31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #6 She is Hardworking

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Hardworking – [hahrdwur-king] (adj) 1. industrious; zealous: a hardworking person.1

 

She gets up while it is still night;
             – Proverbs 31:15a (NIV)

 

Facts About Early Birds

According to Forbes.com, early birds have the advantage! This assessment is based on an article written by Christoph Randler for the Harvard Business Review.

Early risers can jump with joy at the perks they create for themselves.

Here are 10 encouraging benefits early risers can experience:

  1. Get Better Grades – In a 2008 Texas University study, college students who identified themselves as “morning people” earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who were “night owls” (3.5 vs. 2.5). Good grades help students secure better career opportunities.
  2. More Proactive – Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. They were more likely to agree with statements like “I spent time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
  3. Anticipate Problems – Randler’s research also revealed that “morning people” are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which leads to more success in the business world.
  4. Better Planners – Early risers report using their morning quiet time for organization, goal-setting, and planning out their days and weeks ahead.
  5. Time to Exercise – Many successful businesspeople get up early to exercise (before the family is awake and their official work day starts). Regular exercise boosts mood and fitness, provides energy on the job and helps create deeper sleep cycles.
  6. Get Better Sleep – Sleep experts say that if you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms, which offers more restorative sleep.
  7. More Optimistic – Various studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Night owls, while linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits such as depression, pessimism and being neurotic.
  8. Easier Commutes – Early risers report less congested commutes due to leaving home earlier than the crowds.
  9. A Quiet Hour – Those who arrive at the office before their colleagues say the relish that first hour or two that provide quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.
  10. More Family Time – If you’ve gotten a jump on the day, you’ll have more quality time in the evenings to spend with family. Instead of bring work home, you can relax and unwind.2

There’s no doubt in my mind that strong arguments exist in the business world to support getting up early. In fact, they far outweigh the rationale for hitting the snooze button. But what are the benefits for us as Christian women, wives and mothers?

Hard Workers Rise Early

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”3Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite historical characters to quote. Not only were his observations witty and memorable, often he was just plain right. The facts

Jesus praying in the early morning hours.

mentioned above regarding those who are up before the sun easily refute the late riser’s attempts at building a case to the contrary. Even though every rule has its exception, most would agree an early start to a busy day makes sense, no matter how seemingly painful that might be.

Take the central character of the New Testament for example. Even the Son of God had a schedule to keep and rose before the rooster crowed.

 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” – Mark 1: 35-37

Verse 36 indicates that Jesus rose so early that no one else was awake yet for him to communicate where he was going. In fact, the preceding paragraph to this verse leads us to believe Jesus was most likely a guest at the house of Simon (later to be called Peter).  The night before, Jesus had cured Simon’s mother-in-law of a high fever. She promptly got up and served the men after her illness left her. Jesus rose so early that even the women of the household were still not awake. That’s early.

Why would Jesus need to get up at such and “ungodly” hour? Was he stressed and unable to sleep? Was he simply one of those annoying morning people who automatically wake at the crack of dawn? Was he nervous or agitated about the day ahead of him?

Verse 35 tells us that Jesus got up early so he could be alone and pray. Before the incessant din of the day or endless clamor of the crowds began, he gathered his thoughts, questions, plans and laid them before God. In the cool and quiet of the pre-dawn hours Jesus communed with his Father.

Let’s examine a typical day for Jesus. In Mark 1:21-34, this is what his schedule looked like:

  • Arrive in Capernaum (walking from Galilee)
  • Go to the synagogue (teach with authority, amaze people)
  • Cast out an impure spirit from a man (the news goes viral)
  • Go to Simon’s house (cure Simon’s mother-in-law of fever)
  • Attend crowds (cure the ill and demon possessed)
  • Attend the whole town (heal many and cast out more demons)

As women, wives and mothers, we can pack our schedules. It’s in our DNA to be aware of the status of others and the condition of our surroundings. We can run ourselves ragged tending to the needs of our family, boss, community or church. However, even if we have the good intention of serving others as an act of service to God, do we give Him the prime time of our day? Do we let Him in on the plans at the planning stage or only after a problem occurs? Is God at the start of each day so that He can orient, guide and bless the numerous tasks before us?

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.  – Psalm 127:1-2

No one who is a hard worker wants his/her work to be in vain. We all want our hard work to pay off, show progress, and result in reward. For Christians, that means ensuring we work in step with God.

Hard workers do rise early. However, spiritually-minded hard workers maximize their efforts by first working hard at being close to God, no matter what.

Hard Workers Realize Dreams

“What I was told by my parents was…pursue your dream, as long as you’re a capable and hardworking human being, you will be able to follow and fulfill your dream.” – Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank.

Chanda Kochhar (born 17 November 1961) is the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank. She is widely recognized for her role in shaping retail banking in India. In 1984, Kochhar joined the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) as a management trainee. During her early years at ICICI, she handled project appraisal and monitoring and evaluated projects in industries such as textile, paper and cement.

Kochhar was instrumental in establishing ICICI Bank during the 1990s. In 1993, Kochhar was appointed as one of the core team members who were assigned the responsibility of setting up the bank. She was promoted to assistant general manager in 1994 and then to deputy general manager in 1996. In 1996, Kochhar headed the newly formed Infrastructure Industry Group of ICICI Bank, which aimed to create dedicated industry expertise in the areas of power, telecom and transportation. In 1998, she was promoted as the General Manager and headed ICICI Bank’s major client group, which handled relationships with ICICI’s top 200 clients. In 1999, she also handled the strategy and e-

Kochhar revieves the India’s Best Banks Award.

commerce divisions of ICICI Bank. Under Kochhar’s leadership, ICICI Bank started building the nascent retail business in 2000 focusing largely on technology, innovation, process engineering and expansion of distribution and scale. In April 2001, she took over as executive director. In 2006, Kochhar was appointed as deputy managing director of ICICI Bank. In 2006–07, Kochhar handled the international and corporate businesses of the bank. From 2007 to 2009, she was the bank’s chief financial officer (CFO) and joint managing director.

In 2009 Kochhar was appointed as managing director and chief executive officer of the bank and has been responsible for the bank’s diverse operations in India and overseas. She also chairs the boards of most of the bank’s subsidiaries, which include India’s leading private sector life and general insurance companies.

Kochhar is a member of the India–Japan Business Leaders Forum and the US-India CEO Forum. She was the president of the International Monetary Conference, an organization that annually brings together the chief executives of approximately 70 of the world’s largest financial institutions from 30 countries, along with officials from government institutions in 2015–16. She is the deputy chairman of the Indian Banks Association. Kochhar is the chairperson of the board of governors at IIIT Vadodara. She is also on the boards of the National Institute of Securities Markets and Institute of International Finance. Kochhar has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry, the Board of Trade and High-Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure. She was co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2011.

Kochhar received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University, Canada in 2014, in recognition of her pioneering work in the financial sector, effective leadership in a time of economic crisis and support for engaged business practices. She was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors, in 2011.

Kochhar resides in Mumbai, and is married to Deepak Kochhar, a wind energy entrepreneur and her business schoolmate. They have two children, a daughter Aarti and a son, Arjun.4

Reading Chanda Kochhar’s bio makes my head spin! It is obvious she is an exceedingly capable, intelligent and dedicate professional. So, it’s interesting that she associates her hard work rather than her intelligence with reaching her dreams, at least as highlighted in the above quote. There’s a certain down to earth quality about it. It makes dreaming big more accessible to the average person. Not everyone is intelligent, but anyone can work hard.

Another over-achiever credited hard work to his spiritual accomplishments instead of calling attention to his mental aptitude, charismatic personality or family pedigree. The Apostle Paul, who was a highly educated man, cited not his own intelligence as the success of the ministries he planted and cultivated but rather the hard work of making Christ known among the believers:

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me. – Colossians 1:28-29 (HCSB)

Paul evens goes a step further by attributing the strength behind his hard work to Christ himself.

What are your dreams? Whether they are scholastic, professional, interpersonal or spiritual, hard work is an integral factor in reaching your goals.

Hard Workers Inspire Others with Their Example

”Being hardworking is the best thing you can show your children.”5David Beckham

David Beckham

It always amazes me how those who master their craft make their art, sport, or performance appear easy. Have you ever watched a great movie and imagined yourself on the big screen or humbly accepting an Oscar? Or perhaps you attend a show and the singer inspires images of yourself on stage before a sold-out concert hall. Or maybe you watch a sports event and toy with the idea of the crowds chanting your name! That’s what watching superstars does to our perception. It gets bent a bit. Their years of endless practice, toil and rehearsal, which we never see, makes their performance look effortless.

On the flip side of that coin is an opposing warped perception. We think, superstars are not like your average person so why even try to be like them? That way of thinking is just laziness on our part. The assumption that the those at the top of their game are simply naturally gifted removes all responsibility from the rest of us to commit to the same hard work protocol required to achieve similar results. It’s our way out, it’s our irrefutable excuse.

Picture this: David Beckham tucks his young kids into bed at night. In an adorable English accent one of his sons might say, “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Don’t worry son, you will, it’s all in the genes.”

Instead, based on his quote, I imagine the conversation would go more like this: “Daddy, I want to play football just like you when I grow up!” And Beckham responds, “Son, if you work really, really hard at it you very well could someday.”

When we give the example of hard work, we then expect it in others. We understand its value and don’t try to shield our children from its innumerous lessons. We comprehend the pride that is derived from good old fashioned hard work. We are not ashamed of the sweat and toil that got us where we are today.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.                                – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Saul, later to become the Apostle Paul, giving approval of the stoning of Stephen.

Paul was arguably the greatest of all the apostles, yet he did not pride himself on his intellect or religious track record. He realized he had grave sins that needed forgiveness. The amazing grace that God extended him inspired his hard work. Those of us who identify with Paul’s deep appreciation of forgiveness don’t work hard to be saved but work hard because we’re saved.

What’s your perspective on hard work? Are you ready to get up early to invest in your relationship with God? Do you believe hard work can bring you closer to achieving your dreams? Are you an example of hard work for others to imitate? If you find your perspective about hard work is a little warped, just bend it…like Beckham.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://www.forbes.com/pictures/gglg45gfd/benefits-of-early-risers/#1d1e1d861eb7

3 www.brainyquotes.com

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanda_Kochhar

5 www.brainyquotes.com

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #5 – Love

by Leslie De Morais

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


You might wonder why I’d include “love” on the Strong Marriage Check List. Isn’t love a given? Isn’t it obvious that a marriage requires love? Yet I’ve met many women who have married for innumerous reasons other than love. Here are a few (all the names are fictitious):

  • Pat married to get out of her parents’ home.
  • Jenny married because all her friends were getting married.
  • Diane married because she got pregnant.
  • Beth married because she feared her boyfriend was interested in another woman.
  • Sue married because she was obsessed with having her dream wedding.
  • Cathy married because she thought it would solve some of her financial problems.
  • Linda married to end the relentless pressure from her family.
  • Terry married because she was bored and thought it’d be fun.
  • Paige married because she didn’t think she’d get a better offer.
  • Judy married because she was afraid of growing older and being alone.

And the list goes on. Even if you married for love, it may be difficult to maintain that love as life unfolds.

I’ve learned from my own marriage that without love there really is no marriage. Love is the glue that holds us together in the tough times and enables us to flourish in the good times. Love is more than a feeling; it is more than an emotion. Love is a decision made daily, regardless of circumstances and independent of sentiment. Love is the result of a choice and the choice is, “I choose you, I choose us.”

But what exactly is love?

If you are as old as I am, you might remember searching the newspaper for the popular “Love is…” drawings by New Zealand artist Kim Casali. Over the years, the successful comic strip must have accumulated thousands of definitions of love. Some funny, some insightful, some whimsical.

When it comes to love, it seems as if everyone has their own definition.

Watch this video of children who candidly share their ideas about love.

 

Now, what do you do if you found yourself on the list above of women who married for reasons other than love? What is love and how can you cultivate it in your relationship?

Eppie Lederer, A.K.A. Ann Landers

Known for her practical advice dispensed for decades through a syndicated newspaper column, Ann Landers gets us a little closer to a working definition of love. Yet there’s an even more complete definition inspired by the One who invented love.

If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.                                                                                                                  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

The first three verses describe how accomplishing incredible feats and deeds without love only results in emptiness and utter failure. Let’s apply this to marriage:

  • If I have an awesome wedding planner and amazing party, a fabulous dress and incredible honeymoon but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • If I marry a man my friends think is perfect and my family accepts but I do not love, I set myself up for heartache and disappointment.
  • If I have the good intentions and a desire to make things work but have not love, I am likely to fail.

Not very satisfying statements. Yet when individuals do not profoundly understand the true meaning of love, it’s easy to comprehend how couples enter into marriages where love is sorely lacking.

Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 are well known and are the adopted passage for many brides and grooms on their wedding day. It is one of God’s biblical definitions of love.

Many years ago, in a class for wives, the speaker challenged us all to reread the passage removing the word love and put our own names or pronoun in its place. The verse would then read something like this:

Leslie is patient, Leslie is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Leslie does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Leslie does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Leslie never fails.

It was only after this exercise that some aspects of the biblical love God expects me to have for my husband became crystal clear. I had to admit, some days were difficult to claim possession of even one of these traits. At least now, I knew what love looked like. Love was deep, steady and enduring. Love required discipline and self-control. It selflessly focused on others. Love was incredibly difficult yet somehow attainable. Love was possible…with God in the middle of it.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,           that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.                       – John 3:16 (NIV)

I cannot love like the Bible describes without closeness to God. Without Him to remind me how great His love is for me, I would not have the capacity to love others, to love my husband, or even to love myself. His awe-inspiring love teaches us, by example, how to love. It is this unfathomable, rich and spiritual love that attracts, binds and matures as the years pass.

What does love look like in your marriage? Can you confidently place your name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as the definition of love? If not, then begin today, trait by trait, adding to your love. Both you and your husband will love the result.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #4 – She is Diligent

by Leslie De Morais

Diligent – [dil-i-juh nt] (adj) 1. Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student. 2. Done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.1

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.                                                                                                  – Proverbs 31:13 (NIV)

Wool and Flax

As many of us know, wool comes from sheep. Usually, once a year in the spring, the sheep are shorn (or sheared, depending on the dialect of the region). The wool is then spun into yarn.

What about flax? Considering the verse above, I wondered about flax, so I did some investigating. Here’s what I found out:

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textile made from flax in the Western countries is known as linen. It is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.2

If you have a moment, watch this short and informative three-minute video that shows how to spin flax.3

Now, getting back to the theme verse (Proverbs 31:13) of this blog post and the definition of diligent, what can we learn from the Wife of Noble Character?

What Motivates Diligence?

Imagine living in a time where you not only have to make your own clothes, and those for your family, but you also need to spin the yarn or thread for your fabric. The words time-consuming and tedious come to mind. How full would your wardrobe be if all that work were required of you? What could possibly motivate the Proverbs 31 woman to “work with eager hands?”

Only one answer stands out. She highly valued the end product much more than the long hours ahead of her. Perhaps she envisioned her children dressed in the clothes she so painstakingly made for them. Maybe she cherished the cozy touch of the brand new bed linens that she and her husband would slip into after a long day’s work. Possibly, she was imagining beautiful table linens that would make a meal special when visitors called. The end product is the inspiration that fueled her task, and diligence is what set her apart from the rest.

Consistency, persistence and perseverance are qualities we all admire. No one ever wrote a book or made a movie about the guy or girl who half way through a tough job, long journey, or daunting battle gave up! Who would want to read about that or see that movie? Yet we all love to hear about the person who stuck it out during a challenge. It gives us hope that we can do the same.

A Surprising Quote

“Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” 4

If this quote came from a cross-country runner, you might say, “That makes sense.” If I told you an Olympic athlete was known for making this statement, you might think it nothing out of the ordinary. How would you feel about that quote if you now discovered it came from a man who spent most of his adult life in political and ethical struggles against racism and injustice?

Nelson Mandela, human rights activist and President of South Africa from 1994-1999.

For most of us, we practice a sport, play an instrument or indulge in a hobby because we have a natural inclination or talent for it.  In Nelson Mandela’s case, he had neither when it came to cross-country running. He got through his task by harnessing diligence. Certainly, this discipline gave him the strength and hope to endure the 27 years he spent in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Diligent Wives Get What they Want…Eventually

How does a wife benefit from being diligent? There’s a Brazilian saying, “Quem casa, quer casa.” Translation: “The one who marries wants a home.” We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to buy our dream home and decorate it with the finest furnishings. Personally, I have yet to meet a woman in those ideal circumstances. Diligence is the stuff that fuels dreams, little by little.

Consider these verses:

Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.                                                                                                     – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,                                                                         but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.                                                           – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

It’s easy to sit around dreaming or worse, complaining because you don’t have what you want (be it a beautiful home, higher education, an amazing marriage or closeness to God). It takes diligence to bring those desires of the heart into reality.

My husband is a smart and capable man. He has accomplished many difficult undertakings in his life, such as: completing his college education, becoming fluent in a second language, moving to new countries and adapting to unfamiliar cultures, navigating the challenges of raising two teenagers successfully, relocating and beginning new careers several times and going for his master’s degree at age 50. Not to mention becoming a Christian and not wavering in his decision for over 30 years. Obviously, he is grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has received. However, to what personal characteristic does Alcides attribute his success? Diligence. He doesn’t consider himself extremely intelligent or unusually gifted. He understands the benefit of staying the course even when it gets hard and when giving up would be much more comfortable.

Diligent Wives Remove Obstacles

William Penn, English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.5

Like Mandela, William Penn was imprisoned for his idealism. You might think an ordeal like that would dampen his fervor or soften his convictions. Yet Penn was known for this statement:

Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.                                            – William Penn

What are the obstacles you need to remove in your life?

  • Do you have a home in desperate need of organization and order?
  • Are there personal goals you’d like to reach but procrastination and excuses have paralyzed you?
  • Is your husband not yet a Christian and your faith that he’ll become one is dwindling?
  • Does your husband lack the spiritual leadership for your family that you would like him to have and you’ve given up on being the helpmate he needs?

Do you have what it takes to remove these obstacles from your heart and mind? Patient diligence (in prayer, faith, and actions) is what’s required.

Diligent Wives are Wholehearted

In the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages and exhorts the young evangelist about some of a pastor’s worst fears. He warns Timothy that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons! Paul then cautions Timothy to:

  • Be a good minister
  • Have nothing to do with godless myths or old wives tales
  • Train himself to be godly
  • Put his hope in God
  • Command and teach these things to others
  • Not let anyone look down on him because of his youth
  • Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
  • Not neglect his gift of preaching and teaching

Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy the key to his future success.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)

Wholehearted diligence and perseverance. Timothy had a mountain to move and Paul set him up for victory.

Whatever mountains you may need to move, whatever your past track record has been, imitating the diligence of the Proverbs 31 Wife of Noble Character will certainly get you closer than ever to making your goals and dreams reality.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax

3 Spinning Flax with Christine MacCleod – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2VNllZhEE

4 BrainyQuote.com

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penn

 

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #4: Respect

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


by Leslie De Morais

Item #4: Respect

“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom,” says the best-selling author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray.

There may be times in your marriage when you think to yourself, “I’ve married a completely different life form! One from outer space!” This thought springs from the fact that men and women think and act so differently. It might seem as if your husband is from another planet!

In this age of acceptance and tolerance, you might assume it would be easier to adjust ourselves to one another in marriage. However, the daily challenges of seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse remain.

The quote from John Gray gives us a window into some basic understanding of what a relationship needs to function. Acceptance of each another’s differences is impossible without the first step of respect.

Respect and Love

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.                          – Ephesians 5:22-33 (NIV)

This well-known passage, which outlines the attitudes and actions God expects of us in marriage, is sometimes misunderstood. Words like submit, obey, and respect, are hot button topics for most women. Not taking the time to understand what the Bible is teaching us can cause our hearts to become stubborn, unbelieving or even rebellious toward God’s word. The dangerous consequences can result in either rejecting His standard for our lives or modifying it to suit our own ideas or lifestyle. Attitudes such as these nullify the Bible and our acts of worshiping God are rendered useless. (Read Matthew 15:1-9 to see an example of this concept.)

So why is respect such a difficult trait to develop in marriage? For most of us, we look at the concept of respect from the wrong end of the matter. We tend to focus on the recipient of respect instead of the giver of respect.

From a very young age, we are taught that respect must be earned. And to some extent, that notion is true. But does that mean we have free reign to disrespect those who have not earned our respect? I don’t believe so.

Respect Everyone

Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

In a worldly sense, those who are elevated to a level of respect usually have a long list of admirable qualities and strong characters. These people are respected for their accomplishments and contributions. They inspire awe and high esteem. And we revere them for being better than ourselves.

An example of this would be my attitude toward particular styles of art. A friend proudly displayed an original painting she bought at a pricey gallery. It consisted of a thick brushstroke of black down the middle, a squiggly line of red and a yellow circle. Surprised at my lack of enthusiasm she asked why I didn’t like it. I replied, “I don’t appreciated art I can do myself.”

It is this same approach some people take when confronted with the idea of respect. If the recipient of the respect isn’t “better” than me, then how can I be expected to respect him or her? There’s a monumental problem with this rationale. What if half the world doesn’t pass your assessment of being better than you are? What about your husband? What happens if he doesn’t find himself in that coveted category of being better than you are?

Consider Christ

Let’s think about Jesus for a moment. Who walking the earth was better than him? Who was more spiritual? More loving? Wiser? More intelligent? Without sin? The answer is no one. Yet look at this incredible example of respect he leaves us to imitate:

53 Then they all went home,but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”         – John 7:53-8:11 (NIV)

Picture this scene. Someone “caught in the act” of adultery is most likely naked or at least scantily clad. Either way, it would make for an extremely compromising situation. Now imagine being in that predicament completely surrounded by men. Compound the circumstances with the fact that those men are religious leaders bent on condemnation. What does Jesus do? In a matter of a split second, he assesses the fact that the question posed is a trap. They are using the woman’s sin to condemn her and trap Jesus. Two birds with one stone!

Now, how can Jesus school these legalistic leaders and have a lasting impact on the woman? He shrewdly diverts the men’s attention away from the woman by writing on the ground. Envision that moment when all the men lean in to see what Jesus is scribbling in the dirt. Out of respect, Jesus is not looking at the humiliated woman. Because of him, neither is the crowd of men. Jesus goes a step further and causes each one of the men to look inward at themselves by saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Who then had the courage to look at the woman after those wise words? I don’t suppose those men had the courage to even look at one another yet alone the woman.

Here’s a question for you: was the woman caught in adultery worthy of Christ’s respect? If you’d asked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, surely they would say, “No.” What about the onlookers? Were they worthy of Christ’s respect? Jesus could have shamed them because of their sinful ways, yet he gently reproved them by causing each one to examine his own heart and life. You see, the only person worthy of respect in this scenario was Jesus and he was the only one showing respect.

Respect for others is achieved when we comprehend that the respect given is based on a decision to be a respectful person. True respect is not dependent on another’s worthiness to receive it.

Your husband is not Jesus. He is imperfect, like you are. He has flaws, as do you. Why should you respect him? Well, hopefully you will respect him because you have decided to be a respectful person. Your decision just might inspire and motivate those around you to be people worthy of respect. But even if others do not change, you can imitate that in Jesus which is good and right and pleases God.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

 

Footnotes:

1 John Gray (born December 28, 1951) is an American relationship counselor, lecturer and author. In 1969, he began a nine-year association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before beginning his career as an author and personal relationship counselor. In 1992, he published the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which became a long-term best seller and formed the central theme of all his subsequent books and career activities. His books have sold millions of copies. (Wikipedia)

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #2 She is Trustworthy

by Leslie De Morais

Characteristic #2 – She is trustworthy

Definition

Trustworthy – [truhst-wur-th ee]  (adj.) 1) deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable: The treasurer was not entirely trustworthy. 1

Her husband has full confidence in her                                                                               and lacks nothing of value.   – Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

 

Romance and Royals

Like many of you, I love a good romance set in an historic period, such as the novels of Emily Bronte or Jane Austen. Just picture a meticulous English garden or the breath-taking French countryside, or imposing manor houses and stone castles. These settings coupled with the idea of an aristocrat’s lifestyle all make for an enticing escape from our humdrum 21st century lives.

In the past two decades or so, I have found myself especially drawn to European history, primarily through classic novels depicted artistically down to minute details in movies or mini-series. Fully fascinated by the costumes of the era, the architecture, interior décor and the high standards of propriety, I find myself immersed in the drama of the characters. The complexity of noble hierarchies, intrigue wreaking havoc in monarchies and the disparity between the royals and commoners create real life settings and stories the imagination would be hard pressed to improve upon.

Netflix’s “The Crown,” starring Claire Foy

While watching one of these series, I found myself contemplating the pros and cons of being born into a royal family. Much to my surprise, my list of cons far outweighed the pros. The case against this imagined circumstance included, but was not limited to, considerations such as:

  • having extremely high expectations forced upon one’s self,
  • the weight of a nation’s progress and well-being as one’s primary responsibility,
  • and, a greatly diminished amount of privacy or lack of anonymity.

Perhaps thoughts like these gave birth to the expression, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” The original source of this phrase is not known, but William Shakespeare used it in his play, King Henry IV, with little modification:

                        “Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!                                                                             Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

In Act III, Scene I, King Henry IV says these lines to express how tough his duty of kingship is, and how difficult it is to take on such a serious responsibility, which constantly worries him.2

 

A Royal Proclamation

The line in Shakespeare’s play causes me to consider this quote:

“I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”  – Queen Elizabeth II2

Queen Elizabeth II in February 1952

What an amazing promise make and live up to! And from a queen, no less! It certainly conveys a deep understanding of the daunting task that laid ahead of a young 26-year-old princess who became queen due to the abdication of the throne by her uncle and later the subsequent passing of her father.

Queen Elizabeth II vowed trustworthiness, not only to a nation, but also to the entire common wealth of the United Kingdom.

Now, let’s bring all this home.

Would you be able to make that same pledge (and keep your word) to just one human being? Could you say it, in all sincerity, to your husband? Picture yourself speaking these words to him:

“Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”

Does your husband have full confidence in you in all areas of the marriage? What are those areas? Here are some, to name just a few:

  • marital fidelity,
  • family finances,
  • your thoughts,
  • your words,
  • and your deeds.

Lessons on trustworthiness from the Bible

God sets us a divine example of trustworthiness, in his actions, his promises and in his precepts.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. – Psalm 19:7 (NIV)

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. – Psalm 111:7 (NIV)

The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. – Psalm 119:138 (NIV)

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. – Psalm 145:13 (NIV)

Paul was an example of trustworthiness:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.                          – 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

Paul’s expectation of women in the church:

In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.              – 1 Timothy 3:11 (NIV)

In everything? Yes, in everything.

 

Practical Application

Marital fidelity

Do you think it impossible to be unfaithful to your husband? Here are the 2011 statistics regarding adultery, according to Dr. Kelly James Bonewell, a psychologist and theologian counselor.

Infidelity Statistics

  • Over 33% of married men will cheat on their wives;
  • Nearly 25% of all married women will cheat on their husbands;
  • More than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful.

Grim statistics if you think about them.

Here are some other interesting facts that we know:

  • Back in the 1960’s it was usually the husband who was unfaithful.
  • Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair.

As a way of comparison to how adultery has become more prevalent: a 1983 study found that 29% of married people under twenty-five had had an affair. By comparison, only 9 percent of spouses in the 1950s under the age of 25 had been involved in extramarital sex.

Ten percent of extramarital affairs are “one night stands;” ten percent last more than one day, but less than a month; half of all affairs last more than a month but less than a year; and 40 percent last two or more years (Lampe, 2000).

Perhaps you are thinking, “This can’t be a problem in the church. Certainly the moral standards of Christians are higher.” There is growing evidence that adultery is also a tremendous problem in Christian circles. One could site many studies—the most recent from Christianity Today shows that 45 percent of Christians indicate having done something sexually inappropriate, and 23 percent having extramarital intercourse (Anderson, 2000). These numbers pretty much mirror the national averages.3

Flirting may ignite a flame you can’t control.

With Dr. Bonewell’s findings in mind, think about your trustworthiness. Adultery begins with letting down your guard with flirtation or allowing the mind to wander. It could start with inappropriate joking or unnecessary physical contact, intimate comments or confiding in the wrong person about struggles in your marriage. Hidden online contact or conversations should certainly be a red flag. Avoid temptation. Don’t be naïve.

Faithfulness to your husband is directly linked to your faithfulness to God. A trustworthy wife is sexually faithful to her husband not because he is so awesome or handsome or such a good provider, or even because she loves him. She is trustworthy in this area of her life because of the commitment she made first and foremost to God.

Family finances

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?                – Luke 16:10-12 (NIV)

Hey, Big Spender! Do you need to confess, Mrs. Shopaholic?

Can your husband trust you to stick to a budget? Are you able to account for what you spend? Does your reasoning constantly outweigh his requests to spend only what is necessary? Family finances are one of the three things about which couples most argue and disagree.

As a woman who loves fashion, interior design and entertaining, I can verify there is always a “reason” to spend just a little more. In our relationship, I soon learned that my husband and I had very different ideas as to what was necessary and what was not. It took us years to successfully discuss and reach middle ground regarding how money should be allotted, saved and spent. As with most topics in marriage, it required love, respect and compromise on both parts. However, changing my reputation as an irresponsible spender took almost a decade. Today, being considered trustworthy by my husband is more important to me than anything I could buy in a store.

 

Your thoughts

Thoughts are the easiest aspect of ourselves to hide. The mind is a secret place where we can do what we please and conceal it from everyone – everyone except God, of course.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV)

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs and the New Testament book of Matthew, we learn the heart and our thoughts are connected, spiritually speaking.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” – Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV)

Here’s what we should, as Christians, be thinking:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Now Playing: The Movie of Your Thoughts!

If it were possible to show a film of your thoughts on the big screen at the movie theater in your town, would you be applauded or would you cringe in shame and embarrassment? Can your husband have full confidence in the thoughts you have about him and others?

 

Your words

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. – Proverbs 12:22 (NIV)

Lies are just one of the ways we can sin against God and wound our relationship with our husband. Do you exaggerate? Do you speak in a snide or cynical fashion? Do you hurt others with words and cover it up behind jokes? Do you publically make disparaging comments about your husband to others?

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.                                        – Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Words are powerful tools. They can either build others up or tear them down. Be trustworthy in how you use them.

 

Your deeds

A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. – Proverbs 13:17 (NIV)

A reliable messenger is refreshing to the one who sends him, like cold water in the heat of harvest time. – Proverbs 25:13 (GNT)

Can your husband depend on you to do what you promise? Or, are you full of excuses? If he should ask you to take on a task, can he forget about it or does he constantly need to follow up?

Being a trustworthy wife is a tall order that encompasses every area of our lives. It takes a strong character and deep understanding that being worthy of trust begins with being trustworthy before God himself. Your fortunate husband simply reaps the benefit.

 

Footnotes

1 Dictionary.com

2 Literarydevices.net

3 http://www.kellybonewell.com/adultery-just-the-statistics/