Some husbands and some wives are failing in their responsibility — and don't know why. Here is what you may be doing wrong!
MANY men want to be the head of the family, but don't know how. For example, the zealous husband realizes that unless he is growing "spiritually" he is not going to be in the Kingdom of God. So after a day's work he comes home, says "hello" to his wife and children and then retires to his room to study and pray — leaving his wife and children to shift for themselves.
Your Biggest Problem?
Many men do not realize that with this totally self-centered kind of Bible study and prayer, the husband is only feeding himself. He neglects to feed his family. Of course one must study and pray privately, but it is also the man's responsibility as head of the house to lead his family spiritually. You can be the head of your family as God commands, and still find time to study and pray. If you say that YOU can't, you are simply saying you don't want to be the head of the family. You are, in fact, having another God before you — your own SELF-centeredness. God does not COMMAND you to do the impossible, but only that which is good for you. The Apostle Paul tells us that "Chris: is the head of the Church." Notice also that "Christ... loved the church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:23-25). Since Christ is our example, men are to love their wives and children as much as Christ loved the Church. That is a lot of love, for He gave His Life for His Church. But how does Jesus Christ show His love for us today? By patiently admonishing, encouraging, guiding, and teaching us the right way of life through His Word and His ministers. As the held of the house it is your duty to give your life in service to your family by encouraging, guiding, admonishing, and teaching them the way of life, as Christ does, the Church.
Do We Rule Christ's Way?
Many men in the Church of God try diligently to obey this command to be the head of the house. They are zealous. However, some of you husbands go to the extremes. Some of you rule your household as a stiff-necked tyrant — unmercifully overlording the wife and children. Jesus Christ forbids the husband to rule his house as a harsh overlord, making all the decisions. Some men tell their wives every move to make. They list all the groceries she should buy. They tell her where and how to clean house that day, and what and how to conk for the meals. Sometimes a husband has even told the wife what she could cook for her own lunch while he was at work. It is known that some of you do just this! Do you realize that when you (the husband) make every decision for your wife she is not learning how to apply the principles of right living to her own life? If you make all the decisions, will your wife ever learn how to assume her natural, God-given responsibility. Jesus Christ trusts you men with a little power now — without finding that you always misuse it. So let your wives learn to make those decisions which are their responsibility.
Rule with an Iron Hand?
The husband and wife work as a team. The wife is the husband's assistant — but she has to be trained. Most women at least used to lead somewhat sheltered lives. Wives need the loving help of an understanding husband. That is why God placed the man over the wife. But how do you show that thoughtful consideration? By giving your wife some responsibility, and then PATIENTLY — GENTLY teaching her how to use it. As she learns to accept and use responsibility, give her still more duties and opportunities. The husband often needs to help his wife to organize her time so she too will be able to have time to grow in grace and knowledge. Wives often say they don't have time to study and pray. The truth is they usually have much more time than their husbands do. The head of the house may need to show his wife how to schedule her time so she will be able to study and pray. Let us notice what God says a virtuous woman, whose "price is far above rubies," should be trained to do. It is in Proverbs 31:10-31. A diligent husband will help his wife to become the type of woman found in the 31st chapter of Proverbs. Notice that this kind of woman is trustworthy (vs. 12). "She speaks well of her husband." She does not gossip about him, telling his faults and shortcomings. She will not listen to gossip about him. The good wife knows how to cook properly (vs. 15). If she does not know — she can learn. The GOOD NEWS is now publishing articles which tell the wife how to cook. Many cities give adult home economics classes. A wife (or daughter) who does not know how to cook should take the opportunity to attend such classes. The husband should be willing to make this possible. The husband should encourage his wife to take the time to train their daughters to prepare wholesome meals. This is often not the case!! She can help clothe her family by learning to sew, by taking advantage of sales in materials (Prov. 31:13, 21). If your wife does not know materials and does not know how to sew, many cities offer courses in sewing and the choosing of materials. Also there are textbooks and magazines that can help her. A neighbor may often be the source of help. It is the husband's duty to encourage his wife to acquire skill in her fields. A young wife (and most women) has not had the experience necessary to do all the things mentioned in the 31st chapter of Proverbs — that a virtuous woman should be able to do. She can learn with the competent and PATIENT guidance of her husband. If you (the husband) are a wise head of the house, you will help her plan her schedule so she can do her housework, get in her Bible study and prayer and also help her acquire the skill and knowledge necessary to become a competent woman. Did you ever notice that in Proverbs 31:16 we are even told that a COMPETENT woman can even be trusted to buy property? We need to remember that our wives are our assistants whose function is to help us make a better success of our time and our duties.
The Other Extreme
Another extreme is found in a husband who is "weak-kneed" and lethargic and who makes no effort at all to be the head of his family. He sits back and relaxes and lets the more "aggressive" wife rule the family and wear the "pants." Remember, Christ commands: "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church" (Eph. 5:23). Adam had to learn that, when he let his wife rule him. The result was sin! God cast him out of the Garden of Eden for letting his wife influence him to eat the forbidden fruit, when he really knew better (Gen. 3:17, 23, 24). God set man in authority over the woman. He made woman to be man's assistant. It is contrary to God's plan that the wife be in authority over the man. Both must work at taking their rightful place in the family. If you are the kind of husband who is letting his wife rule the family, ask God for courage, for wisdom, and for understanding. Diplomatically exercise the rulership of your family with tact as God commands you to. Avoid making an issue of it. Read I Cor. 13:4-6, and learn how not 'to be a tyrant, how to have the mind of Christ to lead you. Be the one who makes the major decisions for the family, the one who sets the EXAMPLE in right living, the one who leads the family Bible study and guides the wife in her study if she needs it. The converted wife must work at letting the man take his rightful position in the home and she also will need to ask God for wisdom and understanding in how to do this.
Role of the Wife
Many wives say, "I wish my husband would be the head of our house. He just won't be, so I have to be." In most such cases this isn't the truth! Many husbands would rule the home if the wives would just submit to that rule. Wives, do you really submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord? — as if they were Christ Himself — as you should? (Eph. 5:22-23.) It is understood that your husband is not on a pedestal, but he is the head of the family, made responsible by God to exercise certain authority beyond the wife's. The husband did not place himself there. The Almighty placed man there, in authority over his wife. You wives need to remember that you are your husbands' assistants, that as you help your husbands, you really also help yourselves. You need to learn how to assist your husbands. You need to recognize how your husbands need to develop and how to help them in the RIGHT way. You need to learn to keep your children and your home neat so your husband is inspired by an environment when he comes home from work. You need to be inspired by letting God talk to you from His word — through Bible study — and then you need to learn to inspire your husband by your good deeds and pleasant personality. Yes, you need to learn how to keep your romance alive! The wife can plan her schedule so as to make It easy for her husband to participate in Bible study and prayer with his family. You wives can have a great deal to do with developing your husbands' desire to be the leader of the family.
By Whose Authority?
Let us remember that first, there is God the Father who gives the order to Christ. Christ ALWAYS obeys. Then Christ sets His chief minister under him to direct on earth the duties of the Church. Then the chain of authority goes right on down through the other ministers, the deacons and other administrative officials. Under this authority, and yet also directly under Christ, are the husbands. From the husband to the wife, from the wife to the children the chain of responsibility is passed. If Christ is our Ruler we are going to learn to obey this chain of authority. We husbands and wives are going to work at learning to take our rightful places in the home, in the Church, and in the Government of God. The time is soon coming when God is going to stop organized rebellion against His ways. There won't be any griping, grumbling, complaining, nagging wives in the Kingdom of God. Neither will there be any stern, harsh, overlording husbands who would abuse their power in the Kingdom of God. Nor will there be any husbands who refuse to obey God's COMMAND to be the head of the house — who placidly sit back and take the commands of their wives, as Adam did from Eve (Gen. 3:17). Jesus learned obedience from His Father and was made perfect by the things He suffered (Heb. 5:8). He is our example. Are we any better than He? By taking your rightful place in the home — the husband as the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23), and the wife in subjection to her husband (I Pet. 3:1) — you are preparing yourself for an unbelievably great and eternal position in the World Tomorrow. Let us thank God for these trials and tests, for these opportunities to learn how to rule and to be ruled.