I have so, so many excerpts and links compiled to share on Marriage Mondays! I haven’t been able to post regularly, though I would really like to. I still think it’s worthwhile to post when I can, and I hope what is shared here is a blessing, despite my inconsistent timing.
There is so much to learn in Reverend Richard Baxter’s Practical Works! They are a delightful resource of not only practical Bible teaching but also a first-hand peek into the history of his time (19th century). The Q & A sections that close each chapter indicate debates within and without the church at that time. History & Theology nerds such as myself have much to feast on in Baxter’s words!
I plan to share his thoughts on marriage fairly regularly for a while, beginning with this:
“[Marriage] is a relation of love that you have entered. God hath made it your duty for your mutual help and comfort: that you may be as willing and ready to succour one another, as the hand is to help the eye or other fellow member, and that your converse may be sweet, and your burdens easy, and your lives may be comfortable. If love be removed but for an hour between husband and wife, they are so long as a bone out of joint; there is no ease, no order, no work well done, till they are restored and set in joint again. Therefore be sure that conjugal love be constantly maintained.” *
Baxter explains here that our duty to each of our husbands – and their respective duty to each of us – is the duty of help and comfort.
I think his metaphor of the human body here displays the ideal working of mutual help and comfort so beautifully!
As The Hand is to Help The Eye
When you get something in your eye, your hand naturally rises to help it, doesn’t it? “As the hand is to help the eye” so should we be to each of our husbands (and each of our husbands to us). The hand doesn’t have to think about helping, does it? It doesn’t evaluate the convenience of moving from its other duties to the face, or evaluate whether the eye deserves its help this time. No, it functions nearly unconsciously, without hesitation, unless it is detained for some unusual reason.
Are we quick to succour our husband – to offer our help, aid, and relief when he needs it?
Are we resentful of – or impatient with – his weaknesses, or do we strive to lovingly complement them with our strengths in ways that encourage him and build him up?
Maybe your husband is forgetful – you could cheerfully and respectfully help him remember.
Maybe your husband is battling a besetting sin, and has times of day or circumstances in which he is more likely to fall – you could intercede for him daily, while you lovingly offer or try to strengthen him during those times, or even adjust the routine so the temptations aren’t so relentless.
Maybe your husband is timid in being the family’s spiritual leader – you could respectfully and lovingly support his attempts to lead, voicing genuine appreciation for the effort and growth you see, while resisting the temptation to nag him.
Maybe your husband lacks a love for God, for the Scripture, for the Church, or for prayer – you could intercede daily for him, while you pursue sacred zeal, love and affection for these things yourself, and submissively display your own love as you live it out in front of your husband, without nagging, deriding, or belittling him.
Maybe your husband struggles to get up in the morning – you could ask him for ways that you can help make his mornings easier. (Want to know a secret? This is one real way my husband helps me! I battle recurring health problems, and mornings can be a huge battle for me, physically. Rather than give in to the temptation to be frustrated with my struggles and the way they sometimes inconvenience him, my husband goes out of his way on days he can tell are especially hard to help me succeed and be encouraged! This is exactly the sort of thing we should be doing for one another!)
We could list pages of practical and spiritual ways you can help your husband. The principle applies very broadly to the whole of our marriage relationship.
Whatever the weakness, let us strive, by God’s grace, to be a help to each of our husbands! To build our husbands up with respectful and loving aid and encouragement.
Let’s pray that God gives us such a heart of love for our husband that helping him is as natural as our hand brushing a speck from our eye.
*Baxter, R., & Orme, W. (1830). The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter: Volume IV (117). London: James Duncan.
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