Loving the Wife, Even When it Hurts

One of the things that I enjoy doing whilst I am in between jobs/ministry is to do counseling sessions over the phone via Facetime or Zoom.  I find that it helps with my desire to continue to serve the Lord by using some of the gifts that God has given to me.  When it comes to working with the brothers in Christ who are married, I find that at times it becomes necessary to ‘spur them on to love and good deeds,’ Hebrews 10:24 especially when it comes to their wives.  I find myself in a similar place with my wife at times and feel the need to be reminded of the obvious by looking at how I love my wife even when it’s difficult.

The Apostle Peter said it this way,

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”                    – 1 Peter 3:7

This passage is my personal marriage mantra and a testimony to my wife of my faithfulness and commitment to her. It also serves as a mission statement for our marriage.  It has provoked many a conversation and a few good fights over the years. I should like to share some of my insights on loving your wife, even when it hurts.

  • The word, ‘likewise’ means that you have to read the previous passage to get the inference, but in context it means that husbands are also to be ‘mutually submissive’ Ephesians 5:21 to their own wives and just as God honoring to them as the wife is to her own husband.  When it comes to a husband’s love for his wife, his leadership of her, and his example to her within the marriage covenant, he must love, lead, and serve her well; after all, she is the wife of his youth.
  • The word ‘dwell’ (Greek: sunoikeo) communicates, ‘to dwell with, to inhabit as one’s abode, and the dwelling together of those who are married.’  It infers that a husband must dwell with his wife; not sleep in another bed, in another room, in another house, or with another person. She is his wife by covenant, and he must dwell with her.
  • The word ‘understanding’ is translated from the original text as ‘knowledge’ (Greek: gnosis) which infers a ‘seeking to know, an enquiry, an investigation, and a spiritual truth.’  Peter is challenging husbands to be good students of their wives, to seek to know them better, and to understand them – good luck.
  • The phrase, ‘giving honor to the wife’ challenges the husband to ‘honor’ his wife. The word honor (Greek: time’) expresses ‘the objective value of his wife’ in the same way that he expresses the precious value that he renders to God.
  • The term ‘weaker vessel’ doesn’t mean that the wife is emotionally weak or imbalanced; rather, Peter is stressing the physical nature of a woman as not being as physically strong as the man, comparatively, and that husbands need to take this into consideration in how they love and honor their wives.   
  • The phrase, ‘being heirs together of the grace of life’ speaks to the fact that your wife is also you sister in the Lord just as much (ladies) as your husband is also your brother in the Lord.  While this may seem like a doctrine from Kentucky or some parts of Louisiana, it is a sound doctrine that is Kingdom based. 

Husbands are to love their wives in the Lord because they are also your sisters in Christ. Wives are to reciprocate this love because their husbands are also a brother in Christ.

One happily married woman said,

“I don’t care what the Bible says, when I get to heaven, I am still going to be married to my husband.’  While this is a kind sentiment on the part of the wife toward her husband; it’s not doctrinally accurate.  I always wondered what her husband thought about that statement. Maybe he, like, didn’t want to be married to her for all of eternity. I am just saying.  Truth be told, when we get to heaven, we will all be married to Jesus.

Jesus said it this way,

“…in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”                               – Matthew 22:30

Some people are a little disappointed when they read this; others are satisfied.

The concept of our heavenly bodies being glorified, eternal, and asexual is not new; however, it reminds us that part of the command that God gave to Adam in Genesis was to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ This command is no longer given in heaven. There is no procreation in our resurrected bodies.

  • The phrase, ‘that your prayers may not be hindered’ means just what it says; if a husband is not properly loving, honoring, and dwelling with his wife, God’s response to his prayers will be hindered.  This passage infers that a husband who doesn’t love and honor his wife as stated in this passage is living in sin.  When we allow sin to have a place in our lives, it hampers our walk with Jesus.

David said it this way,

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. 19 but certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”                                 – Psalm 66:18,19

  • The position of the husband must be one of good stewardship and good leadership of his wife.  His role will have a positive or negative effect on her, their children, and overall family.  This is a powerful teaching that is wrought with much discipline, brokenness, and determination.  May God’s Spirit lead you in this, man of God, to be a good steward to your ‘sister-wife.’

The Prophet Malachi said it this way,

“And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” – Malachi 2:13,14

In divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying these pagan woman, these men committed several sins.  It was treachery to break a marriage vow outside of God’s covenant stipulations.  In essence, they treated God’s covenant by profaning it and making it common.  How true this is today when Christian marriages are destroyed because of a violation of God’s covenant regarding sexual fidelity, love for, and commitment to ‘the wife of a husband’s youth.’

These same men would commit this treachery and then come to the altar of the Lord and weep, seeking God’s help and His blessing.  While it’s true that God can forgive sin, He still expects us to change our ways.  These men were guilty of hypocritical worship which had nothing to do with a changed heart. Instead of forgiving them, God was ready to ‘cut them off.’

“But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”                                         – (vs.15,16)

  • We see here that God intended that a husband and wife would be one in their marriage covenant.

God did this so He could have godly offspring from a husband and wife who love Him and who love each other. 

Malachi commends the faithful husbands who obeyed the Spirit of the Lord and His Word and were faithful and loving to their wives.  However, he was equally harsh on those men who took pagan wives to satisfy their own sexual desires and flesh tendencies.  This had nothing to do with raising a godly offspring and had everything to do with idol worship and disobedience to the Lord.  The issue here was a blatant disloyalty to God.

NOTE: God called the Jewish nation to be the conduit that He would use to bring the Messiah into the world. 

             Anything that corrupted that agenda would work against God’s plan of salvation. 

How true this is today with so much pornaeus distractions in our media that pervert God’s standard and confuses men as to what godly masculinity really looks like.  Men need to know who they are in Christ as men.  They need to be honorable in God’s sight, godly men, who will eventually become future husbands and fathers.

The issue of divorce is a difficult topic, even in a modern context.  If we love God, we won’t want to do anything that displeases Him and will do everything we can to save our marriage.  Divorce covers a man’s ‘garment with violence.’ A garment is a symbol of love and violence is a symbol of hate.  In a marriage covenant, a man and woman become one flesh and God should be central in that union.  However, there are stipulations that God has provided to end a marriage, one is death (not by spousal murder), another is sexual infidelity, another is desertion when one spouse, presumably an unbeliever, just departs (1 Corinthians 7). However, God’s original intent is that we stay married until were not, either by way of an untimely death or rapture, whichever comes first.  We must see the permanency of this covenant on this side of the veil, but God has called us to peace.

“You have wearied the Lord with your words; yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say,
“Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”                                                       – (vs.17)

The word ‘weary’ here doesn’t imply that God gets tired, however, it speaks to His being long-suffering with our inability to follow His commands and obey His voice at times.  Eventually God’s weariness will run its course and He will judge accordingly.  When we do evil in God’s sight and call it good, thinking that God is delighted in our actions, we deceive ourselves.  This only invokes God’s justice that He will bring upon us later.

Isaiah said it this way,

“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed 2 to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of My people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. What will you do in the day of punishment, and in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory?”         – Isaiah 10:1-3

  • This is why, as a pastor, counselor, or even a church leader, we need to be biblically accurate when it comes to advising individuals according to God’s Word.  We will all have to give an account to the Lord for what we said and how we advised others one day.

So brothers in Christ, if you’re married, you need to be loving on your wife like no other man can or should.  She is your wife by a holy covenant of marriage and your responsibility before the Lord.  Do your best to love her well.  Get help if you need it, it’s far better than the alternative, less expensive, and less damaging.

Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Central Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.  

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