Revive Our Hearts Radio

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 23

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Before we start today’s Revive Our Hearts program, I’d like to ask you to pray about an important request.

As you know, Mexico has been in the news a lot here in the United States. But it’s also on our minds a lot at Revive Our Hearts. That’s because by far the greatest response we’ve been receiving to our Spanish language version of this program, Aviva Nuestros Corazones, is coming from women in the country of Mexico.

That’s why a couple of years ago our team sensed that the Lord would have us host a conference for Spanish-speaking women in Mexico. There was a team in a city called Querétaro that was passionate about bringing the conference to their country. As we prayerfully and carefully looked at all the details, we decided to host Mujer Verdadera '17—that’s True Woman '17—in Querétaro on March 24–25.

Well, since then, Mexico’s economy has been hit hard. As the political changes in the United States have taken place, the value of the peso has fallen, and gas prices have shot up in Mexico. As a result, many women in Mexico who want to come to this conference are finding it financially difficult to make this investment.

Now, regardless of where you may be in terms of some of these political issues, I think we can all agree on this: It’s time for us to support our sisters in Christ in Mexico. We have a bond in Jesus that transcends national boundaries and politics. So would you pray that the Lord would help this conference to move forward as planned March 24–25 in Querétaro, Mexico?

And would you ask the Lord to provide what’s needed to sell out the auditorium there? It holds 5,000 women, and we are asking the Lord to provide for every woman who has a heart to come? Would you pray that He meets all those needs? And when you support Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping us support our sisters who are organizing this conference.

To support the ministry, call 1–800–569–5959, or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ve set up a special web page where you can give to meet the needs of this conference that have arisen because of the financial challenges there over the border. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com and follow the links to support the conference in Mexico.

Thanks so much for caring for our sisters in Christ in this way and for being a part of what God may be up to in spreading the fame of the name of Jesus, not only throughout Mexico, but throughout the Spanish-speaking world in the days ahead.

Leslie Basham: Get ready for an “ouch!” moment from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy: Ladies, if your children see you roll your eyes and get this exasperated tone of voice when you’re talking about their dad, then don’t be surprised when those children become teenagers who roll their eyes and talk about you in an exasperated tone of voice. You are modeling love and respect for others to your children.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Nancy is in the middle of a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: “What in the world have I done?” Robert and I had been married for less than a month when that thought flooded forcefully into my mind. There was a series of circumstances and mishaps shortly following our wedding that had kind of accumulated and taken its toll.

I’ll spare you most of the details, but just to give you a little idea. There was a water disaster in our home that required replacing the wood floors on the first story and left us living and working virtually knee-to-knee in a tiny study for about three weeks.

And, did I mention that I caused the flood?! (laughter) Oh, yes. And there were other circumstances that compounded that drama, not least of which was this whole matter of sleep deprivation. Let me just say . . . People have asked me in a number of interviews, “What has been the biggest adjustment you have had to face in marriage?”

I’ll just say that, after all those years of sleeping alone, sharing a bed was a major adjustment for me! So I was not sleeping well; there was a lot going on. Here I am in the middle of the night in a panic-inducing moment. This man sleeping next to me in the bed (it was Robert)—this amazing man who adored me and whom I adored—suddenly seemed like a total stranger.

It wasn’t anything that he had done, and it wasn’t anything that –in the light of day—I probably would have been feeling. But I found myself in that moment struggling to rein in rogue emotions. I was wondering what it would take and how we would build a loving, intimate marriage.

Now, when I first led women through a study of Titus 2 many years ago, I was a single woman, and those kinds of thoughts and feelings (which I’m sure most women who have ever been married have experienced at some point) were not yet familiar to me.

Now as I’m teaching this session, Robert and I have been married for about fifteen months and, by God’s grace and a lot of tenderness and kindness and patience by this man, we weathered that rough patch, and we came out the better for it. So now, I find myself looking at this subject of marriage and loving your husband with fresh eyes.

When the apostle Paul says to Pastor Titus in Titus chapter 2, verse 4, that the older women are to train the young women to love their husbands, my ears are perking up in a whole new way.

That word “train” . . . “train the young women” . . . what that suggests is that if you don’t love him now, you can learn to love him. Because, you see, the kind of love being talked about here—being a “husband-liker,” a “husband-lover”—this is not romantic or sexual love being talked about here. This is friendship, this is companionship. 

That is not primarily, or first and foremost, an emotion—though, certainly, emotions are involved. There are some cultures in which people get married in arranged marriages, and then they learn to love each other, as opposed to our Western culture, what we’re familiar with, where you “fall in love,” and then you get married. Sometimes I look at these two, and I wonder which works out better? There’s not a right or wrong about that, but how many people who “fell in love” have “fallen out of love” after getting married?

This concept of learning to love your husband suggests that you can choose to do loving actions towards your husband and that then your heart will follow. And in that difficult moment of thinking, What in the world have I done? and with those crazy, out-of-control emotions, what I had to do was walk by faith, remember our vows, and say, “Lord, by Your grace, I will choose to love this man that You have given to me. I will be trained—my heart will be trained—to love him.”

Now, Robert’s standing here in the room. And I would not want him to feel (or you would not want your husband to feel) that you don’t just naturally do this. But there are moments when you don’t just naturally do this. Am I right? Am I only the one? So, you counsel your heart according to truth. You rein in those emotions—the rogue ones—with truth. And as you obey God in choosing to love your mate, your heart will follow.

As you choose to be faithful, to give, and to serve sacrificially, you will experience growing love and friendship and companionship. And I want to say that this type of love, in this passage, is not dependent on what kind of husband he is.

Now, I know as I talk with women and they hear about our amazing marriage, and this precious man that the Lord gave to me at the age of fifty-seven . . . Robert had been married forty-four years to Bobbie, and they had a precious marriage. 

So he had a learned a lot of stuff. It's not like when you’re twenty and you start doing this, you start from the beginning. God had already taught him many things. These women hear me talk about our marriage and they think, There is no way she could possibly relate to my marriage. And that’s probably true for all of us, about each other’s marriages.

But I think we need to remember that this kind of love is not dependent on what kind of man you are married to—whether he is responsible, caring, faithful. I am so blessed to have that in a man. He’s not God, he’s not perfect, but he is amazing!

And I realize there are women listening to my voice today, many in this room, who did not have that kind of husband or do not have that kind of husband. You’re seeking to learn to live out this passage in a totally different marriage than the one in which I’m living.

And, can I say, God will give you grace—tailor-made to your circumstance and your situation. Regardless of what kind of marriage you have, expect your love to be tested. If he was always lovable, if he would always be attentive, if he were always sensitive to your needs, if he could read your mind and magically know exactly what you need—what you’re thinking and how to meet those needs—if he were always tender and kind and warmhearted, there would be no reason for Scripture to exhort us to learn to love our husbands—because we would just do it naturally.

If we weren’t both sinners, we wouldn’t need this direction, this instruction. But the fact is, you are both sinners, and you’ve got to remember that. Not just your husband is a sinner, but you’re a sinner. You’re both married to a sinner.

It’s easy to compare your husband to other men who seem to be so much further along in certain areas of their walk. And, sometimes, it may seem—if you let your mind go here—that it would be a lot easier if you could be married to someone like that. I want to tell you, don’t let your mind go there!

Rein in those thoughts. Bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ. But if you let those thoughts go, that’s where you’re going to end up. The fact is, you don’t know what it’s like to be married to—or to live with—those other men that seem so amazing when you see them at church.

And the fact is that no man—and no woman—is always easy to be married to. No one. There are other men who may be more spiritually mature than your husband; they may be more loving or more romantic or a better provider . . . they may seem to be, at least. But God wants to use your husband’s strengths and weaknesses to help you become more like Jesus. And vise versa, God wants to use your strengths and weaknesses to help your husband become more like Jesus. That’s why, in marriage, we’ve got to walk in humility. We need to extend mercy. We need to assume the best of each other and not judge hearts or motives.

God wants to use your husband’s strengths and weaknesses to help you become more like Jesus. 

Make allowances for each other—not expecting perfection. I’m thinking especially of some of these younger marriages where they’re still both growing up. They’ve got a lot of growing up to do. We have a lot of growing up to do. We should be grown-ups by now, but there are moments when we’re not. And so don’t expect perfection of each other.

I love this quote by my “friend,” Charles Spurgeon. This could be so beautifully applied in the context of marriage. He said,

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians [or his mate] to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and therefore he is not disappointed when he does not find it. 

Expectations. So important.

You see, the best marriage is nothing more than two sinners continually humbling themselves and learning how to get to the cross and get God’s grace. So remember that you’re both sinners as you learn to love your husband.

And then, learn to water your marriage with encouragement—with the gift of encouragement. And again, I’m so thankful to be married to an encourager who has taught me so much about its importance. I’ve watched so many wives over the years systematically tear down their husband and destroy the heart of their marriage with a critical, negative spirit or tongue.

Now, I’ve seen the opposite happen, too. I’ve seen men do this to their wives. That’s why I want to encourage husbands who may listen to this program to get hold of Robert’s book coming out shortly called Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace. It will give you insight into how to be an encourager to your wife.

But, women, I think many times we’re more verbal or more expressive of our discontent or our frustration, and it can systematically destroy a marriage. Robert knows that I’m an editor by trade. He quips sometimes that I can spot a typo on a sign, a billboard, when we’re going eighty miles per hour down a freeway.

Or, I can open a book (and this is a skill that’s legendary) and my eye just goes right the one typo in the book. So I’m trained to look for mistakes and to point them out. That’s my job. But it’s not my job in my marriage!

And so, occasionally, when I slip into that mode, Robert will sweetly, quietly say to me, “Are you editing me?” Ouch! Now, that doesn’t mean that in a healthy marriage you don’t say things honestly to each other. Of course, those conversations need to be had.

And we have had what turned into sweet times—started out as hard times—but turned into sweet conversations of just being honest with each other about how we were affecting each other and areas that, if we would tweak, would make us easier to live with each other.

You have to have those conversations, but make sure you don’t become your husband’s critic—his editor. If you’ve followed Revive Our Hearts for any length of time, you’ve heard us talk about the thirty-day husband encouragement challenge, and we’re going to talk a lot more about that in tomorrow’s program.

But I want to just mention it here. A woman wrote to us and said,

Please pray for me. I’m failing miserably at this husband encouragement challenge. I’m battling a nine-year habit of negativity. I can’t seem to succeed one day in refraining from tearing down my husband!

That may be true of someone in this room. And that’s why something like this thirty-day husband encouragement challenge can help start jump-start some new patterns—a new dance step—in your marriage.

Someone from another ministry shared with me a letter that they received, and I want to just read a couple paragraphs from that. This listener to that broadcast said,

When you said that our words could be like icepicks, it really hit me! There was a time when I intended for them to be that way. An icepick is a tool, and so were my words. Somehow I thought that, as a woman, I was to take this big shapeless block of ice—known as my husband—and sculpt him into something more pleasing.

And so I would take my icepick—my words—and chip away at the rough edges and imperfections of this block. I couldn’t understand why my icepick wasn’t doing its job! My words weren’t being heard.

Maybe I’d try harder—or use a bigger icepick. Why can’t this block take shape? Eventually, some women take out a blowtorch, and then they’re left with slush. It can be dangerous trying to sculpt a creation that’s not yours to sculpt!

Ruth Graham said it was a great day in her life when she realized that it was not her job to change her husband. She said, “It was my job to love Billy Graham. It was God’s job to change him.” I think that’s beautifully said.

I think of Elisabeth Elliot, who knew something about marriage—she was married three times. Her first two husbands predeceased her, and then she was married many years to Lars Gren. And she wrote this: 

A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. But there’s always that other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent . . . and both of them will be happy.

Do you see the different perspective there? It’s so easy to point out the flaws and failures and shortcomings of those around us, particularly the one you’re married to. But I want to remind us that, regardless what his lack—his failures, his sins—may be, it is no less a sin on our part to respond to him in critical, harsh, or unloving ways.

We kind of have this scale, and we say, “Man, his sins are so bad, and I’m just trying to help him out with my words.” No. Our critical, unloving, harsh, ill-timed words are no less a sin than whatever it is you may be trying to point out in him.

I think when we see Jesus at the end of our journey—when we get to heaven—He’s not going to ask us, “Did your husband have weaknesses?” The answer is, of course he did—of course he does.

I think the question, instead, would be, “Did you love your husband? Were you his friend? Were you his companion? Were you his encourager?” And so, don’t make a big deal out of little things you’d like to change, and do make a big deal out of things that are praiseworthy—even if they seem small.

All of us flourish with encouragement, with the water of praise. And don’t just think those things about him—say them! A lot of times we think, Of course he knows that I feel this way about him. Well, he doesn’t know it if you haven’t said it. “Thank you. I appreciate you. I respect you for this. I love you. Thank you for choosing me.”

Philippians chapter 4, verse 8, says whatever things are pure, lovely, good, true, of good report, think about those things. And then, say those things to your husband. That’s what this thirty-day husband encouragement challenge is about. And I hope many listening to this program will take time to do that.

So as we hone in a little bit and make this personal: are you inclined to focus on what your husband is doing wrong or how you wish he was different, or do you focus on his praiseworthy qualities?

And when you see needs in his life, are you quicker to point them out to him or to pray for him and talk to God about those things? Who do you think is more able to address those things with your husband . . . you or the Lord?

Now, again, I’m not saying you don’t talk about these things, but that needs to be thought through and Spirit-directed and timed well and surrounded by the gift of encouragement. So that when those things need to be said by either mate to the other, you know it’s in a context of love and affirmation and encouragement and that your husband knows you’re on his team.

You’re not working against him; you’re not the opponent. He’s not the enemy. You’re his friend; you love him. Do you speak words of encouragement and admiration and affirmation to your husband?

Here’s one: Are you as quick to make allowances for your husband as you are for other men in your church or your workplace or even guests in your own home? Sadly (and we’ve all done this), many people treat guests far better than they treat their mate. That shouldn’t be! Love your husband.

Does your husband feel that he has the freedom to fail—to blow it (in a big thing or a little thing)—without fear of criticism or rejection? I am reminded that I am not his editor, I am not his Holy Spirit, and I’m not his mother! If I fall into any one of those roles, I am not going to bless this man and help to make this a strong marriage.

Do you praise and speak well of your husband to others—to your children, to your mother, to the women at work? Listen, this thing of women in the workplace talking about their husbands in ways that are not honoring and not reverencing, this is deadly!

This is a way you love your husband, by speaking well of him to others. We’re going to talk more about that when we come to a whole session tomorrow on the thirty-day husband encouragement challenge.

Now, yesterday and today, we’ve been talking to married women. Paul says the older women are to teach the young women to love their husbands. But let me say, this principle can be applied—by extension—to women in many different seasons of life.

We have women here today who are single—maybe never married—and you can love your future husband well now (if God intends for you to be married) by the kinds of relationships you have with men—the way you talk about men, the way you speak to men in your workplace and in your church.

At Revive Our Hearts we’ve always said, “We don’t allow men-bashing here. We’re not going to go there.” Now, we don’t believe in woman-bashing either. But it’s politically incorrect for men to speak negatively of women (in many circles), but women can have at it—march in the streets, hold up the signs, shout and yell—do everything you want—talk about what jerks men are, or make jokes at the expense of men, or—worst of all—speak that way about your own husband!

So, single women, if you speak respectfully to and about men now, if the Lord ever has you married, you will have invested well in that future marriage by doing that now.

We have some widows in this room. You can speak well of your former husband. Now, it may not have been a great marriage. It may have been a really, really hard marriage. But you can show respect for him in the way that you talk about him now. By saying those good things, you’re not saying there isn’t anything that was hard or difficult about that marriage.

One of the things I so appreciate about my mother, who has been widowed since 1979 (she was forty years old when her husband—my dad—dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of fifty-three) . . . Throughout all their married life, and in all the years since, I have never heard my mother say one negative or unkind word about my dad!

Now, that’s not to say they didn’t have issues—they did. I’m not going to tell you what those were, because that would be kind of defeating my point here. But she respected that man, she respects him to this day. Now as an elderly woman, she still speaks so lovingly and kindly and warmly about the memory of that man. That’s loving your husband well!

We have divorcees here today, and that marriage ended for whatever reason. Maybe you didn’t want the divorce. Maybe you wanted, through any means possible, to see God keep that marriage together, but he left. He was unfaithful. He whatever the reasons were . . . Let me just say that you can, in a way, still love that man with Christ’s love.

Christ loves the unlovable. Christ loves utter, abject failures. Now, there are limitations to that love of course, but you can find the things about that man that drew you to him in the first place, and you can speak about those things.

Now, I’m not talking about being fake or artificial or gushy. There’s something about speaking honestly about the things that happen in your marriage, as an older woman, that can be helpful to younger women whom you’re mentoring and training.

So I’m not saying you never say those difficult things, but you say them in a way that intends to be redemptive, that’s not intended to slam or to destroy or to trash him, but to be respectful.

The kind of love we’re talking about here is an exclusive kind of love. Women are to be fond of their own husbands and—by implication—they are not fond of other men in the same way. There’s an exclusivity in the marriage relationship where your husband is the object of your affection. You don’t share that kind of affection and friendship with any other man.

Some sweet friends of ours gave us as a wedding gift this book called The Home Beautiful, published in 1912 by an author named J. R. Miller. I was looking at this the other day, and I came across a quote that I thought was really precious in this regard. It said: 

No wife can overestimate the influence she wields over her husband, or the measure in which his character, his career, and his very destiny are laid in her hands for shaping. The sway which she holds over him is the sway of love, but it is mighty and resistless.

So just a moment here, as we wrap up, to those who would say, “I just don’t love my husband anymore—and I don’t know that I ever could.” Maybe you’ve been deeply wounded, deeply hurt. You say, “I just don’t think there could ever be love in this marriage again.”

Well, just a few words here. First of all, if you don’t love your husband—for whatever reasons—then acknowledge to God that you’re the one who doesn’t love your husband. He may not love you. You can’t confess his sin for him, but you can confess your sin, because the Scripture says that women are to love their husbands.

Just agree with God and take responsibility: “I don’t love my husband.” And then, would you ask the Lord to give you supernatural love for your husband? Love comes from God. Acknowledge that you can’t love him on your own.

Amy Carmichael wrote this beautiful little piece of verse:

Love through me, love of God,
There is no love in me;
O Fire of love, light Thou the love
That burns perpetually.

Do you want God’s love in your marriage? Ask God for it. Then start investing in him. You can learn to love him, and you will grow in that if you begin to do loving things for him. You say, “No, our love is dead!” Well, we have a God who raises the dead!

I want to share with you, as we close here, a hymn stanza. It’s not very well-known. It was written by Fanny Crosby in 1869. I’ve often shared this with women who found themselves in marriages that just had no life left in them. It says:

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

And, oh Lord, how I lift up my heart and my voice to You this day, for all of us who are listening to this and are married woman—that You would teach us to love our husbands well.

I want to pray especially in this moment for women who would say, “I just don’t love my husband. I don’t know that I could. That love has been crushed. Those feelings that we once had are buried so deeply, I don’t think they could ever be restored.”

I pray that You would assure those women that, as their lives are touched by Your loving heart and wakened by Your kindness, chords that are broken can vibrate once more in their hearts.

They may say, “Well, my husband will never love me.” We can’t say for sure, we can’t answer that, but I do believe—and I want to pray on behalf of these women—that grace can restore that love in those marriages, as these women touch their husbands with a loving heart and waken them with kindness.

Would You cause chords that have been long-broken in many, many marriages to vibrate once more, restored by Your amazing love and Your redeeming grace? I pray it in Jesus name.

Leslie: The time you have with your husband—even an imperfect husband—is a true gift. Sometimes while grinding out the tough situations of life, it’s hard to see it. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us see that today is an opportunity to speak words of encouragement—even when it’s hard.

When something is important, yet challenging, you need tools to help. Nancy would like to send you a tool to help you breathe words of life in your home. It’s a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. A Revive Our Hearts listener wrote Nancy to tell us how God used this tool in her life.

Nancy: Yes, it was such an encouraging note. She said,

I just made a donation and also ordered two of your 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband booklets—one for me and one for a friend [and what a great idea, by the way!]. Last spring and summer I was in a very low place in my marriage. I really didn’t see the point in continuing. I felt I had a cold roommate, not a partner. But I knew divorce would break my family apart. I didn’t want that! But I wanted a loving marriage. Little did I know what God had in store for us!”

She went on to explain that she heard about this thirty-day challenge of Revive Our Hearts. She said,

I decided that I could not change my husband. I couldn’t even talk to him about our problems. But I could change me! So, I’ve been working on it. Thank you for saving my marriage! Please pray that I can continue to work on it.

Now, we know that it was the Lord who saved this woman’s marriage and continues to help her and her husband, day after day. But I’m so thrilled for the way He used this booklet, 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. Regardless of where your marriage may be today, I believe He could use this journal in a powerful way in your life and your marriage as well.

We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your gift, your support, will help us continue bringing God’s Word to women and helping them live out the beauty of the gospel.

So be sure to ask for 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can go online anytime, 24/7, and make your donation of any amount. The web address is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, why should you encourage your husband? We’ll hear more compelling reasons tomorrow as we continue in Titus 2, here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes in the importance of your family. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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