Social networking has taken the 21st century by storm. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or one of the myriad of others, it has been a force for much good. Beside the personal benefits these sites offer, they have been used in creative and amazing ways for the things of God as well. Of course, with anything that is so wildly popular, you can be sure that it’s going to be, at times, used for that which is negative.
One such negative outgrowth has been the springing up of things called, “revenge websites.” This is where someone, for a fee, can basically destroy the reputation of another person by airing private information to millions of people. The information these bitter people post doesn’t have to be factual. They can say almost anything. Besides slander and gossip, they put up phone numbers, addresses, where they work, what kind of car they drive, bank account numbers…you name it, they will put up anything and everything. The whole goal of these sites is to assist someone in destroying another person. Typically, this is a person that at one time they loved and cared for. Any reasonable person knows that God would never honor this kind of character assassination. The thought behind this illustration is this: though Christian husbands and wives love each other, sadly at times, I believe they do things purposely to hurt the other person. In this scriptural passage, God is reminding us that when we enter in to the covenant of marriage, we are saying in effect, “I will never hurt the reputation of my mate, or the family finances.”
Let’s take principles from this passage that seem to deal with marriage.
In chapter 31 of Proverbs, there are actually 22 verses that correspond to the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, which is similar to some of the passages in Psalms. It is thought that the reasoning behind the alphabetical numbering of these particular verses about a virtuous woman was to create an easy-to-remember poetical song that a young man could use to readily access marital compatibility guidelines. It is a compilation of what King Lemuel’s mother taught him about assessing character. Of course, nearly everything that’s stated about the qualities of a good woman can certainly be applied to a good man. I was in the car talking with one of my grandchildren and said, “Did you learn your ABC’s today?” He said, “yes” and then began to sing the familiar melodic song, “A B C D E F G…” Maybe that’s what King Lemuel’s mother did. From an early age she would say, “Alright, you’re going to sing with me. Here’s the kind of a woman that you want to marry.” She would then sing alphabetically of these attributes. From the very start of his life, she built this little marriage acrostic into his mind.
There Are At Least 4 Principles of a Good Marriage Found in This Passage:
1. Husbands and Wives Should Purpose to Be a Blessing to Each Other
It is very important to note that a husband or wife of the highest Christian caliber wishes that their mate’s needs are being met. And not just met, but extraordinarily so! A good woman says to herself, “I am going to do this man right; I’m going to make sure that he is cared for, honored and loved.” The same thing would be true for a husband. He purposes that his wife’s basic needs would be met; that is her need of security, provision, protection and care. Good Christians care that their relationship is in good repair. A good Christian says it’s not enough that we just exist and just live, we want a relationship that is full of peace and enjoyment.
Notice that it is the “heart” of the husband that is trusting in his wife. God wants us to take care of each other’s physical needs, but also to care about the heart of our mate. It is a fact that when we get married, we have to make money. We have to protect our family in the world. We have to try to navigate this present society. When you marry, it becomes your responsibility to make sure you care for them, “But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:33). But while physically caring for one another is the right thing, God clearly states that in great marriages, it is not just merely physical provision, it also includes how he may “please” her.
This is more than providing for the needs of the home only. It means going above the necessities, to the very pleasing of the wife. Husbands, you need to make sure that her mind, her body AND her emotions are all pleased. God states that the day that you signed on for marriage is the day that, even though you are an individual, you now have a whole new mindset, and that is to care for the things of your husband or wife, “…The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34). The day that a woman gets married, she then begins to have a new focus. It’s no longer just about her. It is no longer about her career. It’s no longer even about the ministry…it’s about her husband! The same holds true for a husband investing in his wife. Tragically, I have seen many abuses in this area in the Christian world today. I have talked with some church women that say, “My husband will just have to take care of himself. I’m going to make my children my priority.” So sad…and so wrong.
2. Husbands and Wives Should Cover for Each Other
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” (Proverbs 31:11)
Notice that you’re covering for them, not covering up for them. There’s a big difference in those two thoughts. The point is, that when you’re married you ought to be able to rest easy, knowing that your mate has your back. You should have confidence that if you are not able to be there to handle things, that you can trust the conduct of your mate to speak with grace and prudence. You are sure that they will be discreet in handling the affairs of the home, business and ministry. You know that your mate would never in any way cause your reputation to be damaged, or to cause a reproach.
Husbands and wives ought to purpose in their heart that they are going to cover for their mate. In legal matters you would always conduct yourselves with the highest level of integrity. When we cover for our mate, we are serious and trustworthy. We do what we’re asked to. If our mate asks us to do something, we take the time to write it down. We take that note and put it on the refrigerator or whatever, but we follow through to get it done! We count every duty as a sacred trust. It is not enough that we just say, “Oh, I forgot.” Of course that happens occasionally as we are all human. But when we really care about our mate, we care more about their reputation than ours. If I’ve made a promise that’s one thing, but when my mate makes a promise, I will do my best to help protect her reputation and fulfill that promise. I will never in any way be moody, sour or abusive to any person that is important to them. I will always speak in such a way as is becoming and appropriate. I will never betray them. Any words that they say in private, I will never say to anybody else. When it comes to my mate, I am saying, “I am going to always cover for you, I’ve got your back, and you can count on it!”
I remember counseling with a young father in his 30’s. We were chatting about their home life, as he was having marital troubles. Getting to the core of what was really going on proved to be a challenge. Finally, after a little bit of hem-hawing around, he went ahead and poured out his heart to me. He burst out, “I can’t trust my wife, and I don’t even know how much debt she has put us into. I have no idea how many credit cards she has. I just discovered this and that, and the deeper I go the crazier it gets!” He was out in the world working hard and here was his best friend sabotaging their relationship. I thought to myself, what a terrible betrayal it was to be sinking the ship of the home and secretly doing things that were harming the “bone of her bones and flesh of her flesh.”
3. Husbands and Wives Should Never Hurt the Family Finances
“…so that he shall have no need of spoil” (Proverbs 31:11).
Christian husbands and wives must conduct themselves in such a way that they would never create a tempting scenario. They must never create a situation that would place their husband or wife at risk for evil (this verse is really speaking about financial risk). The husband contributes to the provision of the home. The wife also contributes to the provision of the home as much as possible. Neither of them works towards the detriment of it. Of course, if she has children in the home it’s not likely that she is going to be able to work much outside of the home, but perhaps she helps where she can. Certainly one of the best ways a wise wife can help is through prudent shopping. Each one helps relieve stress through financial wisdom.
One area for example, and I know that so many people are struggling with obedience in this area, is in giving 10 % of their income to God through the local church (known as tithing in Scripture). I understand that some Christians struggle with consistently giving. But you need to realize this – once you get married it is not that simple any more. You are now involving your mate and children! The Bible says that non-tithers are stealing from God. Stealing can never be a good thing! It is not just immaturity. It is creating an unhealthy scenario for your mate and family.
Another example is that of being an uncontrolled spender. If you are guilty of that then you are putting your mate in a position where they might be tempted to do something illegal. A Christian man that I knew had a gambling problem. I would have never guessed it, as he was in church nearly every service, and yet he had a serious gambling addiction. He got an adrenaline rush from throwing that money down. He would gamble on everything from football games, to cards to you name it. All along his wife thought that he was earning income and putting it in different accounts. In reality however, he was spending every bit of it. He put his wife in a bad position. You might say, “Well, it’s my money.” No, the moment you said “I do” is the moment it is no longer MY money, but OUR money!
God said we must never do anything to hurt the family finances. Specifically, He is saying here that as you consider the matter of marriage, make sure that the person you marry is a person of the highest financial integrity. If they don’t tithe, then that’s not a person that you ought to even consider marrying. If they can’t steer clear of gambling, then don’t marry that person. Let’s let them get those areas cleared up, and have several months, if not years, of obedience under their belt before allowing any open doors of relationship.
I always wanted to make sure that when I came back home after a day of work things were going to be better not worse in the home and thank God it was and is so. If you have a “spending plan” (and that’s really the best term for budget), then stick to it. When your mate finds out the specifics of what you’re doing, it should be better than they thought, never worse.
4. Husbands and Wives Should Have a Lifelong Commitment to Take Care of Each Other
“…She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11).
It is the constant concern for each in a relationship, to do good things for the other person. Each one states and then carries through with the following commitment, “I will never hurt you intentionally. I purpose in my heart to help you physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.” One wonderful thing about weddings is the beautiful vows that the couples say to each other. A typical set of words goes something like this: “I will be with you through sickness and in health, through the good times and the bad times, in plenty and in want.” There is a public commitment to always take care of each other through thick and thin. Not just when I’m in a good mood or when things are easy. Even after their home going, I’m convinced that this verse is saying that whatever agreements were made about the estate, then the wife or husband would honor those. They will make sure that every promise is kept.
There are a many things in my life with Lynette that are precious tokens of our lifelong commitment. Some of these are words and promises that Lynette and I discussed before her heaven going. These are things that nothing, with God being my helper, would keep me from fulfilling. Once we covenant and purpose things then we are committed to seeing it through to the end.
I was reading in the news recently about a precious couple from the state of Washington. The man was 92 years old and she was 88. They had been married for 68 years and he often told people that he had two great loves: his wife and the Lord Jesus Christ! What caught my eye were the headlines, “Elderly Couple Dies Holding Hands.” They had been married for 68 years and were out in their car together when they were struck by a pickup truck. When rescuers came onto the scene and they began to try to administer aid to them, they saw that they were already deceased and holding hands! As the rescuers talked to the devastated family, they began hearing more about their amazing love story. He was a farmer and she had been a church secretary for many years. They were active in their church. As long and as often as they could, they did things together. As they did, they would always reach out and hold hands. They cared for each other dutifully. As he grew older, he still tried to mow the lawn, but he couldn’t do it alone, so they both got on the handle of the lawn mower and pushed it around together! Isn’t that just like the Lord to let this good couple go out together, holding hands. I thought to myself, “It doesn’t get any sweeter than that!” That’s what I call a commitment to the end. Although there may have been periods of doubt in their relationship, or times when their devotion to each other was tested, they hung in there until the end and said, “we’re going all the way together.”
There’s going to be some stuff that’s going to happen in the course of a marriage: that’s just the way life is. That’s why we make vows and that’s why we purpose before God to stay committed for a lifetime and beyond. This is truly a great and wise plan our amazing God gave us.