One of the most amazing examples Sarah set is not one we often talk about, and when we do, we miss what to me is the most important part. Peter tells us in 1 Pet 3:6 that she called her husband “lord.” Today that might translate better “sir,” but notice the only example Peter had of this: Gen 18:12, where she is in a tent, away from the three “men” and talking “within herself.” When she realizes these men heard her when they normally should not have been able to, she realizes who they are and becomes afraid. Do you get it? When she called him “lord,” she was not speaking to Abraham, but about him to herself, behind his back, so to speak, where he could not have heard her if he had wanted to.
Now here is the point ladies, how do we speak about our husbands when they are not around? Can my neighbors list his faults by now as well as I can? Can my children? Can my co-workers relate every mistake he’s ever made because I make sure I talk about them? Does anyone who has anything to do with me wonder why I married such a jerk in the first place because that is the impression I have given them about this man I claim to love? I have seen women, as the Proverb writer warns, tear down their houses with their own hands, or in this case, their own mouths.
Do we even stop to consider the pictures others must have of our marriages by the things they see and hear? No one should ever have to endure the embarrassment of standing in my kitchen while I berate my husband in front of them. Do I ridicule and complain about his efforts to support me as well as the gifts he gives me? Do I constantly correct every little detail—even those that do not make a whit’s worth of difference—when he tries to tell a story? Do my friends know that I secretly do things he disapproves of? We are not the daughters of Sarah when we act this way.
But Peter does not let the husbands off the hook either. In the same chapter, he tells them to dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman… v 7. There is nothing honorable about the label, “my old lady.” And here is a clue for you: women do not generally appreciate male humor. It is one thing to be able to laugh at yourself, but another thing entirely to have someone constantly make a laughingstock of you. If she asks you not to tell a certain story yet again, or call her by a certain nickname in front of people, then don’t—not if you honor her.
I have seen too many a man use up the prime of a woman’s life, then somehow think he has “outgrown” her. More likely, his head has outgrown him. But one of the most common complaints I hear is, “She let herself go.” That always translates to gaining some weight. Do you know how she gained that weight? Fixing you the meat and potatoes meals you insist on and carrying your children. Excuse me if the brag that you can still wear the same size jeans as you did in high school does not impress me—the only reason you can do that is you are fastening them six inches lower! No wonder Malachi called such treatment “treachery” Mal 2:15.
What in the world do we think we are telling people about our marriages and about ourselves when we engage in such insults? After all, we do not live in a culture of arranged marriages—we chose our partners. In actuality, we are insulting ourselves.
Peter tells husbands that their treatment of their wives will affect whether their prayers are heard. I have no difficulty believing the same is true for a wife’s treatment of her husband. I don’t know about you, but I need God to hear my prayers. I ask for forgiveness regularly and it’s the only way I know I can get it. How about you?
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great…nevertheless do each one of you love his own wife even as himself, and let the wife see that she reverence her husband. Eph 5:31-33
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