Becoming a Provoking Husband:
And let us consider our wives to provoke unto love and to good works, making time to be together and exhorting one another.Hebrews 10: 24
We that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the week, and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
God’s word is wisdom among them that are perfect: Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing.1 Corinthians 2: 6
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5: 14
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: And if in anything ye be otherwise minded: God shall reveal even this unto to you.Philippians 3: 15
All too often people are in a marriage where the other partner makes no pretense of walking with God.
It is easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part. Instead of complaining, the Bible exhorts the husband to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use his example, first to sanctify his children, and then influence his wife.
And the husband which has a wife that believes not, if she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not leave her. For the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.First Corinthian’s 7: 13
From the first sin in the garden, wives have wanted to control their husbands:
“See, I ate from the tree and I feel fine, you try some.”
It used to be that husbands could say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But times have changed, and we often find that our partner is not as interested in spiritual things, or feels she can be fine spiritually without our leadership, or that she is more spiritual and should do the leading.
Does this mean you have to give up leading your family spiritually even though you can’t make your wife change? Can you be the spiritual leader even if she does not want to follow?
Well, God calls us to do our part whether anyone else does theirs or not. But this does not mean demanding the role or shoving our leadership onto her. You can do things that lead towards God and reward her anytime she joins you in focusing on God.
Living This Out
- You can lead your wife to pray together with you.
Husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, [I strongly suggest you don’t you not call her that!] and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.I Peter 3:7
You can deliberately go through life watching for needs, that would touch her heart, as they naturally arise around you. You can then invite her to take a minute and join you in prayer.
Example: “Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?” Even if she just stops and listens with you as you pray, she is still joining you in praying together. Then you can say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”
2. You can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and to older Christian men to seek guidance. Then say something like,
“I ran into the following issue at work, and I have been trying to think through what God would have me do. I think that he would have me________. Do you think that I am understanding that right?”
Even if she just says, “Sounds OK to me.” That is enough. You can then go out and apply the insight and say, “Thanks for letting me bounce ideas off of you, I tried it and it went really well.”
3. Be willing to admit to yourself and your wife,
“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on_________. I know that I am blind to my faults and will miss obvious problems. Besides this, is there some other area you would like me to work on?
“I am already doing the following to help me grow_______. Every Monday after supper, would you take a few minutes and let me know how I am doing? Here is a notebook for you to write in during the week. If you see some examples of where I have been doing better or need to do better, please share them with me.”
If she says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied. Say something like,
“I realize that I have not been open to your feedback in the past. I have even done things to make you uncomfortable when you care enough to give me feedback. I have pointed out your faults or just withdrawn.
“God is convicting me of my need to grow and I promise, with his help, to listen and benefit from your feedback.
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”
If she has the guts to suggest something — anything, thank her and clarify, “Are you seeing the following area I can work on?” (No explaining or defending, see my blog on excuses).
If she risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant but if you accept it and grow from it, she will slowly become God’s best tool for fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.
Then you need to work to benefit from her feedback. The next week, point out what you have done and how you appreciate her supporting your desire to grow.
When she is encouraged and rewarded to start with little steps, it leads to more and more. Soon she will be thinking that getting saved and supporting you in your spiritual journey, might not be such a bad thing after all. Even if she does not change, you will find yourself becoming more and more like Jesus!
A Vital Warning
Do not point out that she could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on her in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you.
Keep your own notebook of any little efforts she is making and point out your appreciation.
God is not into you changing your 50% if she changes her 50%. Nope, he is into 100% you change even if she does not. This is because he sees your changing as 100% a blessing for you. Such 50/50 thinking garbage comes from seeing godly growth as hard and boring and painful rather than glorious.
Of course, you might say to yourself that, “This is just too much work and she is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.” True it’s not fair, but God is not fair:
- he pours out heaps of unfair mercy,
- he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair) you owed the debt you could not pay, and it was unfairly paid.
So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, her “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.