Summary: If we want God’s grace to transform our marriages, then we must submit to our wives; we must understand them; and we must value them so that our prayers are not cut off.
Mrs. Foster, a teacher at the grade-school in Auburn, Washington, had a frustrating day with one of her first-grade boys. “You’ve been doing irritating things all day today. These things are some of my pet peeves,” she said sternly. “Do you know what a pet peeve is?” The young boy shook his head no.
“A pet peeve is the thing that irritates a person the most. Do you know what my pet peeve is?” she asked.
The boy paused. “Ummm… Mr. Foster?” (Anita Donihue, Auburn, Washington, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www. PreachingToday.com)
Evidently, this boy’s dad was his mom’s greatest irritation, and that’s true for many marriages. That’s also true for many of our relationships. We sometimes irritate one another, but God’s grace is available especially at those times. In fact, God’s grace can transform any marriage. God’s grace can transform any relationship even if we sometimes irritate one another in those relationships.
The secret, as we saw last week, is in a humble, submissive spirit. When we demand our own way, when we insist on our own rights in the relationship, then there is friction. But When we submit to one another, then God’s grace intervenes in a powerful way.
Last week, we saw how that grace works when a wife submits to her husband. Today, we’ll see how God’s grace works when a husband submits to his wife. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 3, 1 Peter 3, where God speaks specifically to husbands.
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (NIV)
Literally, the original text says, “Husbands, IN THE SAME WAY live with the wife according to knowledge…” In other words, we men are commanded by God to live with our wives in the same way God asks our wives to live with us in the previous six verses. There, He told the wives to “be submissive” to their husbands and so win him and woo him with an irresistible inner beauty. Well, if husbands are to “live with their wives in the same way,” then that means we too must…
We too must rank ourselves under our wives. We too must put ourselves under their authority.
As I said last week, when the Bible talks about the husband/wife relationship, it is always in the context of mutual submission. You see, when each puts the other first in the relationship, then you have harmony in the home. But when either one or both demand their own way, pursuing their own selfish ambition, then all you have is “disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16).
Guys, if you want God’s grace to permeate your home and transform your relationship with your wife, then you must learn to put your wife before yourself in the relationship. Make her agenda, not yours, the top priority in your day. Put her interests above your own in your daily pursuits.
Some time ago, after Philip Yancey and his wife reached their 25th wedding anniversary, he reflected on their experience. In a magazine called Marriage Partnership, he wrote:
“Before marriage, each by instinct strives to be what the other wants. The young woman desires to look sexy, and takes up interest in sports. The young man notices plants and flowers, and works at asking questions instead of just answering monosyllabically. After marriage, the process slows and somewhat reverses. Each insists on his or her rights. Each resists bending to the other’s will.
“After years, though, the process may subtly begin to reverse again,” Yancey wrote. “I sense a new willingness to bend back toward what the other wants – maturely, this time, not out of a desire to catch a mate but out of a desire to please [someone] who has shared a quarter-century of life. I grieve for those couples who give up before reaching this stage. (Philip Yancey, “A 25-Year Hike,” Marriage Partnership, Winter 1999, p.68; www.PreachingToday.com)
I think Philip Yancey captured the essence of what God is telling both husbands and wives here in 1 Peter 3: Stop insisting on your own rights, and strive to be what the other wants. Bend towards the other’s will.
Dave Goetz, in a more recent edition of Marriage Partnership, described how this worked in his marriage. He said, “I’ve asked my wife through the years to support me in different ventures. When we were first married, I was a youth pastor and was taking classes at the University of Colorado at Denver. And I decided, “I’m going to be a writer.” So Jana and I moved to the Chicago suburbs so I could take a job as a writer and editor. About four years later, I became restless, so I began working on an MBA. I expected her again to sacrifice.