I once thought greatness was measured in a husband by his ability to provide and willingness to please his wife. By the fruit of that notion I moved my family four times in four years – bigger and better at the speed of home equity. But the fruit of any vain labor will eventually ferment and intoxicate the one sustained by it. My efforts continued blindly until the day the phone rang “we no longer have the budget for your services” one call after another, fifty in a row. I’d been sucker-punched by the truth, just in time to watch the enemy run off with my income, and the value of our home. The emperor who had no clothes was now out of “hush” money.
The bank sold our home for half the amount we paid. My wife, already humbled by the experience, had her sites on a particular rental. But God stepped in and offered more than just a refuge for my large family. We settled instead into a tiny rental with a moldy campground bathroom and perpetually broken air unit. It was perfect for us and we hated it. She referred to it as an “ugly plaid shirt, two sizes two small”, that God insisted she wear. I call it throwing a fit, but I didn’t blame her-it was my fault. He made it clear that we were to move in for a time to adjust our thinking and renew our minds. We stayed. She made it a home.
Several months later in the deep summer, about midday, I fell asleep on the couch and God spoke. It was a long morning of old coffee and reheated resumes – one after another – ninety degrees outside and ninety five in the house. Caffeine is no match for the snake-charm of monotony but I didn’t care. Falling asleep was my way of feeding the pigeons from the park bench instead of working. Or maybe God had His hand on my forehead, waiting for me to stop punching the air and collapse from exhaustion. I don’t remember the dream, only the stress of it. But I awoke with God saying “Remember Adam and Abraham”
The treasure of Godly impression is that He says what he means. Each word is a map telling us where to dig. I spent the next couple days dusting off Adam and Abraham, only to uncover a seated portrait of myself. Both of these men sat down at precisely the moment they needed to stand on God’s word. In their desire to avoid conflict, they bowed the knee and relinquished their God given authority to their wives. Both men gave in because they wanted to please their wives more than God. This failure to stand up and give the enemy a black eye resulted in the most extraordinary suffering the earth will ever know.
Failure to lead
Eve was tempted by knowledge but Adam was tempted more by her appraisal of him. The world has reduced this event to a cartoon of sneaky teens being backhanded for outsmarting God. But even believers miss Adam’s failure to lead by focusing on the at-large temptation (to be like God). It’s obvious though… Adam should have said “No”. He’s responsible, the rest is history. Likewise, Abraham should have said “No” to Sarah when she pushed him to dismiss the promise of Isaac; ultimately making Hagar the mother of Isaac’s disdain throughout history. Both decisions to submit to these influences, instead of standing up to them, brought consequences beyond description.
Let’s Consider Just Two Of The Consequences Of Adam’s Failure:
Gen 3:16b (NLT) 16b “Then he said to the woman… And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” (Other versions refer to it as “desire for your husband” but a deeper study of the structure reveals this to be a desire for his authority -not sexual).
After fifteen years I can say with absolute assurance that nothing (on earth) can move me like the encouragement of my wife. And nothing can injure me like her shame. By design, she has great influence in my life. If she is close to God that influence becomes an extension of His hand. If she is operating from pain or some other contingency, that influence can become a weapon of the enemy.
Gen 3:19 (NLT) “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.”
This verse reveals why men assign god-like value to their unique ability as providers (not gifts). It’s actually a curse, but men wear it in their flesh like a badge. When it’s ripped away they suffer unless Jesus becomes their ointment. He reassigns our value according to what He paid for us, not the sweat of our brow or career status. Someone said to me in response to this “Yes, but a man who won’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.” He was attempting to quote 1 Tim 5:8 as a way to say that my argument gives license for men to do nothing. I understand… but that is a heart issue. It doesn’t require a license from ME. I’m not referring to a willingness to provide but rather our bent to replace God with our own strength. Besides, the context of that verse is completely focused on grown children caring for widowed parents “family that has” helping “family that has not”– expressly those in our immediate family. It’s a complete perversion to use it any other way, especially to condemn a man who seeks God with all his heart for direction. Regardless, men must stop placing their value on anything except the finished work of Jesus!
These Strongholds Are Deeply Rooted In Our Misunderstanding Of Love
The scriptures above reflect two curses that inhabit Christian marriages unnecessarily; one through men and one through women. Each are the result of Adam’s failure to stand up. And below are four intertwined aspects of these curses that perpetuate themselves, until the marriage eventually fails.
The wife falls into the trap of relying more on the husband than God
The husband relies on his ability to provide rather than on the provider Himself (God)
The wife undermines the husband’s authority by manipulating his desire for her approval
The husband receives affirmation by satisfying his wife’s desire instead of God’s will
Jesus broke this curse for all who accept it, but many of us who believe it are living as if we didn’t. In this regard, anyone who is married or hopes to be, should answer a few sobering questions. Can a man properly lead his wife without being led by God? Or can he truly love his wife if he is unwilling to love God’s word? A quick “yes” answer brings the next question: Has our standard “As Christ loved the Church” been adjusted by emotion or reason?
God desires that a man should give himself up for his wife. This means guarding her physical AND spiritual welfare to the point of jeopardizing, if necessary, his own physical welfare. We are meant to care for her physically and spiritually just as Jesus has done for us. Husbands the world over are fairly clear about the physical half of this responsibility. But that is not enough (even though our emotions tell us it is). In fact, in the long term it is the least important of the two. Leadership is the willingness to fully understand and apply this truth to marriage and family. Therefore, a husband must lead his wife by getting close to God, getting in His word, and learning to hear His voice. How can he guard her spiritual welfare if his own is built on something less than God’s word? Christian men will agree to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. But, ironically, they fail to lead their wives by pursuing God’s word to understand what loving them truly means. I thought I knew, but I was wrong.
Convincing ourselves that we understand JUST because we’re Christians, is like Jewish leaders thinking they understood God just becuase they were Pharisees. Being Christian or growing up that way is nothing more than a great place to start. The word is not a dictionary that offers the husband a walk-away definition. It is the bread of life that he needs for daily survival. Without it, God’s ways get choked by the world and leadership reduced to a set of logical or emotional responses. It’s exactly where I’ve come from.
We’ve Been Lifted Off The Ground To Be Welcome Signs Instead Of Doormats
Husbands and wives listen up: The old adage “If mama’s not happy…” is the echo of Eve and a poison fix that keeps women miserable and men numb to confrontation – afraid of their God given authority to lead. Saved men should not see themselves as “the provider” but rather as the conduit through which God provides. The difference carries with it the enormous responsibility of glorifying God and teaching the family who He is. The other only glorifies the man and tempts the wife to subdue it for herself. Let’s adapt a new catchphrase: “if Papa’s not happy, (our God)… ain’t nobody happy!”
On A Personal Note:
Learning to lead properly is a slow and deep process. God is transforming us both inch by inch and we rejoice in that. My wife is already a strong partner whom I trust and cherish. Moving into that rental was my first test of leadership after being knocked flat. We both knew it was right but it needed a firm stand to see it through. I never realized any of this until He brought it to my attention through His word. We also rejoice in that!
Prayer For Leadership
Lord, teach us to love our spouse in the way that you’ve designed and to make it an act of unconditional worship for you. Strengthen your sons to stand firm in your word while guarding the hearts of their wives. Bend and soften the hearts of your daughter’s to follow and honor their husbands out of love for you. In Jesus name let reader agree – Amen.
If you believe that this post would edify someone in need, please pass it on, not for my sake, but for the sake of whom God intended it – Thanks and God bless you!
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