What Does Respect Really Mean?
At church one Sunday, a friend who is also mismatched asked me about how to handle a situation that she either went behind her husband’s back to do what she thought was right in fulfilling a law or being up front and asking for his input and leadership with the understanding that he may well tell her no.
These are the times our faith will be challenged and tested. This is also why Lynn and I are constantly encouraging you to keep a daily appointment with God because first and foremost and in EVERY situation, our first step is to pray and seek God’s wisdom and direction above all else—above what we think, above what others think and above what our spouse might even think.
And here is what I have found to be true over and over again. When we seek God first in these kinds of situations with a complete desire (and I do mean a totally and completely willing heart) to do God’s will and please Him no matter what, even if it means stepping away from what we want to do, God will work out the details. I have seen Him sway the most unbelieving heart into alignment with a believing wife on difficult matters because she sought God first.
I also do not believe God will allow us to be put in a place where honoring Him dishonors our husband (in God’s perspective, not our husband’s). How can He when He has clearly laid out in His word to respect our husband? To do so would be a conflict of God’s character.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.— Ephesians 5:33
And I absolutely LOVE how the Expositors Bible Commentary explains this respect:
“A respect that is conditioned by and expressive of reverence for Christ.” (emphasis mine)
Even though Paul’s words imply an assumption that the husband will love his wife as to be worthy of such deference, I still believe we can show this respect to our husbands with the motivation of serving God, conditioned by and out of reverence for Christ.
And we do this by:
- Seeking God’s will with a willing heart
- Studying God’s Word to understand His will and character
- Trusting God to handle the results
This is especially critical to my friend in this case because she genuinely wanted to do what was right, but she was struggling between the letter and the spirit of the law. Legalism would have led her to go behind her husband’s back—not something God would ask her to do. But genuinely seeking God’s direction first and intervention in the situation will lead her in to the right solution—one she can have peace about and that will include her husband’s leadership.
And by her actions in this situation, she is ultimately honoring both God and her husband, regardless of the outcome. She can walk firmly in that reassurance, security AND protection, and have peace about the matter.
This is just one part of God’s design for marriage—a design that ultimately leads to a partnership that gives both partners freedom and protection.
Praying and believing,