Becoming a Provoking Wife
And let us consider our husband to provoke unto love and to good works, making sure we spend time together and exorting 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 on 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 can be easy to complain of how hard it is to be godly when our partner is not doing their part. Instead, the Bible exhorts the wife to stay in the marriage and live in such a way that God can use her example, first to sanctify the children, and then influence the husband.
The woman which has husband that believes not, if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. 1 Corinthians 7: 13
Men, from their first sin in the garden, either say:
“Sure, dear, I’ll eat the fruit.” / Or they say, “You don’t tell me what to do, I tell you what to do!”
Calm spiritual leadership is not a natural bent for men; they are terrified of taking their proper role and need help beyond themselves to see what it looks like and to grab ahold of it.
But does a wife have to accept the fact that her husband will not naturally be a spiritual leader?
Well, God calls us to do our part whether the other does theirs or not. However, she can do things that lead toward and reward him whenever he takes his God-given role. She can increase his likelihood of taking his role and even his likelihood of getting saved.
For example, a wife can lead her husband to pray more by first watching for needs as they naturally arise around them. She can then invite him to take a minute and join her in prayer.
“Dear, my boss just found out his daughter has cancer, could we take a minute and pray for her?”
Even if she has to do the actual praying, he is still joining her in praying together. She can then say, “Thank you for supporting me in prayer.”
When a man is thanked for doing almost nothing, his brain will perk up and say to him, Maybe I should invest more time and energy into that area.
A wife can watch for life questions and take them to the Bible and older Christian women to seek guidance. She then, having done most of the work, can go to her husband and say, perhaps,
“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 he just says, “Sounds OK to me,” that is enough. She can then go out and apply the guidance, return to him, and say, “Thanks for your advice! I tried it and it went really well.”
Despite the glaring issues she can see in him, a wise wife will admit to herself and her husband,
“I want to grow into a better person, and I have identified the following areas that I need to work on __________. I am 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 that with me.
“I know that I am blind to my faults, besides the areas I have identified, is there some other area you would like me to work on?“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?”
If he says, “O you are fine the way you are.” Don’t walk away satisfied, but say,
“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.”
“I am already doing the following things ________ and getting the following accountability from my friends ________.”
“If you would forgive me and take the risk to help me grow, I would be so grateful.”
If a husband has the guts to suggest something, anything, thank him and clarify, “Is there anything else I can work on?” Then work on it and the next week point out what you have done and how you appreciate him supporting your desire to grow.
Do not point out that he could do some growing too! Leave that to the Holy Spirit who is free to work on your husband in the same areas you are letting the Spirit work on you. Instead, keep your own notebook of any little efforts your husband is making and point out your appreciation.
If he risks pointing out something, it will probably be something small and unimportant, but if you accept it and grow from it, he might slowly become God’s best tool into fashioning you into the likeness of Christ.
The Christian Life Isn’t Fair
Of course, you might say, “this is just too much work and he is doing almost nothing, it’s not fair.”
True, God is not fair, he pours out heaps of unfair mercy on us, he paid the debt he did not owe (how unfair), you owed the debt you could not pay. So, anything God asks is fair, fair, fair. Also, “almost nothing” is a whole lot better than nothing.
Starting with a little can lead to more and more.
Soon the husband could be thinking that getting saved and being a spiritual leader might not be such a bad thing after all.
So many men fear that getting saved would require them to submit to the wife who is “more spiritual.” Now he would just have to submit to God himself, which is a little easier for a man to do. And he can see how submitting to God would give him the back-up he needs to fill the new role his wife is easing him into.