“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12
This chapter will indirectly be a tribute to my husband, Lee. God has given me a husband that is easy to bless. God’s ability to place two people so uniquely together that they perfectly balance one another never ceases to amaze me. You see, my husband is probably one of the nicest guys in the world. He is extremely difficult to make angry or frustrate. He absolutely refuses to argue. He insists on seeing the good in everyone. He rarely worries, and is all around a good man. I, on the other hand, am quite critical, quick-tempered, and too loose with my tongue. I do not say these things with pride, but rather to make a point. I suppose that the Lord placed such a wonderful man in my life to be my constant companion, so that I could learn to bless. God balanced my critical spirit with a husband who is a fountain of life to all that he meets.
Even with such an amazing husband, however, blessing does not come easily. Human nature, and dare I say especially female nature, is to criticize. The Lord talks about this in James 3:9:10, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James states earlier in the chapter that if a man can perfectly tame his tongue, then he is perfect. Therefore, I know that I am not alone in my struggle with my tongue. One of the most prevalent ways that we bring dishonor to our husbands is the way in which we talk about them to others. In the Old Testament when someone gave a blessing, it was verbal. We use that word much more liberally today, referring to acts of kindness, serving one another, as well as blessing with our words. I want to primarily focus on blessing our husbands verbally.
I feel that one of the most treacherous, yet overlooked sins in the Church today is gossip. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines gossip as idle chatter about others. Idle is defined as useless or futile. My personal definition of gossip is anything that does not need to be shared. This information can be good or bad, praiseworthy or slanderous. There are many details of life that simply do not need to be spoken. Praiseworthy tidbits may include intimate moments between you and your spouse or a deed that he desired to be kept anonymous. Gossip is often masked as “prayer requests”, “concerns” or “venting”, but the root and the damage is still the same.
The sin of gossip is especially rampant among women, perhaps because women are more likely to talk on a close, intimate level. This is especially true when it comes to women sharing about their personal lives. It is rarely labeled as gossip, but if you line it up with the Word of God, it is. Women share things about their husbands, children, in-laws, and co-workers that should never leave the circle in which it existed. Much damage in marital relationships has come from the way one spouse talks about the other when he/she is not around.
You may be thinking, “How would they ever even know?” Let me remind you: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17 You may also be thinking, “But there are just times that I need to talk to someone.” I will talk a little more about this later, but let me remind you of Psalm 68:19, “Praise be to the Lord, to our God and Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
Proverbs 31:12 states, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Emphasis added) Who is the she that this verse refers to? She is the woman of “noble character” who “fears the Lord”. (Proverbs 31:10, 30) Good is anything that is beneficial and evil is anything that is harmful. Words, thoughts and actions are rarely neutral. Almost everything that we say, think or do either falls into the category of beneficial or harmful, good or evil. I trust that the key to being the rare, beautiful jewel that Proverbs 31 speaks of is to do our husbands good and not evil all the days of our lives, especially in our words.
I am a person that is easily swayed by first impressions. If someone has told me something about another person that paints him/her in a negative light, it is almost impossible to give him/her a clean slate after the negative information has been shared. Shortly after I was married, I learned how incredibly true this was in a marital setting. My husband and I were married at my home church in Texas. He is from Illinois, over 1300 miles away. Immediately following our honeymoon we returned to work at a residential boys home where the director had been my youth pastor in high school. We also continued to attend my home church for the first few months. Lee was often labeled as “Debra’s husband”. I realized quickly that how I spoke of my husband would forever engrave a certain picture into people’s mind. When people met Lee, I wanted their response to be “Wow! So this is that wonderful man that Debra married.” The only way that was going to happen was if I made an effort to speak highly of Lee.
That did not mean that I had to fabricate stories of a perfectly, charmed life. It wasn’t. The first two weeks of our marriage we had nowhere to live. Once we finally found a place it was a tiny, one-room efficiency apartment. It was also quite temporary, while we waited for our staff housing to be ready for us at the residential home. It was tough being a new wife and not being able to “nest”. I could not even unpack the majority of our belongings. However, I had to focus on all of the wonderful blessings that I did have, and share those stories with others rather than my frustrations and tears, which proved to be quite temporary and spun from moments now recalled with fondness.
I realize this is the opposite spirit from the one in which the world operates. It is the norm in our society to ridicule and run down our spouses. Almost anywhere you turn you can hear a husband or wife complaining of his/her spouse’s shortcomings. This could definitely explain why one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, an unbelievably staggering statistic in my mind.
As I stated earlier, I am naturally a critical, quick tempered, and impatient person. I have learned though, that my critical attitude begins and ends in the power of my mind. 2 Corinthians 10:5 asserts that “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” How can our thoughts be obedient to Christ? What are we told as Christians that we are to think on? Philippians 4:8 answers that question quite explicitly. It reads, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” When a critical, impatient, or angry thought enters our minds we must “take it captive and make it obedient” to the Lord. Transform a critical thought to a praiseworthy one. We will find that when we begin to get a handle on making our thought life holy then our verbal blessings will easily follow. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b
The Real World…
What are some practical, daily things that we as wives can do to bless our husbands and “do him good and not evil all the days of our lives”?
Never share personal information. Your husband needs to have complete confidence in you. “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her;” Proverbs 31:11a (KJV) He needs to know that when he shares personal fears, plans, or concerns that they will remain only with you. The only exception to this rule is if your husband shares something with you that could be harmful to himself or others, such as admitting that he is an alcoholic or a friend plans to commit suicide. In this situation always try to talk with your husband first and suggest counseling. If your husband does not wish to discuss it any further, seek the Lord for a wise leader that you can confide in. These instances are extremely rare, however. As a rule, you should never share personal information about your husband. The key to a lasting marriage is a well-grounded friendship. Other than the Lord Jesus, your husband should be your best friend. We all know that friendships are only as strong as the bond of trust between those two friends, so we must carefully guard and honor the trust in our marriages.
Never embarrass him. This could mean a couple of things. Many times, a wife’s actions can embarrass her husband; the way she dresses, her attitude, the way she speaks, and various other issues. The Proverbs 31 woman clothes herself with “strength and dignity” and speaks with “wisdom and faithful instruction”. There are also times that things you share about your husband would embarrass him. Perhaps he did something really funny at home last night at dinner. Carefully decide whether or not sharing that anecdote would be beneficial or harmful. Most likely it was funny to you and your children, but would only embarrass him if shared publicly.
Never criticize your husband to others. This is the one that is often masked as “venting” or just needing someone to talk to. Let me empathize for a moment. I know there are legitimate times in life that we simply need to let down our guard and have a good cry on the shoulder of a close friend. There are times that we need to sort through our frustrations and our emotions by talking them out. I am not saying that we should suppress every emotion and always pretend that our marriages and our husbands are wonderful. There will be times that neither are wonderful. I am simply saying to be wise and careful when selecting with whom you share. Your immediate reaction should be to turn to the Lord. He should be your best friend, the one in whom you confide the deepest areas of your heart. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 I have gone to the Lord in anger, frustration, and hurt over something that my husband had done or said many times. Almost always I leave His presence comforted, rejoicing, and often repentant because He had shown me my part in the conflict. There will be times, though, that you do need a person to share with. I suggest that you find one person whom you trust, whom you know has a solid walk with the Lord, and who will not allow what you share to taint their view of your husband. I have the awesome privilege of having a great relationship with my mother-in-law. She is one of my closest friends and someone I often go to for counsel. I know that she loves her son, and so I know that I can share with her frustrations that I am having without them making her think any less of Lee. She can also offer great insight because she has been married to his father for thirty-three years and they are very similar. Other than your one confidante, I do not feel that you should ever criticize your husband to someone else. This can mean any facet of life no matter how big or how small. Again, try to ask yourself if what you are speaking of your husband is benefiting or harming his character – doing him good or evil.
Never listen to others criticize their husbands. I realize this may sound unusual. How can listening to another woman criticize her husband affect your relationship with yours? The Word of God states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 It is impossible to listen to other women constantly criticizing their spouses without that spirit coming on you as well. Try to steer the conversation into a godlier arena, speak the truth in love about blessing others, and if all else fails – leave the conversation. “…do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22b
Look for ways to honor your husband. Look and listen for opportunities to bless your husband to others. Tell of something special that he did for you, brag on his promotion at work, encourage the use of his gifts and talents, smile when referring to him, and carry his name with pride. Be aware of times when you can say something nice about your husband or the life that you share with him. Awhile back, a friend of ours asked me if I had intentions of finishing college someday. I explained to him that I was open to the idea if the Lord led me down that path, but at the moment I absolutely loved my life. I elaborated on how much I simply enjoyed being a wife and a mother. When I returned home, I was telling my husband about my conversation. When I told him of my response, he simply beamed. I had blessed my husband and his reputation by simply commenting on our life together. To others, my happiness is a reflection of how well Lee is fulfilling his role as my husband.
I realize that this is certainly not an exhaustive list of ways that you can bless your husband, but it is a start. These are some practical guidelines that we can follow on a daily basis to get rolling. I know that this is not an area that comes naturally, but the Lord Jesus provides us with a wonderful example, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Philippians 4:13
Pray and ask that the Lord would set a guard over your mouth. Echo in faith the proclamation that David uttered in Psalm 17:3, “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.” Ask yourself with each word you speak, “Am I doing my husband good or evil, am I benefiting or harming his character with what I am about to share?”
I see some of you shaking your heads and saying, “That is great for you, Debra. The Lord has given you a wonderful husband. What about mine? He does nothing that is worthy of blessing.” First, let me remind you that you are only responsible for your actions. You must still be holy in your thoughts, words and deeds despite how your husband lives. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7 Next let me encourage you to read of David and King Saul in 1 Samuel. If anyone had an excuse to curse a man, it was David towards Saul. Nevertheless, David refused to speak against the Lord’s anointed no matter what Saul did to him. Even though Saul was not submitting to the Lord, he was still the authority that God was allowing to reign for that time. No matter how your husband is acting (unless he is abusing you in which case you should seek help immediately), he is the anointed authority that the Lord has ordained for your home. I would also like to recommend A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness 1 by Gene Edwards. This is a wonderful book that talks of honoring the Lord’s anointed and trusting God for His sovereignty and healing. Remember: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26