CAN YOU KEEP YOUR HONOR?
I think that every woman longs for respect and honor. She desires her husband to praise her. She wants her children to revere her. The wonderful thing is that God has given honor to women. He has designed a special anointing and honor for her to walk in. It is our job to hold on to it. Proverbs 11:16 tells us that a gracious woman will retain her honor. The word "retain" literally means "to lay hold of as a support." We must lay hold of this honor and not let it go. Revelation 3:11 says, “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
This honor is very easy to lose. In fact, it is fast fading in our feministic society. As the modern woman lays down her God-given honor and pursues the man’s world, she loses her respect. I can remember a time when men would immediately give up their seat for a woman when riding buses, trains, etc. I rarely see this happen today. Men rarely open the door for a woman. They seldom make way for her to go first.
Instinctively, a man wants to be the knight in shining armor who protects and saves his princess. It is his privilege and prerogative to protect and honor women, especially a nursing mother or mother with child. But today many women would rather fight for their own rights. They seek to find their identity in the corporate world rather than in the home. In doing so, they lose the honor God has ordained for them. And man himself loses his gallantry to protect the woman.
We should not take our honor lightly. The Hebrew word for "honor" is kavod and means "weight, esteem, glory, majesty." It comes from a root word that means "to be heavy." God did not create women to be insignificant. No, we can "carry a lot of weight." We can influence the world mightily for God. We can be esteemed and honored, especially as we walk in graciousness.
How can we reveal this graciousness? Let’s look at five M's.
We walk in graciousness when we embrace our maternalness. Our greatest honor comes from being who God created us to be, and that is maternal. God has innately put a motherly instinct in women. It is the very core of our being. It is the heart of womanhood. When poets and songwriters seek to portray tenderness, they speak of motherhood. The Bible uses the same Hebrew word for a woman’s womb as it does to describe God’s tenderhearted compassion.
We are all familiar with the Titanic disaster. Who did they save first in this terrible disaster? The women and children. They did not need a conference to decide this matter. It was their first thought. It is instinctive within men to save women and children first. Women are the life-givers of the world and children are the future generation and are therefore, to be preserved.
We were created to mother, to nurture, to reach out to the needy in love and compassion. When we lay aside our inherent maternity to pursue the man’s role of providing for the family, we actually lose honor. When we lay aside having children for the sake of career, we actually deny who we are. Society has tried to reverse this basic law, but it hasn’t worked. As women have left the home in droves, we have reaped an epidemic divorce rate and the break down of the family.
It is true that there are some women who do not marry and many are not able to conceive children. Are they denied maternalness? No. This does not alter their innate maternity and they will find their greatest honor in pouring out their compassionate hearts to the lonely, the needy, and those whom God lays upon their hearts. I think of some of the women who have influenced the world for God–Susanna Wesley, Sarah Edwards, Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, and Mother Theresa. The list goes on. Some of these women were great mothers, others never married, but they all poured out their lives to the needy and ministered out of their motherly instinct. And, in turn, we honor them.
God commands children to “Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” This honor is given, not only because one is a good or a diligent mother, but because of the state of motherhood itself. God honors the state of motherhood and fatherhood. It is the first and highest task that God has given to men and women. Every other career serves this foremost commission that God has mandated to us.
“Meekness?” I hear you question. It’s not a very popular word, is it? But it is a godly word. In fact, meekness in women is something that is very precious to God. It is a mark of godly womanhood. The words of 1 Peter 3:4 have challenged me all my life. “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Another translation says that God “delights in it”.
Meekness is not weakness. Someone has said, “If you think it is weak to be meek, try to be meek for a week!” Meekness is not a personality type. I know quiet people who are very stubborn. I know exuberant people who actually have a soft and tender spirit. Jesus was “meek and lowly of heart” and yet He changed the course of history. Moses was “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” and yet he was a mighty leader.
This gentle humility does not belong to our flesh. It belongs to the new life of Christ who lives within us. Wuest comments that this meekness “is that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing or resisting. It is the humble heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against God and struggle and contend with Him.”
The Scriptures reveal God’s heart about this subject. “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” A proud spirit is ugly and takes away our graciousness but a meek and humble spirit will ultimately bring honor. “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.”
It is in our marriage where we expose whether we are truly gracious. It is no use acting piously at church or at the supermarket if you are yelling at your husband at home. There are many women who think it is degrading to submit to a man. They would rather jump up and down and demand their own way, do their own thing, and be free from any protective authority. But this kind of behavior is childish. Three-year-olds love to demand their own way. It is a mature woman who learns to submit with meekness. It is something that we learn to do as we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives.
I asked husbands to tell me what they honored in their wives. Here are some of their answers, which were reiterated by many:
- I honor her because I can count on her. I can trust her.
- I love her devotion to God and to the family.
- I love the way she thinks about the needs of our family and of others before herself.
- I honor her for her submissive spirit to me, which I don’t demand of her, but which she willingly gives to me.
- When she acknowledges me as the head of our home, rather than making the decisions herself, I give more respect and honor to her.
- I honor her when I see her seeking after God to be a virtuous woman.
- I honor her as the keeper of our home.
- I honor her as she bears our children and ministers to the family and the needs of others.
- I respect my wife for completing me. She “catches my slack.” She is a wonderful nurturer and tends our nest. I have to work and provide but coming home is what I really look forward to.
- I respect her softness and tenderness. She softens me and at the same time lets me be a tough guy.
- She lets me lead.
- She forgives me even when I do the same dumb things over, and over and over and over again.
The husband of the virtuous woman rises up and praises his wife with these words: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29) What greater honor could a woman receive? It is more blessed to receive honor from an appreciative husband than from all the organizations in the world.
We reveal graciousness through our manner--the way we walk, the way we dress, the way we smile, the way we talk to our husband and children, the way we welcome people to our home, and the way we react when things don’t go our way. I love the way Milton describes Eve in Paradise Lost…
“Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.”
This is where we make it or break it, keep it or lose it! Every time we open our mouth we reveal our graciousness or we downgrade the dignity of womanhood. There is nothing more unattractive than observing a mother shouting at her children in a supermarket. There is nothing more hideous than seeing a wife stand up to her husband.
It was recorded of Jesus, “All bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” They marveled, because they were not used to such words. The Greek word for "gracious" which is used in this Scripture is charis. It pictures God’s salvation for us. It speaks of a favor done without expectation of return. It portrays God’s loving-kindness to sinners. What is His motive? Nothing but His freehearted, abandoned love to us who do not deserve it.
When Jesus returned to His Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us, so that His life could be revealed in us on earth. When we are born again, Jesus Christ comes to live in us by His Spirit and He wants to continue to speak His gracious words through us.
We speak these words even when the listener doesn’t deserve them. Has your husband been nasty to you? Shouted at you? Instead of shouting back, answer with soft and tender words. Did you know that a soft tongue can break the bone? The Bible tells us this in Proverbs 25:15. Do you feel your husband’s heart is like granite? Keep speaking soft words. They have the power to break the hardest stone. Harsh angry words will not bring your honor, but gracious words will.
Are the children driving you crazy? Respond with firm but loving words. Has someone been hurtful to you? Retaliate with kind words. Give them words of blessing, not because they deserve it, but because the grace of God fills your heart and pours from your lips.
Ephesians 4:29 commands us that all our words should “impart grace to those who hear.” And we are reminded again in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious.” The word "always" means not only in public when we try to make a good impression, but also inside the walls of our home.
The testimony of the Above Rubies woman is that “She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). This is truly our greatest mark of graciousness. When we open our mouth, we retain or lose our honor.
Ephesians 6:3; Exodus 20:12
James 4:6,10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2
Proverbs 22:4 NAS