A Wife After God's Own Heart, Part 1
Remember how we discussed that women are meant to be influencers? There’s no easier place to see this than in marriage. Wives, whether you realize it or not, you have likely become a skilled influencer of your husband. It is second nature for women to use subtlety, nuance, and timing to encourage the changes we want to see in our men. But unfortunately most of us use this skill set selfishly, manipulating to get what we want. God is aware of this bent within us (in fact He designed it!) and has intended for us to use it for the Kingdom of God and the good of our husbands, even at our expense. To help us refine our skill of influencing, God has given 3 very clear and specific commands to wives: help, submit, respect.
Not the answer we usually want, that's for sure. These are usually the last 3 things we want to do in relation to our husbands, but without these, we will never see our husbands flourish through our influence. I love the way Elisabeth Elliot put this concept:
"As man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by submission. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission."
So let's unpack these commands to help, submit, and respect, one at a time.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:18, 22, 24)
Unfortunately, most people think being a helper is little more than being a secretary. But as you'll see, this is not an accurate interpretation. This phrase, "helper fit for him" is ezer neged in the Hebrew: ezer (help) neged (at your side, next to, beside, corresponding to). This Hebrew word ezer is used of Eve twice in this chapter. Every other time but one it is used of God and how He came to the aid of His people:
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Ps 33:20
But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay. Ps 70:5
O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. Ps 115:9
I will lift my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Ps 121:1-2
What an incredible type of help this is! A help that shields, that is needed desperately, in times of need and affliction. This help goes beyond that of a secretary or assistant. This is help that is invaluable! Wives, this is the type of help we are to bring to our husbands!
Help in Context
Notice the end of verse 24 above: "and they shall become one flesh." Part of the reason this command to be a helper is rarely well-received in America is we don’t understand we are one unit with our spouse. Our culture, through the commonness of divorce and the rights of women, promotes a very individualistic view of marriage. It’s as if two individuals are doing their own thing bound only by bank accounts, children, and a shared bed. But God gives a bigger picture of marriage: one flesh!
If you hurt your right leg and needed to use your left to support more of your weight for a time, would you hesitate? Would you think: “That’s not fair to my left leg to do that much work!” No! You are a singular unit, one person. Your body works together for the benefit of the whole. Or after winning an art competition, would you say, all the credit goes to my right hand! No, your ability to draw is not just in your right hand, but in your mind, the muscles in your arm, etc.
Marriage is two people becoming one flesh. Without this context, a desire to be a help to our husbands will never make sense. We will always feel that “it isn’t fair” or have a myriad of “what about me” thoughts. We forget that once we say I DO, his calling is my calling, his ministry is my ministry, his success is my success, and his weakness is my weakness. We choose to help willingly first and foremost because God commands it and we trust Him, but also because as our husband is benefitted, so we will be.
Help in Action
So what does it look like? Since this is a help that is bigger than just being a secretary or housemaid, it will look vastly different for every wife, depending on the needs of her man. Remember the examples of how God came to the aid of His people? This was often in times of great weakness and distress. So a good place to start is by asking the question, "what are the greatest needs of my husband or greatest weaknesses?"
- Does he struggle with depression? Help may look like notes of truth-filled encouragement, strategically-planned, fun-filled date nights, and constant prayer.
- Does he get easily overwhelmed? Help may look like organizing his desk, saying no to more social engagements to allow for a simpler schedule, and choosing to handle certain crises without bothering him about it.
- Does he get refreshed by time alone? Create those spaces for him, physically and in your schedule. Is he refreshed by time with his friends? Give him the freedom to spend a night out with them, or arrange it as a surprise.
- When he receives criticism at work, become a safe place for him to share and shield his heart from discouragement by speaking Bible-filled truth to him.
Become a student of your husband and ask God for creativity to bring life-giving help to him for the glory of God and the benefit of your marriage and household.
In part 2, we'll cover submission and respect.