May our Lord strengthen your commitment to your family. May He grant you His protection.
May these articles assist you for these purposes.
Vicky, Charisa, Colin and I drove up Mt Evans in August 2009. It is the highest paved road in North America. Located about 1 hour west of Denver. The road takes you above 14,000 feet sea level. No guard rails on the road, either. What a great experience. Charisa and I rode our motorcycles. Vicky and Colin drove Christiana's car up.
Marriages and families are under spiritual attack and pressure. We need all the support and help we can find to be safe and secure in our marriages. I will add articles to this page regularly. Come on back soon.
Secrets of Happy Home Life
J. R. Miller 1814-1912
Home is among the holiest of words. A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world's perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded. Out of the homes of a community comes the life of the community, as a river from the thousand springs that gush out on the hillsides.
We are all concerned in the making of some one home—our own home. One instrument out of tune in an orchestra mars the music which breaks upon the ears of the listeners. One discordant life in a household mars the perfectness of the music of love in the family. We should make sure that our life is not the one that is out of tune. We do not need to worry about the other lives; if each looks to his own, that will do.
When our Lord sent His disciples out to preach, one of His instructions was—"Into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house." Peace is a good word. It is more than a salutation; falling from the Master's lips, it is a divine benediction as well. Peace, too, is a fruit of grace, which includes all that is sweetest and most divine in Christian culture. It is especially suggestive of the harmony of love, which is the perfection of beautiful living. Christ's peace is a blessing, which comes out of struggle and discipline. Well, therefore, does the salutation "Peace!" befit a Christian home, which ought to be the abode of peace.
What are some of the secrets of happy home life? The answer might be given in one word--Christ. Christ at the marriage-altar; Christ on the bridal journey; Christ when the new home is set up; Christ when the baby is born; Christ when a child dies; Christ in the pinching times; Christ in the days of plenty; Christ in the nursery, in the kitchen, in the parlor; Christ in the toil and in the rest; Christ along all the years; Christ when the wedded pair walk toward the sunset gates; Christ in the sad hour when farewells are spoken, and one goes on before and the other stays, bearing the unshared grief. Christ is the secret of happy home life.
But the lesson may be broken up. The making of a home begins before there is a home—it begins in the days when the life-choices are made. There are many unhappy marriages. There are families sheltered in houses, which are not homes. A happy home does not come as a matter of course because there has been a marriage ceremony, with pledged vows and a ring, and the minister's "Whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder," and a benediction. Happiness does not come through any mere forms or ceremonies; it has to be planned for, lived for, sacrificed for, prayed for, and ofttimes suffered for.
There must be a wise choosing before marriage, or it may be impossible to make a happy home. At few points in life is divine guidance more severely needed than when the question of marriage is decided. A mistake then will cast its shadows down all the years to the close of life. Many a career is blighted by a foolish marriage. Wedded happiness depends greatly on reverent, prayerful, deliberate, wise choosing before marriage.
But now the choices have been made—carefully made—we will say. The happy day has come. The plighted lovers stand at the marriage-altar. Taking the woman's hand, the man says to her—"I take you to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge you my fidelity." Taking the hand of the man, the woman says to him, with slight verbal variations, the same words. The two are pronounced husband and wife, and go forth to begin their wedded life together, no more twain, but now one.
The happy pair are in their own home. It may be a fine, great house, with rich furniture, costly pictures, and all the elegance of wealth; or it may be a little house, with four rooms, cheap furniture, homemade carpets, and empty of adornment. It makes very little difference what the size of the house, or what its furniture may be. The happiness of the home does not depend on the house or on what it contains; the people who live in the house MAKE the happiness,—or MAR it.
The HUSBAND has his part. He must be a good man. Not every man who marries thinks of the responsibility he assumes when he takes a young girl away from the shelter of father-love and mother-love—the softest, warmest nest in the world, and leads her into a new home, where henceforth his love is to be her only shelter. Well may the woman say as she goes to the marriage altar–
"Before I trust my fate to you, Or place my hand in thine;
Before I let your future give Color and form to mine;
Before I peril all to thee, Question your soul tonight for me.
Does there within your dimmest dreams A possible future shine
Wherein your life could henceforth breathe Untouched, unshared by mine?
If so, at any pain or cost, Oh, tell me before all is lost."
No man is fit to be a husband who is not a good man. He need not be great, nor rich, nor brilliant, nor clever, but he must be good, or he is not worthy to take a gentle, trusting woman's tender life into his keeping. Of course he must love his wife; without love there is no real marriage, and ceremony and ring and vows and prayer are only empty formalities. He must love his wife and be always her lover. The world has read and heard quite enough moralizing about a wife's duty to be always winning and attractive, retaining the charm of girlhood amid all cares, toils, and sorrows. Of course; but is a husband under less obligation to love his wife and always to be lover-like? This is a good rule, which should work both ways.
But affectionateness, however desirable, is not all that is needed in a husband who would do his full share in happy home making. Life is not all sentiment. We cannot live on ambrosia. Happiness must have a very practical basis. A good husband must be a man. He must be a good man-manly, true, worthy, brave, generous, a man whom a noble woman can respect and honor all the days of her life. He must be a sober man; no man who comes home under the influence of intoxicating drink, even occasionally only, is going to do quite his share in making happiness for the woman who has trusted her all to him. He must be a man of pure, unblemished life, whose character is above suspicion, whose name will always be an honor and a pride in his own home. The husband has a great deal to do with the question of home happiness.
The WIFE, too, has a responsibility. The prosaic arts of housekeeping are far more important factors of home happiness than many people without experience imagine. John Ruskin talks to young women of the etymology of the name 'wife'—"What do you think the beautiful word 'wife' comes from?" he asks. "It means 'weaver.' You must either be house-wives or house-moths; remember that. In the deep sense, you must weave men's fortunes, and embroider them, or feed upon them, and bring them to decay. Wherever a true wife comes, home is always around her. The stars may be the canopy over her head, the glow-worm in the night's cold grass be the fire at her feet, but home is where she is; and for a noble woman it stretches far around her,—better than houses with ceilings of cedar, or with paintings of the masters, shedding its quiet light for those who else were homeless."
Home is the true wife's kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and beautiful. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must be declined, they should not be the duties of her home. These are hers, and no other one's. Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. The best husband—the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted—cannot make his home happy if his wife be not, in every reasonable sense, a helpmate to him.
In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife. Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere. Her hands fashion its beauty. Her heart makes its love. And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of a home.
Men with fine gifts think it worth while to live to paint a few great pictures which shall be looked at and admired for generations; or to write a few songs which shall sing themselves into the ears and hearts of men. But the woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.
Some marriages are unhappy. How can husband and wife live happily in their wedded life? Wedded happiness is a lesson that must be learned. No two lives brought into this close relation can blend into one without self-discipline. "Marriage is the beautiful unfolding of many years."
Ofttimes it takes a long while for a wedded pair to learn the lesson of living happily together. They are discouraged because such love as theirs does not yield perfect happiness from the very first day. It always costs to learn the lesson. The block of marble must wane, as the statue is sculptured and grows. There must be the cutting away of much in both lives; there must be restraint, self-denial, self-effacement, while they are being trained to live one life rather than two. Love is always discipline.
Paul lays down the basis for happy wedded life in the words—"Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Colossians 3:18-19). Perhaps these instructions are not always well understood. Sometimes one of the counsels, and sometimes the other, is unduly emphasized. Some men insist upon the first—"Wives, be in subjection to your husbands." They interpret the words somewhat harshly, as if a wife were to be only as a child to her husband, or even as a servant, whose duty is to minister to his desires, to please him, to run at his every call and command. This is in accordance with heathen notions of the marriage relation, but it is not after Christian teaching.
It is to be particularly noted that Paul nowhere says—"Wives, obey your husbands." In our Common Version the word "obedient" occurs in one place; but in the Revised Version the counsel is that wives should be "in subjection to" their husbands. Indeed, however, the spirit of love is always that of subjection, of yielding, or serving, in all life's relations.
In another place, where Paul gives like instruction, his words are—"Wives be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is head of the Church" (Ephesians 5:22-23). No doubt the husband is the head of the household; but what a responsibility this teaching puts upon him! His wife is to be in subjection to him, "as unto the Lord." He is to be to her what Christ is to the Church.
If a man will insist on his wife fulfilling her part, he must also insist on honestly fulfilling his own part,—all the sacred duties which are his as a HUSBAND. What, then, is the husband's share in this happy home making? "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it" (Eph. 5:25). A husband is to love his wife. Is love despotic? Does love put its object in a servant's place? No; love serves. It seeks not its own. It desires "not to be served, but to serve." It does not demand attention, deference, service, subjection. It seeks rather to serve, to give, to honor.
The measure of the love required by the husband is to be well noted—"Even as Christ also loved the Church." This is a lofty standard. How did Christ show His love for His Church? Think of His gentleness to His friends, His patience with them in all their faultiness, His thoughtfulness, His unwearying kindness. Never did a harsh word fall from His lips upon their ears. Never did He do anything to give them pain. It was not easy for Him at all times to maintain such constancy and such composure and quietness of love toward them; for they were very faulty, and tried Him in a thousand ways. But His affection never wearied nor failed for an instant. Husbands are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it. He loved even to the cost of utmost self-sacrifice.
There are men, however, who would do this, whose love would sacrifice even life itself for a wife, but who fail in daily and hourly tenderness, when there is no demand for great self-denial. Hence the other counsel must be remembered—"Love your wives, and be not bitter against them." More wives might complain of the lack of love in the little tendernesses than in great acts and manifestations.
A true woman's heart craves gentleness. It is hurt by bitter words, by coldness, by impatience, by harsh criticisms, by neglect, by the withholding of the expressions of affection. Love craves its daily bread of tenderness. No husband should deny his wife the little things of affection, the amenities of love, along the busy, trying days, and then think to make amends by putting a flower in her cold hand when she lies in the coffin. Will not conscience then whisper love's reproach?
"You placed this flower in her hand, you say,
This pure, pale rose in her hand of clay?
Methinks, could she lift her sealed eyes,
They would meet your own with a grieved surprise.
When did you give her a flower before?
Ah, well, what matter, when all is o'er?
But I pray you think
That love will starve, if it is not fed
That true hearts pray for their daily bread."
No true wife will ever quarrel with the divine law that makes the husband the head of the household, if she has a husband who loves her up to the measure of the divine requirements for husbands—"Even as Christ also loved the Church." Such love never demands obedience, never demands anything; it seeks not to be served, but to serve.
On the other hand, true love in a wife also lives to serve. Love always serves, or it is not love at all. The greatest in Christ's kingdom are those who serve the most unselfishly. Husband and wife vie with each other in loving and serving. They mutually bear each other's burdens. The husband is the head, but he never says so; never reminds his wife of it; never claims authority; and defers to her in everything.
The wife recognizes her husband as head, honors him, looks up to him with esteem and confidence—all the more because he never demands subjection. Thus true love in husband and wife never has any trouble about rights or place. Side by side they stand, these two wedded lovers, each a part of the other, each incomplete, a mere fragment without the other, but strong in their happy union in love.
But there are other elements in the composition of the home. Among the blessings which make happiness are the CHILDREN, who come with their sweet life and their holy gladness. Children bring cares and troubles, and demand toil and sacrifice, ofttimes cost pain and grief; yet the blessing they bring to a true home a thousand times repays the care and the cost. It is a sacred hour in a home when a baby is born and laid in the arms of a young father and mother. It is the final seal upon their wedded love. It is the closing benediction of the marriage ceremony. It draws fragments of heaven trailing after it to the home on earth. Few deeper, purer joys are ever experienced in this world than the joy of true parents on the birth of their first child. Much of home's happiness along the years is made by the children. They are also great blessings to their parents. Ofttimes they teach more lessons than they are taught. We say we train our children; but they train us, also, if we think of them as we should,—as immortal beings come from God to be prepared by us for their mission. A reverent mother sings softly over her child's cradle–
"My child, I fear you; you are a spirit, soul!
How shall I walk before you?
and keep my garments whole?
O Lord, give strength,
give wisdom for the task.
To train this child for You."
Jesus said of little children, that those who receive them in His name receive Him. May we not, then, surely say that children bring great possibility of blessing and happiness to a home? If we receive them as Christ's messengers, as sent to us in His name, and entertain them as we would entertain Him if He had come in place of them, we shall get from them deep and rich good and joy.
A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.
A FATHER also should be a blessing to a home. The modern tendency to put upon the wife and mother all the responsibility for the making of the home and its happiness is not sanctioned by Christian teachings. The divine commands for the building of the home and the training of the children are given primarily to the man, although meant for both husband and wife. He cannot evade the responsibility; his position as the head of the family puts upon him the obligation. Besides, it is not manly that a man should want to put the whole burden on her whom he calls "the weaker vessel." If his wife is weak and he is so strong, let him remember that it is the privilege and the duty of strength to bear the heavy part of life's burdens.
There are parts of the home duty which a woman can do infinitely better than a man. Men's hands are clumsy, and often hurt gentle hearts, when it was meant that they should give healing and help. The man has the heavy care of providing for the household. There are tasks, too, for which woman's gentler hands are better fitted. But let no husband nurse the notion that he has no responsibility for the happiness of his home beyond providing food and clothing and other comforts. His strong life should be the secure shelter beneath which his wife and children may safely abide. His character should be a continual revealing of the love and truth and holiness of God. He should live so that, seeing him day after day, his family shall learn to know the beauty of Christ. He is the priest of his house, and as such should both speak to God for his family and speak to them for God. Through him blessings should come to his home every day.
BROTHERS and SISTERS have their part in making the home happiness. Yet not always do they live together so as to make the music of the home one glad, sweet song. Sometimes there is a lack of congeniality in their dispositions. Then ofttimes there seems to be the feeling that home affections do not need the culture that other friendships require. We cannot be brusque, curt, or crude with other people, and expect them to bear patiently with us in spite of our unmannerly behavior. But we are sure of our 'home friends',—so we let ourselves feel,—and do not need to be gentle and thoughtful towards them. So it is that in too many homes brothers and sisters live together year after year under the same roof, mingling in the household communion, yet never forming close friendships, soul never knitting to soul, strangers to each other's inner life. Thus many rich possibilities of close and holiest friendships are missed.
Another thing that too often mars the home life of brothers and sisters is a spirit of 'commanding' and criticism. Faults are seen, and openly, and not in a gentle way, pointed out and reproved. What one does the others are apt to do; and thus the habit grows, until little but 'sharp speech' and 'inappropriate wrangling' is heard in the home where the conversation might have so much in it of sweetness and profit.
These are suggestions of ways in which, in too many homes, one of the secrets of happiness is lost. It is possible for brothers and sisters to live together in a home so as to add greatly to the happiness and the richness of the household life, and to be comforts and helps to each other. It is said that the poet sisters, Alice and Phoebe Cary, had a secret of happy living together which it were well if all brothers and sisters could learn. "Whatever one felt or endured, because of it she would not inflict any suffering upon her sister! no, not even if that sister had inadvertently been the cause of it. If one sister was out of sorts, she went into her own room, shut her door, and had it out by herself."
These are good rules to be adopted in other homes. If we are feeling uncomfortable from any cause, we have no right, according to the law of love, to diffuse our irritations through the household. If we are in any unhappy mood, in which we cannot suppress the ill-humor, we have no right to vent it in the circle of our loved ones, and would far better go to our own room, or out into the fresh air, alone, somewhere, and stay until we have gotten back our sweet spirit again, so that we can scatter roses, not thorns, among our loved ones.
The possibilities of happiness and blessing among brothers and sisters can be realized only by cultivating the love that seeks not its own, that is not provoked, that bears all things, endures all things, and never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love's first lesson is that of giving up one's own way, denying one's self, suffering in silence. Where this lesson has been learned, or is being learned, in a household of young people, each thinks of giving to the others, not of taking from them. Each cultivates gentleness and kindness. The speech of the home grows quiet and tender, is never loud nor angry. The Golden Rule is the law of each life. There is love, and love that reveals itself in a thousand little ways of courtesy and thoughtfulness—nameless things, but things that make up a home happiness on which heaven's angels look down with delight.
Not very long can any family life go on unbroken. Death will visit every home. While we may, we should live together sweetly, patiently, loving and serving each other in all beautiful and Christly ways.
The daily home-life of the household carries in it many possibilities of happiness which are not always realized in families. Some SUGGESTIONS may be made.
1. One is that love must prevail in all the family life. Let parents keep the confidence and affection of their children as long as they live. One of the ways to make sure of this is never to tire of the little marks and tokens of love which children naturally give. The time never comes when it is unmanly for a man to kiss his mother. In the ideal home every child has a good-night kiss for the parents before parting for bed. Let the children do their part, too, in showing affection. There are homes, chill and cold, which could be warmed into love's richest glow in a little time, if all the household hearts were to grow affectionate to each other.
2. Another suggestion is, that all family strife and contention should cease. Why should parents discourage their children by continually nagging and finding fault with them? Why should children dishonor their parents by disobedience, by crude and unfilial treatment, by lack of respect, by refusing to yield to the order of the home? Why should brothers fail in the duties of civility and courtesy to their sisters? Why should sisters show no loving interest in their brothers, and fail to overshadow them as with angel-wings? Why should brothers wrangle and quarrel, separate their interests, and not stand together? Why should sisters have their miserable little disputes, their envies, jealousies and resentments? Let there be peace in all the home-life.
3. Another suggestion is, that we should not grow discouraged, even if our homes are not yet what we crave. There are some who feel that the battle is hopeless; that they can never grow into beautiful life and character in their present circumstances. That is a mistake. It is possible to grow into all the beauty of peace wherever we may be placed. A lily finds its home in a black bog, but blooms into perfect loveliness.
Suppose that your home-life is discouraging, even to the last degree; yet you may live sweetly in the midst of it, through the grace and help of God. And who knows but that your sweet life may become the power of God to change the home-life into heavenliness? Perhaps God has put you as leaven there, to leaven the whole lump.
I have known a girl go out of a godless, worldly home to college, to find Christ and return home a beautiful earnest Christian. Then I have seen that home transformed in a few years, by that daughter's quiet influence, into an ideal Christian home.
At least, though our home be not what we would like it to be, though it lack warmth and tenderness and congeniality, still, while it is our home, it is our duty to stay in it contentedly, and grow in it into beauty. We know that Jesus lived until thirty years of age in a humble peasant home, with but little culture and education, amid the privations of poverty and hard toil. Yet He was not discontented there. He did not complain of the narrowness and the littleness. He did not chafe under the limitations and the burdens. There His life grew into that marvelous sweetness, that wondrous beauty, that richness and greatness, which we see in Him, when, at thirty years of age, He went out to begin His ministry. Wherever we are planted, we, too, can grow into strength, nobleness and loveliness.
4. Patience is another lesson in learning to live happily together at home. The children of a family have not all the same tastes. It is very easy to fall into the habit of criticizing each other. We know how nearly Martha spoiled her home happiness, and her sister's also, by criticism. Criticism never fosters affection; you never loved any one better for criticizing you. Usually the best service we can do to a brother or sister is to live a sweet, patient, beautiful, Christly life ourselves, leaving to God the fashioning of their lives. If they are true Christians, He is teaching them and putting His own image on their souls. We might mar this divine work by our criticism.
Suppose you went into an artist's studio and saw a picture at which he had been working for months, yet unfinished; would you, not being an artist, take up his brush and begin to put touches here and there on the canvas? Each life of husband or wife, child, brother or sister, in your home is a picture which God is painting, and which is yet unfinished. Beware that you mar not His work! So let us be patient with one another at home. We all have our faults, we all make mistakes—but we can help each other more by loving patience, than by scathing criticism.
5. True Religion is the great master-secret of all happy home life! The spirit of Christ alone will enable us to live together in perfect peace and love. The presence of Christ in the home is a perpetual blessing. We cannot be selfish, we cannot wrangle and strive, we cannot be bitter and unkind, we cannot be irritable and unreasonable, when conscious of the presence of Christ. If only we can make Christ an abiding guest in our home, and if we can keep ourselves aware of His being with us, our household life cannot help but grow wondrously sweet!
Into every home, at some time, SORROW comes. Then it is that the blessing of religion is specially revealed. We do not see the stars until the sun goes down. The comforts of Christian faith do not reveal themselves to us in their richest light and peace until the darkness of sorrow rests upon our home. But there is light in the darkness when Christ is the guest. Indeed, it is true that when Christ is in a home, even sorrow itself becomes one of the secrets of happiness. Our Lord's beatitude says—"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).
Homes that have never known grief may be very happy in love, and very bright with sweet gladness; but after sorrow has been a guest within their doors, and has left its messages and blessings, there is a depth of quiet joy never experienced before. The family fellowship is sweeter after there has been a break in the circle. The love is tenderer when tears have come into its gladness. A vacant chair is a new and sacred bond in the household life.
But it is only when Christ is in the home that sorrow sweetens the life. There can be no rainbow without cloud and rain; but neither can there be a rainbow, even with cloud and rain, unless the sun is shining through the falling drops. The rarest splendors of happiness can be known only when sorrow's clouds have overshadowed the home and the rain of tears is falling; but unless the light of divine love is pouring through the tears there can be no splendor of peace and comfort; nothing but darkness and cloud.
Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men. Far more than we know, do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home, into the world's strife, temptation, struggle, and duty, is strong—inspired for noble and victorious living. The children who are brought up in a true home go out trained and equipped for life's battles and tasks, carrying in their hearts a secret of strength which will make them brave and loyal to God, and will keep them pure in the world's severest temptations.
We may all do loving service, therefore, by helping to make one of the world's homes,—the one in which we dwell—brighter and happier. No matter how plain it may be, or how old-fashioned, if love is in it, if prayer connects it with heaven, if Christ's blessing is upon it, it will be a transfigured spot! Poverty is no severe trial if the home is full of bright cheer. The hardest toil is light if love sings its songs amid the clatter.
"Dear Moss," said the thatched roof on an old ruin, "I am so worn, so patched, so ragged, really I am quite unsightly. I wish you would come and cheer me up a little. You will hide all my infirmities and defects; and, through your loving sympathy, no finger of contempt or dislike will be pointed at me."
"I come," said the moss; and it crept up and around, and in and out, until every flaw was hidden, and all was smooth and fair. Presently the sun shone out, and the old thatched roof looked bright and fair, a picture of rare beauty, in the golden rays.
"How beautiful the roof looks!" cried one who saw it. "How beautiful the thatched roof looks!" said another. "Ah," said the old thatched roof, "rather let them say, 'How beautiful is the loving moss!' For it spends itself in covering up all my faults, keeping the knowledge of them all to herself, and by her own grace, making my age and poverty wear the garb of youth and luxuriance."
So it is that love covers the plainness and the coarseness of the lowliest home. It hides its dreariness and its faults. It softens its roughness. It changes its pain into profit, and its loss into gain.
Let us live more for our homes. Let us love one another more. Let us cease to complain, criticize and contradict each other. Let us be more patient with each other's faults. Let us not keep back the warm loving words that lie in our hearts until it is too late for them to give comfort. Soon separations will come. One of every wedded pair will stand by the other's coffin and grave. Then every bitter word spoken, and every neglect of love's duty, will be as a thorn in the heart.
Thomas Carlyle, that gifted author, when he passed the spot where he had last seen his wife alive, would bare his old head in wind or rain, his features wrung with bitter, unavailing sorrow. "Oh", he would say, "if I could see her but for five minutes, to assure her that I really cared for her throughout all that time! But she never knew it—she never knew it!"
We must give account for our idle silences as well as for our idle words.
"Happy the home when God is there, And love fills every breast;
When one their wish, and one their prayer, And one their heavenly rest.
Happy the home where Jesus' Name Is sweet to every ear;
Where children early lisp His fame, And parents hold Him dear.
Happy the home where prayer is heard, And praise is used to rise;
Where parents love the sacred Word That makes us truly wise.
Lord, let us in our homes agree, This blessed peace to gain;
Until our hearts in love to Thee, And love to all will reign."
True Woman Manifesto
A personal and corporate declaration of belief, consecration, and prayerful intent—to the end that Christ may be exalted and the glory and redeeming love of God may be displayed throughout the whole earth.
We believe that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the Creator of life, and that all created things exist for His pleasure and to bring Him glory.1
We believe that the creation of humanity as male and female was a purposeful and magnificent part of God’s wise plan, and that men and women were designed to reflect the image of God in complementary and distinct ways.2
We believe that sin has separated every human being from God and made us incapable of reflecting His image as we were created to do. Our only hope for restoration and salvation is found in repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ who lived a sinless life, died in our place, and was raised from the dead.3
We realize that we live in a culture that does not recognize God’s right to rule, does not accept Scripture as the pattern for life, and is experiencing the consequences of abandoning God’s design for men and women.4
We believe that Christ is redeeming this sinful world and making all things new, and that His followers are called to share in His redemptive purposes as they seek, by God’s empowerment, to transform every aspect of human life that has been marred and ruined by sin.5
As Christian women, we desire to honor God by living counter-cultural lives that reflect the beauty of Christ and His gospel to our world. To that end, we affirm that. . .
Scripture is God’s authoritative means of instructing us in His ways and it reveals His holy pattern for our womanhood, our character, our priorities, and our various roles, responsibilities, and relationships.6
We glorify God and experience His blessing when we accept and joyfully embrace His created design, function, and order for our lives.7
As redeemed sinners, we cannot live out the beauty of biblical womanhood apart from the sanctifying work of the gospel and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.8
Men and women are both created in the image of God and are equal in value and dignity, but they have distinct roles and functions in the home and in the church.9
We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.10
Marriage, as created by God, is a sacred, binding, lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.11
When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to authority that reflects Christ’s submission to God His Father.12
Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.13
Human life is precious to God and is to be valued and protected, from the point of conception until rightful death.14
Children are a blessing from God, and women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life, whether it be their own biological or adopted children, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, or other children in their sphere of influence.15
God’s plan for gender is wider than marriage; all women, whether married or single, are to model femininity in their various relationships, by exhibiting a distinctive modesty, responsiveness, and gentleness of spirit.16
Suffering is an inevitable reality in a fallen world; at times we will be called to suffer for doing what is good—looking to heavenly reward rather than earthly comfort—for the sake of the gospel and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.17
Mature Christian women have a responsibility to leave a legacy of faith, by discipling younger women in the Word and ways of God and modeling for the next generation lives of fruitful femininity.18
Believing the above, we declare our desire and intent to be “true women” of God. We consecrate ourselves to fulfill His calling and purposes for our lives. By His grace and in humble dependence on His power, we will:
1. Seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.19
2. Gladly yield control of our lives to Christ as Lord—we will say “Yes, Lord” to the Word and the will of God.20
3. Be women of the Word, seeking to grow in our knowledge of Scripture and to live in accord with sound doctrine in every area of our lives.21
4. Nurture our fellowship and communion with God through prayer—in praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and supplication.22
5. Embrace and express our unique design and calling as women with humility, gratitude, faith, and joy.23
6. Seek to glorify God by cultivating such virtues as purity, modesty, submission, meekness, and love.24
7. Show proper respect to both men and women, created in the image of God, esteeming others as better than ourselves, seeking to build them up, and putting off bitterness, anger, and evil speaking.25
8. Be faithfully engaged in our local church, submitting ourselves to our spiritual leaders, growing in the context of the community of faith, and using the gifts He has given us to serve others, to build up the Body of Christ, and to fulfill His redemptive purposes in the world.26
9. Seek to establish homes that manifest the love, grace, beauty, and order of God, that provide a climate conducive to nurturing life, and that extend Christian hospitality to those outside the walls of our homes.27
10. Honor the sacredness, purity, and permanence of the marriage covenant—whether ours or others’.28
11. Receive children as a blessing from the Lord, seeking to train them to love and follow Christ and to consecrate their lives for the sake of His gospel and Kingdom.29
12. Live out the mandate of Titus 2—as older women, modeling godliness and training younger women to be pleasing to God in every respect; as younger women, receiving instruction with meekness and humility and aspiring to become mature women of God who in turn will train the next generation.30
13. Seek opportunities to share the gospel of Christ with unbelievers.31
14. Reflect God’s heart for those who are poor, infirm, oppressed, widows, orphans, and prisoners, by reaching out to minister to their practical and spiritual needs in the name of Christ.32
15. Pray for a movement of revival and reformation among God’s people that will result in the advancement of the Kingdom and gospel of Christ among all nations.33
11 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11
2 Gen. 1:26–27; 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8
3 Gen. 3:1–7, 15–16; Mark 1:15; 1 Cor. 15:1–4
4 Prov. 14:12; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:18, 8:6–7; 2 Tim. 3:16
5 Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:12–14; Titus 2:14
6 Josh. 1:8; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16
7 1 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Pet. 3:3–6
8 John 15:1–5; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 2:8–10; Phil. 2:12–13
9 Gen. 1:26–28; 2:18; Gal. 3:26–28; Eph. 5:22–33
10 Mark 9:35; 10:42–45; Gen. 2:18; 1 Pet. 5:1–4; 1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12–3:7
11 Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:7–9
12 Eph. 5:22–33; 1 Cor. 11:3
13 Luke 13:30; John 15:13; Eph. 4:32; Phil. 2:5–8
14 Psalm 139:13–16
15 Gen 1:28; 9:1; Psalm 127; Titus 2:4–5
16 1 Cor. 11:2–16; 1 Tim. 2:9–13
17 Matt. 5:10–12; 2 Cor. 4:17; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 2:21–23; 3:14–17; 4:14
18 Titus 2:3–5
19 Deut. 6:4–5; Mark 12:29–30
20 Psalm 25:4–5; Rom. 6:11–13; 16–18; Eph. 5:15–17
21 Acts 17:11; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:17–18; Titus 2:1, 3–5, 7
22 Psalm 5:2; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1–2
23 Prov. 31:10–31; Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22–24, 33b
24 Rom. 12:9–21; 1 Pet. 3:1–6; 1 Tim. 2:9–14
25 Eph. 4:29–32; Phil. 2:1–4; James 3:7–10; 4:11
26 Rom. 12:6–8; 14:19; Eph. 4:15, 29; Heb. 13:17
27 Prov. 31:10–31; 1 Tim. 5:10; 1John 3:17–18
28 Matt. 5:27–28; Mark 10:5–9; 1 Cor. 6:15–20; Heb. 13:4
29 Psalm 127:3; Prov. 4:1–23; 22:6
30 Titus 2:3–5
31 Matt. 28:19–20; Col. 4:3–6
32 Matt. 25:36; Luke 10:25–37; James 1:27; 1 Tim. 6:17–19
33 2 Chron. 7:14; Psalm 51:1–10; 85:6; 2 Pet. 3:9
© 2008 Revive Our Hearts • P.O. Box 2000 • Niles, MI49120 • ReviveOurHearts.com • TrueWoman.com
Planting Your Family's Roots Deeply into the Local Church
by Luis Palau
How essential is the local church in developing strong, godly families? One man told me the church definitely takes second or third place in his list of priorities. "Family has to come first," he said. So, he and his family don't attend church regularly any more.
Is active church participation optional for today's Christian families? Maybe if you have money, health and a busy schedule, you don't feel the need to fellowship with other Christians.
But when the storms of life hit, and they will suddenly, you'll find nobody's there. If you remain shallow in your relationship to your local church, you will lose out on the support of other Christians when you need it most.
By neglecting to minister within your local church, you also cause other Christians to lose something. The Lord Jesus Himself says in John 15 that He is the Vine, and we are connected to Him as branches. As a result, through Jesus, we are connected to each other. We are members of His Body, the Church.
In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." How you relate or fail to relate to the Body of Christ directly affects other Christians. We need each other!
As Christians, we need to plant our family's roots deeply into the local church. But how?
First, make a commitment to your local church. My wife Pat and I are active members of a church in Portland, Oregon. Although we travel part of every year to minister at evangelistic campaigns and conferences throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America, we're not excused from taking an active part in our home church and remaining in subjection to the elders. We feel it's important that we consult with them on major decisions involving our family and sometimes even our entire evangelistic association.
My advice to every Christian is the same: Attend church regularly. Follow the prescribed procedures to become a member of your local church. Observe the Lord's Supper and follow Him in baptism. Inform the church leaders that your desire is to become an active member and submit to their authority.
Second, speak well of your church. Even though it has faults, don't allow yourself to develop a critical spirit (1 Corinthians 1:10). Your church is your "family" in Christ. Defend it! When others grumble about it, remind them to take the matter to the elders, not to the rest of the Body.
It is important that parents learn to speak well of "our" church. Let your children hear you talking about "our" pastor, "our" elders, "our" deacons, "our" Sunday School, "our" church retreat. This will help them claim the church as their own as they grow older.
Also, speak well of your church by inviting others to attend with you. A church historian found that the average person in a particular denomination currently invites others to church once every 28 years. Surely we can do better than that!
Third, seek to minister within your local church. Ask what you can contribute to the Body of Christ through your involvement. Remember, "to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). It isn't enough to know we have spiritual gifts we must use them!
Beware of the mind-set that looks to see if the church will meet your needs. Since when is the church a country club where you pay your dues until you find something more exciting to do?
Instead, the attitude that should characterize us as Christians is love a love that gives. The Lord Jesus said, "All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35). When my family is ready to leave for church, we take certain expectations about what we want to get and leave them home with the dog. Consequently, everything we do receive is a blessing. We're not there to get, but to give.
Fourth, give financially to support your local church. Although the New Testament doesn't give a fixed percentage for what we should give, it does emphasize the importance of regular giving. In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul explains that we should give proportionately (8:12), abundantly (9:6), purposefully (9:7) and cheerfully (9:7).
Although some may be able to give only 10 percent of their income to the Lord, others may give much more, depending on their resources and the needs of the church. But the amount we give doesn't impress the Lord. He looks at our reasons for giving and our sacrifices to give, not the amount. Pat and I taught our four sons to tithe from the time they were young. Their small contributions may not have seemed important at the time, but now giving is a regular, exciting part of their lives.
Fifth, meet the physical needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever we do for the least of God's family, we actually do for Him (Matthew 25:40). Don't wait until someone asks you to help. Take the initiative to visit the sick and elderly. Take food to those facing financial difficulties.
Several years ago, a friend lost his job. Some months later, we heard that his family's house would be taken away if the payments weren't met. They already had sold their vehicles trying to meet their financial obligations. Pat suggested that we pay one of their house payments. We invited others to help, too. Together, as a Body, we can support each other in even the most difficult of times.
Finally, show hospitality to your church's missionaries. Have you ever invited missionaries home to join your family for dinner? Try it! Missionaries can be fascinating to chat with around the dinner table. And your children will fall more in love with the Lord because of those special visits.
I've seen this take place in the lives of my own sons. Today they are more outspoken about their faith than either my wife or I were at their age. In part, I believe this resulted from their friendships with missionaries.
It hasn't always been easy for me to follow the six principles I've discussed above. Sometimes I face tremendous pressures, because of my other commitments, to pull back and limit my participation in the local church. But I'm convinced from Scripture that as I continue getting my roots deep into the local church, I will be the winner in the long run and so will my family and my church.
I challenge you to reevaluate the importance of the local church in your own life. God's desire is for his people to commune with each other in the local Body. Do you? Now is a good time to begin getting your roots deep into the local church.
The Mutual Duties Of Husbands And Wives Towards Each Other
by Richard Baxter
Selfish ungodly persons everywhere enter into all kinds of relationships with a desire of serving their own selves, and gratifying their own flesh without knowing or caring what is required of them. Their desire is for the honor, profit, or pleasure their relationship will provide them but not for what God and man requires or expects from them. [Gen 2:18, Prov 18:22] Their mind is concerned only with what they shall have and not for what they shall be and do. (1)
They know what they want others to do for them, but do not care what their duty is to do for others. This is the way it is with too many husbands and wives.
We should be very concerned to know what the duties of our relationships are. And how we can please God in our relationships. Study and do your part, and God will certainly do his.
Direct. I. The first duty of husbands is to love their wives (and wives their husbands). Eph 5.25,28,29,33 "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loves his wife, loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church. Let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself." See Gen 2.24.
Some directions for maintaining love are as follows:
1. Choose a good spouse in the first place. A spouse who is truly good and kind. Full of virtue and holiness to the Lord. (2)
2. Don't marry till you are sure that you can love entirely.
3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate. (3)
4. Remember that justice commands you to love one that has forsaken all the world for you. One who is contented to be the companion of your labors and sufferings, and be a sharer in all things with you, and that MUST be your companion until death. (4)
5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you.
6. Remember that you are under God's command; and to deny marital love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God has urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love.
7. Remember that you are "one flesh"; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, and to cleave to you; (5)
8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of her faults. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues. (6)
9. Don't magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy.
Excuse them as far as is right in the Lord. Consider the frailty of the sex. Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you. (7)
10. Don't stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out. (8)
11. Overcome them with love; and then they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindles fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife. (9)
12. Live before them the life of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, self-denying, patient, harmless, holy heavenly Christian. (10)
Direct. II. Husbands and wives must live together. 1 Cor 7:2¬5
Direct III. Abhor not only adultery itself, but all that leads to unchasteness and the violation of your marriage-covenant. [Mat 5.31, 32; 19:9; John 8.4-5, of adultery; Heb 13.4; Prov 22.14; Hos 4.2-3; Prov 2.17; 1 Cor 6.15,19; Mal. 2.15; Prov 6.32, 35; Deu 23.2; Lev 21.9; 18:28; Num 25.9; Jer 5.7-9]
Direct. IV. Husband and wife must delight in the love and company, and lives of each other. When husband and wife take pleasure in each other, it unites them in duty, it helps them with ease to do their work, and bear their burdens; and is a major part of the comfort of marriage. [Prov 5.18, 19]
Direct. V. It is your solemn duty to live in quietness and peace. To avoid every occasion of fierce anger and discord.
[I. Directions showing the great necessity of avoiding dissension.]
1. The duty of your marriage union requires unity. Can you not agree with your own flesh?
2. Division with your spouse will pain and upset your whole life ... Just as you do not wish to hurt your own self and are quick to care for your own wounds; so you should take notice of any break in the peace of your marriage and quickly seek to heal it.
3. Fighting chills love, fighting makes your spouse undesirable to you in your mind. Wounding is separating; to be tied together through marital bonds while your hearts are estranged is to be tormented. To be inwardly adversaries, while outwardly husband and wife turns your home and delight into a prison. (11)
4. Dissension between the husband and the wife disrupts the whole family life; they are like oxen unequally yoked, no work can be accomplished for all the striving with one another.
5. It greatly makes you unfit for the worship of God; you are not able to pray together nor to discuss heavenly things together, nor can you be mutual helpers to each other's souls. (12)
6. Dissension makes it impossible to manage your family properly.(13)
7. Your dissension will expose you to the malice of Satan, and give him advantage for many, many temptations. (14)
[II. Directions for avoiding dissensions.]
1. Keep alive your love for one another. Love your spouse dearly and fervently. Love will suppress wrath; you cannot be bitter over little things with someone you dearly love; much less will you descend to harsh words, aloofness, or any form abuse. (15)
2. Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and strong self¬ centered feelings. (16 ) These are the feelings which cause intolerance and insensitivity. You must pray and labor for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word that seems to assault your self-esteem.(17)
3.Do not forget that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and do not act surprised about it, as if you had never known of it before. Decide to be patient with one another; remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect. (18)
4. Remember still that your are one flesh; and therefore be no more offended with the words or failings of each other, than you would be if they were your own. Be angry with your wife for her faults no more than you are angry with yourself for your own. Have such an anger and displeasure against a fault, as will work to heal it; but not such as will cause festering and aggravation of the diseased part. This will turn anger into compassion, and will cause you to administer care for the cure. (19)
5. Agree together beforehand, that when one of you is sinfully angry and upset the other shall silently and gently bear it until you have come to your sanity. (20)
6. Have an eye to the future and remember that you must live together until death, and must be the companions of each other's lives, and the comforts of each other's lives, and then you will see how absurd it is for you to disagree and upset each other.(21)
7. As far as you are able, avoid all occasions of wrath and quarreling, about the matters of your families.(22)
8. If you are so angry that you cannot calm yourself at least control your tongue and do not speak hurtful and taunting words, talking it out hotly fans the fire, and increases the flame; (Do not ventilate your anger as you only feed your fleshly vengeance) Be silent, and you will much sooner return to your serenity and peace.(23)
9. Let the calm and rational spouse speak carefully and compellingly reason with the other (unless it be with a person so insolent as will make things worse). Usually a few sober, grave admonitions, will prove as water to the boiling pot. Say to your angry wife or husband, "You know this should not be between us; love must put it to rest, and it must be repented of. God does not approve of it, and we shall not approve of it when this heat is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now: sweet water and bitter come not from one spring", etc. Some calm and condescending words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome.(24)
10. When you have sinfully acted towards your spouse confess to one another; and ask for forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon; and this will act as a preventative in you the next time: you will surely be ashamed to do that which you have confessed and asked forgiveness for of God and man.(25)
Direct. VI. One of the most important duties of a husband to his wife and a wife to her husband is to carefully, skillfully, and diligently help each other in the knowledge and worship, and obedience of God that they might be saved and grow in their Christian Life.
1. This is not love, when you neglect each other's soul.(26) Do you believe that you have immortal souls, and an endless life of joy or misery to live? Then you MUST know that your great concern and business is, to care for those souls, and for the endless life. Therefore if your love does not help one another in this which is your main concern, it is of little worth, and of little use. Every thing in this world is as valuable as it is useful. A useless or unprofitable love, is a worthless love. It is a trifling, or a childish, or a beastly love, which helps you but in trifling, childish, or beastly things. Do you love your wife, and will leave her in the power of Satan, or will not help to save her soul? What! love her, and yet let her go to hell? and rather let her be damned than you will be at the pains to endeavor her salvation? Never say you love them, if you will not labor for their salvation.
What then shall we say of them that do not only deny their help, but are hinderers of the holiness and salvation of each other! [1Kings 11.4, Acts 5.2, Job 2.9] And yet (the Lord have mercy on the poor miserable world!) how common a thing is this among us! If the wife be ignorant and ungodly, she will do her worst to make or keep her husband in the same state as she is herself; and if God put any holy inclinations into his heart, she will be like water to the fire, to quench it or to keep it subdued; and if he will not be as sinful and miserable as herself, he shall have little rest. And if God open the eyes of the wife of a bad man, and show her the necessity of a holy life, and she resolves to obey the Lord, and save her soul, what an enemy and tyrant will her husband be to her (if God does not restrain him); so that the devil himself will do no more to prevent the saving of their souls than ungodly husbands and wives do against each other.
2. Consider also that you are not living up to the design of marriage, if you are not helping each other's souls.(27)
3. Consider also, if you neglect each other's souls, what enemies you are to one another, and how you are preparing for your everlasting sorrows: when you should be preparing for your joyful meeting in heaven, you are laying up for yourselves everlasting horror.(28)
Therefore without a moment's hesitation determine to live together as heirs of heaven, and to be a helper to one other's souls. To assist you in this holy pursuit I will give you these following directions, which if you will faithfully practice, may make you to be special blessings to each other.
Direct. I. Before you can help to save each other's souls you must be sure of your own. You must have a deep and living understanding of the great eternal matters of which you are required to speak to others about. If you have no compassion for your own soul and will sell it for a moment of ease and pleasure, surely then you have no compassion for your spouse's soul.(29)
Direct. II. Take every opportunity which your nearness provides to be speaking seriously to each other about the matters of God, and your salvation.(30 ) Discussing those things of this world no more than required. And then talk together of the state and duty of your souls towards God, and of your hopes of heaven, as those that take these for their greatest business. And don't speak lightly, or unreverently, or in a rude and disputing manner; but with gravity and sobriety, as those that are discussing the most important things in the whole world. [Mark 8:36]
Direct. III. When either husband or wife is speaking seriously about holy things, let the other be careful to cherish, and not to extinguish the conversation.(31)
Direct IV. Watch over the hearts and lives of one another, judging the condition of each other's souls, and the strength or weakness of each others sins and graces, and the failings of each others lives, so that you may be able to apply to one another the most suitable help. (32)
Direct. V. Do not flatter one another from a foolish love.(33) Neither meanly criticize one another. Do all in true, Godly love. Some are so blinded to the faults of husband, wife or child that they do not see the sin and wickedness in them. They are deluded concerning their eternal souls. This is the same as it is with self¬ loving sinners and their own souls, willfully deceiving themselves to their damnation. This flattering of yourselves or others, is but the devil's charm to keep you from effectual repentance and salvation. On the other hand, some cannot speak to one another of their faults, without such bitterness, or contempt, which will cause them to refuse the medicine that could save them. If the everyday warnings you make to strangers must all be offered in love, much more between the husband and wife.
Direct. VI. Keep up your love to one another, do not grow distant. For if you do, you will despise each other's counsels and reproofs.
Direct. VII. Do not discourage your spouse from instructing you by refusing to receive and learn from their corrections.(34)
Direct. VIII. Help each other by reading together the most convicting, cutting, life¬giving books. The ones most spiritual. Do not waste your time on light, weak, milk¬toast ministries and books. Make friendships together with the holiest persons. This is not neglecting your duty to one another, but that all the helps working together may be the more effectual.(35)
Direct. IX. Don't Conceal the state of your souls, nor hide your faults from one another. You are as one flesh, and should have one heart: and as it is dangerous for a man to be ignorant of his own soul so it is very hurtful to husband or wife to be ignorant of one another, in those areas where they have need of help.(36)
Direct X. Avoid as much as possible different opinions in religion.
Direct. XI. If different religious understandings come between you, be sure that you manage it with holiness, humility, love, and peace, and not with carnality, pride, uncharitableness, or contention.
Direct. XII. Do not either blindly indulge each others faults nor be too critical of each other's state, allowing Satan to alienate your affections from one another.
Direct. XIII. If you are married to one that is an ungodly person, yet keep up all the love which is due for the relation's sake.(37)
Direct XIV. Join together in frequent and fervent prayer. Prayer forces the mind into sobriety, and moves the heart with the presence and majesty of God. Pray also for each other when you are in secret, that God may do that work which you most desire, upon each other's hearts.
Direct. XV. Lastly, Help each other by an exemplary life. Be yourself, what you desire your husband or wife should be; excel in meekness, and humility, and charity, and dutifulness, and diligence, and self¬denial, and patience.(38 )
Direct. VII. Another important duty in marriage is, to help in the health and comfort of each other's bodies. Not to pamper each other's flesh, or cherish the vices of pride, or sloth, or gluttony, or the sensual pleasures in each other; but to increase the health and vigor of the body, making it fit for the service of the soul and God.
1. In health, you must be careful to provide for each other (not so much pleasing as) wholesome food, and to keep each other from that which is hurtful to your health; warning each other from the dangers of gluttony and idleness, the two great murderers of mankind.(39)
2. Also in sickness, you are to be caring of each other; and not to spare any costs or pains, by which the health of each other may be restored, or your souls confirmed, and your comforts cherished.(40)
Direct. VIII. Another duty of husbands and wives is, to be helpful to each other in their worldly business and estates. Not for worldly ends, nor with a worldly mind; but in obedience to God, who will have them labor, as well as pray, for their daily bread, and has determined that in the sweat of their brows they shall eat their bread; and that six days they shall labor and do all that they have to do; and that he that will not work must not eat.(41)
Direct IX. Also you must be careful to guard the honor of one another. You must not divulge, but conceal, the failings of each other; The reputation of each other must be as dear to you as your own. It is a sinful and unfaithful practice of many, both husbands and wives, who among their friends are discussing the faults of each other, which they are required in tenderness to cover up. MANY peevish persons will aggravate all the faults of their spouse behind their backs.(42 )
Direct X. IT is your marriage duty to assist one another in the education of your children.(43)
Direct XI. It is your marriage duty to assist each other in charity.(44)
Direct XII. LASTLY, it is a great DUTY of husbands and wives, to help and comfort one other in preparing for a safe and happy death.(45)
1. In the time of health, you must often and seriously remind each other of the time when death will make the separation; and live together daily as those that are still expecting the parting hour. Reprove everything in one another, which would be an unwelcome memory at death. If you see each other dull and slow in heavenliness, or living in vanity, worldliness, or sloth, as if you had forgotten that you must shortly die, stir up one another to do all without delay which the approach of such a day requires.
2. And when death is at hand, oh then what abundance of tenderness, and seriousness, and skill, and diligence, is needful for one, that hath the last office of love to perform, to the departing soul of so near a friend! Oh then what need will there be of your most wise, and faithful, and diligent help! They that are utterly unprepared and unfit to die themselves, can do little to prepare or help another. But they that live together as the heirs of heaven, and converse on earth as fellow travelers to the land of promise, may help and encourage the souls of one another, and joyfully part at death, as expecting quickly to meet again in life eternal.
It would be hoped that the hearing of God's word regarding the mutual duties of Husbands and Wives will further strengthen your conviction and provide help to your soul to live as Faith requires. Lastly I would like to relate what a very wise man once told me: "If you are having troubles with your spouse it is not because of what you think of him or her, it is not because of negative thought patterns, it is not because you haven't first loved self. But it is what you think of Jesus. Do you love Him FIRST? Do you live for Him FIRST? Is your life, his? If you are right with Jesus Christ the King of Glory, then it will be right with your husband or your wife. And this is what is right with God."
Some of the following scripture references are found in Baxter's Work, others I have added in hopes of increasing your edification.
1 Luk 6:31¬32; 1Cor 10:24; Gal 6:2; Phil 2:4; 2 Tim 3:2; Jam 2:15; 1 Joh 3:17; Gen 4:9; 1 Sam 25:3¬11; Esth 6:6; Isa 56:11; Joh 6:26 2 Pro 18:22; Pro 19:13¬14 3 Pro 18:13 4 Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; 1Cor 7:39; Col 3:19; Gen 2:24 5 Mat 19:5; Mar 10:7 6 1 Cor 13:7; Phil 2:3 7 Psa 103:14; 1Cor 13:7 8 Pro 10:12 9 Rom 12:21; 1Pet 3:9 10 Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1The 2:12; Pro 11:30; 1Tim 4:16; Jam 5:19¬20; 1Pet 3:1¬2 11 Pro 19:13 12 Mat 5:23; 1Sam 15:22 13 Mat 12:25; Mar 3:25; Luk 11:17 14 Jam 1:13; 1Cor 7:5; Job 2:9 15 Lev 19:8; Psa 133:1; Pro 15:17; Rom 12:10; Rom 14:19; Rom 15:1; 1Cor 13:4¬7
16 Luk 9:23; Psa 101:5; Prov 16:5; Prov 21:4; Prov 28:25; Mat 23:12; 1Pet 5:6 17 Psa 10:4; Hos 7:10; Prov 13:10; Prov 28:25 18 Jer 17:9; Rom 7:24; 1Joh 1:8 19 Eph 4:26; Eph 4:32; Jam 1:19 20 Eph 4:2; 1Cor 13:4 21 Ecc 9:9; Rom 7:2-22 Gen 2:24 23 Gal 5:15; Jam 3:5,6,8 24 Pro 15:18; Mat 5:9; Psa 85:8 25 Eph 4:32; Jam 5:16 26 2Cor 2:4; 2Cor 12:15; 1The 2:8 27 Gen 2:18 1The 5:11; Eph 4:16; Heb 12:15; 1cor 7:5; Col 2:19; Gen 35:2; Gen 35:4; Lev 19:17; Num 16:27; Num 16:32 29 Gen 2:18; 2Cor 13:5; Gal 6:3; Gen 25:29; Gen 25:34 30 Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:24 31 Pro 27:6; Pro 15:12; Pro 15:31; Pro 15:32 32 Heb 10:24 33 Eph 4:15; Eph 4:26¬5:9 34 Pro 29:1 35 Eph 4:11¬16 36 Jam 5:16; Eph 5:27¬32 37 1Cor 7:13¬14 38 1Pe 3:1; Joh 13:15; 1Tim 4:12; 1Cor 11:1; 1The 1:6; 2The 3:7¬9; Tit 2:6; Jam 3:17; 2Pe 1:5¬8
39 1Cor 6:19; Deu 21:20; Pro 23:21; Pro 19:15; Pro 6:9; Pro 10:4; 2Th 3:10 Pro 19:24; Pro 20:13; Pro 23:21; Pro 24:33; Isa 56:10; 1Tim 5:13 40 Eph 5:29, Job 19:17 41 Pro 31; Tit 2:5; 1Ti 5:14; 1Ti 5:8; Ex 20:9,11; Ge 3:19; 1Th 3:10¬12
42 Jam 4:11; Pro 17:9; 1Pet 4:8 43 Gen 18:19; Gen 35:2; Jos 24:14; 1Tim 5:14; Prov 31:1 44 Heb 13:2; Gen 18:6; Rom 12:13; 2Cor 9:6; Luk 16:9; 1Tim 3:2; 1Tim 5:10; Pro 11:20; Pro 11:28; Neh 8:1; Pro 19:17; Job 29:13; Joh 31:20 Acts 20:35 45 Deu 32:29; Psa 39:4; Psa 90:12; Rom 14:8; Heb 13:14; 1Pe 1:17; Psa 3:5; Psa 37:37; Psa 49:15; Psa 73:24; Psa 116:15; Pro 14:32; Ecc 7:1; Luk 16:22; Luk 23:43; 1Cor 15:51¬57; 2Cor 5:1; 2Cor 5:4; 2Cor 5:8; Phi 1:20¬23; 1The 5:9; 2Pe 1:11; 2Pe 1:14; Rev 14:13; Psa 23:4
Directives for Avoiding Dissension in the Home
Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
It is a great duty of husbands and wives to live in quietness and peace, and avoid all occasions of wrath and discord. Because this is a duty of so great importance, I shall first open to you the great NECESSITY of it, and then give you more particular directions to perform it.
(1) Your discord will be your pain, and the vexation of your lives. Like a disease, or wound, or fracture in your own bodies, which will pain you until it is cured; you will hardly keep peace in your minds, when peace is broken so near you in your family. As you would take heed of hurting yourselves, and as you would hasten the cure when you are hurt; so should you take heed of any breach of peace, and quickly seek to heal it when it is broken.
(2) Dissension tends to cool your love; frequent dissension tends to leave a habit of distaste and averseness on the mind. Wounding is separating; and to be tied together by any outward bonds, when your hearts are separated, is but to be tormented; and to have the insides of adversaries, while you have marital outsides. As the difference between my 'home' and my 'prison' is that I willingly and with delight dwell in the one, but am unwillingly confined to the other; such will be the difference between a quiet and an unquiet life, in your married state; it turns your dwelling and delight into a prison, where you are chained to those calamities, which in a free condition you might flee.
(3) Dissension between the husband and the wife, disorders all other family affairs. They are like oxen unequally yoked--which can perform no work, because they are always striving with one another.
(4) It exceedingly unfits you for the worship of God; you are not fit to pray together, nor to confer together of heavenly things, nor to be helpers to each other's souls. I need not tell you this, you feel it by experience. Wrath and bitterness will not allow you so much exercise of love and holy composedness of mind, as every one of those duties requires.
(5) Dissension disables you to govern your families aright. Your children will take example by you; or think they are at liberty to do what they desire, when they find you taken up with such animosity between yourselves. They will think you unfit to reprove them for their faults--when they see you guilty of such faults and folly of your own. Nay, you will become the shame and secret derision of your children, and bring yourselves into contempt.
(6) Your dissensions will expose you to the malice of Satan, and give him advantage for manifold temptations. A house divided cannot stand; an army divided is easily conquered, and made a prey to the enemy. You cannot foresee what abundance of sin you put yourselves in danger of.
By all these reasons, you may see what dissensions between husband and wife do tend to.
DIRECTIVES for avoiding dissension in the home
(1) Keep up your marital love in a constant heat and vigor. Love will suppress wrath. You cannot become bitter upon small provocations, against those whom you dearly love; much less can you proceed to reviling words, or to averseness and estrangedness, or any abuse of one another. Or if a breach and wound be unhappily made, the balsamic quality of love will heal it. But when love once cools, small matters exasperate and breed antipathy.
(2) Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and passion, which are the causes of impatience; and must pray and labor for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word or action that seems to tend to their undervaluing. A peevish, proud mind is like a sore and ulcerated member--which will be pained if it be touched. He that must live near such a sore, diseased, impatient, proud mind--must live even as the nurse does with the child, that makes it her business to rock it, and lull, and sing it quiet when it cries; for to be angry with it, will do no good. And if you have married one of such a sick or childish temper, you must resolve to bear and use them accordingly. But no Christian should bear with such a malady in themselves; nor be patient with such impatience, pride and haughtiness in themselves. Once get the victory over yourselves, and the cure of your own impatience, and you will easily keep peace with one another.
(3) Agree together beforehand, that when one is in a tempestuous, angry fit, the other shall silently and gently bear it--until it be past and you have come to your senses again. Do not both be angry at the same time. When the fire is kindled, quench it with gentle words and demeanor, and do not cast on more fuel, by answering provokingly and sharply, or by multiplying words, and by answering wrath with wrath.
(4) If you cannot quickly quench the anger in your heart--yet at least refrain your tongues! Speak no reproachful or provoking words. Talking hotly and angrily does blow the fire, and increase the flame. Be but silent, and you will the sooner return to your serenity and peace. Foul words tend to more displeasure. As Socrates said when his wife first railed at him, and next threw a vessel of foul water upon him, "I thought when I heard the thunder, there would come rain"; so you may foretell worse following, when foul, unseeming words begin. If you cannot easily allay your wrath, you may hold your tongues, if you are truly willing.
(5) Let the sober party condescend to speak gently and to entreat the other. Say to your angry wife or husband, 'You know this should not be between us; love must allay it, and it must be repented of. God does not approve it, and we shall not approve it when this heated argument is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together soon; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now. Sweet water and bitter come not from one spring,' etc. Some calm and humble words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome.
(6) Confess your fault to one another, when angry passion has prevailed against you; and ask forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon. This will lay a greater engagement on you the next time, to refrain from argument. You will surely be ashamed to do that which you have so confessed and asked forgiveness for--of God and each other.
If you will but practice these directives, your family peace may be preserved.