Perhaps one of the biggest and most frequent mistakes that wives make in their marriages is looking at their husbands to judge their spirituality. It has proven to be the place of stumbling for many. Although this place of stumbling is not confined to the husband-wife relationship, as it may be observed among many Christian relationships, it occurs so frequently in marriages that, as wives, we must ever guard against this critical error.
To understand how to guard against this error, we must first understand its cause. It is very common in Christian circles to find marriages where one spouse is a Christian and the other an unbeliever. Sometimes it is the wife who has been saved and finds herself now married to an unsaved or unspiritual man. However, sometimes the reverse is true. It is the husband who is saved, and he now finds himself married to a wife who is uninterested in spiritual things. It is rare to find both a husband and wife loving the Lord and seeking His will and ways for their lives. For those of you who are in a marriage with a spiritual spouse, it is truly a blessing from the Lord which you should cherish and for which you should be deeply thankful.
But what of the Christian wife that feels that her husband is a weight that she seems to drag behind? Perhaps he is an unbeliever. Perhaps he is a believer, but is not a spiritually mature man. This is where the problem arises. The Christian wife often reads much about the Christian life and the Christian family. She listens to sermons and tapes. She attends Bible studies. She has heartfelt desires to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And as good as those Christian resources may be, the wife often builds within her mind an expectation of what her husband should be. Then, in reality, when she looks at him, she sees that he falls short of this “model man” that she has built within her mind.
Additionally, she may look around at other Christian men that she knows. Forgetting that she only knows them from a distance and rarely sees their shortcomings, she compares her husband to those men, and again, the husband comes up way short. How unwise is this trap into which she falls! The Apostle Paul spoke of those in Corinth who put together information in a wrong manner and looked upon the outward appearance as those who were not wise: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).
The danger that arises when we measure others by ourselves or by others, or when we compare others to ourselves or to others, is that we can never arrive at God’s view. Most often we will lift our hearts up in pride and criticize the other, or we will see good things in the other and become discouraged with ourselves. With God there is no partiality. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All need His grace and mercy. How important it is that we learn the importance of these truths: Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4). And: Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God (Romans 15:7). The Lord does call the spiritual person to seek to restore one overtaken in a fault, but even with that instruction, it is given to the spiritual-minded person. And even then, it is accompanied by an admonition that it be done in meekness and only after considering oneself. For if one thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he only deceives himself (Galatians 6:3).
How does this all apply to the Christian wife? She is never to hold up her own expectations for her husband. She is never to strive to have him minister in the church according to her desires and her plans. He is the man that the Lord created, both physically and spiritually. Is he is unsaved? Salvation is a work of the Lord. She can never accomplish that work in him. She must wait for the Lord’s timing. If her husband is a Christian, she must still allow the Lord to lead her husband. Often the wife’s voice speaks so loudly and so frequently that because of the noise that she creates, her husband does not hear the Lord’s voice. How we need to be reminded that the husband has a Head. His Head is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3), and what a perfect Head He is!
Whatever the plan is for a husband, only God knows, and only God can accomplish that plan! What, then, is a wife to do if her husband is unsaved or unspiritual? The Word of God answers that question so completely. The wife is to subject herself to her husband, allowing the Lord in her life to shine through. It will not be what she speaks, but it will be the life that she lives that will show forth the Lord. With a meek and quiet spirit that remains calm and sure as she trusts in God, God will often do a mighty work in others (1 Peter 3:1-6).
The best encouragement for any wife in this position is to lay down her own expectations for her husband. She must lay down her own plans and desires. She must lay down her own will and ways and focus upon being the wife that God desires her to be, and remember that if someone were to line up her life with a “model woman,” she, too, would fall short. She cannot allow her focus to dwell upon her husband’s shortcomings. She must look for the areas in his life where she can offer up thanksgiving to the Lord. When the complaint arises as to how lacking her husband is in submission to the Lord, always she must ask herself the question of how submissive she is to her husband. Most often when we are finding fault with them we have forgotten our own sin, weaknesses, and faults. We have lifted our own hearts up in pride – and what a great sin that is!
Who is an unwise woman? She measures her husband by others and compares her husband with others. This critical error will never give her God’s view. And it will always cause her to lose respect for her husband!
May the Lord Himself give us a heart to see as He sees and then to love as He loves!