Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” If we are to be women who build a house, then we need tools. God has given us a great amount of instruction, tools so that we might build well. I want to mention eight.
First, seek wisdom. If you want to be a wise wife, that starts by being a wise woman. Proverbs says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10). So there is no wisdom without acknowledging God. There is no getting wisdom without asking God for it either. James guarantees us that if we ask for it in faith without doubting, then wisdom will be given to us (James 1:5-6). Beyond this foundation of fearing God and asking Him for wisdom, I’d say there are two keys to keep in mind. First, just resolve to obey Jesus in everything. He says “everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Second, seek counsel from others. Proverbs 12:15 says, “a wise man listens to advice.” There are many godly women in the church. They have a wealth of advice. And a godly husband is a gift from the Lord. Listening to him will result in wisdom.
Second, be strong and work hard. The Proverbs 31 woman uses her hands, and having worked diligently, she produces fruit. “Strength and dignity are her clothing” which sounds lovely but remember a lot of labor went into gaining that strength. Here’s a list of verbs that identify her hard work. She manages, she seeks, she rises while it’s still night, she does good to her husband, she provides food, she considers, she dresses, she perceives, she puts her hand to the spindle, she’s not afraid, and she makes. While we’re not saved by our works, we are saved for works.
Number three, submit to your husband. Ephesians 5:24 is a familiar verse and tells us “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” It really is remarkable that in submitting to a husband a wife is representing the church. She is painting a picture, however small, that this is what the church does to Jesus. The command is expansive, it says to submit in everything to your husband. Of course this means everything that is not sinful. And it does not mean that when we think he’s making a very bad decision we should just sit quietly by without sharing our thoughts. But it does mean the married woman’s life should be marked by submission to her husband. And Jesus’ commands are not burdensome.
The fourth tool is to seek glory, not glamour. Being a woman is a glorious thing. In fact, Scripture says we are the glory of man. So, you can either be your husband’s crown or his bone rot. That’s Proverbs 12:4, “And excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Many ladies are after glamour today. They very much want to be seen. But as one writer said, “a wife is to be her husband’s glory, not his arm candy.” This principle concerns not only our external appearance but what it is we are really after. Seeing glory from God and living to display his wonder to the world is the bread and butter of living as a godly wife.
Number five, respect and honor your husband. Paul talks about this shortly after his exhortation to submit to your husband. He says, “let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). This means the wife should esteem her husband and speak well of him. She should ensure the home is a refuge. Surely there will be work he does in the home, but in most cases the rhythm of life should be one in which you’re aiding him in the work that he does. This happens very practically through hot meals, gracious words, wise counsel as he considers challenges and opportunities before him. The wife should consider what he does and how she helps him do it. She should know what success looks like and help him move toward it.
Respect, of course, does not mean that we never say hard things. In fact, the wife needs to speak truth to her husband as a way of honoring him. It is said that Martin Luther’s wife Katharina noticed her husband in the throes of gloom. So, being a faithful wife, she dressed herself in all black. When he noticed her and asked why she was dressed so, she replied, “Well, given your recent attitude, I thought God was dead!”
The sixth tool is to kill your sin. If you do not kill sin it will kill you and your marriage. The self-help shelf is full of books and those books are full of quick and easy tips. But there is no way to build a Christian home with quick steps. The steady, continual work of identifying sin, confessing it, and putting it to death is necessary. To that end, marriage is a wonderful gift from God. A husband is there to wash us with the Word, which means there will be spots that have to be acknowledged. This works both ways, so the wife must have the courage, humility, and biblical wisdom to help her husband see his sin and deal with it, too.
Seven, trust Christ. A woman simply cannot do what she must do apart from trusting Jesus Christ. The problems bubble up in all directions in a marriage when a woman does not trust the Lord. A woman is a helper, we see this in Genesis 2 when the first woman is made. But she’s to help others while trusting in Jesus and if she leaves out the “trusting in Jesus” part, her help turns into anxious manipulation. But even if you find yourself there, the good news is you can still trust Christ and he will clean the situation up.
The final tool is to live by grace. There really is no other way to live. Even those who do not acknowledge God are only living because of God’s grace. But I mean that the wife should acknowledge that she lives this way. God really does pour out grace upon grace upon us. He will not let things fall apart. And this is crucial to remember because any woman building her house, helping her husband, and raising kids will routinely feel like things are falling apart.
But, it is just then… that He gives more grace.