Like most women, when my husband and I married, I was determined that we wouldn’t be like couples who started out with stars in their eyes and ended up with bitterness in their hearts. Yet, while my resolve for a godly marriage was good and right, the expectations I had for myself and my husband were not rooted in the gospel. My Disney view of happily-ever-after failed to take into account the two sinners who had said, “I do.”
While the early years of our marriage contained many blessings, we could have easily found ourselves in the very place I had determined not to go. By God’s grace, I began to realize that I was striving to bear fruit in my own strength, producing exhaustion and discouragement, while revealing sin I’d never seen before! What I needed most was to get back to the truths of the gospel; that I was a sinner married to a sinner, both saved by God’s unmerited grace. While I praised God for His mercy, I was coming to understand that my efforts to live a godly life needed to be motivated by Christ’s love and empowered by His Spirit.
Today, cultural confusion is wreaking havoc on marriages. Rather than looking to God’s Word regarding His good design of men and women, many lead lives based on half truths and then wonder why disharmony reigns in their home.
The Gospel alone restores and redeems God’s created order and design for our good and His glory. Sinful women who have been saved by grace are empowered to bend that grace toward sinful men. Thus, as we head into this season of gift giving, I would like to offer 12 gifts that the gospel equips and empowers us to give to our husbands, not perfectly, but progressively, as we grow in our relationship with Christ.
Gift #1: Being a woman whose first love and devotion is to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This woman seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness while trusting the Lord to provide for her other needs (Matthew 6:33). With God on the throne of her life, she does not look to her husband (or anyone else) to meet the needs and desires that only Christ can satisfy. As the gospel teaches us all Christ has done for us, we bow down and worship Him alone. And as our love grows for Christ, His Spirit motivates and empowers us to love our husbands even when they fail us.
Gift #2: Unconditional respect. In a culture where many claim to be their own authority, we must remember that Almighty God has ordained an order of authority that we are commanded to honor. 1 Peter 2 & 3 teaches that we are to submit to the authority God gave to our husbands for the sake of the gospel. As we learn what communicates respect to men and offer it without expecting anything in return, we glorify God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Gift #3: A quiet and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3). Contrary to what the world might portray, this woman is neither timid nor weak. A complete overhaul of our personality is not necessary. Rather, a quiet spirit is cultivated day by day as we sit at Jesus’ feet, learn to abide in Him, and desire His glory above all else.
That doesn’t mean we never express our opinion, disagree with our husbands, or stand up for what’s right. A quiet heart is borne out of unwavering hope in God as we entrust our lives and circumstances to Him who is loving and just. Peter tells us that such a spirit is precious in God’s sight because it displays the power of the gospel and can point even unbelievers to Christ without even a word.
Gift #4: Prayer. Over the years I have spoken to many women who have complaints about their husbands, yet few who pray for them. Through Christ, God invites us to come boldly before His throne, telling us that whatever we ask in accord with His will we will receive (Matthew 10). So why would we neglect going to the All-Powerful God on behalf of our husbands?
- If we lack love for God or our husband, we can ask God to give us His love.
- If our husband lacks love for God’s Word, we can ask God to give him hunger and thirst for His truth.
- If our husband’s sins are obvious, while our own remain hidden, before we ask God to change our husband’s heart, let’s start by inviting Him to change our own.
By failing to pray to Almighty God, we often forfeit seeing His great works of transformation in our marriages and families.
Gift #5: Encouragement and patience. Sadly, criticism comes easier than encouragement to us, doesn’t it? If we were honest, there are times when our expectations of our husbands fall just short of Jesus Himself!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 exhorts us to “encourage and build one another up.” This does not mean we are to inflate our husband’s ego but, rather, to point out ways that we see God’s grace at work in him. Fear of failure often keeps men from striving towards the expectations their wives have of them, while life giving words of encouragement compel them to persevere in their pursuit of holiness.
Like us, our husbands are sinners in process of being sanctified. If we expect them to extend grace to us when we let them down, we must offer that same grace to them.
Gift #6: Time. Sometimes, we need to set aside our to do lists and simply spend time with our husbands. I have learned that many men enjoy side-by-side relationship which demands nothing of them. Giving the gift of our presence (without an agenda) communicates to them that they are more important than the many other important things we need to do.
This may mean watching a football game with your husband even when you don’t really like football. Or it could mean sitting beside him as he works on a project. The gift of time can be a huge sacrifice but it may be just the gift that greatly blesses your husband.
Gift #7: A submissive spirit. Like respect, the biblical meaning of submission has been greatly distorted by the world. Ephesians 5 lays out God’s beautiful plan for the gospel to be displayed in the context of marriage. A man can reflect Jesus through his sacrificial leadership and a woman can be like Jesus through sacrificial submission to her husband.
Submission is a gift a woman gives to her husband in light of what Christ has done for her, but it should never be abused. (Please seek godly counsel if you are in emotional or physical danger).
For most of us, God’s command to submit to our husbands tests our pride and independent spirits, which by nature, wrestle for control and authority. Because our Savior submitted to His heavenly Father’s will by laying down His life for us, and as co-heirs with Christ, we can submit to our Father’s will through humble submission to our husbands.
Gift #8: Faithfulness. God is faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13) thus we display the gospel by being faithful to our spouse even when we feel he is failing us. Faithfulness to our husbands should be unconditional, a response to God’s faithfulness to us. In the case of marital unfaithfulness godly counsel should be sought but, as redeemed women saved by grace, let us resolve to be faithful!
Gift #9: Trustworthiness. Proverbs 31:11,12 says this about an excellent woman; “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
Would your husband say this about you? Do you give him every reason to believe you are for him? A husband who has no fear that his wife will talk disparagingly behind his back or undermine his authority is a blessed man.
Gift #10: Kindness. Proverbs 31:26, 30 describes a woman who uses her mouth to speak words of wisdom and kindness. Although this wife was a sinner just as we are, she was known for life giving words rather than words that tore down and belittled. Her fear of the Lord directed her attitude and actions as she spoke truth tempered by mercy. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit that flows out of those who abide in Christ.
Gift #11: Love for home and family: In Titus 2 Paul tells Titus to find mature believing women who could teach and train the younger women. Included in the list of things he wanted passed on to the next generation was for home and family to be a woman’s priority. Women who delight in creating an atmosphere of peace and joy point family and friends to the heavenly home God is preparing for us! But there are some things that can hinder us from cultivating homes like this:
- Being so busy with outside activities; our homes can become disordered and chaotic, failing to offer rest from the world.
- Unresolved tensions in the marriage relationship create an atmosphere of disharmony.
- A spirit of laziness or unwillingness to assume responsibility for the daily running of the home puts additional pressure on husbands who are responsible for providing for their families.
- A disordered heart reaps a disordered home.
Whether or not we work outside of the home, God has created us to be life givers and nurturers, and home is the primary place He wants this to happen.
Gift #12: Physical affection and touch. I’m guessing you knew this would be on the list! God created our husbands to respond to sight and touch and a primary way He calls wives to communicate love and respect is through physical intimacy. We honor God and our husbands by not giving way to selfishness when our needs vary from theirs. 1 Corinthians 7: 5 instructs us to not deprive one another. Why? Because unashamed intimacy with our spouse is reflective of the intimacy Christ died to give us with Himself. Truly selfless love is motivated and empowered by gospel grace.
Over time, as these twelve gifts are cultivated and grow in our lives through God’s Word and Spirit, we will not only bless our husbands but we will be blessed as well! Because we still battle sin, at times we will fail, so we must live in an ongoing spirit of repentance. Yet, grace upon grace, we can rejoice that the Holy Spirit is committed to helping us both look like Jesus; our husbands as servant leaders, and wives as helpmates and nurturers of life.
If you are married and wondering what gift your husband might like this Christmas, consider focusing in on one of these gifts. While he will likely never write these things on a list, God’s Word tells us exactly what will bless our husbands (and Him as well). Thankfully, God equips us for what He calls us to do, allowing us first to be receivers and then thankful givers of God’s abundant grace. And that’s because Christ is the greatest gift of all!
Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh….But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against these things there is no law, Galatians 5:16, 22,23.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,
I will be taking the month off from blogging to focus on Christ and His gospel. Have a blessed Christmas as you marvel at the very greatest gift we have been given.