“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.”---Proverbs 12:4 (NKJV)
Excellent: possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good; surpassing others in some good quality or the sum of qualities; of great worth; eminent, in a good sense; superior
Synonyms: CHOICE; prime; valuable; SELECT; exquisite; transcendent; admirable; worthy
Crown: the highest or most nearly perfect state of anything; the acme or supreme source of honor, excellence, beauty, etc.
OK, we should be able to pass the offering plate around one time just in the definitions alone! I don't foresee this being a super-long tip, but it's potent and, I do know that if you don't catch it, you will miss a vital marriage preparation tip. Please pay close attention.
Men: Now, I'm sure that the Holy Spirit will lead me to get on the topic of submission (actually, I wrote an entire piece last year on the curse of submission, so if anyone would like it for review---it's pretty deep---let me know), but for now, this is what I want you to catch:
“For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.”---Ephesians 5:23 (NKJV)
The head, in this context, is “the position or place of leadership, greatest authority, or honor” or “a person to whom others are subordinate, as the director of an institution or the manager of a department; leader or chief”. And yes, the Word is filled with scriptures to support the fact that, in a marriage, the man is in the leadership role---a big part of it due to the instructions that God gave Adam and the Woman after being removed from the Garden. Genesis 3:15 (NCV) says, “You will greatly desire your husband and he will rule over you.”
But, I find it very interesting, fellas, that while you may be the head, the Word says that an excellent wife goes on top of your head: SHE IS THE CROWN. Something that another married man said in the marriage blog (http://sohowdidyouknow.blogspot.com) is that it is a husband's job to PLACE HIS WIFE IN THE BEST POSSIBLE LIGHT AT ALL TIMES. Some of you have had “leadership/submission” roles so poorly illustrated to you that all you think a submissive woman does is let you tell her what to do.
But remember, when the Word speaks of you being the head, the comparison is made to how Christ is the head of the Church. Christ honors choice. Christ embraces reason...and reasoning. Christ sacrificed his life. Christ didn't humiliate sinners, but rather forgave and defended the mistakes that they made. Christ did not condemn. Christ made new creations out of things. CHRIST WAS MORE LOVE-THAN-LAW DRIVEN. As a matter of fact, the Word says that when true love takes place, the law is fulfilled. (Galatians 5:14) Did you catch that? LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW. (Romans 13:10)
Laws are put in place to teach us how to love. Hmm...that leads me to believe that if you are more “love” than “law” focused, there will be less and less of a need to “put your foot down” on issues. Just as you are respect-driven (we'll get into that in another chapter—Ephesians 5:33), we as women are very love-activated. When we feel loved, that is when we really and truly trust and if we TRUST you, then we will have no problems FOLLOWING you. The reason why, I believe, that King Solomon said that an excellent wife is the crown of her husband is because a crown is the honor that a man gets for worthy SERVICE. As a reward for submitting to his own leader, GOD, he is given a valuable, exquisite, admirable wife. LET THAT MARINATE...for a few days.
Women: Remember that we are supposed to be wives when our husbands “find” us (Proverbs 18:22) and/or we are “brought” (Genesis 2:21-22) to them. I remember being in school, especially high school and college, and all of the prep work that was required to earn an “A”. I had to study, I had to take notes, I had to spend time alone going over the material that was given. A lot of times, this required me not hanging out with my friends all weekend. I had to GET ALONE and WORK to get that “A”.
Whenever people ask me why I am not married yet, I will often say, “I don't want a 'janitor-level' husband. I want a 'doctor-level' one. That requires a lot more schooling.” No, that is not a knock on the blue-collar brothas. As a matter of fact, in this season, with our economy the way that it is, they are gonna be the ones keeping this country afloat. It's an analogy. Almost anyone can walk in and get a janitor gig. You have to be QUALIFIED to hold a position as a doctor.
If you really want to be an EXCELLENT wife, then where your future mate is right now shouldn't be a concern for you. Truth be told, you don't have time to worry about it, because there is so much you have to do to prepare for him. I had moments when I was so paranoid about a test that when it was time to take it, I failed. I knew it was coming...my instructor told me so, but focusing more on the end result rather than the process is what caused me to suffer.
Don't “miss it” when it comes to marriage preparation. God said in his Word that he would give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) He said that he can do exceedingly above all that we can ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20) He also encouraged us not to be weary in doing well, for in due season, WE WILL REAP. (Galatians 6:9) And, more specifically, when it comes to the subject of marriage, Christ himself even endorsed it by saying in the Message Version of Matthew 19:11-12:
“'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn't for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.'"
Some of you, right now, are fearful that you are called to singleness for the rest of your days. At almost 35, I have experienced those emotions as well. During one of my panic attacks, the Holy Spirit led me to a spiritual gifts test (/www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift) to ease me anxiety (Philippians 4:6). I tested VERY LOW on celibacy. It is my belief that, while I think all flesh is tempted, when you are called to singleness, there is not the same longing within you as there is when you are called to marriage. But, with ALL that comes with marriage, you don't want it if you're not ready for it. Tests are a breeze (relatively-speaking) when you are prepared for them; it's hell, literally, when you're not. Tryon Edwards once said that “Hell is truth seen too late.” When it comes to a troubled marriage, no greater words have been spoken!
Besides, because of the power of unity when it comes to marriage, do you not think that the Enemy will test you? That he won't try and steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) what God has joined together? (Matthew 19:6) The test(s) are coming...GET READY FOR THEM. Too many people “cram” by waiting until they are already engaged and/or in premarital counseling. Don't put yourself under that kind of pressure. There are no guarantees that you will retain all that you need to know.
Oh, the only other thing to remember is that two synonyms for “excellent” is “choice” and “select”. As I'm praying about my own future king, one thing that the Holy Spirit continues to bring to mind is the Love Chapter. (I Corinthians 13:4-8) A man worthy of an excellent wife will CHOOSE her...he will SELECT her. She will not have to scheme, compromise, stalk, manipulate, compete. If you are finding yourself jealous right now of other women/another woman, especially concerning someone you are not even married to, that is not love...that is insecurity. If a man wants you and he's worth his weight in gold, just like the merchant who sold all that he had to get that one precious pearl (Matthew 13:45-46), he will make it clear that you are his good thing...the crown that he desires. Right now, you just need to focus on being “excellent”; that you are steering clear of doing things that are “shameful”. Guys are much more observant than women give them credit for. They peep when a woman is doing something that is “disgraceful”, “scandalous” (men HATE drama, ladies), “injurous to a reputation”, “degrading” or “indecent”. NO GOOD MAN WANTS TO LINK HIMSELF UP TO THAT!
Fellas, ask God to show you how to love right so that you can earn your crown.
And ladies, spend your time “studying up” on excellence...so that when the God-appointed time comes (Acts 1:7-Message), your man will make the SELECT CHOICE.
©Shellie R. Warren/2009