[March 19]--Family Values: Love and Marriage

Prov. 27:8; 13:10; 27:15-16; 15:18; 20:22

What do you think is the most important institution in society? Well, if you go by order of creation, then family would head the list. Think about it: God created marriage (and the family by extension) before he created the state or the church. And I'd submit that you can’t have a strong church without strong families, and you certainly can’t have a viable nation for long without stable families. So for the next few days we’re going to see what Proverbs has to say about the issue. We’ll see what it tells us about husbands, wives, parents and children, and what God expects from everyone.

Today we’re going to briefly examine what it says about marriage, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The book doesn’t really have a lot to say to husbands as such. Not that they don’t need instruction from Scripture; they certainly do. But most of the time, the characteristics which make a good man also make a good husband, and there’s not a lot of distinction between the two to be drawn from this book.

For example, one of the most important qualities husbands need is the willingness and ability to listen to good counsel. They mustn’t just trust their own judgment, but must listen to good advice, both from their wives and from other godly friends. But that quality is repeatedly extolled all over the book for anyone reading it; it’s just not specifically designated towards husbands per se. But for today I picked a few proverbs which can be applied to marriage in general and husbands in particular.

First let’s take a look at 27:8. How many men are described here? How many of them find any excuse to avoid having to spend time at home with their families? If so, there’s a problem. We have responsibilities at home, and some of us tend to shirk those when we can.

Second, we need to remember that one of the most corrosive threats to the home is a quarrelsome spirit. But where do quarrels come from? Well, 13:10 tells us that the source of this is pride. Now, this is not just a problem with men. As you can see by 27:15-16, wives can be guilty of this as well. Each of us, deep down inside, has a desire to be God. I’m obviously not talking about just disagreeing with each other. What’s pictured here is a person who's on the lookout for an excuse to assert oneself.

Another real problem that husbands need to be on the lookout for is a bad temper. Yes, there are women who have a problem with anger as well, but Proverbs seems to be addressing mostly men on this subject. Notice that 15:18 tells us that a hot temper stirs up "conflict," or "dissension" (as otherwise translated). What does that mean? How does unrestrained anger do this? Because no one wants to follow a bad tempered man. If a husband wants to be the spiritual leader of the home (which he’s supposed to be), then he’s got to show that he’s got a cool head when he doesn’t get his way.

And finally we get to another real destroyer of harmony in the home: A desire to “even the score.” What do I mean by this? Well, do you feel any pleasure when you have an argument and your spouse is proved wrong? How important is it for you to feel like you’ve “won”? Or do you feel any desire to lash out when you’ve been hurt? This is a natural desire within each of us. But in any relationship, especially in a marriage, this is deadly to the intimate union which the Lord wants. As long as we’re holding onto a grudge, then the Enemy has a foothold. God's standard for us--if we claim that we love our wives--is that we keep "no record of wrongs."

I realize that some ladies might have some of this apply to them. But I’m specifically addressing this to all my brothers in Christ who are married: Take a good hard look. Do you look for excuses to stay away from home? Do you have a quarrelsome spirit? Do you have control over your anger, or does it control you? And are you keeping any kind of “ledger” to monitor how often your wife has “done you wrong” or “owes you”? What do you think Christ wants you to do? I think you know.

Lord Jesus, I fall so far short of your standard sometimes. You treat your Bride with gentleness, compassion, patience, and self-sacrificing love. And I need to do that too. Please. Help.

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