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TEXT: Ephesians 6:33, I Peter 3:6
SUBJECT: Family Life #30: Vive L'Difference
Of all the stupid things people say, I can't think of any more stupid than this one: Men and women are the same. Now, of course, people know we're not the same physically. But what they mean is that there's no difference between men and women on the inside-that mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, men and women are the same.
If a man says otherwise, he's accused of sexism and suspected of hating all women and beating his wife at home.
Now all this, of course, is nonsense! If you watch kids, you'll see that boys gravitate toward some things and girls toward other things. People on the other side always point out the exceptions-the boy who plays with dolls and the girl who stars on the football team. The exceptions, though, are so rare that they tend to prove the rule they're cited to disprove. Of course boys and girls are different.
And so are men and women. Anyone who is married knows that. Different doesn't mean better or worse; it means not the same. God didn't make us the same. And, instead of denying the obvious or gnashing our teeth about it, we ought to celebrate it! I'm not very fond of the French, but one thing they got right. When it comes to men and women,
Because men and women are different, they often have a hard time communicating. Especially in marriage. A husband will say this, a wife will say that, but instead of talking to each other, they're talking past each other. Before long,
The wife is at the pastor's telling him, "My husband doesn't understand me".
And the husband is grumbling to the guys at work, "My wife just doesn't get it".
If couples want to live in a way that pleases the Lord and is good for them, they've got to work on communication. Not yelling and nagging; not scolding and scorning; not lecturing and browbeating, but communicating.
Did you ever notice what the root word is in communication? It's communion or fellowship. God made husbands and wives for an exclusive and lifelong fellowship. Not just living under the same roof or even sleeping in the same bed. But living together in a way that looks like the fellowship Jesus Christ has with His Church.
The old prayer book got it right. "Matrimony, it says, is
"Ordained for the mutual society, help, and
comfort that one ought to have of another".
To help you to understand your spouse better, let me name one thing each partner wants, and has probably told you about a million times, but maybe you've haven't heard.
What does a wife want from her husband? What does a husband want from his wife? Many things, of course, but I'll name the two I think are most important-and most often.missed.
A WIFE WANTS SECURITYA wife wants security. This is implied in I Peter 3:6. Peter wrote to believing Jews. In that culture, no female name was more highly regarded than Sarah. If Abraham is the father of Israel, then Sarah is the mother. Reading her life in the Old Testament, you know she wasn't perfect, but she was an obedient and patient wife. Peter says to the wives who read his letter, you'll be worthy of Sarah if,
"You do good and are not
afraid with any terror".
The first part speaks for itself-"Doing good". But it's the other part I want you to notice-"Not afraid". From the verse (and common sense), it's fair to say that one big problem women have is fear, worry, or anxiety. In other words, they're often insecure.
We men need to know this. And do something about it.
Your wife may be insecure about her appearance.
And why not? Our culture prizes nothing more in a woman than youth, beauty, and thinness. Look at the magazine covers and you will see stunning models, six feet tall, and weighing 107 pounds!
Your wife cannot match that! No matter how much she diets; no matter how often she goes to the health club, she'll never be as thin or beautiful or young as the models she sees all over the place-and sees you looking at too!
To show you men how bad it is for your wives, here's an anecdote. I read an interview in a magazine one time. A super-model was asked what she thought of Marilyn Monroe. She said-and this is a quote-
"If I were as fat as she was,
I'd kill myself!"
Very few women can match Marilyn Monroe for looks, but today, looking like her is cause for suicide!
This is not right! But, right or not, it's still true. And your wife is affected by it. No matter how pretty she is, she's no doubt insecure about something-her hair, her skin, her weight, or something else.
A husband can do something about this. You can compliment your wife's appearance. And you can do that without lying! You can also notice when she's made the effort to look good. You can also look at her the way you used to (and not with that sighing look you now have for her). But, most of all, you can keep your dirty eyes off other women and never compare her to them.
Your wife may be insecure about money.
I know a woman whose husband has always made a good living. They're not rich, but they have everything they need, and a lot more. But she remains very anxious about their money. She's not covetous or miserly at all, but-for no good reason, it seems to me-she scared to death of.starving!
Most women are not this extreme, of course, but most are very concerned about not paying the bills or losing what they have.
Can husbands do anything to relieve these worries? Yes we can.
In the first place, we can work better. Many jobs are lost because the man is lazy. Other men work hard, but they're too impatient or hard to get along with or too much the dreamer to find a career that will take care of their families.
In the second place, we can spend more responsibly. The things we call "necessities" are, in fact, "luxuries". Most people in the world live without them. And you can too-if you bring your wants down to your income.
In the third place, we can practice self-control. Nothing scares a wife more than a scared husband! If he's hysterical and starts talking crazy nonsense, she'll suffer for it. Everyone feels fear-there's no shame in that-but husband have to master their fears and no be ruled by them. Here's a motto,
"Acquit yourselves like men".
In the fourth place, we can take the problem seriously. I know a woman who wants to pay the bills and often wonders where the money's coming from. But her husband is just the opposite-he shrugs it off or, when he's in the mood, he plays the God Card on her-"The Lord will provide". This makes the dear sister crazy with fear! And understandably so. If your wife worries about the money (and she probably does) take the problem seriously and do something about it.
One more thing wives worry about: the kids.
I don't have to prove this one to you, do I? If you go to a school yard, it's easy to tell which kids were dressed by their mothers-the ones wearing sweaters, even on the hottest day of the year!
Men ought to relieve these fears, as much as they can. Not by bundling the kids up in July or making them wear life jackets in the bath tub, but in more serious ways.
"A child left to himself brings
shame to his mother".
Many fathers do just that-leave the kids on their own. But for kids to grow up right-and relieve many motherly fears-the man has to get into the game.
Boys need a father's teaching, example, discipline-and time. Not just when they're in trouble or when mom has come to the end of her rope. But they need you every day.
Making a living is not good enough! You've got to commit yourself to your kids-body and soul-even if other things are left undone, you've got to do it. Their welfare depends on it. And your wife's mental health does too. Just do it!
A HUSBAND WANTS RESPECT
If a wife needs security, a husband needs something too. He needs respect. No, that's not quite it: What he needs is his wife's respect. This is implied in our other verse, Ephesians 6:33,
"See that the wife respects her husband".
Nothing hurts a man more than a wife who looks down on him. No matter how good she is to him in other ways, he can never be happy as long as he knows that she doesn't think much of him as a man.
Some disrespect is obvious. I know a woman who treats her husband like garbage. I mean that literally! You can see the contempt in her face; you can hear it in her voice; I've never heard her say a good word about the man, though she's scorned him more times than I can number. Hers is an ugly, defiant, loud, in your face disrespect!
Thinking about the poor man, I always remember of quip of Winston Churchill. At a dinner party one night, he had the misfortune of sitting next to a lady who hated him. She said,
"Mr. Churchill, if I were married to you,
I'd put poison in your tea".
But he replied,
"Madame, if you were married to me,
I'd drink it".
Ladies, if you treat your husbands like this, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! The worst man deserves better than that! To you I can only quote Peter,
"Repent of this wickedness, and pray to God
if perhaps the thought of your heart may
be forgiven you, for I perceive that you
are in the gall of bitterness and the bond
If a "Righteous man regards the life of his beast", you can show some respect to your husband.
But most disrespect-especially in Christian families-is more subtle. Here are some ways that wives show contempt for their husbands.
--By not asking his advice on important matters.
--By asking for it, but then not taking it.
--By arguing with everything he says, no matter how trifling.
--By contradicting him in front of the kids.
--By assigning books to him to read.
--By going to your mother or father or friend or pastor instead of your husband.
--By body language, like sighing when he says something, rolling your eyes or looking bored.
--By saying things like, "You wouldn't understand".
--By comparing him unfavorably to other men.
--By feeling sorry for yourself that you've got to live with such a man.
These are some ways that wives look down on their husbands. And it's wrong when you do that.
Our verse, and others, command the opposite. They tell wives to respect their husbands, to submit to them, to obey them, and so on.
And it's not only wrong, but it's also dangerous.
Nothing will push a man into adultery like a wife who looks down on him. If he can't find respect in his wife, he may look for it somewhere else. This doesn't justify adultery, of course, but it tempts him to it.
It will also promote brutality at home. When a man can't rule from respect, he may try to do it with force. Again, it does not justify wife beating-which is an appalling sin-but it contributes to it.
In other men, it will have the opposite effect. It will reduce them to pathetic wimps. If you think it's hard to respect your man now, just sneer at him for a few years, and he'll be castrated.
Nothing will do more for a man than the respect of a good woman. And nothing will do him more harm than her disrespect.
But how do you respect a man who, well, doesn't really deserve it? Three quick things here:
First of all, I sympathize with you. Some men are hard to respect.
But, secondly, you can show him respect even if you don't feel it. This is not hypocrisy! It's obedience. Maybe there's nothing in him to respect, but there is something in Christ. And He commands,
"Let the wife reverence
Thirdly, do things to build his self-respect. Ask his advice-and take it. If you're scared to let him decide on the big things, ask him what to do about the little things. Put a new look on your face; speak highly of him to other people-when he's around. And, most of all, pray for him. That he would be the kind of husband he needs to be-and the sort of man you can respect from the heart.
CHALLENGE AND CLOSE
Husband, do what you can to reduce your wife's many worries. You can't wave a magic wand, but you can be the man of the family. And you can pray for her. Now go do it.
Wife, show your husband the respect he needs. You cannot change him, but-by God's grace-you can change yourself. Be the kind of woman Sarah was. Her husband was far from perfect, but she called him, "Lord". And you can have the same attitude that she did. Now go get it.
And the love of God be with you. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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