husband, by default you are a rottenness to his bones. It only takes one rotten apple to eventually spoil the whole basketful. No, it won’t happen in a day or a week, but it is a steady, sure process. You are working against God, your husband and yourself, not to mention the effects it iwll have on your children. The Bible states this simply as “Blaspheming the Word of God.” (Titus 2:5)
If you want to be that virtuous woman, that woman who is a crown of honor to her husband, the whole matter lies in learning to know your Lord Jesus. Others may be able to do a fairly good job, but this virtuous woman “excellest them all”! (Proverbs 31:29).
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power at worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20) May He receive all the glory forever!