The Fruit of Her Hands Book Study – Chapter Three (Part 1/2)

Respect Makes a Difference

Some of you cringe at the sound of that word…and your body tenses expecting to read what you’ve already heard and quite frankly don’t agree with.  Your mind is flooded with all the ways in which your husband has failed you, making it impossible, at least in your mind, to respect him.  And you wonder why, on God’s green earth, we keep talking about such “simplistic” points of view!  You long for someone to acknowledge, at the very least, that men can abuse their authority and that women have an excuse to not respect them.

If that describes you, let me ask you this:

What comes first, respect or respectability?
Should a husband love his wife only if she is lovable?

If we wait for our own standards to be met, no man would be respected and no woman would be loved.  And yes, the subject can be a simple one, but we, men and women, in our sin make it difficult and, at times, down right impossible!  But at the end of the day, God has not changed his mind and we need to consider and obey His commands, even when they ruffle our feathers.

Nancy devotes a good chunk of this book on this subject: what respect is, what it is not, how we apply it, when it is hard to show it, etc.  It is obvious, she doesn’t take it lightly.  You get her sense of urgency and understanding of what is at stake; which is not men, or women — but the church.  Her opening statement reads, “Sometimes I wonder where the church would be today if the men in it were respected as they ought to be by their wives.  What power would God unleash through godly men who were respected in their homes?”

“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph. 5:33)

She argues that this lack of respect is exactly what is holding men back in the church: to lovingly lead, protect, and provide.  We wrongly assume that respect is an emotion, and that if we don’t feel it, we don’t need to give it.  Yet, you and I naturally show respect to those we feel respect for, don’t we? So it is a feeling too, no one can argue that.  But her point is well taken that it cannot be dictated exclusively by our feelings.   God commands us to.  Read the verse above again and note that there are no qualifications.  None. You either choose to obey God or not. Nancy defines respect as: “something that is displayed by the way we treat our husbands.  Even if we feel it, we must not stop there but go on to show it.  And if we do not feel it, we are still commanded to show it.”

So how do you do that?  Well, again, how you view or think of your husband sooner or later comes out of your mouth.  So with our tongues we either show respect or a complete lack of it.  Nancy urges women to stop focusing on their husbands’ short comings, to stop down grading them, and to stop speaking to others about their husbands’ weaknesses, poor decision making, sins, failings, and problems.

Ok, that was a mouth full, so let me park here for a minute.  Are you one of those women? Women that like to talk and share their husband’s failings from years, and months, and days ago?  Sometimes women do that in the name of “seeking counsel”, but really all they want is sympathizers. They keep on complaining to others never realizing that in doing so they are fueling more disrespect in their hearts and minds towards their husbands. Look at Proverbs 14:1, “Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” How one builds a home is by respecting the head of that home.  Have you been this woman, or seen these women?  Don’t be one and don’t let others be either.  Do not listen to their rants about their husbands and ask why they feel the need to tell you.  It doesn’t help them esteem their husbands more and it doesn’t help you think any better of them either. That my friends, is called gossip.  If they come to you for counsel, make sure you ask if their husbands know they are talking to you about them.

Now, let me balance this a bit.  That doesn’t mean you need to be your husband’s advocate to others. Our husband’s reputation precedes them so we need not to concern ourselves with needing to build up their reputation; they need to do that on their own.  You need to be concerned with you.  Are you respectful of his decision making, even if you don’t agree? Are you showing honor to the way he leads your family, even when you think he does it poorly?

Say you have a hard time respecting your husband because he doesn’t lead your home spiritually.  Focus on what he does do: Is he a hard worker, a good provider, a generous giver, a good friend, a faithful servant, a good father?  Praise him for those things.  Materialize that respect and verbalize what you are thankful for in him.  Tell him; write him a note or a letter letting him know what you appreciate in him.

Nancy rightly concludes that, “Discontent blinds women to many good qualities in their husbands.  When gratitude and respect are cultivated for their husbands, wives find more and more to respect….Thankfulness drives away discontent, and respect and honor build the husband up.”

She exhorts women to stop setting the standards and qualifications by which they will then respect their husbands.  And instead, focus on being more sympathetic, encouraging, and of course, obedient to God’s command for them.  God promises us to bless our obedience, so you and I can be confident that if we obey, we will be blessed.

The result of such respect, she points out, is that men are equipped, encouraged, and blessed, which in turn blesses the entire family. I can testify to this.  When I finally became aware of my disrespect toward Jon, I began the process of repentance before the Lord, then asking Jon to forgive me.  It was humiliating to admit not loving him well, by not respecting him.  That led us to more open and honest conversations which, in time, have produced a great friendship between us.  But first. I had to speak his language of respect, honor, and esteem.  Then, he was able to love me, and want to love me with much sacrifice.  So yeah, through such language of respect, he was better equipped to love me well, be encouraged to keep working hard for our family, and truly feel blessed to have me as his wife.  So ladies, speak their language by seeking to be the primary source of that respect they were design by God to receive.

If your husband hasn’t earned your respect – God has.  So let us trust in God’s word and his infinite wisdom and let us rest in Him for he alone is worthy.

That’s it for today.  I’ll finish the chapter tomorrow. See ya, then!

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