Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Like fine china?

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." 1 Peter 3:7

Now that I've quoted this verse, I would like to ask you to stay with me here. It is possible that we all (myself included) may learn something here.
This verse is not spoken of much in our current politically correct and "enlightened" society. Why? The contents of it is offensive to many people- especially the part about the wife being the "weaker vessel". How dare anyone say that about a woman! After all, women can do anything a man can do and are just as valuable as a man.
I will not cloud the issue at hand by getting into all the differing roles and responsibilities of a marriage. We can discuss that on another occasion. Instead, let's discover what this particular verse has to teach us.
The verse starts with the word, "likewise". It means, "In the same way" or "just as". This verse is a continuation of the thoughts on A married couple that Peter began in chapter 3, verse 1. The last thought before verse 7 is about the wife being in subjection to her husband. Now, he says to the husband, "likewise"- meaning? As much as some of us would rather not admit it, sweep it under the rug, and ignore it, we husbands are (at various times and in certain situations) supposed to have an attitude of subjection to our wives as well.
Does this mean that the wife is a co-head of the home? NO. God doesn't create two headed monsters. There is only one head of the universe- God almighty. There is only one head of the home- the husband. So how is the husband to be in subjection to his wife?
By being a servant leader! Put another way, Paul said for us to "love (agape'- unconditional love) your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). We are to love our wives so much that we live our lives in such a way that will bring honor to her, show her and the world how much we love her, and help her to "work out (her) own salvation with fear and trembling. She should feel safe and secure in her relationship with her husband- knowing that he loves her and has her best interest at heart. (Man, do I have a long ways to go! Help me, Lord!)
We are further instructed to "dwell with" her. It means to "reside with as family". Some would read this and say, "Well, duh! Isn't that what married people do?" Sadly, not so much.
Many take jobs that hinder their relationship with their spouses. Many stop communicating and sharing their plans, hopes, and dreams with their spouses. This one simple area would go a long ways toward rekindling a lot of marriages that are on the rocks. God gave us our wives to be our "help meets" (Genesis 1:18). The word literally means "help help". In other words, guys, us hard headed men DO need a lot of help!
If we will stay in deep communication with our wives, we can avoid a whole lot of spiritual traps that we might not otherwise see! A Godly wife is a great resource. She knows her husband better than he knows himself, many times. While we tend to go through life with blinders on, she is able to help us see around them and avoid catastrophe. She should be our best friend, our lover, our confidante, and our closest advisor- above ALL else (save the Lord).
Many, unfortunately, choose to shut their wives out of their daily grind. She is our help meet in every area! If you're a pastor, you're wife can help you pray and talk through the decisions you must make. If you're a CEO, your wife can help you pray and talk through the decisions you have to make. She may not know your job like you do, but God has gifted her to be especially attuned to the world around you and your home. If she warns you about a certain situation or person, you would be well advised to take it into further prayer, instead of blowing her off. You may just save your job and marriage!
We are not only to dwell with our wives, but we are to "dwell with them according to knowledge". Who's knowledge? Yours? Hers? Gods? Answer: YES! I believe that we are to dwell with her according to what we know to be right and wrong, what she knows to be right and wrong, and especially what God says is right and wrong. Isn't that saying the same thing in three different ways? No.
Of course what God says is right and wrong is absolutely final and binding. We must build our lives upon the foundation of his word. It is our life and salvation. However, who among us knows the whole word of God? Are we all in the same place in God? Again, no.
Therefore, we have to dwell with our wives according to knowledge. Your wife came from a different background and culture than you did. She has had different experiences in life and with God than you have. In some areas, she may not know as much as you. In other areas, she probably knows more than you.
When she knows less, don't brow beat her. Lovingly pray for her and help her to understand (when she's ready for it). When she needs to be propped up in the Lord and encouraged, do it!
When she knows more than you in an area, put down your manly pride and except the Godly counsel she is giving you. She's there to help you. When you're weak, she'll likely be strong, and vice verse. It's truly a great thing to grow together and help each other through life and your walks with God.
We are also to give "honour unto her". Honour, in the Greek, means, "a value, i.e. money paid, or valuables; by analogy esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself." Our wife is to have the highest esteem and value in our lives. Noone should even come close to the level that our wives has in our eyes, hearts, and minds! NOONE. Outside of Jesus, should be higher or even equal, to our wives. Not even our children should be equal to our wives in our lives. She should have our love, devotion, and complete trust.
How many marriages could be saved, if this one principle were followed? How many could be saved, if they would lower their jobs, hobbies, friends, outside family, and children to a level BELOW their wives? Our priorities should be God, Wife, Children, everything else.
Here's the tricky phrase, though. We are to honour her "as unto the weaker vessel". What does that mean? Was God through Peter, somehow putting women down? Was Peter ignoring God for a moment and throwing in his own male chauvinistic thoughts?
The word "weaker" here means, "strengthless". The word vessel here, means, "a vessel, implement, equipment, or apparatus (specifically a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband)." So we are to place the greatest value on our wives, understanding that she is our most useful, yet strengthless vessel. Why was that put there? Because, bu the way that God created us, women are, as I heard one preacher put it, like fine china! Beautiful and very useful, but fragile.
Part of honoring her is protecting her. Others should have to go through us to get to her! We should want to protect her, emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually- in every way. A broken piece of china is useless. Though it can be repaired, it's never as strong as it was. Our first job is to protect our wives to the point of being willing to die for them!
God, nor Peter, were putting down women. In fact, they were showing us the extreme value, love, and care that we need to give and show to our wives!
We are also told to give honour to her because we are "heirs together". When we were married, God began the process of making two distinctly different people, one flesh. We are heirs together. Neither person in a marriage, nor the people in the church, are on our way to heaven alone. We make it together, helping each other and supporting each other along the way, or we may not make it at all!
We are heirs together of the grace ("the divine influence upon the heart and it's reflection in the life") of life. His grace is a partnership with us that saves us and enables us to make it to heaven. He lovingly leads us and moves on our heart and we willingly and lovingly, with his help, obey (a partnership). Our marriages should be a physical reflection of that heavenly relationship to a lost and dying world to see!
Finally we are told to do this, "that your prayers be not hindered". If we do not treat our wives in the Godly manner they should be treated, get ready to lose out on some answered prayers. Our prayer life is hindered when our marriage life is not what it should be.
If any of you have further insite into this verse, I'm open to it. I'm learning just as you are. Lord, help our marriages, our homes, our companies, and our country to live our lives in the Godly manners that you teach us to follow! God bless you all!