“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23 (NIV)
“Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.” Proverbs 31:23 (NLT)
“Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.” Proverbs 31:23
So far in my Proverbs 31 journey there have been two other verses that directly mention the husband of the noble wife. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12
The first two verses appear to focus on the relationship between the husband and wife inside of the home. Verse 23 is talking about out in the community. The Proverbs 31 husband is well respected among the community. He’s known by community leaders. His opinion is taken seriously.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “behind every strong man is a strong woman”? I don’t think that’s quite right; I think it should be that beside every strong man is a faithful woman. A woman who showers her husband with respect, friendship and has built a strong trust with him.
I have often read and heard it said that women want to be loved and men desire to be respected. I know as a woman, that I have more confidence in myself and my skills when my husband has shown me he loves me. It’s much easier for me to face the world when I have had the reassurance from the most important person in my life, my husband. I think it’s similar for men. If they find they are respected at home by their wife and their children, then their confidence is bolstered to face the challenges the world throws at them.
How do Proverbs 31 women show respect to their husbands? In Ephesians 5:22-24 it says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now the church submits to Christ, as also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” God designed men to be the leaders of the home.
Honestly, I have found this to be quite challenging to live out. I can be quite a control freak. I am very selfish. I have a habitual way of doing things. I have opinions and dreams of things that I would like to see happen. I often find myself trying to take over that leadership role through my actions. I like to be doing and making progress, so when it appears to me that my husband is doing nothing in a situation, I have a tendency to act.
It’s at those points that I usually find myself in a mess, tired and exhausted. Why is that? Maybe it’s because I’m trying to do something that I wasn’t created to do. I must ask God for forgiveness for all of the times that I didn’t submit myself to my husband. It pains me to think about the blessings we may have missed because I rushed to take charge instead of waiting patiently.
I believe some of the best ways to show my husband I respect him is through what I DON’T do. If I wait for his direction, allowing him to seek God’s guidance, instead of acting rashly, I show him respect. If I hold my tongue, instead of blurting out my opposing opinion on the tiniest of subjects, I show him respect. If I don’t allow my mind to dwell on my frustrations, but think of things that are “noble, pure and true” (Philippians 4:8) about him and our marriage, I show him respect.
It is my understanding that God gifted men with the ability to intensely focus on one thing at a time, compartmentalizing the different areas of their lives. I once heard it explained that it’s like having a shelf full of boxes. A man can take only one box out at a time, say work, and focus on that. He may have boxes for his wife, his children, his home projects and his favorite sport.
If a man feels respected at home, it seems logical that he would be able to rest assured that when he goes to work he can put his home box back on the shelf until his work day is done. That allows him the freedom to put all the intensity of his focus on his work. It seems to me that operating without distraction would be beneficial to the success he would find at work.
Now I’m not saying that work should have a priority over family in a man’s life. I do think they need focused time to work. As a wife, I have the opportunity and responsibility to help protect that time. I can do that by not interrupting his work with phone calls, emails or text messages that are about minor things. Things that would cause him unnecessary distraction from his work. I can think about the timing of when I interrupt and what I contact him for. By doing that I show him respect. It sets a standard that when I do interrupt it is of great importance.
If I go to God to work on becoming a Proverbs 31 woman, it blesses me, my husband, my children, my friends and my community. It will return to me in incredible ways, such as the respect my husband will gain at work and in the community. Notice how I said, if I go to God. I’m going to have to turn to God first.
He will be the source of my patience when my flesh wants to act immediately. He will provide, as my friend Connie says, “Holy Spirit duct tape” when I need to keep my words to myself. It is His Word that will replace my worrisome thoughts with peaceful truths. He will need to be the one I take my concerns to first during my husband’s work time. God will let me know when it’s worthy of interruption.
God + me = Proverbs 31 I shall be
God is just so amazing! The closer I grow in my walk with him the more wonders I witness. It truly does all begin and end with Him. It’s like the Lord said in Exodus 33:19, “I will cause all my goodness to pass before you.”
Thank You so much for Your wisdom. Thank You for Your guidance. Thank You for the order and structure You have designed for our lives and our homes. May we be humble enough to take Your advice and to seek out Your counsel.
If we are married, may our actions show to our husbands that we deeply respect them. May they find great respect at work and out in the community. May the example we live out illustrate what a marriage can be and may we give hope to those who are still waiting on Your plan, Lord. For the men who read these words, may they feel bolstered by the respect of the women in their lives.
When we have times of struggle in our marriages, please remind us to draw near to You first. Help us create the habit of going to You before anyone or anything else. Even when we hurt, may we have open eyes to see Your goodness pass before us.
In Jesus name, Amen.