Chapter Twelve     A Loving Respect


Have you ever thought about the fact that sometimes, as we’re walking about in our everyday lives and as we look at other married couples, that we are not seeing them as they really are? Stop and think about it, we’re seeing only what they want us to see. What we often see in public is that they are considerate, loving, forgiving, and sweet toward each other. But when they are behind closed doors, and in their own home, they often become ill tempered, irritable, and unforgiving toward each other.  And often their marriage partners find themselves wishing that they could be treated the same way at home as they are treated in public. They treat their public friends better than they treat each other, and they wish that they could at least be treated as good as if they were only friends.


The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, and instructed them to “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,’ (that is bickering,) ‘and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice’ (or grudges and ill-feelings).  And to ‘be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (See Eph. 4:31-32).


This passage is speaking to the Church, and I would say especially to husbands and wives in the Church today, and this teaching should be applied to the marriage and family relationship.  After all, shouldn’t we always keep in our minds and hearts that each of us is a member of the body of Christ? Yes, and didn’t Christ come down from heaven to die for both of you? Isn’t your husband a child of God? And isn’t you wife a child of God? And if so, then dear brothers and sisters take this passage and apply it to your marriage relationship! As we live out our lives we are to have “A LOVING RESPECT” one toward the other, even as Christ does toward us, and this goes especially for husbands and wives!


Then Paul, in speaking to both husbands and wives, writes, “nevertheless let every one of you’ (husbands) ‘in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (See Eph. 5:33).


Look and see something here: if God has blessed us with this wonderful lesson, and has inspired it to be written, would it not be to our benefit to take its lessons into our hearts and pray to God that He might give us the wisdom to apply it to our own marriage and family relationship? And look at what the Apostle Peter has to say to the wives in 1 Peter 3:1-2. He tells them that they are to be in subjection to their “own husbands;’ and ‘that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”


So what does all this mean to us today? Well, dear ones, it simply means that wives are to conduct themselves in such a way that even if their husbands will not listen to their Godly words, they will be won over by their pure respectful behavior towards them as they live in their everyday lives. Peter goes on to say, “whose adorning’ (that is their decorations,) ‘let it not be that outward adorning’ nor ‘of plaiting’ (or only the braiding and weaving of their) ‘hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man’ (or the spiritual inner self,) ‘of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament’ (or a vivid and shinning forth) ‘of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (See 1 Peter 3:3-6). Peter is saying that you, dear sisters, who are the daughters of Sara, are to follow after her example, and if you do these things and are following in her footsteps and doing what is right, then you have nothing to fear, especially in offending your husbands. You see, dear ones, your person is not the one that is to be seen only on the outside, but the inner spiritual woman is to be shinning forth from within your hearts!


So what about my husband? Well, let’s see now, in verse seven of chapter three, Peter speaks to the husbands, and tells them that they too are also to respect their wives! He says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them’ (that is live with your wives) ‘according to knowledge,’ (that’s the knowledge of the true gospel of God,) ‘giving honour’ (and real respect) ‘unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”


And let’s pause right here and ask one question…what does Peter mean when he refers to the woman as being the “weaker vessel?” I think that is important to understand that he is not saying that she is in any way inferior! No, and by no means was she created to become a doormat that her husband uses to walk on! In fact it has been shown over and over again that there are things that she will and should excel in, yes, I mean even over that of her husband! What is being taught is that the woman is by her physical nature not as strong as he is. His body has been designed by God the Creator to have a larger frame, which he needed to go out and work in the fields of his labor, and built to care for the needs of his family, to provide the necessities of their daily lives, and to care for and protect them from harm.


But look at her frame. Her frame is smaller, yet designed for a very special purpose indeed. She was made in such a way that she is suited to the purpose of nurturing and caring for her husband and most especially for her children. Watch a family and you will most likely see that the children instinctively stay close to their mother. Do you think that that was by accident?  No, but it’s by divine design!


While he is designed to be concerned with the physical, she is by her very nature concerned with the emotional. She is for the most part far more superior to him in this area, because she was made that way! And make no mistake about it; children really do need their mothers! And I would like to add here that in order for them to have a good and balanced life they also need a good and loving father! They need both parents living according to the design of God, to bring together to their young children that stable, nurturing and safe environment which is one whole family.


Listen to what he’s telling the husbands: he’s saying that husbands are to live with their wives with the full understanding of their needs, and always being thoughtful of them. And giving them the honour that is due them as the one who is weaker in her physical strength, and knowing that she is sometimes susceptible to her emotions. He should learn and know what pleases and comforts her and respond to her in kind. And he should learn and know her hurts and angers as well and respond in to her kind. He can use this special understanding to build her up rather than to tear her down!


Husbands if you have ten “vessels,” and you know that one of them is more fragile and delicate, and more easily broken than the other nine, wouldn’t you handle that “vessel” more carefully than the other nine? The answer is that you most certainly would! This is how that we husbands are to treat our wives. We are to give her special love, honour and respect.  And so you husbands go out and buy your wife gifts, send her flowers, remember her birthday, and most certainly take her out on dates to those special places!


We husbands are to remember that our wives too are “heirs together of the grace of life” along with us. And the gifts of God are according to His amazing graces are not ours alone, but they are also members of the same body of Jesus Christ and therefore they are heirs and joint heirs with Christ! (See Rom. 8:17)


Husbands and wives are to share in the blessings of life equally. And they should share them together as husband and wife! Husbands are to respect their wives, and not rob them of the joy of life that God created for her to have.


And remember dear brothers, Peter adds the words, “that your prayers be not hindered.” The word that has been translated here as “hindered” is the Greek word ekkopto (ek-kop'-to), and it means to be cut off and interrupted. It is used in the very same way as found under the old law worship, his disrespect of his wife is considered as being “uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people” (See Le.7:20). Does that mean that he is not a Child of God? No, it most certainly does not mean that. But it does mean that he will be cut off from the blessings of the abundant life in the Church Kingdom of Heaven. And so dear husbands, we ought to behave ourselves with the utmost respect toward our wives…and why not? After all, we’re one flesh!


May the LORD bless us, and in the next chapter I hope that we can look at the necessity of a having “ROMANTIC LOVE” between the husband and wife in the marriage and family relationship.