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TEXT: I Peter 3:7
SUBJECT: Family Life #6: Honor Your Wife
This afternoon brings us to the seventh part of our study on Family Life. Last month, I spoke to the wives and urged them (among other things) to respect their husbands. Even if they don't deserve it. That is hard, I know. But "With God all things are possible".
Today, I return the favor; I speak to the married men. What does God want you to do for your wife? The middle part of the verse tells you: "Husbands...give honor to your wife".
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HONOR?
In the New Testament, the word is used in two ways. It may mean to financially support her. In I Timothy 5:3 Paul commands the church to "Honor widows who are widows indeed". If you read the verses that follow, you'll find "honor" means "support".
Should the husband "honor" his wife in this way? Yes he should. The man who won't take care of his family, Paul says, "has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
But is that the meaning here? If the word "honor" came earlier in the verse, I would say it is. "Because she is the weaker vessel, honor [or support] your wife". That's a true doctrine, but not the one taught here.
Most of the time, "honor" means "to respect". A few verses earlier, Peter uses it this way: "Honor the king". Show respect for Caesar. That is the way it is used here.
The Lord wants every husband to respect his wife. And to show it!
How do you show respect to your wife? Start with the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". How do you want your wife to show her respect for you?
How about listening to you? Or speaking politely? Or doing what you asked her to do--without arguing? Or giving you space when you need it? Or not blabbing your faults to other people? Or backing you up with the children?
Or something even more basic: How about looking at you with respect? There's a suspicious look, a sneering look, a mocking look, or a bored look. These aren't respectful. God knows when you look that way: "The eye that mocks his father or disobeys his mother will be plucked out by the ravens of the valley and the young eagles shall eat it" (Proverbs 30:17).
Treat your wife the same respect you want from her. Start there.
But don't stop there. Men and women are different. Things that are perfectly acceptable to a man may be deeply offensive to your wife! For example, men tend to criticize each other's appearance--"Man, you're getting gray!" You say that to me and I'll laugh. Your wife won't think it's so funny.
How do you find out what offends her? Ask her. And pay attention to the effect your words or actions have on her. A good rule of thumb: If it makes her run into the bedroom crying, don't do it any more.
If she tells you "I didn't like it when you...", remember what she said. And don't do it again.
Brothers, "Honor your wives". That is God's Word to you and me.
WHOSE WIFE SHOULD YOU HONOR?
I'm half-kidding with the question. But only half. As far as I know, the only man in this church who has dishonored my wife is...me.
When Mrs. Jones took too long to explain herself, I listened patiently and told her, "Take your time, Sister". But when Mrs. Phillips takes too long, I'm more likely to say, "Get to the point!"
This is wrong. Your wife deserves more honor than any other woman. This means you cannot just "Be yourself" at home. Even there, you are "Bought with a price". And must "Glorify God in your body and soul which are God's". This includes "Giving honor to your wife".
WHY SHOULD YOU HONOR YOUR WIFE?
In your marriage vows--I suppose--you promised you would. Your promised your wife. You promised God. You ought to keep your promises. Especially vows, for "When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it, for He takes no pleasure in fools". That is a very good reason to honor your wife.
This is not the reason Peter gives, however. He says "Husbands...give honor to your wives...being fellow heirs of the grace of life".
The commentator, John Brown, is great here:
"The Christian husband...is not to treat [his wife] as the heathen treated their wives, or even as the Jews treated theirs. He is to view her as being spiritually standing on the same level with himself, being in Christ Jesus, `Where there is neither male nor female'. He is to esteem her as `a child of God, a daughter of the Lord God Almighty, an heir of God, a joint-heir with Christ Jesus...He is to respect her as a living image of the Redeemer, having received out of His fullness grace for grace".
The roles for men and women are different. The difference, though, implies no inferiority or superiority. The Christian wife bears the image of God as much as her husband does; she's no less redeemed than he is.
Brothers, you've got to treat your wife like royalty because...she is. Your wife can sing,
"With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the king".
That's one reason to "give honor" to your wife.
The second is this: "That your prayers be not hindered".
If you treat your wife like garbage, God will treat your prayers like garbage! He won't respect your prayers any more than you respect your wife.
Do you want Him to answer your prayers? If so, quit dishonoring your wife.
Brothers, these words are like sandpaper on the soul--they're rough and they hurt! They hurt you and me alike. We've got to act. We've got to become "Doers of the Word".
Start with admission. If you don't respect your wife, admit it to yourself. Don't make excuses or give reasons. Just admit it. "Deceiving yourself" may be pleasant now; one day it won't be.
Go on to confession. I John 1:9.
Apologize to your wife.
Plead with God for the grace to change. And then use the grace He gives you.
"Give honor to your wives". God's Word to every husband.
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