I had the privilege of speaking at a men’s gathering at a family farm last night. We had a great evening relaxing by the campfire. Here’s what I had to say…
T. asked me to come here tonight and tell you what women look for in a Godly husband. I don’t know what women look for. I am only one woman, and I wasn’t looking when I met my husband. God placed him in my life at just the right time, and we’ve been on this wonderful adventure ever since.
I remember a wise woman telling me as a teenager, “Pay attention to how he treats his mother, because that’s how he’ll treat you.”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
We were teenagers. The primary role of our overbearing moms was to sap out any fun in life. Sidenote: I love my mom. She’s just about my best friend. But the teenage years were HARD for us.
So fast forward a few years, past several bad relationships, into a new level of maturity where my mom actually became a real person, and the words of that wise woman finally started to make a little sense. And then I met someone who actually respected his mom, who took care of her, helped her fix things around the house, moved countless rocks for her garden, had this loyalty toward his mom and family that I hadn’t seen before. Somehow, I ended up meeting the entire family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone – only three weeks after we started dating. On Christmas day.
I saw on that day a man who put his first family first. I wasn’t there to be shown off as the new girlfriend, but to enjoy a big family holiday gathering. I see now, years later, that the same loyalty that he showed his first family is now focused on our own family. A Godly man is there for his family. He is loyal. He does what is right. He is driven to provide for his family, in whatever way his family needs him to.
Over the past 13 years we have grown closer, and our faith has grown deeper. Now, our faith walk hasn’t progressed simultaneously – we all have peaks and valleys. There have been times when I’ve been the one thirsting after God, hungering to know more, diving deep into my Bible studies. And there have been times when he has been the one leaning into God, relying on Him, quietly demonstrating his faith along the way, and encouraging me to do the same. We each have our own pace. God works with us as individuals so that we can be better equipped to serve one another.
Ephesus, which is in present-day Turkey, was a large city on the Aegean Sea. Centrally located between Europe and Asia, it was a major port in the trade routes. People were always coming and going with new merchandise and with new ideas. It would be easy to stray from the new “idea” of Christianity in such a transient environment. The apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians and reminds them of God’s relentless love and instructs them on how to live a Godly life. This was a time of persecution for the early Christians. So much so that they would identify themselves to other believers using secret symbols, like the circle Ichthys. Paul tells them how to show that they are Christians by their love, without the need to shout it from the rooftops, without the need to preach it to every passerby.
He writes in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 2 and 3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
These verses are perfectly applicable to us today. A Godly man is one who is humble, knowing that he is powerless without God. He leads his family gently. He is patient through all of life’s circumstances, waiting expectantly to see what good things God has in store. He is a card-carrying member in the body of Christ, working diligently to keep the peace amongst fellow believers.
Let’s dig a little deeper to better understand the characteristics of a Godly husband.
Merriam-Webster defines “humble” not by what it is, but by what it is not – it is not proud, assertive, or arrogant. And Paul says to be completely humble. Not just a little bit, but thoroughly, absolutely, continuously. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount returns to the theme of humility over and over. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the meek… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake.” It is a call to humbly set aside oneself and place our identity in Christ. “Identity literally means ‘the same’ – that regardless of changing circumstances, the core of you is unchangeable, stable, the same.” (Ann Voskamp) Identity in Christ is knowing above all else, that no matter what happens, God loves you. He loved you first, and always will. Jesus goes on, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them… When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you… When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” A humble man doesn’t strive to out-do the next, doesn’t try to be better than his neighbor, doesn’t draw attention to his religious acts, but simply does his best with what he has been given. A Godly man can humbly approach God, knowing that it is God who created him and has given him all that he has.
Now, I always prided myself on being physically strong. I used to be able to run farther, swim faster, and carry more weight than most girls. I wasn’t exactly humble about it. But Peter describes women as the “weaker vessel.” He instructs husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, to show them honor. It’s not that we’re completely helpless, but biologically, we are generally not as strong as men. Add pregnancy, childbirth, and a few extra years into the discussion, and we certainly need a little help with the heavy lifting. Being unable to carry the weight of a gallon of milk was a humbling experience, a few times over. I’ve regained much of my strength again, but I still do appreciate the help with feed bags and hay bales when my husband is around. A Godly husband is gentle, chivalrous, kind, honorable. He’ll help around the house when she’s not at her best. He’ll fetch that water pitcher that’s just out of reach, as she wishes. Because his is a gentle love.
Someone asked me a few months back what my favorite thing is about my husband. “He’s reliable,” I responded. “I can always count on him.” Several of you know that this has been the most challenging season of our lives. We have faced one loss after another, after another, and another. I continue to rely on my husband. He is the most patient man ever. We’ve said many a time, “We can get through this – together,” as we wait patiently for this season of loss to pass and look forward to a new season. That’s what it is to bear with one another in love. To endure suffering together, waiting patiently on the Lord. To know that God has a Plan with a capital P. That whatever happens, God is not finished with us yet.
Ann Voskamp writes in her book, The Broken Way, “In a broken world, isn’t the call always to communion with community that bears our burdens with us? Wasn’t suffering then a call for us to be a community, to stand together and bear under, trusting that arms of love are always under us?” We are all members of the body of Christ. We all have different roles. When we come together in community – that is when we keep the unity of the spirit. Paul says to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. Not just when we feel like it. He calls us to be fully invested in the community – even when it’s uncomfortable. A Godly man always supports his family and neighbors with the specific skill set he’s been given. He is an active participant in the body of Christ, and in his marriage.
Our pastor in Gainesville told us once to “always remember that you were husband and wife first.” When you have kids, the honeymoon is truly over. It is so easy to get lost in the rhythm of diaper changes, nap schedules, and snack times (which seem never-ending). Then there are extra-curricular activities to attend and homework to help with. It’s easy to get lost in the rat race of getting to work on time, coming home for dinner, and just trying to make it through the bedtime routine. It can begin to feel like you’re living parallel lives. But if you strive to make time each day to really connect with your wife, whether it’s watching TV after the kids go to bed, cooking a meal together, completing a big project side by side, or just calling her during the day to say hi, then you can keep your relationship first. We all want what’s best for our kids, and what’s best for them is a Godly marriage to look up to. I’m so thankful that I grew up with such an example. I know that my parents’ marriage wasn’t always perfect – any two people that spend that much time together are bound to run into conflict from time to time – but they always made their relationship a priority. Because if you lose sight of being husband and wife and focus only on the great task of parenting, you risk losing yourselves, and you risk losing everything for your kids. Remember that you ARE husband and wife, and you are parents as well.
My mom is a Presbyterian minister and was one of the officiants at our wedding. When she asked what scripture we wanted to use, and I said 1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter, she groaned, “Everyone asks for that one.” But I held firm. Not because I thought we had this perfect love, but because it describes the perfect Love. The Bible tells us that God is Love. So really, this is a description of God. And we are called to be Christ-like, so we should aspire to this kind of love in our earthly relationships, right?
I’m going to read selected verses from the chapter slowly. As I read, really consider each of these attributes, what they tell you about God, and how you can bring them to the forefront of your marriage:
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.
A Godly husband isn’t necessarily a man who proclaims his faith loudly. Who has long-winded theological discussions. Who can recite verse after verse of Scripture. These are all wonderful things, but they are not his identity.
A Godly husband is a man who first believes in Christ as his Savior. Who is humble. Who is gentle. A helper. A peacemaker. He hopes for the future. He is faithful.
Who are you? Will you take the challenge to be Paul’s kind of man, to be a Godly husband?