Trading Spouses - Husbands Take Note


Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! "Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets. (Matthew 7:9-12 GNB)

I know it would be wrong to make assumptions so let me say it this way - “Traditionally, a man asks a woman to marry him.” Each man in doing so makes a recognition of a woman's sovereignty to choose. Of course, there are those who also make the assumption she is going to say yes too. I watched some marriage proposal failures on youtube and just cringed knowing what was coming. But then that is the nature of being sovereign beings – we have the freedom to choose.

As I said last week, Trading Spouses isn't about trading in your spouse. No, Trading Spouses is about the freedom you have to become the spouse your spouse needs. And that is why I want to look at this rather tounge-in-cheek humor that Jesus displays for his hearers.

Jesus, in one of his great moments of divine sarcasm points out the absurdity of a parent's response to needs of their children. This leads to his pointing out how much God, the heavenly Father also is interested in giving good gifts. And this leads to what is known as the Golden Rule - “Do for others what you want them to do for you.”

Let me ask ya this - “Do you want to be treated as a free, sovereign human being?” I'm pretty sure I can assume we all do.

So then let me ask you this - “If you had a burden, a responsibility, a project, would you also appreciate a little help along the way? An extra hand or another perspective? My guess is that you'd answer a thumbs up to that as well.

Would you join me in looking at this very important, passage of scripture as today, we help the men in the room today...
Eph 5:22-24 GNB Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. (23) For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body. (24) And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ.

Now, you may wonder why I said we're going to help the men in the room today, right? This didn't have anything to do with men did it....Ah! And that is where you'd be wrong. Look guys, I've missed this far too many times myself but I'm convinced we've missed the boat here...I mean, it left the dock LOOOONG ago. That is, if we look at it in the light of what Jesus said.

You see, the role of women is fairly clear, if not very much misunderstood. But if we are looking at one another through the eyes of Jesus then something else ought to become clear. The first is most obvious, Paul writes to clearly identify the expectations of women in a marriage (and to help us see more of the mystery of the relationship with Christ and the church). To submit in marriage IS an act of sovereign will to one WORTHY of respect. It is not to the role of a servant but as a partner.

The second thing, which is not as clear is this. If you know you would like help in fulfilling a task and you know the task put before the person, then it only makes sense that you would do then what you would want done...and fufill the law of love – the way of Jesus Christ. Husbands, by knowing what it is that your spouse is being asked to do – a choice she gets to make. You have the freedom to choose to make that burden for her AS EASY and AS LIGHT as POSSIBLE – Become worthy of her respect!!!

I'll admit, I make it far more difficult. The Bible tells us that this is the result of our choosing our own way rather than God's way – our sovereignty – defaults to selfishness. These verses, became, even in the church, a burden to women when in fact, in light of Jesus' teaching and his sacrifice, are an opportunity for us to be more like Jesus – to trade in the spouse we've become for the one our spouse needs.

Before we got married, Heather and I went through premarital counseling. There I was introduced one of the two books that I recommend to couples that I counsel. It is called, His Needs. Her Needs. By Dr. Willard Harley. In his work and research, Dr. Harley identifies those things needed most by spouses. You'll need to get his book to get all of them but two I want to identify and share because of their application to all of our lives.

One, you might say, is a no brainer – women want to engage in conversation. Guys, wives are no different – they are women! Yet, it is one of the top 5 things wives need from their husbands and significant others. Dr. Harley puts it this way - “Caring partners converse in a caring way (pg 75).” Caring conversation recognizes the needs, the hopes and the dreams of the most important person in our lives.

The second, points reflects the community and that is – women are looking for a commitment to family. I will say on this instance, Dr. Harley is a bit narrow in his definition. There is a bigger family involved in a marriage than the immediate family. A concern for parents and siblings is also a valid need. Talking about in-laws in a negative light is likely not going to win many points along the way. It does mean, as guys, our desire to go off and do our thing is put to the side.

Two things, that would make it so much easier for your spouse to follow after God. Two things that Jesus Christ did and continues to do for the church. Two things that the church can provide for everyone in need of having a community to call their family.

The mystery is, or maybe better said – the reality – is that no man, even a husband, will ever fulfill the greatest desire of the human heart. For human hearts long for relationships – God has made us this way and it is in these relationships. We were meant for something more, something more than what we see and experience here – we are meant for a relationship with God and because of Jesus Christ – the one who knows our deepest needs – we can truly do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

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