Within this Marriage Message, we will be discussing the roles that we each play within our marriages. We acknowledge that the term “roles” is not a popular one in today’s world. But in this Marriage Message, we will be pointing out the role of being an encourager within our marriage. We can all be encouragers, even though:
“The lack of encouragement is almost epidemic today. It’s the reason people dread going to work in the morning. It’s why kids can’t wait to get out of school. And it’s why some people can’t wait to get out of a marriage. What is it that enables us to give our mates this crucial encouragement? Grace —it’s the lubricant that lessens the friction in marriage and keeps the gears of the relationship running smoothly.” (Dr Charles Swindoll)
Cindy and I (Steve) firmly believe that what Chuck Swindoll says about encouragement being “the oil that lubricates our soul” is true. It is necessary to apply grace liberally in marriage if you are to have a good one. Celeste Holm wrote, “We live by encouragement. And we also die without it —slowly, sadly, and angrily.” We’ve seen a lot of slow, painful deaths of marriages, with anger raging. Mostly, it’s because encouraging one another went by the wayside. But where does the ability to encourage come from?
Distinct Roles in Giving Grace
Pastor Chuck Swindoll believes it is linked to grace. Grace is defined as, “showing favor to someone even if they don’t deserve it.” His premise is that if we understand our Biblical roles as husbands and wives, we will see that through the grace of God we have the power to be encouragers in our marriages.
Please understand that we’re not going to give you a list of roles for Godly husbands and Godly wives within this Message. Instead, we’re going to touch upon a few points where you might give grace (unmerited favor) and encouragement to your spouse. We’re hoping this will inspire you to give grace even more lavishly to your spouse.
The Roles of Husbands in Giving Grace
To husbands: One point we’d like to focus on is where the Bible tells the man he is responsible for is the spiritual leadership of the home. You’re told in the Bible:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
When you wash your wife with the water of the Word, just make sure you don’t drown her with it. You can do this when you push her face into it. Instead of being drawn to it she will run away from it because she feels overwhelmed with your power. Give her grace and encourage her by letting her see you living the water of the Word in your life. As a result she will more readily want to drink of it also. This is the same principle as what the woman at the well experienced by the way Jesus approached her.
Wives Roles in Giving Grace
To wives: Give your husband grace to LEARN how to be the spiritual leader. Author Dennis Rainey wrote the following (contained in the article, A Husband’s Spiritual Leadership) to consider:
“I think a wife needs to understand that it may take years for a man to grow spiritually so that he can lead his wife in this area. I would guess that most men did not have a good model of spiritual leadership in their homes as they grew up.
“Barbara and I have prayed regularly as a couple for our entire marriage. But it has only been in the last few years that we have had morning devotions with the kids before they headed off to school. In the past, we would have devotions. But with a young family and an incredible diversity of age span and needs, it was sporadic. And it was a challenge!”
For Husbands: Something that could help would be the list of 25 Ways to Spiritually Lead Your Wife, which is posted at Familylife.com. You will find three of the 25 listed below. (You can read the rest in the linked title.) We’re adding comments of our own with [brackets] around them.
Here they are:
1. Pray daily with her. [A good thing would be to pray WITH her and FOR her.]
2. Discover her top three needs and over the next twelve months go all out to meet them. [Make that your mission.]
3. Protect your family from evil. [This includes any evil that you might say to them if you abuse them with unkind and unwholesome words.]
And then there is the part of the Bible that tells women:
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)
Are you acting as a wife of noble character, bringing your husband good and not nagging him so much that he can’t hear the Lord speaking to his heart? The Bible tells the wife to “submit to the husband as unto the Lord.” This doesn’t mean she is to be a weak, un-opinionated woman. It means knowing when to say something and when not to do so.
We agree with Cynthia Heald’s counsel, “Submission is ducking low enough to let God fix your husband.” Can you do that? If so, you’re fulfilling a distinct role as a Godly wife. God is your husband’s Holy Spirit —not you.
Barbara Rainey, from the Familylife.com article, “A Wife’s Job Description,” gives this counsel,
“Ephesians 5:33 commands, “The wife must respect her husband.” Sometimes that’s hard to do. You may not feel that your husband is worthy of respect. However, you’re still commanded to respect him. Even if there are many things that he has done wrong, you can find something to respect. …Does he work hard to financially support the family? Does he play ball with your child?
“He may not be doing all that you wish he were doing, but try to focus positively on the things that he IS doing. Verbalize to him your appreciation. When you affirm him and let him know that you value his work, it will be easier for him to continue to lead lovingly.”
Are you listening to your wife as the helpmate God assigned her to be for you in marriage? When you do that, she doesn’t feel as desperate to “nag.” You may want to consider what author Gary Thomas said about his wife:
“I refer to my wife as my ‘God thermometer.’ If I wake up and discover that I am not moved by the miracle of her life and love for me; if I am not cherishing her and honoring her, I look up and do a heart check with God. The fact is, God knows my wife far better than I do, and He cherishes her.
“The closer I grow to Him and the more time I spend communing with Him, the more He will share with me His heart for my wife. I’ve come to learn that the state of my marriage has as much to say about my relationship with God as it does about my relationship with my wife.” (From the article, The Transforming Miracle of Marriage.)
In closing, we exhort you to begin to encourage your spouse. Don’t wait for him or her to do it first. You start… even if he or she doesn’t “deserve” to be encouraged! By doing so you are exercising what God’s word tells you to do and blessing HIS heart, as well as your spouse’s.
Steve and Cindy Wright
To help you further, here is an article that explains a bit more about giving grace to each other:
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