Love and respect

This coming Friday is a public holiday in South Africa. Women’s Day. I was speaking about it to a friend when a man asked, “So when is men’s day?” and we both simultaneously said, “every day!” it was really meant as a joke and the gentleman took it very well. I must say that I’m not really clued up with the origin of these kinds of holidays, but I do think that it’s really nice that women should be honoured. Honour, these days is something that is sorely lacking in society. The way some children speak to their parents is shocking, but then I believe that they speak that way because they are being allowed to do so. When I worked with pre-schoolers it was clear to see which children were disciplined at home and which weren’t. By discipline I don’t mean that they were beaten or threatened. Children need to be spoken to so that they can understand why they are expected to behave in a certain way, and they also need to see that behaviour demonstrated.  A child does what you do, not what you say he must do. If a father and mother don’t treat each other with respect the children aren’t going to treat people with respect. Teachers find it very difficult to teach children who haven’t learned the skill of listening.

It is so easy for a married couple to fall into disrespect for each other. It’s more of a habit than conscious behaviour. I so often hear women complain to each other about their husbands. It is really easy to agree with other women when they say something less than honouring about their husbands. It is a very bad habit. We have to consciously work on our marriages. My husband and I have been married for 31 years and I can assure you that love and respect don’t just happen. After the initial ‘in love’ and infatuation stage is over you have a choice to make. You can choose to be disobedient to the Word of God, or we can obey and receive the blessings we are promised.

Ephesians 5: 25-29,33, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This is such good advice but often we choose to take out parts of Scripture that don’t suit us and just think about and apply the parts that suit us. Husbands have to love their wives and wives have to love their husbands. It sounds really simple if we say it fast. It isn’t always easy though. We do things to hurt each other because we are so close to each other. We don’t always do things purposefully, but whether our behaviour is premeditated or not, it can be extremely hurtful and if we don’t show the necessary grace we will be hurt.

Colossians 4:6 says our speech should be seasoned with salt. Yes, we should become very aware of what we say and how we say it. Especially to those who are near and dear to us. How often do we see messages or videos on social media that tell us to be nice to people because they might be dead by tomorrow. I think that’s the worst motivation ever. We shouldn’t be guilt tripped into loving people or being kind to them. We should think about how wonderful it is to have good relationships with people, and it is possible if everyone tries. We should also really want to be a good example to the younger generation.

1 Peter 3:1,  Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

This shows the kind of conduct that is expected from a woman. It does not mean that a woman has to be a doormat and that her husband has the right to abuse her. Not at all. But if she is married to a reasonable person, he can be so influenced by her behaviour that he will give his life to Jesus.

We have to strive to treat all people with dignity and respect, especially those closest to us. We will definitely reap the rewards.