The Strong Marriage Check List – Item 6: Friendship

 

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.


Item #6: Friendship

For many couples, the typical time line of events in their relationship begins with attraction, which leads to friendship, which develops into love resulting in the mutual decision to marry. It is a natural progression which grows in momentum and intensity as time passes. Whether your relationship followed this particular order or not, friendship is an important facet for every marriage and not one to be taken lightly.

A Friend Sincerely Enjoys Your Company

”Experts on happiness say for a happy marriage there has to be more than passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for one another. Which, in my book, is a good definition of friendship.”1 – Marilyn Monroe

Known as the sex symbol of her day, Marilyn Monroe had a great quote regarding the word friendship. Although the “Blonde Bombshell” could have easily emphasized the aspect of physical attraction in a

In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe epitomized the essence of sensuality.

relationship as the most important attribute between a couple, she clearly comprehended the value a solid friendship brings to a marriage that is destined to last.

Perhaps for thrice-divorced Marilyn, it was easier said than done. Unfortunately, a true and enduring friendship can be evasive and eludes many couples. So, what do you do if you sense your marriage is lacking in the friendship department? Is your marriage doomed to fail? How do you foster “a genuine liking” for one another? How do you recapture friendship if you feel it slipping away due to the pressures or monotony of daily life? How do you shield your existing friendship from the relentless, crashing waves of stress as you deal with problems or challenging situations?

We can apply some good advice from the Apostle John and at least be pointed in the right direction of preserving our friendship with our spouse.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.  – Revelations 2:1-5a (NIV)

John writes to the early Christians in the city of Ephesus with both words of encouragement and correction. He praises their hard work, perseverance and righteousness. John commends them for not being fooled by false prophets and the fact that they have not grown fatigued

Author of the Gospel of John, I, II and III Espistles of John and the Book of Revelations, the Apostle John was known as the disciple for whom Jesus had a special affinity and frienship.

in their walk with God. However, he admonishes them for having less love currently than they had at first. Strange, isn’t it? You’d think John would be happy the Ephesians were doing all the right things. Yet time after time, God communicates to us just how much more concerned He is about the heart behind our actions. Why? Without the right heart to fuel what we do we’re susceptible to running on auto-pilot. If God had wanted a mechanical and programmed relationship with us, He would have created robots or not given us free will. The motivation behind our actions means everything to God.

Now, let’s apply this lesson to our topic of friendship. After a few years together, married couples develop some heavy responsibilities, such as: holding down full-time jobs, paying bills, raising kids, tackling chores, etc. Taking care of those responsibilities can become automatic. It’s simply what you do. Creating a stable life by being responsible is praiseworthy indeed, yet it sounds a lot like the Ephesians’ “hard work and perseverance.” A couple can become lost in their daily routine, the business of living life and dealing with pressing issues that demand attention. Those who forget the importance of friendship or allow it to be squeezed out due to the stress and strain of everyday life may find themselves wondering if there’s more to marriage than what they are experiencing.

I love the Apostle John’s warning. Let’s read it again.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.  – Revelations 2:4-5a (NIV)

Why would I love a strong correction like this? I’m no glutton for punishment! But I do love the advice he gives. If your friendship is not what it used to be, applying what John commands here would mean getting back to the basics and doing what you did at the beginning of your friendship. Now that should be appealing to all of us.

What was your friendship with your spouse like in the beginning? Did you spend lots of time together? Did you go places and do things you both enjoyed? Did the friendship seem light and care free? Did you have a genuine liking for one another?

What can diminish our liking of one another? Perhaps an unresolved disagreement. Maybe a lack of consideration for each other. Even harsh words or severe treatment that need to be forgiven can greatly reduce our liking of one another. Maybe you’re at a point in your

Disagreements, unresolved conflict and stress can ruin the friendship in marriage.

relationship where it’s difficult to even imagine being friends again. Remember John’s advice. Do the things you did at first. “But how?” you might ask. “I don’t have free time to sit on a park bench or see a movie in the middle of the day or stay up late talking into the wee hours of the night. How are we going to do the things we did at first?”

Doing the things you did at first may look different than it did when you were younger or had fewer responsibilities. Remember, we’re looking for the heart behind the action. Maybe your time together will be shorter (Ex.: until the baby cries or one of you falls asleep from exhaustion!), but

Spending time together doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Make the most with what you have.

at least there’s a conscious effort. Perhaps your outings need to meet a budget or certain time constraints, but the heart of friendship can still shine through. Possibly, your first attempts might feel awkward or contrived. Just keep in mind your goal of getting back to what you did at first. That’s the miracle of repentance. God can refresh and revive us when we seek wholehearted transformation. We serve an amazing God who loves to perform miracles through His ever changing and evolving creation…us!

Here are some practical points all of us can apply immediately:

  • Make an effort to be easy to please.
  • Decide to be fun.
  • Decide to be funny, playful, and lighthearted!
  • Give each other your full attention.
  • Be determined to not let a bad day spoil your time together.
  • Remind yourself what you like about your spouse.
  • Remind your husband what you like in him.
  • Make time for each other.
  • Have genuine enthusiasm and excitement about being together.
  • Pray for discernment to know when and how to bring up difficult topics to discuss. Your date may not be the time nor place for heavy subjects.
  • Prepare the children. Explain the need for mom and dad to spend time together. Plan to have them either in bed before your time starts or have a babysitter on hand to watch them. The effort this requires is well worth it.

Friendly Advice

Some seven years ago, my husband and I were at yet another marriage retreat when we heard one of the most memorable classes ever. The lesson was geared toward soon-to-be empty nesters. Alcides and I were just a few short years away from that reality and were eager to glean

Dana and Gingerla Perkins, evangelist and woman’s counselor in the Greater Seattle area.

good tips. One of the main points in the class that Dana and Gingerla Perkins presented was the need couples have to set aside time for their friendship, especially when they think they don’t have that time readily available. Why? Because all too many couples reach the milestone mark in their relationship where the kids leave home and begin living their own independent lives. Suddenly, a husband and wife no longer have that central and all-consuming focus of their relationship (the kids) holding them together. Many times, a couple may discover the friendship that initially brought them together is nowhere to be found. What now? Unfortunately, some married couples have sorely neglected their friendship. When finally alerted to the dilapidated state of their relationship, there is nothing left to salvage, and divorce ensues.

For Alcides and me, this was like the Apostle John’s call to repentance to the Ephesians. We had become experts at taking care of the business side of marriage and friendship was scarce. Luckily, we both wanted that to change. Immediately, we began making plans about how, when and where we would spend time together fortifying our friendship. The months to follow that marriage retreat were some of the most memorable for us. We formulated a plan. We discussed activities, preferences and budget. And then we made it happen.

We took turns planning our dates. Some were dressed up dates with dinners out on the town. Some were simple walks on a beach, at a lake or in a park. Some were the stay at home kind with a favorite meal and a movie picnic style in the living room in front of the fireplace. We had

Alcides and Leslie on a date visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle

options for every budget, taste and even any kind of weather. Our time together became sacred and highly protected. We were really enjoying ourselves, to the point that we started sending selfies of our dates to the kids, and writing “Look where Mom and Dad are!” My then 17-year-old daughter Stephanie commented, “Hey! Why don’t you take Lucas and me on your dates to all these cool places?” I slyly replied, “Sure, why not! And I’m certain you’ll be happy to let us tag along on your dates!” Needless to say, she immediately understood our necessity to have reserved time just for the two of us.

Thank you, Dana and Gingerla. We are grateful for your expert (and fun) advice! Our friendship is all the better because of it!

A Friend Always Has Your Back

If there is one person in this world who should have your back, it’s the person you married.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

In my opinion, that “friend who sticks closer than a brother” should be you and your spouse.

The byproducts of a strong friendship are trust, confidence, and ultimately, love. Friendship generates the power to believe in someone even when the odds are stacked against them. Even if they falter or fail. Just knowing you have one person on this earth who truly believes and trusts in you or who you believe in, makes all the difference.

Let’s consider what the Bible says regarding Abraham and his relationship with God. Look at the following point conceptually not literally.

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  – James 2:23 (NIV)

When Abraham’s faith was put to the test, he passed the test because of his intimate knowledge and friendship with God. Abraham was called to sacrifice his only and long-awaited son. He reasoned that God had the ability to raise his son from the dead and would not leave the answer to his many prayers (Isaac) laying cold and lifeless on the altar (Hebrews 11:17-18). In Genesis 22, his actions prove how much Abraham believed God had his back.

  • When asked to sacrifice his son, he woke up early in the morning, rather than procrastinate in his obedience. He brought with him the necessary provisions to carry out God’s commands (wood). (Gen. 22: 3)
  • Although it took a three-day journey to reach the spot God indicated, Abraham did not waver or change his mind about obeying God. (Gen. 22:4)
  • In his heart, he believed God would make good on His promise that through Isaac Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Therefore, he said, “We will worship, and we will come back.” (Gen. 22:5)
  • On their way to perform the sacrifice Isaac asks about the lamb they need for the offering and Abraham replies that God will provide it. (Gen. 22:8)
  • During the time it took to build an altar and pile the wood up on it, perhaps Abraham was tempted to doubt whether God would keep his promise. And when he laid his son on the altar, maybe then he resigned himself to the fact that Isaac would die but God would raise him from the dead. (Gen. 22:9)
  • And finally, with the knife in hand, Abraham’s obedience to God was confirmed. (Gen. 22:10)
The ultimate test of faith: Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Then, like in any good action-adventure story, at the very last-minute God saves the day by preventing the sacrifice! (Gen. 22:12)

We can easily see why Abraham was called God’s friend. What trust! What confidence! What obedience Abraham showed during the most difficult test a parent could endure!

But there’s another side to this story that you may have possibly never considered. Abraham could depend on God, and that seems obvious because God never fails, but have you considered how much God could depend on Abraham? Perhaps the whole son-sacrifice ruse wasn’t only to test Abraham’s faith. Maybe God was thinking a few steps ahead. Maybe He was thinking a few centuries or millenniums ahead. God needed to depend on Abraham just as much as Abraham needed to depend on God. Fast forward time and God is thinking about how He can encourage you to be faithful to His word. He needs Abraham to pass the test so that he will serve as a good example to you…and to me and everyone else. God’s friendship with Abraham allowed Him to trust that Abraham would follow the plan, even if he didn’t fully understand it or see how things would work out in the end. Abraham had God’s back, too.

What about you as a wife? Do you only follow a plan that makes crystal clear sense to you? A plan you can 100% agree with? Or, are you a friend to your husband who trusts and has your husband’s back? I realize your husband is not God and sometimes his plans may not work as intended. However, true friends have each other’s backs, always.

A Friend Brings Out the Best in You

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American captain of industry and a business magnate, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.

Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle-class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that

Henry Ford, engineer, innovator, businessman, visionary.

would profoundly impact the landscape of the 20th century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As the owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”: mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation and arranged for his family to control the company permanently.2

”My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”3           – Henry Ford

Considering all that Henry Ford accomplished in his lifetime, his quote makes me curious about the friendships he forged. Who were these amazing people who brought out the best in Henry Ford and where can I find some friends like those! The fact is, we are surrounded by people who can have that role in our lives if we’d only let them.

The Bible has a similar saying, found in the book of Proverbs.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.                             – Proverbs 27:17

It is said that we are the average of the five or six people with whom we  spend most of our time. Think about your inner circle of friends. Are you inspired by their lives? Are they worthy of imitation? Do you want to be like them? Now, while you’re ruthlessly sizing up your unsuspecting friends, imagine what their conclusions might be if they did the same with you! Are you a friend who brings out the best in others? That takes work. That takes courage. That requires living a life on the cutting edge. It involves being someone who is always learning and growing and sharing that experience and knowledge.

As the friction intensifies, the sparks fly!

Bringing out the best in others also demands being a person who is not afraid of sparks. What do I mean by that? When iron sharpens iron, sparks fly! There’s friction, there’s heat. An active and growing friendship may give off some sparks from time to time. That’s fine if the intent is to spur one another on toward growth, and for Christians, that’s growth in Christ.

Consider your marriage.

Are you able and willing to allow your husband to bring out the best in you? Are you eager to “be spurred on” or “sharpened” by your spouse? Or does he have to tip toe around certain subjects because you’re too sensitive or prideful. Spouses know each other best. Who better than your spouse to see the areas in your character in need of change? Oh, but how hard it is to hear correction from our husbands! Sadly, if you do not have a relationship with your husband where he can openly bring out the best in you with words of encouragement or correction, your friendship may need review and/or repair.

Test your friendship

  • Do you look forward to spending time together?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, what’s your level of fun? Smiles? Laughs?
  • When you are together, are the activities shared interests or one sided?
  • Does your together time depend on an event or activity to sustain it?
  • Can an off comment or disagreeable situation easily shake your desire to spend time with your spouse?
  • Does supporting your spouse’s efforts, projects or plans feel more like a chore than a delight?
  • How do you rate your openness and communication with your husband? And his with you?
  • Do you challenge one another to be your best or are some areas off limits to discussion?
  • Do you both share in each other’s success? Or does competition and jealousy get in the way?
  • How have you brought out the good in your spouse? And vice versa?

Conclusion

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”4 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph summed it all up quite nicely. Work on yourself and let your husband work on himself. Share this post with him and open the lines of communication between you. Your friendship will only get better.

Marriage is fantastic when your BFF is your spouse!

 

Best Friend Forever

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 www.brainyquotes.com

2 www.wikipedia.org

3 www.brainyquotes.com

4 www.brainyquotes.com

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/

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #1 She is Valued

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Valued – [val-yood] (adj.) 1) highly regarded or esteemed: a valued friend. 2) estimated; appraised: jewels valued at $100,000. 3) having a value of a specified kind: a triple-valued offer. 1

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.                                                                                              – Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

An Interesting Factoid

According to the website Energy Muse, rubies bring love and passion and are associated with vitality and strong feelings.  The gem stone ruby is the good luck stone of love, encouraging sensitivity in a relationship. Ruby also promotes clarity and wisdom allowing the wearer to attract wealth. Ruby strengthens the body’s immune system against infectious diseases. 2

Personally, I cannot attest to all these claims about rubies. However, if this was the common belief back in the day when Proverbs 31 was written, a virtuous wife was certainly held in high esteem.  The comparison to rubies was not a trivial choice. The author understood the great value rubies would convey.

Unfortunately, in today’s western society and perhaps worldwide, the perceived value of the role of a wife has diminished considerably. Why is that? Certainly, negative factors like machismo add to the deflation of a woman’s value. But can all the blame be attributed to the unenlightened minority of the male sex? Even some misguided concepts stemming from the feminist movement may contribute to the devaluing of the standing and role of wives nowadays.

Rosie the Riveter as depicted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

Recent history reveals the steady shift from the long-established home life where a wife and mother was a permanent fixture who maintained a high standard for herself, her family and home. World Wars I and II provided the call to action for women that inevitably changed the fabric of family life, perhaps forever. Women were needed in the workplace as their male counterparts went off to war. Once the wars were over and the men returned home (and in many cases they did not return), women needed and wanted to retain their newly acquired status, opportunities and freedom their efforts during the war provided. And rightly so.

The decades that followed the last World War ushered in an explosive advancement in women’s rights. Women were now entering professions never before held by the female gender. Great strides were made towards fair wages, acceptance in the workplace and equal opportunity. The pendulum swing, regarding a woman’s role in modern life, was an inevitable and natural occurrence. In just about every great movement, in order to change the status quo, a pendulum swing takes place and a complete shift of mentality goes from one extreme to another. When discussing women’s development in society over the last 100 years, one of the great shifts that took place went from appreciating the roles of wife and mother to almost scorning them.

The challenge today is to recapture and maintain the high regard and intrinsic value of being an excellent wife while retaining the positive advancement of women. Unfortunately, too many times we wives do not value our own role as we should. Instead of cultivating our character to better handle the challenges and responsibilities, we complain, make excuses and are mediocre. Then, we wonder why we are undervalued.

How much do you value your role as wife? Do you hold this facet of your life in high esteem? Do you have as much concentration and determination to grow in this role as you do in your profession?

An Incredible Quote

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (born November 30, 1874 and died January 24, 1965) was a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. As Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, and a writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work.3

Now that is a résumé to be proud of, for sure. Yet, what did Churchill value above all that?

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.”     – Winston Chruchill4

Stop and think about the amazing implications of that statement. Churchill valued gaining his wife above becoming Prime Minister, winning the war over Nazi Germany and being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

Motivating Bible Verses  

The more I read about, study and contemplate the idea of being a wife, the more I see and understand it has much more to do with my relationship with God than my relationship with my husband. In my role as a wife, I’m being called to be like Jesus in every aspect of my character in every moment of my day. It’s a spiritual approach to a challenging situation I find exhilarating and motivating. In my marriage, I do what I do to please God, who sees my effort and my heart even when my husband does not.

Consider these verses:

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.   – Proverbs 12:4 (NIV)

Being a wife of noble character would figuratively make your husband feel like a king! The opposite would cause him to desire death!

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.     Proverbs 18:22 (NIV)

It is a blessing from God for a man to find a good wife. What surpasses a blessing from God?

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.  – Proverbs 19:14 (NIV)

The value of houses and wealth is obvious to any of us. Yet a sensible and wise wife is a spiritual gift from God. Do we women recognize the value of that? If not, how can we expect others to value what we do and who we are?

How can you become a valued wife?

 1. Start valuing yourself and your role as a wife.

Who you are and what you do as a wife will be valued by others if you value it.

Your value before God:

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)

This well-known verse sums up the incredible value God places on each one of us.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

God is omnipotent and the creator of all that is seen and unseen. Therefore, it amazes me that He takes the time and makes the effort to communicate to wives that particular female character traits are of great worth to Him.

Your value to your husband:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.   – Proverbs 31:10-11 (NIV)

Imagine your husband acknowledging as long as he had you by his side, he’d lacked nothing of value. That’s powerful.

2. Stop undermining your worth.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.   – Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)

In chapter 3, Paul urges the Ephesians to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. In view of that statement, he then urges them in chapter 4 to live lives worthy of Christ. What would that look like? Would it include belittling your role as a wife or mother? Would it mean complaining about daily tasks or spending your time wishing you were in different circumstances? No! Because of Christ, everything we do and everything we are has the potential to be used by God to accomplish great things.

3. Decide to be invaluable.

Show me someone who does a good job, and I will show you someone who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings.                  – Proverbs 22:29 (GNT)

I worked for many years as a secretary. The profession has many similarities to being a wife. In fact, among secretaries you may often hear them refer to their boss as their “work husband.” The best secretaries (those in high demand) anticipate needs, hope for the best and plan for the worst-case scenarios. They keep important information at their fingertips and their number one goal is to become invaluable. The best bosses know, appreciate and greatly value the assistants’ role, knowing how difficult it would be to get the job done without them.

Are you invaluable to your “home husband?” Becoming an invaluable wife is a decision coupled with a plan that is motivated by Christ.

Decide to be a gem. Decide to be a jewel. And you’ll be treasured.

A wife of noble character, she is valued.

 

Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://energymuse.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/gemstone-of-the-day-ruby/

3 Wikipedia

4 www.brainyquote.com

An Introduction to 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character

by Leslie De Morais

 

In this modern world of ours, a woman may aspire to countless professions, attributes, titles and abilities. However, I cannot think of one that compares or competes with becoming a wife of noble character.

As you read Proverbs 31:10-31, see if you can identify the 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character.

10A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.                                                                                                            –  Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)

The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 is awe inspiring indeed. Surely, she is the culmination of the ideal wife and mature woman.

Her numerous attributes may leave us overwhelmed, however, I prefer to learn from her rather than be intimidated by her.

My list of her amazing qualities is meant to be used as a source of inspiration, meditation, imitation and admiration. Each of the 31 qualities comes with:

  • A dictionary definition
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Bible scriptures
  • Practical application

As you study, you may find other adjectives that describe her. Add them to your list.

Take your time reading. It’s not a race, because I doubt there’s a finish line. Transformation into a wife of noble character takes a lifetime of training and perfecting.

Beware the temptation to doubt the existence of the woman of Proverbs 31. Becoming like her is possible. I have actually known incredible women who fit this description.

Here’s my list of her characteristics:

  1. Valued (v. 10)
  2. Trustworthy (v. 11)
  3. Good (v. 12)
  4. Diligent (v. 13)
  5. Consistent (v. 14)
  6. Hard working (v. 15a)
  7. Serving (v. 15b,c)
  8. Business woman (v. 16a)
  9. Financially responsible (v. 16b)
  10. Stamina (v. 17a)
  11. Physically fit (v. 17b)
  12. Savvy (v. 18)
  13. Capable (v. 19)
  14. Compassionate (v. 20)
  15. Fearless (v. 21a)
  16. Prepared (v. 22b)
  17. Determined (v. 22a)
  18. Elegant (v. 22b)
  19. Discerning (v. 23)
  20. Industrious (v. 24)
  21. Strong (v. 25a)
  22. Dignified (v. 25a)
  23. Confident (v. 25b)
  24. Wise (v. 26a)
  25. Knowledgeable (v. 26b)
  26. Attentive (v. 27a)
  27. Busy (v. 27b)
  28. Respected (v. 28)
  29. Excellent (v. 29)
  30. Righteous (v. 30)
  31. Honored (v.31)

The list of 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character is inspiring to say the least. It is perhaps a little daunting or even intimidating. Let’s learn from her one characteristic at a time. Are you up to the challenge?

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New blog articles featuring the 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character will be posted weekly.