Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “Respect” as, to regard; to have regard to in design or purpose. To view or consider with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real worth.
a. We must respect the design and purpose of our spouse
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
God designed man and woman differently. There are the obvious physical differences, but there are also the more subtitle internal differences also. This is not an exhaustive list of differences or purposes for our design, but rather just a glimpse so we can acknowledge and respect the differences of our spouse.
God made the woman more sensitive and compassionate to care for and to mother her children. The mother is often bombarded with multiple tasks, so God gave her the ability to multi-task; that is, she is constantly aware of the children, the stove, the phone call and the next step all at the same time. She has an array of gifts and talents unique to her alone.
On the other hand, God designed the man with a rougher texture. Men are often the disciplinarian; they tend to lead with a stronger hand and voice. They are often limited to doing one thing at a time but this is advantageous in times of war and trouble. Men can turn off emotions and block out distractions that would take them away from the task at hand, where in most cases mother may be overwhelmed and emotional about the situation.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I am not saying men are superior to women, I am saying God made us equal in value but different by design, so that we can each fulfill our God given purpose in life. When we respect each others role, we are respecting God’s design. When we belittle or down play our spouse’s position, we are disrespecting God’s desired plan. If men and women were built and wired the same, why then would God have had to make two, male and female; he could have just made one human with all capabilities. Instead, God made man and then his “help meet,” his other half, to complete the design. Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. When husband and wife serve God together and respect one another they are showing the unity and perfection of their creator. God made two so that they could work at being one, and when that happens God gets all the glory and the picture of Christ and his church are clearly seen.
b. We must daily consider their worth and contributions to the relationship
Too many spouses today compare themselves against each other. They are good score keepers but not good encouragers. Don’t look at your marriage and keep count of all you do, but consider what your spouse contributes as well. Hebrews 10:24 Tells us to “consider one another…” God knows that when we compare instead of consider, we become more selfish. This is why 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The more we praise and worship God, the more we think of him and the less we think of ourselves. When pride enters any relationship, trouble is soon to follow. Proverbs 13:10 says “Only by pride cometh contention”this means pride and self-centeredness is the sole source of all strife. When you are constantly looking at the good in your spouse and thanking God for their presence, you will find their shortcomings will grow smaller in your eyes and their worth, and your love for them will grow greater.
c. Respect effects behavior
We have seen that respect is an understanding and appreciation for someone’s person and purpose. But respect is also a displayed action. When we respect people it makes a difference in the way we treat them. For example, respect causes us to talk kindly to our spouse. Respect prompts us to hear them out and not be rude in our conversations or gestures. We treat our spouse as Christ treats his bride the church. I will go a step further, you may look at your mate as just a husband or wife but that is only the half; if they are saved, they are also your Christian brother or sister! You should never treat your spouse with any less respect then you treat other Christians. This may sound like a small matter, but it carries enormous results. Treating your soul-mate with respect will brighten your home and sweeten your time together.
5. The Encouragement Connection
You’re not the only one that had a bad day. Daily encouragement is a must for a healthy marriage. Hebrews 10:24 says “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” God teaches us in his word that in order to encourage someone to good works, we must first consider them. Consider their thoughts, their feelings and their needs. Consider their daily struggles before you start barking about the burnt dinner or the grass that is not cut. Consider his day at work might have pushed him over the top and now instead of needing corrected he just needs encouraged. Take into consideration that her day may have been filled with rowdy children, endless errands and a terrible headache on top of it all.
Encouraging words will produce good & kind works from your spouse. Provoke your spouse to good works. Do things that will cause them to smile and they will in turn do things that will cause you to smile. Proverbs 15:23 says “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” When we allow unkind or selfish words to come out of our mouth, we are creating our own misery. On the other hand, when we build-up others with our speech, we experience a joyful feeling that comes from doing the right things. Your spouse is the “other half” of you! Build your spouse and you build yourself; tear them down and you also hurt yourself.
So what about when your spouse messes up and fails? Shouldn’t I correct them, you ask. Not always, let the Holy Spirit do the correcting in their heart and you just be that encourager calling out positive helps, cheering them on to the finish line. Try not to be too critical. I know honesty is the best policy, but sometimes its best to keep your mouth shut then to blurt out that honest statement. This is the practice of “a word spoken in due season” or at the right time. Words need to be properly placed and timed. That truthful statement may be best spoken tomorrow after emotions calm down. If you find yourselves in a heated discussion, take 30 minutes to calm down and pray about the situation; then come back to talk it over. Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” This verse teaches us that our words should help, not hurt. The word “edify” is an architectural term meaning to build up or construct. Our words should build the spiritual and emotional being in our spouse. Never speak to destroy, hurt or get even, speak only spiritual and helpful words that will lift your mate closer to Christ.
Speak the words of God; quote the Bible in an uplifting manner, post Bible verses around the house, put scripture verses in your spouse’s lunch box or briefcase where they are sure to find them. God’s word will work in them. n and asy, teardown them down and you also hurt yourself. So what about when yoru spouse messes up andPeople admire and desire to be encouraged and they also love those that encourage them. Your marriage will be stronger when you are your spouse’s biggest supporter.
(Look for part 3 coming soon!)