Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: The woman described in Proverbs 31 understands commitment in marriage. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It doesn’t say she does him good and not evil as long as he does her good—as long as he’s kind to her, as long as he remembers her birthdays and anniversaries, as long as he meets her needs. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Why? Because she’s a covenant-keeping woman.

Leslie: It’s Monday, February 19th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Last week Nancy brought us insight from Proverbs 31. I’ve read it before, but I got so much new information out of Nancy’s teaching. Today she’ll pick back up with that series called The Counter-cultural Woman. She’ll show us how the Proverbs 31 woman approaches marriage.

Nancy: I enjoy sometimes studying or reading about the lives of the wives of great men. It’s amazing how often, behind those great men of God, it’s really true that there was a wife who had a heart for God and was encouraging and supporting her husband in his work, being a helper to him.

One of the women I’ve been reading about recently is Catherine von Bora. Now, that name may not be familiar to you, but the name Martin Luther probably is familiar to you. And Catherine was affectionately known by Dr. Martin Luther as his “faithful Kate.” She was the wife of Dr. Martin Luther.

Martin Luther was a man who, because of his understanding of the heart of God and the Word and the ways of God, was generally cheerful in his disposition. But he did have some bouts with depression and a lot of physical ailments that probably contributed to that over the years. He was an extremely busy man—and for various reasons, not the least of which is probably all the pressure that he was under, as he was an object of attack and ridicule during the birth of the Reformation.

So there were times when he really did struggle with physical and emotional depression. And God gave him just the right woman in Kate, or Catherine. As we read about her, we’re told that instead of murmuring at these times when he was really discouraged, she would do all that she could to comfort him, to encourage him, to cheer him up.

There was one particular occasion when he was really discouraged, and nothing Kate did could seem to lift him out of the doldrums. So Luther actually left home for a few days to try and get back his cheerfulness—went off to be alone and to try and get restored. But when he came back, he was still very heavy-hearted.

The story is told that when he entered the house, he found Catherine sitting in the middle of the room, dressed in a black gown with a black cloth thrown over her and looking very sad. She had a white handkerchief in her hand which was wet as if it had been moistened with her tears.

When Dr. Luther encouraged her to tell him what was the matter, at first she was hesitant. Then she said, “Oh, dear doctor. The Lord in heaven is dead, and this is the cause of my grief”—at which point he burst into laughter, knowing that she was doing this to show him what he was acting like.

And he said, “Oh, dear Kate, it’s true. I’ve been acting as if there were no God in heaven.” And the story is told that from that moment, his melancholy and despair left him. Here is a woman who knew how to do good to her husband, how to encourage him, and how to be a helper suitable to him.1

That’s the heart of what we come to in the next verse of Proverbs 31. We come now to verse 11. We’re reading about a virtuous woman, an excellent woman. We’ve seen in verse 10 of Proverbs 31 that she is rare, that she is more valuable than any amount of material wealth that her husband could have.

Then verse 11 tells us, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” Verse 12: “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” I love these two verses because they describe for us something that is true of a woman who reverences the Lord—and how this affects her relationship with her husband.

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain”—or “no need of spoil,” your translation may say (KJV). The NIV says he “lacks nothing of value.” He trusts her, and he has in her all that he needs. And then verse 12: “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

When I read those verses, there are a couple of words that come to my mind. First of all, the obvious word: trustworthiness. Here’s a woman who is trustworthy. Then, the word loyalty. She’s loyal to her husband. She has a permanent, unconditional, lifetime commitment to act in a way that is according to his best interests—not to serve herself, but to serve her husband.

I like the way the Amplified Bible reads at this point. Listen to what it says: “The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil. She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.”

Here’s a woman who is loyal. She’s got a covenant relationship with her God that enables her to keep her covenant relationship with her husband, regardless of what he does. And don’t even think for a moment that this husband doesn’t ever blow it, that he doesn’t ever fail, or that she doesn’t ever have to love him unconditionally—on faith, rather than based on her feelings.

First Corinthians 7 says that the godly woman is concerned about how she may please her husband (verse 34, paraphrased). She’s always looking for ways to do him good.

Now, in the Scripture there are illustrations of some women who did evil to their husbands rather than good. Who’s the first one that comes to mind? The first woman—Eve. The woman who was made to be a helper became a tempter. And then we have Solomon’s wives who drew away his heart from Jehovah God.

And then Jezebel—that name kind of, for us, epitomizes the evil woman. But she was not just an evil woman. She was an evil wife who did evil to her husband. She stirred up her husband to commit wickedness. Then do you remember Job’s wife, who called upon her husband to curse God and die when he was suffering?

Proverbs talks about women who do their husbands evil and not good. It talks about a brawling woman, a contentious woman who makes life miserable for her husband. I think all of us as women have known what it is to be contentious—to be that whiny woman who’s like a dripping faucet and makes her husband wish that he could live on the corner of the roof, or out in a desert somewhere, once he gets tired of that kind of woman who is not doing him good. She’s doing him evil.

She does him good all the days of her life. He trusts in her. He has no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. How long is that? As long as she’s alive; as long as he’s alive.

It doesn’t say she does him good and not evil as long as he does her good—as long as he is kind to her, as long as he remembers her birthdays and anniversaries, as long as he meets her needs. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Why? Because she’s a covenant-keeping woman; she’s a woman who’s made a vow, and her vow was first to God.

So she says, “I will be faithful to you, regardless of what you do or don’t do to me.” She’s loyal. She’s faithful in financial matters. She’s not going to spend beyond their means. She’s going to do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I have a friend who told me recently about how disconcerting it is to her . . . She said, “We have friends who have million-dollar mortgages, and their husbands are working like crazy to pay the bills for a wife who cannot be content to live within their means.”

This woman is faithful. She’s loyal. She’s a covenant-keeping woman in implementing her husband’s heart in the home with the children. When she gives direction to the children, she represents the heart of her husband, and he can trust her. When he’s gone from home, she’s going to be implementing his heart in the home.

He can trust her to speak well of him and to keep confidences, not to go out blabbing things to other women that are private matters in their marriage. He can trust her in the way that she speaks about him. He can trust her to protect his reputation.

Now, by saying that, I don’t necessarily mean absolutely. There are times when to do good to a husband may mean to appeal to the appropriate authorities at the church or the civil authorities. If a husband is breaking the law, to do him good is to get him into a position where he can be helped by the law, or restrained by the law, or by the church authorities.

So the concept is that you will always speak things that will do him good, that your husband can trust his reputation in his hands. It makes me very sad to hear women making jokes that are negative jokes, or sarcastic, or put-down lines about their husbands. And they all laugh, but it’s not right. She’s not being trustworthy. She’s not being faithful. She’s not being loyal.

This man can trust his wife to meet his physical needs. He has no need of spoil. He has no need to seek marital intimacy elsewhere because his wife is faithful. Whether she feels like it or not, she is committed to be a giver in the physical aspect of their marriage, to meet his needs sexually.

Ladies, let me just say here, if you don’t meet your husband’s physical and sexual needs, there’s another woman somewhere who would be happy to. And you may end up putting him in a position where—not justifying, not excusing, his sin—but you may make him more vulnerable to temptation and to immorality if you are not faithful to him in even your physical and sexual relationship, as a giver.

She’s faithful to the marriage vow. I hear and read about women—Christian women—leaving their husbands and leaving their children. Twenty years ago this was unthinkable—certainly highly unusual. Today it’s not particularly unusual. If a woman wants her own life—to do her own thing, to have her own way—she just takes off. God’s way is that this woman will do her husband good and not evil all the days of her life.

So he has no need for jealousy or suspicion. He doesn’t have to doubt her love. He doesn’t have to be insecure. He doesn’t have to look elsewhere to have his needs met. He’s confident that while he’s gone, while he’s at work, while he’s at home, she is one in spirit with him. His interests are safe in her keeping.

She’s consistent. She’s a covenant-keeper. She has an unconditional commitment, and that is what earns the trust of her husband. She always, always, always has his best interests at heart. She’s not in competition with him. She’s committed to his success.

That’s what inspires the man to be worthy of her devotion. He rises to that because he knows he has a woman who is an asset, not a liability—a woman who supports and encourages and helps him in every way possible.

Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be that kind of woman. You don’t have to be incredibly talented to be that kind of woman. You don’t have to be physically beautiful to be that kind of woman. You just have to have a heart that reverences the Lord. Out of that heart for God will come that kind of commitment and devotion to your man, to your husband.

Do you have that kind of commitment to your husband—a commitment that, by God’s grace, you will do your husband good and not evil all the days of your life? That, by God’s grace, you will be faithful to him regardless of what he does, regardless of how he may or may not live up to your expectations or hopes or dreams? Have you totally eliminated the D-word—divorce—from your vocabulary? If it’s even in your vocabulary in your marriage, then you’re not this kind of woman.

Purpose in your heart: “God, by Your grace”—and it takes the grace of God; no woman can live up to this apart from the Lord—“by Your grace, I will do my husband good and not evil all the days of my life.”

Leslie: In just a minute, Nancy Leigh DeMoss will continue this topic with some women who have sometimes been evil to their husbands. They’re in a process of learning, just like you and me.

Are you ready to become more like the counter-cultural woman in Proverbs 31? Then get a copy of a helpful book Nancy and some other godly women wrote. It’s called Becoming God's True Woman. It’ll show you some practical ways to live out the teaching you heard today.

Doing good to our husbands doesn’t always seem natural or easy. Bob Lepine, the co-host of FamilyLife Today, is here to follow up today’s teaching, asking Nancy some practical questions. You’ll also hear from a couple of our listeners, Kim Wagner and Maria Johnson.

Bob Lepine: Now, let me ask you: Do you want women who are strong, bold, women who can take charge—do you want them to throttle back? Is that the desire of the ministry?

Nancy: I think the whole key, whether you’re a man or a woman, is living life under the control of the Spirit. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we have the tendency for men to be passive and to not exert leadership when they should, and for women to exert leadership when it might be more appropriate for a man to do so.

It doesn’t mean men should never listen, and it doesn’t mean women should never speak. But it means, as we come to be redeemed people by the power of the cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit, that we’re always responding to one another in humility and in wisdom and in deference. We don’t have to come across as if we know everything or have all the answers or have to fix everything.

I find, in so many marriages . . . I’m listening to women, and getting letters sometimes from their husbands as well through Revive Our Hearts. Some of these women are so concerned that their husbands aren’t spiritual leaders, but some of the men are feeling like, “We aren’t given a chance,” and, “In order to be a spiritual leader, I have to go to seminary,” or, “My wife knows too much. She always has the answer. She’s too quick to the draw.”

As I think about Kim and the growth in her life and in her marriage . . . She has a great mind, and I’m blessed and thankful to see her using it, as her husband appreciates that. The church he pastors appreciates that. The women that she teaches appreciate that. But she’s learned to express those things in ways that are broken and gentle and considerate of others. Maybe it comes down to humility and yieldedness—yieldedness to the Spirit of God. That’s what we’re trying to challenge women to do.

Bob: How hard is that for you to be that way now?

Kim Wagner: It is a moment-by-moment process, but it is not as challenging as it was at first—because at first I didn’t even see it. Through getting into the Word, it has become easier. It’s also even become an act of worship for me to the Lord, because I recognize that this is something that . . . Yes, He created me with certain personality traits or abilities, but when I abuse those things or when I’m not Christ-like in my demeanor, it brings shame to His name.

So when I offer those things as acts of worship to Him—to bring those under the Spirit’s control—there’s a real delight in doing that. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t still try and lead, or I’m not in positions that the Lord allows me to do that.

Nancy: And it doesn’t mean you don’t give input to your husband.

Kim: Right. But I’m learning that there is a godly way to do that, and there is a harsh, fleshly way to do that.

Maria Johnson: The word that people always used to describe me was harsh. And I didn’t feel a lot; I didn’t have a wide emotional range at that time. But that hurt because I thought, “I’m not harsh. I’m just right.” Well, all that does is feed our inborn human pride. I knew what the Bible said, so that’s how it ought to be done. But it’s the way I went about things: “That’s the way it is. Deal with it.” I used to say that to people. Hard.

Bob: So what happened?

Maria: About 11 years ago—it was in 1995—I took my two younger children to a conference about family and biblical things. The Lord began to show me about authority and how He has an order of authority for protection, not punishment. I always thought authority was for punishment. That had always been my example and how I had demonstrated it to others. Things about God’s design—and even the very family you were born into—God had a hand in that.

I mean, I had hated my parents. I hated my family. I had hated everything about my childhood. So God began correcting a lot of the what our lives should be like, but I didn’t know how to get there.

But I did come home, the first night of the first session, and apologized to my husband. I mean, after he got up off the floor. I said I had been the boss and had been running things, and I didn’t know he was supposed to be. And I was going to correct this, but I didn’t know how.

He was so shut down. He was like, “Sure. Maria is going to change.” But God really did begin changing me.

Then, it was just shortly after that, the Lord brought Nancy into my life. And through Nancy, the Lord began showing me how—how, not just what the Bible says. You know, we can get so proud in our Bible knowledge, and that’s what I had done.

Yes, Nancy takes us to the Word, but even more than that, she takes us to the Lord. How does the Lord respond in that situation? How did the Lord respond to those people in that situation? And God has used Nancy—who is, I think, a very strong woman—to show us how Christ would have us treat people. I’m so grateful for Revive Our Hearts. I’m so grateful every time I get to come to a recording session.

Leslie: Isn’t it exciting to realize that change is possible, even when bad habits seem ingrained? Maria Johnson has been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and today’s guest co-host, Bob Lepine, about what it means to be a counter-cultural woman. I remember hearing Maria’s first testimony on Revive Our Hearts years ago. She’s been growing so much over the five years that Revive Our Hearts has been on the air.

When this program first launched, a handful of donors made it possible through their large gifts. Their generosity has affected the lives of counter-cultural women like Maria. That handful of donors wanted their gifts to help begin the ministry so that other women would catch the vision of Revive Our Hearts and be motivated to give as well.

Those early donors can’t all keep giving forever. In order for Revive Our Hearts to continue speaking into women’s lives, we need listeners like you to get involved. One of the most effective ways you can help is to give monthly as part of our ministry partner team.

There are a lot of benefits to joining this special group. You’ll receive a copy of Nancy’s book, Choosing Forgiveness, and we’ll mail you a monthly CD created by Nancy specifically for our ministry partner team. There are other benefits too, and you can get details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you think of good works, what comes to mind? Maybe something like helping in a soup kitchen or a nursing home. Do you realize that you can do good works in an even more familiar environment? Find out more tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

1Daughters of Destiny, compiled and edited by Noelle Wheeler. (Bulverde, TX: Mantle Ministries, 2000), 140-141.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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