Lesson 45 Chapter Fourteen:
"God's Provision--Resources For The Wife's Protection
The following is a summary adaptation of material from "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace. Taken from "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace, pp. 161-174. Copyright, 1999, Focus, Publishing, Bemidji, Minnesota. Used with permission for the purposes of this devotional series only. May not be reproduced or forwarded without the express consent of the publisher.
In our previous lesson we discussed God's Provision and His Resources for the Wife's Protection within the marriage. This chapter of the book explains eight biblical ways God provides for the protection of a "submissive" wife when her husband sins against her or others. We looked at the first three and now we will look at the last five of the eight principals. Here is a list of those principals mentioned in great detail in the book:
The Eight Resources For The Wife's Protection Are:
1. Learn to Communicate Biblically
2. Learn to Overcome Evil with Good
3. Learn to Make a Biblical Appeal
4. Learn to Give a Biblical Reproof
5. Learn to Biblically Respond to Foolish Demands
6. Learn to Seek Godly Counsel
7. Learn to Biblically Follow the Steps of Church Discipline
8. Learn to Biblically Involve the Governing Authorities
Many times we as wives feel that there is nothing that we can do when we know that there is sin in our husband's lives. We often feel helpless. What we will learn here is that God has given us resources from His Word that we can actively participate in to help restore our husbands spiritual relationship with God. This is a very delicate subject area and one that I believe that Satan would love to keep us in the dark in. However as we apply God's Word and ask for wisdom in our marriages concerning this area, He will guide us! Please pray that the Lord will open your heart and mind as we study this lesson. "Lord Help us to see with new vision and give us a clean heart as we enter your Word of truth."
We can be sure that God will protect us as we joyfully serve our husbands--being obedient to the Lord in all things. Let's begin our study...
Resource #4--Give A Biblical Reproof Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3
What is a biblical reproof? A biblical reproof is telling someone that what they are doing is contrary to the Word of God. "What is the purpose of giving a biblical reproof?" The purpose intended is so that the person may be restored to a right relationship with God. The Christian husband or wife may reprove the other since one of their main goals in the marriage relationship is to help one another become more like Christ. Ephesians 5:21 says this: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
There are many, many wrong teachings that some of you may have encountered in your walk with the Lord concerning this subject. You may have been taught that a wife who reproves her husband is not loving him unconditionally or that she is not being submissive. However, I find it hard to believe that God would have us to be silent and not to be the "help meet" in furthering our husband's growth in Christ. I do believe that there must be caution and that we must be wise in our approach--keeping our focus on helping to restore our husbands relationship with the Lord. We cannot be selfish in our approach--seeking only to point out our husband's flaws. Our goal is not to badger them. As a wife, you must lovingly, humbly, and gently approach your husband. You must have a heart of love for him, as commanded by God, whether or not he changes. You will show great love to him by rightly encouraging him to live a faithful Christian life before God. Love edifies--it builds up. (I Corinthians 13.) If a wife's reproof is done in a biblical manner, with biblical motives, God will accomplish His purpose in it. His Word will not return to Him void. We must be patient with the Lord--His timing is not our timing, and His ways are not like our ways. He is in ultimate control and He will work all things for His glory and honor and your good. It's according to His purpose--not yours.
"Do I, as a Christian wife, have the option of whether or not to reprove my Christian husband who continues in sin?" According to scripture you do not. Your husband is a Christian brother in the Lord. Galations 6:1 explains what a godly wife must do when her husband sins against her, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one..." You must go to him in private and tell him in a straightforward, clear manner how you believe he has sinned against you. You are to do it in a spirit of gentleness--not using harsh words or an angry tone. Remember, your motive should be to restore, not to expose. You must also examine your own heart and motives and make sure that your heart is right with the Lord. You want to have a clear conscience, be free of any known sin, and not sin in your reproof by being disrespectful in your approach or by being argumentative.
"What happens if a godly wife chooses to refrain from "speaking the truth in love?" You will deprive your Christian Husband of one of God's greatest avenues for encouragement and exhortation as it applies to His spiritual growth. This is an act of your true love and concern for your husband. Not only is your godly reproof an act of love, but it will strengthen the love that your husband will have for you. Proverbs 9:8 says ..."rebuke a wise man and he will love you." True biblical love does not broadcast a person's sins to others, but will "cover them" by dealing with the sins in a gentle, loving, caring, biblical manner. It would be wise for you to pray earnestly to God about the matter, and to choose a time when your husband is rested and can be able to give you his attention. Pray about choosing your words. Let the Lord truly direct and guide you in every step of the way. Remember to speak the truth in love and point out his positive traits and areas where he is doing a wonderful job. Your goal again is to encourage him and to offer a biblical solution. Offer him hope. Let him know that according to God's Word He can overcome this particular sin. Remind Him of your love and your willingness to support him through it. With God's grace He will make it.
"Now what if he disagrees about the extent of his sin problem?" You may have to bring out several specific examples of such sin. Again, not to badger him, but to point out that there is a sin problem and you are not making this up. You may also ask him to prayerfully consider what you have said still encouraging him that you want to help him and you can work through it together. If there is still denial after a reasonable amount of time, you should suggest that he speak with someone such as a close, mature Christian friend, or friend, or your Pastor. Accountability in changing sinful patterns of behavior is essential. If he still refuses to repent, denies the problem, or refuses to seek counsel from another mature Christian man, you are still not helpless. We will talk more on this when we study the subject under church discipline.
"Can a godly wife reprove her unbelieving husband?" Yes, she can. Her basis for reproving him is for him to do what is right as a husband, father, friend, etc. Even if he is an unbeliever you can still appeal to him based on what is right. Your standard though for what is right must be based upon the Scripture. However, using scripture may not be wise since he is an unbeliever and the things of God cannot be understood by him. But you can use the principles contained in the Word of God to reprove him of sin as long as it is done in a respectful manner that honors your husband and the Lord. If he scoffs at your reproof, that is laughs or mocks at it, then you should not continue to give it.
The scripture says, "Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you." (Proverbs 9:8)
You as the wife will have to learn how to respond to his manipulation and foolish demands biblically.
"Does my husband have a a responsibility to receive my reproof?" Yes, he does. He should graciously receive your reproof. But, this may not happen. He may refuse to receive your reproof. He may even respond in a harsh manner, an angry and blame shifting manner as well. He may even threaten you. In this event, you must stand firm and focus on fulfilling your biblical responsibility. God will give you the grace at that time to respond to your husband's anger or his intimidation. Your love for the Lord and your obedience to Him will cast out any fear and doubt that you may have. (See I John 4:18.) I like and agree with what Mrs. Peace says on page 165 concerning Biblical Reproof: "A loving, biblically appropriate, reproof is practically a lost art, but it needs to be regained both in the church and in the home. It is one of the resources that God has provided for the wife's protection."
Resource #5--Respond Biblically To Foolish Demands Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5
The Bible's description of a foolish man is one who rejects the Word of God and does what is right in his own eyes. (Proverbs 1:7; 12:15). Sometimes our husbands do act immature and behave foolishly by making harsh or unreasonable demands or accusations against us. Even so, we can be foolish in how we respond to them. The husband's role is to lead. However, he may not have learned how to lead biblically. Instead of lovingly leading, he does it with intimidation, manipulation, harsh criticism, or hostile teasing to accomplish his purposes. Such behavior is hurtful and provoking--even to a wife who is committed to biblical submission. "How can a godly wife protect herself from the foolish, unreasonable demands of her husband, yet remain submissive to him?"
First of all we must know what the Bible teaches on how to respond wisely to a foolish man. We usually have the tendency to respond to the mistreatment by our husbands with sinful anger, pouting, yelling, crying, and a host of other ways that are not beneficial to us or our marriage. This is returning evil for evil--responding to a fool like a fool. We must learn to respond to foolish behavior in a God honoring using the wisdom of scripture. Proverbs 26:4 says, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest you be like him." Remember that none of your foolish and vindictive responses are pleasing to God, and none of those responses are appropriate or befitting for a godly wife. I realize and have learned firsthand that it is not easy to exercise these biblical approaches when you are in the heat of conflict. BUT, with God, it is possible! I am learning and practicing heavily Proverbs 15:28 which instructs me to not blurt out my first response but to think first, and ponder how I should answer. You don't have to immediately give your husband a direct answer.
Many times as Christian wives, we are reluctant to use scripture in answering our Christian husband's foolish accusations. But, we must remember that God has given us His Word as the sword and it is alive, yes!, and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and it pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thought and intentions of the heart. (See Hebrews 4:12.) God's Word is your most EFFECTIVE weapon that you have as a Christian. You should use God's Word in a wise way to not respond like a fool, and to give your husband the "answer that he deserves."
Resource #6--Seek Godly Counsel
"For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety." Proverbs 24:6
"What does it mean to seek Godly counsel?" To seek Godly counsel means to see advice based on God's Word--the Bible. It is wrong as a Christian, a follower of Christ, to seek and follow counsel elsewhere. It is important that you as a Christian know that Godly counsel is advice that can be supported scripturally. It is foolish to rely on man's wisdom. Instruction from God always comes from Him. So this person that you seek Godly counsel from will be one who believes that God's Word is true and without error, they will believe in the teaching and application of the scripture to instruct man how to live a life that is pleasing to God, and they will be committed to living by the Scriptures. Scripture is sufficient for providing people the counsel they need. Psalm 19:7 says that God's Word is "...sure, making wise the simple."
On pages 168-170, Mrs. Peace gives seven additional guidelines for seeking counsel. I will list them here and the scripture reference for you to follow and study in your devotional time.
1. Counsel should be objective. (Proverbs 18:17) This person should be biblically objective and loyal to the truth of the scriptures than to people. This person should not be easily swayed to take sides.
2. Counsel should be directed at solving the problem biblically using the Word of God. (II Timothy 3:16) God's Word is useful when it is handled and applied accurately.
3. Counsel should be directed towards restoration. First priority should be to restore the husband and wife's relationship with one another and to God. If the counsel you are receiving does not have this intention, I would suggest that you no longer listen to them. God ordained marriage, He instituted it, and He is still for it. To seek counsel that teaches otherwise is not of God.
4. The Wife must not slander or speak evil of her husband when she seeks counsel from another. (Proverbs 10:18) Your goal is not to ruin your husband but to seek how to respond to his sin biblically--as God would have you to respond.
5. The wife should limit the number of people she tells of her husband's problem. When you engage in conversation with other's with no intentions to receive biblical counseling for your husband's sins, it is only pure and sinful gossip.
6. The wife should follow the Biblical admonition that older, more mature women are to teach younger women. (Titus 2:2-3) This is where we should seek our counsel. From a godly mature woman who loves the Lord and desires to help others grow in their relationship with the Lord. (See Titus 2:4)
7. Often leaders of a church may be the best source of Biblical counsel. (II Timothy 4:2) These leaders have the Biblical responsibility to provide such counsel.
Resource #7--Church Discipline
"And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church." Matthew 18:15
"What is church discipline?" Church discipline is the process of the discipline and restoration of a sinning Christian. In Matthew 18:15-17 we see a four step process for church discipline recorded here. If a wife has faithfully exercised the other measures that we have discussed in this chapter and her husband is still continuing to sin, she should not hesitate to involve others as long as she does it "Biblically." (I will only briefly list the steps. Please refer to the full detail in the book.)
Step one involves making a biblical reproof, Matthew 18:15: "If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private, if he listens to you, you have won your brother."
Step two involves obtaining witnesses against her husband's sinful behavior. Care and caution must be used in this step as well. You may consider involving the Pastor, deacons, other trusted staff members, or an elder of the church. The primary motive for involving others is only to restore your husband to a right relationship with God and his family. Matthew 18:16: "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed."
Step three involves the name of the husband and his sin to be brought before the congregation. Matthew 18:17: "And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church..." This is not so that he will be mocked or made a spectacle of but so that the congregation, his family, will lovingly put pressure on him to repent. These are very difficult steps and must not be done hastily. These steps are the most effective in preventing others in the body of Christ from continuing to harden their hearts toward sin, and from remaining in unrepentant, willful sin. These steps are done in order to keep the church pure and of restoring a sinning brother to a right relationship with God, his church, and his wife/family.
Resource #8--Involve The Governing Authorities
"Let every man be subject to the governing authorities." (Romans 13:1)
"Who are the governing authorities?" On page 172 Mrs. Peace has this to say about this area of involvement:
"The governing authorities include the police, family and children's services, as well as local magistrates and courts. Involving these agencies are extreme measures and should only be used when there is danger to the wife or her children or when a serious criminal offense has been committed. However, the wife who is truly threatened with real harm should not hesitate to call the police."
It is understandable when the wife has a fear of her husband's retaliation if such measures are taken. However, you should allow your husband the opportunity to bear the consequences of his sinful behavior at the hand of the church or at the hand of the governmental authorities. God himself has appointed such authority for our protection. You must choose to obey God and take full advantage of these measures as God's protective provision for you. You cannot continue to passively submit to such abuse. "What happens if I am harmed for doing what is right according to God's Word?" I Peter 2:21-23 says that you will be suffering for "righteousness sake." We must also remember to follow the example of Christ Jesus "who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth and while being reviled, He did not revile in return, while suffering He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously." You must keep this thought central and fresh in your heart that your motive is to restore your husband to a right relationship with God.
It is important for you to remember that the more you obey God and His Word, submitting to the Lord and your husband in a biblical manner, the more likely your husband is to repent and turn to God. Even if he does not repent, you will have the assurance that your response was and is precious in the sight of the Lord. God will reward your obedience and your willingness to follow after the example of Christ. Jesus Christ--He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be called the righteousness of God through Him.
I do apologize for the length of this lesson. I have prayed and labored over how to rightly divide the lessons so that they will not be to lengthy. However this time, I do feel that the Lord led me to continue this way, rather than break these resources up again into three lessons. I pray that you will prayerfully consider each one and share the insight that God has given you. It is much to digest however the Lord gives wisdom and understanding to those who ask. It is also a great tool to refer to often.
May you seek the Lord's will in your marriage/life,