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About this series
How to Raise a Healthy Family in a Modern World
Raising a family comes with all kinds of challenges. Raising a HEALTHY family seems like nothing short of a miracle! Parents and children who genuinely love and respect one another, who speak with concern and civility, who sacrifice unselfishly because that’s what the situation requires - sounds a little weird! But wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a family that operates that way! How to raise a healthy family ISN’T a mystery, but it DOES require some counter-cultural thinking. In this series, Chip addresses some key elements for what it takes to raise a godly, healthy family in a modern world.More from this series
The fifth and final one, in terms of her character, is God looks down and He goes, When I see a woman’s godliness, her character, her encouragement, her love – first, in her marriage; and then her home, her work, her ministry – but, lastly, in planning and priorities.
This is a very interesting passage. “When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for they are all clothed in scarlet.” Circle the word scarlet. “She makes coverings for her bed,” underline the word for her bed, “and she is clothed in fine linen and purple,” underline linen and purple.
There are three things where I get she is a wise planner and has great priorities. That that word scarlet, in Hebrew, the word – it has a picture of something that is double-folded. And it can mean scarlet, but it can mean double-folded. And I think the translation, it’s not like all her kids had red stuff on.
It’s what – she didn’t have any fear, because what she did is she planned ahead and she knew her kids are going to be warm, like all you do, right? Winter is coming. School clothes time. All the kids have what they need.
The second, she makes coverings for her bed. This is not like she was into embroidery. What a wise woman understands is: you have small kids, he is working, and especially if you’re working, you have no time together.
And what happens is your romantic life can go down the tubes. When your romantic life goes down the tubes, then pretty soon, a distance occurs in your relationship. Here is a woman who says: “I am going to plan in times for us to make love. I am going to keep our love life alive.”
And the other research and I don’t know why we are wired this way, there are few things a man feels more empowered and loved and actually even what happens in the brain when he makes love with his wife in terms of opening up, being understanding, and being engaged.
And so, this woman says, “You know what? I’ve got a plan. I am going to plan for my kids, I am going to plan for my husband,” and are you ready for this? She is clothed in fine linen and purple. This is nice. This is a luxury item.
A Jewish woman in fine purple and in linen, which probably came from Egypt, is like, woo! She is taking care of herself. She looks good! She realizes, Yeah, I have to help the kids, I’ve got all these demands. But my life matters.
Here’s the application: give her permission to be good to herself. My wife is such a responsibility-oriented person and we were really, really poor most all the early years growing up. And we got, I remember we had three hundred dollars total in savings and for us, that was great. It was a lot better than zero.
And I remember taking twenty dollars and I gave it to her and I said, “Honey, you care so much for the kids and you do this, you do this. Would you just take this twenty dollars,” it may not be a lot now, but for us it was a lot, “just go do something for yourself. I don’t know, your nails, your hair, go do something for yourself.”
Two weeks later I find out she gave part of it away and then spent the rest on kids. And we had a big argument. I said, “Honey, you know what? You know what that comes out of? You are still believing these lies. You think everything and everyone else is more important than you.”
Now, there are some of you ladies that you have stuff in the closet that you have bought that you haven’t even opened. And a good day is going to the mall and buying more shoes. This part of the message is not for you. Pause. Okay? So, guys, lighten up here.
There are some of you, however, that you feel like all you hear is, “I need you, I need you, I need you.” You meet everyone else’s needs and then over time, you feel resentful. And your life ends up like there are all these needs and so I am in a hurry and I put my hair in a ponytail and I put on a baseball cap. I don’t put on any makeup. And I’ve got to get the kids here, then I am going to go here, I’ll change later, and I’ve got sweatpants. And so, you have a life where, pretty soon, that becomes habitual.
And then because you don’t feel good about yourself, you feel a little better when you eat some stuff. And so, you eat some stuff and gain some weight you don’t like and pretty soon, you’re looking in the mirror of someone with no makeup, with sweatpants, who has gained a little bit of weight. And you don’t like you.
And, guys, you have got to step in. You’ve got to say, “You matter.” And, ladies, you have to believe. Here is God’s view: you are valuable. You are precious. You are worthy. And you know what? You should have some nice stuff. And you should take care of you. And that’s why your husband ought to take you out of town a couple times a year, minimum.
And that’s why there ought to be a part of the budget – yes, the kid needs shoes and the kids need that. They’ve got enough sports equipment to float a ship!
You’ve got money for this, you’ve got money for that, we got money for that. How about: what does your wife need? What does the mother need? And why don’t we set aside some money that she feels deeply valued? You are worthy, as evidence.
Anybody ever got a promotion without a raise? Have you ever had one of those? “You are doing such a great job. We esteem you so much. This used to be your job and now, here’s your new job. And there is fifty cents more an hour. I hope you enjoy it.” What is the emotion? I’ve got more responsibility; I didn’t get a raise. No matter what our words say, the time in your job, when someone connects money with your value, all of a sudden, three more bucks an hour? Or, “We just bumped you to this level, and, by the way, here are all the new benefits.” Some of your wives need a raise.
What is the impact? This is such a high calling for women. But it’s such a strong calling for us men and for children. When a woman progressively lives out a faith like this, over time, where she walks with God and she, this is the kind of marriage.
And, by the way, she does it. She is good to him when he is not so good to her. We, men, sometimes are a little slow. “And this is what I do in my home, this is what I do in ministry, here’s what I do at work.”
Here’s the impact. Three things. One, in her marriage, “Her husband is respected at the city gates where he takes a seat among the elders of the land.” A godly woman has incredible impact on her husband’s character, and therefore, his whole life.
I jotted in my notes here, I have had to go to lots of schooling and I had to learn Hebrew and Greek and then mentored by some great people. I will tell you, the number one impact in all my life is my wife. Her integrity, her prayer life, and the way she has run our home has shaped everything.
I am the means justify the ends personality. Close is good enough. Very insecure. Wanting to impress people and, so, the very first church, there was thirty-five people. And I’m up all night with my messages. And so, we did a Bible study for kids in the neighborhood and we had blacks and whites and Hispanics and all kinds of different kids and I took them all to church.
And when you bring twenty-five kids to a church that is only thirty-five people, it made some waves. And I was trying to tell them that, “We have to care about this community!” And I was in my most passionate self.
And I said, “We had fifty kids here last weekend and some of you don’t even care about these kids!” And I thought I really had a good weekend. Boy oh boy. Man, I’m going to tell them!
So, then, we are in the car and she is really quiet. And I’m just a young, insecure pastor. I am now an older, insecure pastor. But, so, you want to hear from your wife like, “How did I do?”
Silence. “So,” I hate to have to ask for it, “what do you think?” Silence. Finally, she turns to me. “Why did you lie in church today?” “What?” “Why did you lie in church today?” I said, “What do you mean? I didn’t lie in church.” “You said there were fifty kids, Chip! We counted them. There were thirty-seven.” I said, “I rounded.” “How do you round up thirteen?” I would love to say that’s the only time.
I have lived my whole life with someone that, more on a few occasions has said, “Why did you lie?” “I just, I exaggerated.” “I don’t think God calls it exaggeration.” After about three years it was, “Just forget it. I’m just not going to, I’m not even going to exaggerate anymore. It’s not worth it.”
And you know that, “end justifies the means?” It was like, man, you live with this high-integrity person, it’s like, Oh my gosh. I guess I’ll have to be honest in the little things.
Guess what that does. It changes the course of your life. She has prayed hours for me and for our kids through huge times of marriage that I think deep in my heart, I wondered if we would make it through. We have had times with our kids where I wondered if our kids would ever walk with God or be in a good place.
Ladies, here’s what you need to understand. You are such the core of any success that we have. And our application is that we need to remind her of her role in your success.
Most people don’t know my wife started the radio ministry. You say, “Really?” Yeah. We were doing five services and I was getting burned out and she got a prayer partner. She goes, “Every week we are going to pray God takes the message outside the walls, because it’s killing my husband like this.”
At the end of one year, some guy I never met came in and said, “Hey, I think you sound pretty good. It’d be good on radio.” I said, “I don’t want to go on radio. I don’t listen to radio.”
And a businessman said, “I think it’s a good idea too.” I said, “Well, if you guys want to make it happen, go ahead. But I am overwhelmed as it is.” And it got birthed because she prayed.
And who would have ever dreamed years later that millions of people would find Christ and would grow in Christ because a woman saw a need and did something that no one will probably ever know about, unless they listen to this message now. And you know what? That’s the impact. She needs to hear that. And men understand any success you have or ever will have, is rooted in this relationship.
Second, her work. “She makes,” notice, “linen garments. She sells them and supplies them to merchants with sashes.” As time and priorities change, and a woman has more freedom and they have different energy and different passions and there are different seasons for them, here’s what I would say: cooperate with her creativity and her life transitions. Cooperate with her creativity and her life transitions.
I have watched attorneys take five, six, seven years off; raise their kids; and they go back into practice. I have met all kinds of people that have, all kinds of things, and those transitions are very difficult. And usually there are feelings of: “What am I going to do now? Because I figured out how to be a mom and I get such fulfillment and…”
I have four kids, for those of you who don’t know me very well, and they are spread out.
My oldest twins are thirteen years older than my daughter.
But that makes you, you parent for a long time like that. And I remember when Annie was not just out, but she is now this adult, she is on her own, all the kids are done. And I’m thinking, Great!
And they love God; this is wonderful! More time for us! Let’s go! But being the sensitive husband that I am, I thought, I’ll probably give her a few months to adjust. So, she was kind of mopey and grieving and struggling. So, after three months I said, “Are you just going to mope around forever? Look at all this new time we have and the house is empty and we can do whatever we want. And let’s, hey, let’s…” And we had, our empty nest, it was not pretty. We had about nine or ten, twelve, thirteen months that we were not on the same page.
And I was, honestly, I was resentful and hacked off like, “Can you not get with the program, here? So, you care about kids that aren’t here more than me that is here?” Guys, they feel that way.
And then, in her great wisdom, she said, “Chip, can I ask you a question?” She did it at the right time. I was clothed and in my right mind. I was ready to listen. One of those rare moments. “Can I ask you a question?” “Oh, sure.” She said, “What if twenty-four hours, like, this time tomorrow, you could no longer speak, no longer write, and no longer be a pastor? How would you feel?” Ooh. I never thought of it that way. I’d have to reorient my entire life.
And she looked at me with tears coming down, she goes, “Now you get my life. For thirty years, my world has been around packing lunches, getting kids ready, sports teams, development, school, organizing my world around all the crazy stuff that you do. And I have given my life to that and I have loved it. It has been the most fulfilling thing ever. And I love our kids and I am so excited for them. And I am glad they are out of the house. But my world completely changed. And I am sad and I don’t know what the next season looks like. And I am not sure how to figure it out. And just running around the world with you is not really what I had in mind.”
And I remember, I just, in a rare moment of maturity decided, I am going to shut up. And I am going to give her as much time as she needs and I am not going to make a lot of suggestions. And I am going to respond when she asks a question. And I am going to realize life transitions.
But it’s not just empty nest. The first child, man, that’s a big transition. More than one child: big transition. Coming home from work or going back into work. Big transition. Teenagers: woo! Big transition. You going through your ups and downs. The death of mom or dad: big transition. Mom has got Alzheimer’s. Dad left her. Big transition.
We have got to understand, part of our role in loving the women that God has given us is to be on their team and cooperate with their, both, creativity and transitions.
And then, finally here, in her world. I love this. “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” Notice it doesn’t give the size of dress or if there are any logos. She is clothed with things you can’t see: strength, character, godliness, faith, wisdom, love, compassion. Things that no one can take away and no one can buy. Dignity – she is class.
“She laughs at the days to come,” – why? Because she trusts God. She has a sovereign God. She has developed a faith. She is a woman of the Word. “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
The mouth always speaks from that which fills the heart. This is a woman that is godly. People want to know: “What do you think about this?” And, “Could we meet together?” And, “Could we get tea?” Or, “Could we get coffee?” And, “I’m having a struggle over here,” or, “one of my kids is going through this over here.” People are seeking her out.
“She watches over the affairs of her household and doesn’t eat the bread of idleness.” The application: focus on compliments on her inner character, not simply her external behavior.
In essence, God says her marriage, her work, and her world is a way better place because she is a woman who walks with God, who loves her husband, who runs her home, who works at appropriate times and the appropriate way, who ministers to people, and there is a woman who fears God. And notice her reward, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her.” Words of affirmation. “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Your wife or your mom needs to feel like that. “You surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting.” It’s a shame, but it’s true. There is not enough cream or enough surgeries to keep us the way we want to look. “But a woman who fears God is to be praised.”
Command: “Give her the reward that she has earned,” more than just on one day, “and let her works bring praise at the city gates.” That’s where the action is in Hebrew culture. Private affirmation; public acknowledgment.
God would say, ladies, You are precious and you matter. And it is not based on how you look or what you accomplish. It will be based on who you really are, the kind of person, the kind of woman that is kind and loving and patient and selfless and holy and just.
In the end, our wives, our daughters, our mothers, our grandmas, and our sisters need to know that character is more important than curves; that integrity is more important than influence, likes, and Instagram; that purity is more important than popularity; that godliness is more important than glitter; and that commitment actually is more important than cosmetics; and that love, at the end of the day, will be way more important than looks.
God, the bombardment that these women receive and that our daughters receive is so overwhelming. Will You deliver them? And would You just allow them to grasp how deeply loved, precious, valuable they are, just for who You made them to be?
Would You help us to honor the women in our lives, to be sensitive, to help them be good to themselves, to support them, to praise them, to encourage them, and to love them the way You do? In Jesus’ name, amen.