Marriages Need Respect
The Lord is interested in our marriages, and unfortunately, Satan is also interested in our marriages. To far too many couples, he is having his way, and the church is reaping the unfortunate consequences of marriages falling apart at the seams. Godly marriages do not just happen; they are not easy to obtain. They are built, and they are built one brick at a time. Thus, we want to examine some godly traits and attributes that we find in the word of God to build godly marriages.
According to the New Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus of the English Language, the term “respect” means, “the special esteem or consideration in which one holds another person or thing; the state or quality of being esteemed.” Of course, we find this concept in the Bible. In the Old Testament, one Hebrew term (sha’ah) denotes the act of regarding or showing respect (cf. Gen. 4:4-5). With regards to their sacrifices of worship, God showed respect to the offering of Abel, but did not show the same respect to the offering of his older brother, Cain, because we learn that Abel listened to the divine instructions and acted “by faith” (cf. Heb. 11:4). Another Hebrew term (panah) also denotes the act of showing regard or respect. In the New Testament, a Greek term that may fit with our discussion is hegeomai, which means to consider or esteem (cf. Phil. 2:3). Naturally, one should not be surprised that the apostle Paul will exhort servants to demonstrate this quality to their respective masters (1 Tim. 6:1). It is also this attribute that Christians are to have toward the elders of the congregations, realizing their role as the shepherds of the flock and overseers of the assemblies (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7, 17). There are a few other terms of significance to seeing this trait in the New Testament. The root word of each is the Greek verb blepo, which is one of many Greek words to indicate seeing in one way or another. This particular term signifies the idea of seeing or beholding. Yet, when a modifying prefix is added, it can take a greater meaning. For example, in Luke 1:48, Mary responds to Elizabeth that God “hath regarded” her in choosing her to bear baby Jesus in her womb. The term is epiblepo, which means, “to gaze at with favor, pity or partiality, to look upon, regard or have respect to.” She knew that God had shown favor and respect towards her! Another term is apoblepo, which with this unique prefix added, means, “to look away from everything else, to have respect.” We see this term in Hebrews 11:26, when in speaking of Moses, he “had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” Could you imagine if husbands and wives demonstrated this type of respect to each other? If husbands looked at their wives with such narrow focus and tuned every other woman out completely, and if wives looked at their husbands with such narrow focus and tuned every other man out completely, we could eradicate all adultery and fornication completely!
Thus, this leads me to contemplate the following— when we consider the many attributes that the Bible uses to describe godly marriages, such as unconditional love, honesty, commitment, trust, kindness, and so forth, husbands and wives are to show respect for each other. Husbands are to respect their wives as the weaker vessels (1 Pet. 3:7). Wives are to respect their husbands as the heads of the households (Eph. 5:22- 24). Each is to respect the role that God has given to the other. Yet, in so doing, each is to lift up the other with favor and regard (Phil. 2:3). I firmly believe that if married couples would follow this simple principle: “…but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves,” then marriages would be well on their way to enjoying the blessings that God designed for the home.
Let us conclude with one final thought. Some people are easy to respect, but we are to respect others who may not deserve our respect. It should not be conditional, but unconditional—a hard lesson to learn and implement in our lives. Consider the life of David as a glimpse of seeing what it means to respect one who does not deserve respect. King Saul demonstrated time and time again that he did not deserve respect, for he tried on multiple occasions to kill the younger man, David. He looked upon him with envy, and even tried to divide the relationship between his son, Jonathan, and the one who would become his successor. Yet, although he did not deserve respect by his actions, David knew who he was and respected him as the king nonetheless, sparing his life on several occasions. He never spoke against him, even in the private communications of his mighty men. I truly believe that the grand example from the man after God’s own heart shows how one may still pay respect and regard to another who does not deserve such. May God bless all godly marriages who strive to show respect to each other!