"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
She didn't know I was watching. But I was. And what she did changed my heart and marriage.
Friends of mine told me about Deborah, a woman at our church who had decided not to speak negatively about her husband. Although I truly love my husband and think he is wonderful, he isn't perfect. So at the time, I didn't think there was much harm in occasionally complaining about him to friends and co-workers. After all, they had plenty to say about their husbands.
But something about Deborah's commitment challenged my heart. I began to watch her and her husband for signs of a difference. I also listened carefully to see if she really stuck to her commitment. She did, and the fruits of her faithfulness were obvious.
Deborah and John had been married far longer than I had and had three beautiful children. But they acted like they were still on their honeymoon. Their devotion was untarnished by the mistrust and bitterness caused by a critical heart and complaining lips.
Seeing the difference in them made me much more aware when I started to "vent" or complain about my husband. I thought about how terrible I would feel if I walked into a room and heard him speaking negatively about me. So I followed Deborah's lead.
It didn't take long before I started to see fruit in my marriage too. Lots of it! The more I spoke well of my husband, the more I thought well of him too. His virtues far overshadowed his few imperfections. Praising my husband to my friends actually grew my love for him. Plus, I never worried what might be repeated to him.
I have come to believe strongly in the "Sacred Us." My husband and I have a bond that is stronger than the bond I have with anyone else. There are things that only the two of us share.
Although I love to talk, I don't need to share everything going on between us with others. If there are problems, I can always pour out my heart to God, and Scripture encourages us to do that. I also have cultivated relationships with several godly, truth-telling women who love my husband as a brother in Christ as much as they love me. They will listen, offer godly counsel and tell me in a skinny minute if I'm the one who's wrong. Choose women who exemplify Titus 2:3-5 when you need to problem-solve or when you need focused prayer about a situation.
Without ever knowing it, Deborah changed many of the marriages in our church for the better. Let's all resolve to be the "Deborah" among our friends. I want my words and actions to make that kind of difference — to strengthen my marriage bonds, to encourage others and to glorify God.
Dear Lord, please help me control my tongue. I need Your help to praise my husband instead of criticize or complain. In times of crises or conflict, remind me to turn to You first. Bring godly women into my life who will join with me in this endeavor so that we can encourage each other. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Pay attention to the topics of discussion with your friends. How often does the conversation turn to criticism of husbands? Stop yourself when you begin to join in! Then go a step further and say something positive about your husband.
Cultivate friendships with other women who speak positively of their husbands and hold each other gently and lovingly accountable.
Power Verses: Philippians 2:14-15, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe ..." (NIV 1984)
Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (NIV 1984)
© 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org