By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
With more than two decades of marriage behind me, one would think I have a good understanding of how to do marriage well. But to be honest, I struggle with my selfish desires that interfere with decisions that would be for the benefit of my marriage. All too often my words and actions indicate that I am a solo partner when, in fact, God put my husband and I together to augment our strengths as we fill in the gaps of each other’s weaknesses. This life we’ve built together is worth fighting for. It’s worth the effort and time it takes to understand what God wants in a godly marriage. And since the only person I can change is myself, I choose to focus on becoming a godly wife.
While researching and writing this article, my husband and I had a slight disagreement that brought out the barbed wire tongue I try to keep sheathed. This article is a much-needed reminder to myself. There are days when I feel I’m becoming a godly wife, and there are days when words fly hot, and tones cut deep. Those are the day I wonder if I even know how to love like Christ let alone how to be a godly wife.
On another note, this article is not for a woman experiencing verbal, mental, or physical abuse. A woman’s godliness or lack thereof has nothing to do with abuse. An abusive spouse has something broken within and needs professional counseling. Instead, this article is for the woman who strives to love her husband because she desires to honor God with her life. It’s for the woman who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, but knows she wants to make a difference in her marriage in and in her home. It’s for the woman who faces “iron sharpening iron” moments in her marriage. It’s for the woman who recognizes that she can’t do this life without the power of God at work within her. So, friend, let’s figure this out together.
How to Be a Godly Wife according to the Bible
Godliness isn’t dependent on a role, it describes. We can be godly whether we are a wife, friend, mother, sister, employer or employee. It’s a virtue Paul instructs us to pursue and what God reveals through the person of Jesus Christ. Godliness is the reverent response to God’s holiness that governs our attitudes toward every aspect of life. An attitude is a perspective, not a mood. We can have bad days, but still, choose a positive perspective toward our marriages. We can have good days but entertain a negative perspective. Our attitudes towards godliness must find their roots in our perspective of God’s holiness and his position in our lives.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul instructs us to pursue a list of positive qualities: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. These virtues influence one another to develop Christ-like attitudes and responses to our circumstances. Sometimes the best way to understand something is to look at what it is contrasted with. Paul gives us a list of opposing perspectives that pull us away from growing in godliness. These are an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words, envy, malicious talk, strife, evil suspicions, and friction between each other, and the belief that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Godliness brings about blessings, but not always in the way they can be measured. Pursuing godliness means that we choose a different dance step than the world around us. These choices open us up to persecution as Paul assures us of in his second letter to Timothy. Despite the risk for persecution, Paul charges Timothy to continue in godliness and to live wholly surrendered to Christ. For this one life we live, we can live for ourselves, or we can live for Christ, where we lose our life to gain so much more. Let’s pursue godliness no matter the cost.
Peter rounds out Paul’s instruction on godliness by echoing the virtues needed to live a well-rounded, fruitful life. Spiritual growth is continuing. We add to our faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Each of these traits accumulates throughout our lives in increasing measure as we continue in knowing God. Spiritual growth takes a lifetime of successes and failures, but we rise again through the power of God’s redemption in our lives. Godliness weaves its way through our life and impacts every role we find ourselves in, including being a wife.
What Does it Mean to be a Godly Wife?
Does the Bible say how to be a godly wife? I’ve been married for almost 25 years, and I’m still learning what it means to be a godly wife. In the simplest forms, it means I seek to honor God with my words and actions towards my husband. I do this by helping my husband, loving him, submitting to his leadership, and surrendering my heart to God’s gentling. I’ve discovered that a godly wife learns to walk in forgiveness and learns to trust God for her marriage.
A godly wife seeks to honor God with her words and actions. We can take our cue from the psalmist who writes in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” If we can remember that what we say and how we respond is for God’s glory, we learn to temper our impatient responses to situations that come up in marriage. When we pursue godliness as a means of discipleship, we allow God to have his way in our lives and in our marriage. Honor God first and honoring others, including our husband, follows.
A godly wife loves her husband. Love can be a feeling, but more often it’s a decision we act on. 1 Corinthians gives a list of what love is. It is patient, kind, affirming, thinks of others first, and rejoices. The world outside our homes has people and situations that wound us and wear us down. But if we can let our husband know we have his back, our homes become a refuge. That doesn’t mean that we don’t address the hard things between husband and wife, but it’s done motivated by love, for the good of each other, and for the marriage.
A godly wife learns what it means to submit. Both husband and wife fulfill Paul’s statement in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This indicates that submission is mutual and means that it yields one’s rights, but as we read further, husbands and wives express it differently. Husbands express submission to their wives through self-denial and honoring them. Wives express submission through following their husband’s leadership with respect. Each one needs the Lord’s strength and power to submit to one another.
A godly wife surrenders to the Lord’s gentling. One of the by-products of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, besides sin, is the conflicts that arise between husband and wives. Many times, I, the wife, want to be in control and use my words and tone of voice as a weapon. Women can be sharp-tongued and use our words to discourage our husband from being the man of God he was created to be. But when we allow God to gentle us from the inside out, our hearts become tender toward our husband, and we see him with God’s eyes instead. A soft heart towards God is one of the greatest strengths of a godly wife.
A godly wife walks in forgiveness. Because women tend to be sensitive to connections in relationships, we can get our feelings hurt by what appears to be careless words or actions by our husbands. We can remember how much God forgives us and extend that same grace to our spouse. Marriage is a uniting of a man and woman, growing together as individuals to create a special kind of oneness that reflects God’s heart to the world. Without forgiveness, offenses grow large and become points of irritation that fester. Living our lives determined to forgive leads the way for God to grow both husband and wife.
A godly wife learns to trust God. Proverbs 31 describes an amazing woman. Not only does this superwoman take care of the externals, but she develops her inner life too. My favorite verse is verse 25, “she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Imagine the level of trust in God she has if she can face the uncertainty of tomorrow with a smile. We know that this life holds trouble and disappointment. But God calls us to trust him and a godly wife learns to be secure in God no matter what trials her marriage may face.
Verses about How to Be a Godly Wife
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4 NIV).
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 NIV).
“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Proverbs 19:14 NIV).
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 NIV).
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 NIV).
“Wives, in the same way be submissive [the function for orderly home] to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence [moral purity that springs from reverence for God] of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1 NIV).
Why Does God Care about a Wife’s Godliness?
God cares about a wife’s godliness because he cares about her as a whole person. He cares for the internal heartaches, hidden dreams, weaknesses, and strengths. He wants to not only save us from a life separated from him but also to sanctify us so that we reflect him to those around us, including our husband and children. Another reason God cares about a wife’s godliness is because marriage is an echo of Christ’s relationship with the church. He cares for the body of believers, he desires unity in the church, and he laid down his life for it. As Paul states, the marriage between a man and woman as an illustration of Christ and the church is a mystery, but he still attempts to explain it by stating that each party gives up something for the other.
Becoming godly is a lifelong process that interlaces with all our roles, including our role as wives. It is one that we pursue with fervor and determination. It informs our decisions on how to respond to those in our lives. As a wife, allowing God to change us into godly reflections of him, causes us to influence our homes in positive ways.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Grace Cary
Jessica Van Roekel is a worship leader, speaker, and writer who writes at www.welcomegrace.com sharing hope-filled inspiration addressing internal hurts in the light of God’s transforming grace. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Jessica lives in rural Iowa with her husband and family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.