The Portrait of A Thriving Wife
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Jeremiah 30:18-19, Genesis 3:1-7
Sunday 31st May 2015
As we round up the Family Convention series ‘Thrive’ today, let’s begin with a brief recap of what we learnt last week. From the message ‘Building A Thriving Family’, we understood that in building a thriving family, it must be modeled in the image of God exemplifying His nature, character and values. We agreed that the family is the essence of civilization and the hope for the future. The family is designed to provide a cure for all the social, psychological, emotional and spiritual ills in society. A thriving family inadvertently produces a thriving nation; hence the success of a nation can be traced to the success of her families. Conversely, every problem within a nation can be traced to the delinquency within her families.
We went further to understand the portrait of a thriving family which is initiated by the leadership of the father in a family, as he is viewed as the representative head of the family by God. A God-fearing man’s influence on his wife aids her in blossoming like a fruitful vine in the house, and facilitates his children’s growth like olive plants around the table.
So far in this series, most of my teaching has focused on teaching and instructing men, but today I want to address the women. Today’s message titled, ‘The Portrait of a Thriving wife’ is a mainly addressed to the women, but I am sure everyone will benefit from this teaching. Here is Genesis 3: 1-7: ‘Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘you shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.’
Interestingly, the conversation recorded above between the serpent and Eve took place while Adam was around, as it is mentioned that he also ate the fruit. There is a defined structure which God initiated for marriage, and there are divine principles that undergird a thriving marriage. For instance, if a home is in chaos, it is imperative that we find out if the man is in alignment with God. Psalm 128, which we studied in detail last week gives us the picture of a thriving family, when a man fears and honours God – His wife blossoms like a fruitful vine and his children blooms like olive plants around the table. So then, the serpent (the embodiment of the devil in this passage) approached and addressed Eve, the fallout of which our world is grappling with up till today. The bible describes the serpent as cunning and crafty, engineering a reversal of roles in his attack on the family, by striking up a conversation with Eve.
God’s initial outline for leadership places man as the head of the home, Christ as the head of the church, and God as the head of the Godhead. In speaking to the serpent, Eve took on a role that she had not been prepared for, while Adam became a by-stander. Sadly this situation aptly describes the picture in many homes, today.
It must be stated that whenever God’s instructions are ignored and the right roles are reversed, in marriage or any other God-ordained institution, the devil has a legitimate excuse to access and take a foothold, leading to chaos and confusion. God’s order in marriage is clearly defined in scriptures, and He functions within the order that He has established. To enjoy the blessings and to fulfil His mandate for a thriving marriage, God’s order must always be maintained.
Every wife is equal to her husband, in essence (or being). 1 Peter 3:7 states: ‘In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered’ (NLT). Hence, it is an abuse of human dignity for a woman to be subject to any form of domestic violence. Every husband is mandated to love, cherish and protect his wife. So then, every wife is equal to her husband in essence, but should be submissive in function. Ephesians 5:22 and 25 outlines the roles of wives and husbands in marriage, respectively: ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord’. ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her’. To submit could be defined as ‘putting yourself under another authority’, in relation to your function in the home, as mentioned above. There is however a defining clause to submission. The bible states that the wife must submit as to the Lord. Hence, every directive from the husband must correlate with what God has already stipulated in His word. Submission must be adhered to at all times, within the boundaries that God has given in scriptures.
A husband is a person, but in addition to this, the role of a husband is an office or position. A good example is the role of a CEO of a company, occupied by a person. Sometimes, it is possible to have a dislike for the person who occupies this position at a workplace, but the position should be respected. Likewise, every husband occupies a position that must be honoured, including those occasions when an argument is being worked out. 1 Corinthians 11:3 buttresses this hierarchy of roles as stated above: ‘But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God’. Just like Christ submits to God, a woman should submit to her husband. This instruction should be adhered to, as it is a prerequisite for a thriving home, and ultimately an indication of a wife’s honour of God.
Ephesians 5:33 adds a bit more to this discussion, which reads: ‘Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband’. Every wife desires to be loved, while every husband desires to be respected. Every wife has been wired to expect love from her husband and a husband has been wired to expect respect from his wife in a marriage. There are references in scriptures that a woman should love her husband, but there is not a single explicit command about this. 1 Peter 3:1-7 reads: ‘In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear’. Husbands may atimes make or take the wrong decision, but wives are encouraged from this passage above to stay clear of nagging their husbands. Proverbs 25:24 reads ‘It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home’ (NLT). Proverbs 27:15 further reads: ‘A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day’ (NLT). Nagging hardly changes the situation, it simply exacerbates the issue. Instead of nagging, the scripture encourages wives to have a positive attitude. Besides looking good and adorning the latest designer clothes, it is vital to place equal and the necessary emphasis on the inward qualities of a gentle and quiet heart. God’s word must gird and undergird your heart. It must be stated that a person is not a real star, until such a person has excelled and shone like a star at home.
Sarah is a classic example of a woman who respected her husband at a difficult point of their marriage. Having been promised a child by God for a long time and not seeing the fulfilment up until the time the angels visited Abraham in Genesis 18, it was not too far-fetched to see why Sarah laughed when the Angel declared that the promised child will arrive shortly. Despite all the physical constraints, Sarah believed and submitted to Abraham. Today, we have the story of the promised child – Isaac. How many miracles and promises of God have been forfeited as a result of disagreements and quarrels? As children of Sarah, God’s promise to you will be fulfilled, if you can hold on and remain steadfast in your belief.
In conclusion, let’s examine the portrait or picture of a thriving wife, as outlined in Proverbs 31:10-31.
‘Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise’ (NLT).
The writer of this scripture describes a thriving woman as precious as jewels. And as a result there are things that she will be expected to do and to abstain from. The word ‘precious’ can be described as worthy, good, honourable, morally upright, honest and pure. Such a woman is trusted by her husband confidently and he relies on her absolutely. Her family and household are of priority to her. She is a person who reaches out to other people, who may be in need. Her husband is well known at the city gate – the man is well respected because of his wife’s conduct. She is confident of the future, having no fear. She speaks wisely and instructs kindly. She is organised, detailed and meticulous. She is well mannered and cultured. She is diligent and excellent at everything she does. She is given to ensuring a thriving atmosphere in the home. Her children and husband praises and blesses her. Every woman should desire to be described with these words: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”. She is unrivalled, unparalleled, unequalled and simply God-sent.
Finally, the writer of Proverbs 31 says ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised’. These concluding words correspond to what was described of a thriving man – a man who fears the Lord. When a man who fears the Lord and a woman who fears the Lord come together as a couple, their union and family will thrive.
Can I encourage us all, as I conclude this series to make it a point of priority to fear and honour God? I declare that your homes will thrive and all that you set your heart and hands on will prosper. I release on you the grace to thrive in Jesus name! (Amen).
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