By Alisha Headley, Crosswalk.com
We have all had burdens in life, but there is no greater burden for a woman to bear than her unsaved husband to come to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
We may have a similar desire for close family members, dear friends, and our very own children who have walked away from God or have yet to experience Him. As a believer, I want nothing more than for those that I cherish to walk in the freedom, forgiveness, love, and eternal hope we all have waiting for us through our Father in Heaven.
If you’re like most women however, our tendency is to want to help our spouse with their unbelief. We often do this by controlling, manipulating, nagging, complaining, and pushing.
Our intention may be pure and done out of love because we want to see the best in our spouse. We simply want to help them believe in the same amazing God we believe in. There is nothing wrong with desiring to help them.
After all, God created us to do just that.
But it will not be by our own efforts or manipulations--only by a gentle and quiet Spirit that is fully surrendered to the love of God.
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1. Our Roles as Wives to Be a Helper
God said in Genesis 2:18, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” The Hebrew word translated here as “helper” in reference to the woman is ezer. The term is derived from a Hebrew word used of God and the Holy Spirit azar. Both mean “helper”--one who comes alongside to aid, assist, and rescue.
This phrase is notoriously difficult to literally translate, but another way to translate it could be "I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man." This is to say, that men and women are equal in every way. But an ezer is a special term applied to women.
Every other time that this word is used in the Old Testament, it is used to describe God coming to Israel's need in a time of desperation. We have an amazing role, a role deemed fit not only for the Holy Spirit, but us as women. Clearly, the word ezer suggests a role of great honor. It is a portrait of great strength.
We are called into our husband’s lives to be that great help. How is it that you go about trying to assisting as an equal?
What if the greatest help, the greatest work we ever do, the greatest role we will ever play; is the role as a prayer warrior--the work done on our knees?
What if the greatest impact we can have is with no words or actions on our part? Rather, what if the best help we can ever give our spouse is through our gentle and quiet spirit--which is the key element to winning over our unbelieving spouse.
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2. Win over Your Husband without Words or Actions
1 Peter 3:1-2 says, “wives, submit to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, you may win over your husband without a word when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”
Peter tells us how to not win over own husband (with words). And he tells us how to win over our husband (with godly conduct).
I know less words might be hard for some of us women. I love to talk. In fact, my love for talking has turned into my love for writing the words onto paper. So how are we to help those we love without talking to them about it? Peter is teaching us the complete opposite. It’s not through our words that will win over our husbands but rather our lack of words.
I am not saying that you can never speak to your husband. And if the Holy Spirit prompts you to speak a times, then listen and obey those promptings. But ask yourself: are you speaking out of your own flesh and desire because you so badly want them come to know the Lord? Everything inside of you desires for them to lead your home the Christian way so you speak up frequently.
But what if you are getting in the way because you are not allowing God to have His way in your husband’s heart?
God calls us to win them over without our words, and rather through our actions. Not through the outside attempts, but through our inside behavior.
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3. Realize Your Husband Is Won as He Observes Your Heart
We could say all the right things, and even look the part for our husbands as a way to win them over. But Peter continues his teaching in verses 3-4 saying “do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel--rather let is 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.”
These verses are not saying that outward appearance is not important as husbands are to enjoy their wives. But it’s rather saying that the inward qualities of a wife are far more important. The hidden inward beauty of the heart is displayed by a “gentle and quiet spirit”.
This quality is not about just saying less words, but rather an inner attitude and heart that is not corrupted with worry, anxiety, and fear. It’s the absence of those things coupled with a trust in God who the one in control of all things, that cultivates such a gentle and quiet spirit within us.
When we remove the need to control and change our husband in an attempt to force them to believe, it puts God in His proper place, who is sovereign and in control.
It's not always easy, especially when your husband may not be obeying the word but let’s let God take over as we submit to God first, trusting that He hear our prayers and is in control of our husbands.
Let’s allow the Lord to work on our heart from within, and be so in love with the Lord, that it comes out in our actions and attitude towards our husbands. We can trust in God, and trust He’s working, even if we don’t yet see it in our husbands.
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4. Follow Sarah’s Example of Trusting in God Even When Her Husband Chose Not To
Peter ends this teaching by talking about an example of a woman who displayed a trust in the Lord even when her husband didn’t have the same belief and trust at the time.
1 Peter 3:5-6 says “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, who daughters are you if you do good and not afraid with any terror.”
Sarah is an example of a wife who trusted God, in the midst of her husband’s lack of trust. Abraham lied in identifying Sarah as his sister and not his wife (Genesis 20:1-18), and Sarah immediately was taken in the king’s captivity.
Sarah was not trusting in herself, nor was she trusting in Abraham. He was not walking with the Lord as He was being deceptive and more concerned with saving himself than protecting his wife.
Sarah chose to trust God by giving Him time to work in Abraham’s life and in this difficult situation. God intervened. God told Abimelech in a dream that Sarah was Abraham’s wife.
Sarah didn’t have to have a talk with Abraham, she didn’t have to try to manipulate the situation, control her husband, or nag or complain to her husband or anyone else while she was taken away into captivity. Rather, she was an example of trusting in God, even when her unbelieving husband was not.
Let’s adopt the same trust as Sarah, giving God room to intervene.
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5. Watch and See What God Can Do
I know it’s not easy being married to an unbeliever.
Whether it’s been a short time, or a long journey, seeing someone you love either making decisions that don’t align with the truth written in God’s Word, or perhaps seeing someone living a life with little to no peace since they haven’t experienced God’s indescribable love yet--it’s hard.
But we have a God who sees our heart, and we are called to trust in Him just as Sarah did, obeying Him despite what our husbands choose to do. Remember, God is the God who “hears us” (John 9:31).
Not one prayer goes unheard.
Let’s turn that longing for our husband’s faith into a longing after God. Let’s be that prayer warrior who grows closer to the Lord allowing Him to mend our hearts cultivating a peaceful home, with a gentle and quiet spirit to our unbelieving husbands.
As we do this, let’s then watch and see what God can do. 1 Samuel 12:16 says, “Now, therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes.”
We can stand confident in our positions as wives as we watch God work on our behalf. He is forever faithful, and remember He loves your husband, as you do. So, let’s move out of His way allowing Him room to work as Sarah exemplified.
It could be tomorrow, next year, or after our lifetime before our unbelieving spouses come to know the Lord, but God is without a doubt working. You have the greatest role of planting eternal seeds every time you have a gentle and quiet spirit towards your unbelieving husband. God sees you and He finds you precious in His sight.
Disclaimer: if you are being abused in any physical or emotional way, this article is in no way, encouraging you to stay with a gentle and quiet spirit, but to seek Godly counsel.
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