The following message is one I gave a couple times over during my recent ministry trip to Mozambique:
I have a friend named George. He makes his living bringing out the best in other people. Every time I get together with George over a cup of tea I receive a great big hug and an ‘I love you’.
George makes it his mission in life ensuring that everyone he comes across knows they are loved. (Everyone gets a hug!) I have learned a lot from George in the time that I’ve known him.
Forefront for him is ensuring his wife and three kids know his love. There isn’t a time I have tea with George but he isn’t sharing the latest things he has been doing for his wife and kids. In his decisions and manner of being he is committed to serving his family well.
So we might ask, how it is that George can get away with hugging women who are not his wife? I tell you, it’s this: It’s because the feast, the real banquet of love and respect, of honour and regard, is happening at home.
The rest of us are just getting in on the crumbs from the table.
I propose that if we want to change our cultures and communities for God that we begin with a feast at home. Building a culture of regard, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, value, honour, mercy, dignity, justice, love, and understanding in our homes will in fact impact our world.
It begins between a husband and his wife. Men, you have more power than you know.
If you treat your wife with regard and respect each and every day she will shine. Look her in the eyes, acknowledge what she does, thank her for her sacrifices for you and your children. Take the time to ask her about her day and really listen to her. Be tender and understanding.
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
It has been said that a woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4) and I ask you men, how shiny is your crown? For the quality of a man can be found in the light in his wife’s eyes, the countenance of her face, and how she carries herself.
A woman treated well, who knows she is safe and secure, is accepted and valued, will do most anything for her man. Women are naturally wired to open themselves to their man. Women are naturally wired to pour themselves out to their families and beyond. Who is pouring into her?
Perhaps you might pour into her so that she might continue giving out and opening herself to you and others.
There is a verse in Ephesians, “For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” Ephesians 5:23, and from what I can tell this means that men are given the awesome and terrifying responsibility to answer before God one day for the health and well-being of his wife and family.
It is his role to assume 100% responsibility before God. It is a grand opportunity to become like Christ and to lay down his life in service and sacrifice.
But how is a man to take on this terrifying responsibility successfully? Well, he has been given a helper. The same word used to describe the Holy Spirit. His wife.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18
She knows things and sees things that can help you as a husband and father. Women intuit how things are and they have particular wisdom that, if respected and regarded and listened to well, will enable you as a man to stand before God one day and hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” She is uniquely designed to help you be wildly successful.
A man who takes on the challenge of setting an every-day feast of regard and respect, love and compassion, acceptance and patience, understanding and value, will not only have a wife who shines but will have children who also know these same things. Your children will be secure and settled and they will learn faster and they will mature easier.
A wife who is stressed, afraid, unsure, has children who are stressed, afraid and unsure, and the whole family begins to suffer. A wife who is not stressed makes a soft landing place for her children and her husband will one day reap the rewards of his due care and diligence as he watches the well-lived lives of his children.
As leader of the home you set the standard, you show the way, you model Christ. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that Christ’s ministry is one of reconciling the world to himself.
Reconciling is accomplished through careful listening, by taking 100% of the responsibility for the messes around us, and through understanding. Men are called to this same ministry of reconciliation.
And not only our men, but our churches too. What if your church was to commit to holding their women in high regard? What if you as a church made sure that you uphold the safety and security and value of all your women and those round about? What kind of a difference might this make in your community and beyond?
Christ calls us to be set apart and different from the world. Well, the world disregards women. The assignments against women have been long-lasting the world over and for centuries. We the body of Christ are called to be different.
While men are creating a feast at home it must also be followed up on by the church. Are we willing as a body of Christ to support our women? Are we willing to ensure they need not remain in abusive marriages?
Are we opening up all levels of leadership within the church so that they really know they are fully welcomed and wanted? Are our churches safe for women? Will we make the honouring and dignity of our women a priority as we create church policy?
For not only does all this hold a space of value for women but it holds a space of honour and value for our men.
For men are not just beasts to be obeyed. Men are not like children who can only see their own need. Men need not be given over to rage and violence.
Rather, men are called to enlarge and strengthen the lives of everyone around them. And out of this feast that begins at home everyone else round about gets in on the crumbs and we are all changed in the process.
The feast in the Kingdom of God is for everyone and our understanding of the gospel is ultimately reflected in our ministry to women and children.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27
The feast begins at home. The church carries it on. Everyone gets in on the crumbs. None of us remain the same.
“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.” Isaiah 58:12