What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.28-33 Part 1

“How to Love Your Wife”

Eph. 5:33

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.28-33 Part 1

Ephesians 5. This is the last message on marriage. And all the singles said … ‘amen!’ No seriously, I appreciate your patience… I know this is meeting a real need in the lives of our families today and, as I hear, many other families out there on there in the internet world and, I trust as we practice these things, for we’ll gain the benefit of them for years to come.

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Today, what I want to do, is to give more specific applications to us husbands. Kind of a catch-all message with a shot gun approach. There will seem like to you many points, so please, don’t feel like you have to get everything. I can email you the notes if you like; just let me know.

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Put let’s read together the section in Eph. 5 concerning the husband, beginning in verse 25 … Ephesians 5:25-33 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

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And we said if we were going to give an overarching title for this passage, it would be this “Why Husbands Should Love Their Wives As Themselves” … which is because Christ loved the church.

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So the main focus of this passage is the Holy Spirit’s presentation of Christ’s relationship to the church and how Christ’s relationship to the church is to be an example to husbands and their relationship to their wives. By the Holy Spirit’s design, Christ’s relationship to his church is an effective and empowering example for husbands toward their wives.

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And that’s why we said that if a husband can understand Christ’s relationship to his church, the husband will be more empowered to love his wife.

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TRANS: And in our previous messages for the husband, we’ve given examples from church history. We had the unfortunate marriage of John Wesley, the exemplary marriage of Martin Luther, and now, again, we will give an unfortunate example of marriage in the life of William Carey.

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William Carey

[1] William Carey was born August 17, 1761 and died June 9, 1834. He is known as the “Father of Modern Missions” and is greatly honored where ever missions is studied, taught, and practiced.

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His life is an example in many ways, but not his family life. His performance and his family life was even questioned in his own day… How he could be so insensitive to his own family.

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One has to understand the day and age in which Carey lived. Eighteenth-century jurist, judge and Tory politician Sir William Blackstone summarized the marital legal code of his day by joking, “The husband and wife are one, and the husband is that one.” Whoa…You can imagine how this kind of attitude prevailed in society and how it could affect even godly Christian families. And so if a Christian leader was known for his lack of judgment in family matters, it was too often and too easily overlooked.

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When William married his wife Dorothy, he was still a teenager at 19 while she was 26. William Carey was a shoemaker by trade, a very poor shoemaker at that. They often went hungry.

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And William and Dorothy had little in common. He was a brilliant linguist while Dorothy was illiterate. And when he was not working he was either reading or studying Greek or preaching.

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In their second year of marriage, they lost their daughter Ann. Dorothy was crushed…William eventually pastored a Baptist church in England and in his spare time he learned foreign languages Greek, Latin, French, Dutch and Italian … preaching and teaching to others, while his wife remained illiterate.

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Dorothy’s Support

There is evidence that Dorothy was committed to her husband. She grew up a devout Puritan…. But having married William who was Baptist, she decided to be baptized by immersion as do the Baptists.

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To India

But in 1792, William Carey came home one day and simply announced to his wife that he had volunteered himself to the newly formed Baptist missionary Society in order to go to India for the rest of his life as a missionary. Carey didn’t discuss this over with his wife, he simply announced it to her… And this devastated her.

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She had three young children and was pregnant with her fourth child. She understood this meant lifelong exposure to hardships and tropical disease even if they did survive the voyage all the way around the Cape of Good Hope South Africa.

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And so she refused to go with him. He reluctantly didn’t force her but insisted on taking their oldest child, Felix. Unfortunately, the biographers have been merciless against Dorothy. Referring to her as not submissive, not spiritually minded…

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A biographer George Smith wrote: “Never had a minister, missionary, or scholar a less sympathetic mate, due largely to … latent mental disease.” Furthermore, “she remain[ed] to the last a peasant woman, with a reproachful tongue.”

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But all things considered, we are sympathetic with Dorothy. They were to leave immediately. The move would be permanent and… on top of that … the mission was not properly financed. And William is asking her to say goodbye to family and friends, possibly for ever. And this with no discussion from her husband.

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And so, on April 4, 1793 William Carey abandoned his pregnant wife and 2 kids and boarded ship to India. With him was his son Felix and partner John and Mrs. Thomas and their daughter.

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However the voyage didn’t even begin because Mr. Thomas was forced to return and settle his debt before he could leave. I’d say this is another strike against William Carey’s judgment partnering up in ministry with someone who thought it good to flee his debt and financial troubles.

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But the delay allowed William further time to urge Dorothy to change her mind. She had just given birth and William applied some pressure and she finally agreed to go, but only if her sister came with her.

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Dorothy’s time in India was very unhappy … we’ll leave the story there and come back to it at the end of the message.

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First, men, let’s talk about leadership….

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  1. Leadership

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First here …

A Husband’s Leadership Benefits His Wife

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Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

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Husbands, you are the leader and authority in your home by God’s design. And your wife is the queen. … But nevertheless, you are a king in a sense…. You are the leader and authority. But that demands your leadership.

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You can flip back to Ephesians 1:22. Here we see a little more of Christ’s relationship to his church as ordained by the Heavenly Father. And this is to be an example for us as husbands toward her wives.

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Ephesians 1:22 And He [the Father] put all things in subjection under His [the Son’s] feet, and gave [the Son] as head over all things to the church,

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The Father gave the Son to the church. The Father gave the Son to the church, for the church’s sake. And he gave him to us as the head, as the authority protector and loving leader. He is for our benefit. The Father gave the Son to the church for the church’s benefit.

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Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,

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And the universal church views the Son of God as a benefit in the of an estimable value. The Son of God is a loving leader and the universal church delights in His leadership.

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Men, if you properly execute your headship, your leadership… your authority in your home, your wife will sense your inestimable value, too…your diligent provision, kind protection, and loving leadership. So like Christ properly executes his leadership and gives exactly what best interests the church, so also we ought to be diligent to be to the benefit of our wives as we execute our leadership in the home.

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So a husband’s leadership is to the benefit of his wife …

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Second …

A Husband should Lead the Way in Love

A husband should lead the way in providing a loving atmosphere for his home. If there is no love and peace in a home, it is the husband’s responsibility. He is the head, the leader, thus it is his responsibility to help fill that home with love. He is to lead his marriage and lead the home in filling that home with love. And where it is lacking, he needs to guide the family in making that a reality.

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And men don’t think love as some mushy feminine thing. No, real manhood in marriage is gentle, loving leadership.

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But for the world, a real man tends to conjure up images of bodybuilders, military uniforms, and cowboy hats … muscle t-shirts and heroes in liquor all while shaving with a chainsaw … but the biblical man knows how to keep his strength under control and fill his wife with love. He’ll always wins her even when he’s won her.

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Men, this will take a humbling of yourself before God. Humble yourself in order to commit yourself to your wife and to care for her needs.

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Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

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Look after her, value her thoughts and desires.

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Also lead by example. Lead by example.

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Lead by Example

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

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Let your life be an example of godliness and devotion to Christ and the testimony of the power of the gospel at work.

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Lead by Your Service

Lead by your service …

Matthew 20:25-28 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

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To say that you are great in your own household, the authority, leader … means then that you are the least in your household. To say that you are a king in your own household is to say that you are the greatest slave.

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You’re not a king to receive; rather you are a slave to serve in your own household. This is true loving leadership.

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Lead, men, lead in practical affairs.

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Lead in the practical affairs

Some wives and mothers tend to work too hard and do too much. Be sensitive to her and her capabilities and protect her from doing too much.

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Help her to see how she spends her time and give gentle guidance were necessary.

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Take some of her things onto your plate when you know she’s had enough.

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If you have simple expectations for her homemaking, make those clear. If she’s not clear on what you expect or you waffle back and forth on what’s expected, she can get overwhelmed and feel crushed.

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Lead Spiritually

And lead spiritually. You do that by being an example of Christlikeness and by helping your wife take that next spiritual step. You do that by helping her understand the Word of God, encouraging her through your example, and discussing spiritual things together.

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Give her no doubt as to whether you are studying the Bible. If your wife sees you reading the Bible or in some way knows for certain you are studying the Bible, that’s actually helpful for her, it’s not you showing off.

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Ladies, be careful to support your husband in his leadership. If he feels that you are grumbling or not supportive of his leadership if you are mocking him in some way or resisting his leadership or not following him in general, he will begin to grow unconfident in his leadership and you’ll begin to wonder why he’s not leading.

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If you want to motivate him, ladies, support him, express trust in him and encourage him, and point out his good decisions …

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And men, when a husband lacks leadership in the marriage, the wife tends to become insecure. And an insecure wife is more tempted to be a disrespectful wife. So men, have a plan and step up to the plate.

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Be the leaders God has called you to be. Don’t get discouraged thinking all is lost. Be dependent on the Lord and seek his face for help … It is impossible with you, but God nothing is impossible no marriage is beyond God’s help.

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TRANS: So, lead….also this morning…and

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  1. Closeness (physical)

    …I’ll introduce this one this way … One day Hudson asked … “Dad, why do you always hug mom?”

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    I patted myself on the back that day! Men, hold your wives…hold her.

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    Song of Songs 3:4 the lady speaking … “… When I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go.

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    Also, you remember Leah, Jacob’s wife and how she was jealous of Rachel. She questioned her husband’s affection for her because it was shared with someone else… here’s what she said …

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    Genesis 29:34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”

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    She thought she could earn his affection because she bore him 3 sons. Men, does she feel that she’s in competition for your affection? Maybe’s not another woman, but is it your job or your hobby that she feels in competition with? This will destabilize her heart and destabilize you and your home. Show her affection. Hug her, hold her hand, make a sacrifice to spend some time with her.

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  2. Openness (verbal)

And be open with her. Men, your wife needs to talk to you and she needs you to talk to her. Plan … plan on opening up with her and talking with her.

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Men, keep winning her. It’s true that she loves you more now than when you were dating, but often wives feel like their husbands cared more about them then, when they were dating.

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When you come home, apart from the presence of God Himself, your wife’s presence is the most important presence. Men, Live in her heart when you are at home and at work seek her out.

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What many men tend to do in marriage is to suppress their thoughts and emotions … And that can happen when they feel rejected by their wives when they voice their thoughts and emotions. And what can happen when a husband feels his wife isn’t supporting or respecting him is that … then when she begins to ask him questions, he starts to feel suspicious of her … And the husband begins to be angry inside and she has this nagging suspicion that you are constantly mad at her.

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Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

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Being bitter is more of a deep seated anger over some past or continuous disappointment. Men when you are embittered, you are harsh and resentful and you raise your voice. And the result is, men you try to protect yourself and you end up closing up entirely.

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If I’ve painted anything of reality in your marriage, the solution is talking through this very point with your wife! Ladies, if you feel your husband is closed off, ask him questions about this. Pray and confess your sin and get things right. Say you are sorry and hug and tell each other you want to improve.

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This leads me to this … understanding.

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  1. Understanding

Men seek to listen to your wives. As we saw from 1 Peter 3:7, live with them in an understanding way.

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I mentioned protection earlier. If a wife is not thriving neither is the husband because the two have become one. Live with her and understand her.

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What’s her background and how does that influence where she is weak and needs more tender care? What are her physical limitations? Is she feeling pressured because of the finances or from family concerns?

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Does she need rest … are the kids pressuring her? What area are causes for the most stress for her?

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Find out how she feels fulfilled and what personal problems she wants to solve.

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Comfort her in her weaknesses; don’t sarcastically cut her down.

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And men, your wife is tired. She needs to rest and relax. Give her time to herself to refresh. What does that mean for her to refresh?

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ILL: From the book Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom … Todd Wilson recounts … “One husband, who is a self-confessed neat freak, tries to get his wife to run a tighter ship and even offers to teach her how to do so, [but] to no avail. He told me how he had come home from a long day of work and was blown away by the mess and chaos as he walked in the door. They had dinner, and after the kids were in bed, his wife looked at him and asked, “So what’s on TV?” Without missing a beat, he answered, “Dust.” He laughed when he told me the story. I wanted to slug him.”[2]

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Sarcastic criticism will crush your wife and then you’ll feel crushed in the long run. If you love your wife you are loving yourself…Ephesians 5 says and if you are loving your wife, then you’ll have happy home. If you are critical against your wife in the long run you’ll feel exactly the same way she does, because the 2 are one. Choose to love your wife, if but nothing else, because you love yourself.

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ILL: As I tell my kids, if you obey it will be happy for you! Men, if you are diligent to love and understand your wife, it will be happy for you!

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Overlook the mess and the piles and comfort her in her tiredness. She has got a lot on her plate, too.

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ILL: My wife and I joked when I come up stairs at supper time … That’s the equivalent of you coming home from work…. When I come home from work I sometimes joke with my wife … And this joke is designed to help her to know that I’m trying to understand her lot in life … When it’s been a hard day for her… sometimes I ask, “What’s you been up to, sitting around and eating bon bons all day?”

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Or when I know it’s been a particularly tiring day I say, “I’d say we need some bonbons? Where are they?”

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Men, it’s your job to live in an understanding way … Wilson continues …

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You may say, “Yeah, but I haven’t had a clean pair of underwear in three days, and I can’t remember the last time we had a home cooked meal.”

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My answer to you: Live with your wife in an understanding way.

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You say … “Yeah, but you don’t understand …”

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!!No, you don’t understand. Live with your wife in an understanding way. If you [have a wife], then live with your wife in an understanding way! Understand?”

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  1. Resolve conflicts properly

Another one here …

Men, take the lead in resolving conflicts properly. We had a message earlier in the series that talked about how to resolve conflicts properly. Have you had a conflict since then? How did it go? Men take the lead in this and find out how to resolve conflicts.

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I’m not going to go into detail on those points again, just to emphasize one of those points which is in the midst of conflict, tell her you want to grow. And tell her you want to grow in this or that areas.

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Ladies, be respectful to your husband even in his weak points; this will encourage him in his desire to grow. Men, be gentle like you would with a newborn babe and this will encourage her to desire to grow. And express that to each other …

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TRANS: Lastly this morning husbands…

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  1. Treasure her with words and actions of approval

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    Treasure her with words of approval. To do that, first relax your high expectations.

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    Relax your high expectations

    A spotless house or Harvard-bound children, kids who kiss your feet when you come home … men your high expectations can crush your wife and kids. You need to relax those expectations.

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    Some husbands demand a spotless home and instead of helping their exhausted wives, they criticize the wife and make comparisons with other people’s homes…. Or other people’s cooking or other people’s kids.

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    If you expect meat and potatoes every night, and you’re having cereal again, offer to help with the meals! If your wife feels like a failure, it very well could be that you are the cause of it.

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    Relax your high expectations and hold off on the crushing or sarcastic criticisms…Instead …

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    Treasure her with words and actions of approval

    Treasure her with words and actions of approval. This is what truly motivates. You want a spotless home? Note this, criticisms crush and approval motivates.

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I can’t say it any better than Todd Wilson again …

Btw. … I’m using his book a lot…ladies, there’s also 2 short books by Todd called How to Be a Great Wife . . . Even Though You Homeschool and Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe…no I’m not being paid for this advertisement…

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But Todd again writes … “When you walk in the door and it looks like a surplus store exploded in your house, hug her and empathize with her hard day. Then, get busy and help clean up the mess. Instead of making your exhausted [wife] feel guilty for not meeting your needs, … massage her feet and rub her back. Remember, when all is said and done, it won’t really matter when your child learned to read, whether the house was always clean or not, or what you had for dinner. What will matter [in the long run] is your relationship with the members of your family. [and many men are burning bridges … ] So relax, gather up all your unrealistic expectations, and toss them in the trash.”

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TRANS: So, treasure her with your actions … and men, treasure her with your words…

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Praise her with your words, with your mouth. Men, your wife longs to be praised.

Your wife wants to be a Proverbs 31 woman. And three times in that chapter it talks about the woman who is praised.

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Proverbs 31:30-31 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

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But back up in verse 28 …

Proverbs 31:28-29 28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.”

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Men, and this word praise here is the exact same word for praise that’s used of God, you remember. This is heartfelt praise for who she is and how she serves you and the kids.

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Men, she longs for you to praise and appreciate what she does. Some women will shrivel or thrive based on this alone. Men, if she feels praised and appreciated by you, than you’ll begin to feel respected and honored by her. And you’ll empower her to be the wife and mother you want her to be.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.28-33 Part 1

Men, talk to your wives about these things. Step up to the plate and email me for the notes if you need to… Show her you want to grow in your married life. At some point this week, my wife and I will discuss some of these things because I know I need to grow in my marriage.

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And if you’re having a difficult marriage and you both want to grow, both of you could take this series of messages and if you would actually begin to put some of these things into practice, you’d see great things happen in your marriage….

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And please call me and let’s get together to see if we can be of help. Well…back to the Carey’s …

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Dorothy’s time in India proved to be unhappy. And that unhappiness over time turned into bitterness and resentment. They moved 6 times in 9 months. Lack of provisions, illness, and with a man who is actually married to the ministry took its toll on her… And she began to suffer spiritually … and that had its toll on her mind and she began to break down. During this time, without understanding, William refers to her as his “domestic affliction.”

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Her sister soon left to be married and their five-year-old Peter died of dysentery. So Dorothy is experiencing extreme grief, with health difficulties herself and marital problems … This pushed her to the brink of despair.

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And in January 1796, Dorothy gives birth to another son and three months later William writes “My poor wife must be considered as insane, and is the occasion of great sorrow.” Another missionary described her as “wholly insane.”

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Dorothy became delusional… And accused her husband of having affairs with other women and would rail on him in public and physically attack him.

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Her condition began to worsen even more, to the point that William felt constrained to confine her to a locked room. He would work on his translations while his insane wife was in the next room frequently getting worked up into distressing frenzies.

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And during this time, of course, the children suffered. They had to fend for themselves as their mom was insane and the dad was consumed by his preaching and translation work and would fail to discipline them. Even his colleague said that he saw and was saddened by their behavior, but did nothing to train them as he knew he should.

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And so other missionaries began to provide the mother and fatherly influence upon William’s own children. And then in December 1807, Dorothy died of a fever still in her spiritual and mental collapse.

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But then just a 3 or so months later, William announced his engagement to Charlotte, who would be his second wife. Some of his fellow missionaries were so agitated with his intent to remarry so soon that they signed a petition in order for him to hold off the marriage. But Carey declined and married anyway, just 6 months after Dorothy had died.

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His story could continue this morning, but we’ll stop there.

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Christian men who have a heart for the Lord’s work … nevertheless, can fail at home. It’s very easy for even good men to neglect the duties at home. And we don’t know all of the reasons why Dorothy had the struggles that she did. But nevertheless it is clear that William failed to care for her as he should have.

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Men get diligent at home; marriage is a covenant of working hard…and working hard to grow together.

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Some lessons…

  1. Men, live with your wives.

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1 Peter 3:7 commands that we live with our lives wives. William Carey was willing to abandon her.

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Come home, men!

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  1. Men, live with your wives in an understanding way.

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Not only live with your wife, but live with them in an understanding way. William Carey should have understood the needs of his wife and should have discussed these things with her and evaluated her commitment and energy for the task in India. Instead of living with her in an understanding way, he forced her to live with him in the way that he saw fit and it crushed her.

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  1. Men, discuss things with your wife.

William Carey’s announcement one day to his poor wife that he volunteered himself for the rest of his life to go to India, devastated her. Men, talk through decisions with your wife that you know affects her. Lastly ….

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  1. Men, be the spiritual leader, not only at church or in the workplace, but at home.

When your wife is shriveling up, give her the care that she needs. The wife is weaker in many ways, you must gently lead her to help her through her struggles. If you’re trying to care for her and don’t have the ability to help her, be sure to get her the spiritual help that she needs. This is your responsibility to lead your wife and family.

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Would to God that He’d give us godly homes. 731.

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.28-33 Part 1

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Ephesians Main Page

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  1. http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1992/issue36/3627.html

  2. Wilson, Todd E. (2004-04-01). Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom: Showing Dads How to Meet the Needs of Their Homeschooling Wives (Kindle Locations 663-668). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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