Bitter or Sweet? – Part 5

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Our area is in the midst of a severe drought. There are several wooded hillsides in the area, and as you look at them, you can see trees that are slowly dying. Even in the neighborhoods where Teri and I walk every day, we are observing trees that first turn brown, then lose their leaves, and appear to be dying. What is sad is that the trees in people’s yards don’t have to die. If only the homeowner would turn on a hose under the tree and let it run, he could save the tree with that small amount of preventative effort. How much greater value is a marriage and therefore worthy of effort to sweeten it, making it a testimony of God’s grace?

No matter what the condition of our marriages, how committed are we to improving them? We can become lazy or complacent, not treasuring the precious gift a wife is from the Lord. If you haven’t read the previous four parts of the series, I would encourage you to do that now. This month we look specifically at the topic of ways we are able to make it easier for our wives to respect us. As we discussed last month, a wife is called to follow her husband. The husband is never to demand or command that she follow, but instead her following is an offering to the Lord. However we can make it harder or easier for her to follow us. In a similar way, the wife is to respect or reverence her husband. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Certainly, one small way I can love my wife is to make it easier for her to respect me. So the obvious question is: husbands, how respectable are you?

Have you ever heard about a scandal involving a person in a religious organization or a government position? It becomes the “talk of the town” because all are shocked that someone in such a position would do something like that. I remember when a police officer shared with me how he had arrested a judge for drunk driving. Here was a judge, who would routinely sentence someone convicted of drunk driving, committing the same crime. Those who respected the man and his position would then struggle to show the judge respect. When people in authority make bad decisions, those under them will have difficulty respecting in the future. Dads, are we making it easy for our wives to respect us?

Being able to follow a leader is all about the decisions that leader makes while respecting him with who he is in terms of character and virtue. I want to list a number of character qualities along with a brief description of how each one makes it easier for a wife to respect her husband. There are additional qualities that were defined in the previous Corner on agape love, so I won’t include them here.

Attentive: When my wife is speaking to me do I give her complete or partial attention? Even though I might be able to listen to her and skim an e-mail at the same time, if I give her my complete attention, I demonstrate in a tangible way that she is first in my life next to my Lord Jesus.

Available: I make it easier for my wife to respect me when I’m available to her whether it be to listen to her concerns, help her with something, or simply to be together. If other things take priority over her or the needs of the family, it makes it difficult for her to respect me.

Content: Am I at peace with what the Lord has provided, or am I covetous of something “better”? Often we hear stories of dads who borrow money from the bank to purchase things they really don’t need. Then the family is under huge financial stress, making it very difficult for Mom to respect Dad.

Dependable: When my alarm clock doesn’t alarm, it causes no little disappointment. When Dad has made a commitment, such as the family will have Bible time every night and then that doesn’t happen, Mom can be discouraged. She will likely struggle to respect him as well.

Diligent: For a stay-at-home mom, her children and home are her life. It starts when she gets up and ends when she goes to bed. When Dad is hardworking to fulfill his responsibilities, Mom is encouraged to be diligent with hers as well. In addition, when Dad will come alongside Mom in the evenings to pitch in with work that still needs to be accomplished, she sees that he isn’t lazy or self-focused. That makes it easier for her to respect him.

Enthusiastic: Job said, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). We can expect difficulties in this life. However, if we have a cheerful attitude toward them, taking whatever comes with the strength the Lord Jesus gives us, we are easier to respect.

Faithful: A dad who is faithful to his Lord and his family is easier to respect.

Flexible: One thing we can be sure about life is that something is always going to change. When Dad is willing to adjust his schedule, even when calling for self-sacrifice, to meet an unexpected need in the family, it is easier for Mom to respect him.

Generous: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Whether it be giving of our money or time, it is easier for Mom to respect Dad when Dad is following the Lord’s direction and leading his family in these areas.

Gentle: When Mom observes Dad being gentle with the children or herself, it is easier for her to respect him. However, if Dad is harsh or angry with the children or with her, it crushes her heart and makes it ever so difficult to respect him.

Honest: When Dad’s word is as sure as granite, it is easier for Mom to respect him.

Humble: When Mom can share with Dad her concerns and hurts knowing that Dad will not react but be sympathetic and loving, it makes it easier for her to respect Dad.

Just: Dad is the “Supreme Court” of the home because the children will bring Dad concerns over the fairness of Mom’s decisions at times. How well Dad can rightly (according to God’s Word) support Mom when settling authority challenges will make it easier for Mom to respect him.

Loyal: There will always be someone prettier, more charming, or more compatible than Mom. The more loyal Dad is to Mom, the easier it is for her to respect him.

Obedient: A dad who openly delights to obey his Lord Jesus, makes it much easier for Mom to respect and follow Dad.

Patient: When Dad patiently waits for Mom or listens attentively when she needs to share her heart, it makes it easier for her to respect him.

Punctual: A dad who understands that punctuality is a matter of honor and respect for those to whom the time commitment was made makes it easier for Mom to respect him.

Responsible: When Dad understands and follows through with his obligations, whether he committed to them or they are perceived by others, it is easier for Mom to respect him.

Temperate/self-control: A dad who uses his authority for his own indulgences will have little respect from those in the home. “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). In a day when self-control means stopping after eating twelve donuts, it is easier for Mom to respect Dad when he is a man of true self-control.

Yes, a wife is instructed to respect her husband and the husband is commanded to love his wife, yet both can make it easier for the other by right words, actions, and attitudes. May we be men of our God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will be easy for our wives to respect.