When Good Doesn't Come Naturally
by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, June 2016~Volume 16, Number 3
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Part 3
Proverbs 31:12 states that the Virtuous Woman will do her husband good and not evil all the days of her life.
Many young girls reading this verse think perhaps this sounds like a very easy task. They imagine a sort of knight in shining armor who comes to sweep them off their feet and whisk them to a wonderful land of romance and togetherness where they only desire to do this brave, kind man good and never evil….or maybe they just expect a good Christian young man to come calling, and that since they both love Christ, doing him good will sort of just come naturally.
I hate to say that this doesn’t always come naturally. Is it always natural for you to be kind to your siblings who may also love the Lord? Is it easy to look always on the good of your dear parents who have sacrificed so much and given so much for you, and to honor, obey, or submit to their way when you have feelings that differ or you think you have a better idea? No. It is not easy at all—even when you know it is right to do it! It takes God working in our hearts and us working in our minds to do our husband (and others) good all the days of our lives.
And “all the days of your life” could well include today even if you are not married, for as you keep your heart with all diligence; desire to learn and practice God’s virtuous way; embrace pure, good, honest, lovely, true, just thoughts; serve the Lord with gladness; give thanks in everything; learn to work willingly with your hands; pray without ceasing; adorn your heart with a meek and quiet spirit; and honor your father and mother...you are doing your future husband good all the days of your life—even the days before you ever may meet him face to face.
Doing good means doing good in our actions to our husband and to others regarding him, but it is more than that. Doing good means speaking in a way that is honoring when he is present or absent, but it is also more than that. Doing good means choosing only to think on the thoughts regarding our husband that are good—thinking the best of him and letting hurts go quickly through forgiveness, guarding against a bitter root which soon grows an ugly shoot!
A helpful, practical verse to remember is “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
It is often easy and natural for us to be good to those who are kind to us. Yet, if we do good to those who do good to us, what thank have we? For sinners also do even the same. (Luke 6:33) Often misunderstandings, fatigue, and irritation can bring about hurtful times and then it becomes much harder to respond in love. Sometimes we are hurt in relationships as a result of our own selfishness, laziness, carelessness, inconsideration, or even our poor timing. We have to learn to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness even if the person didn’t respond beautifully to our wrong deed, thought, look, or word.
One day I said a harsh comment to one of my sons. I don’t even remember the context or the wrong doing, but just that I had felt pushed and pushed beyond measure and finally, after enduring for what seemed quite a long time, I spewed an unkind sort of rebuke. I then decided to leave the area and take a walk and speak with God. I felt God showing me the unkindness and ugliness of my own words. What about all the wrong doing on the other’s part, I questioned? I was reminded that I was responsible for my own behavior regardless of how “wrong” another may have been, and I knew I actually had to apologize. That was more than I could bear almost, but I knew that my doing good to others had nothing to do with their doing good to me, so I opened the door and found my son and quickly but sincerely apologized for my outburst.
It is very difficult to not keep a record of wrongs—to keep a sort of score...your wrong was so much more than my little one—but rather to require a kind and tender heart to forgive as Christ forgave me from such a huge debt that I could never repay. It is a trick too, to expect anything in response to your apology. Your apology is your apology and has nothing to do with how the other responds. Sometimes you secretly think they will say, “Yes. I forgive you, and I, too, am sorry for my great wrong doing which was much more than yours.” And you feel sort of shorted when one responds, “Okay. I guess I forgive you.” Really, you must guard against expectations beforehand, and then do things unto the Lord and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord you shall receive your reward and God sees and knows all.
We must not be like the servant who owed so much and was forgiven his debt only to go out and demand repayment of the one who owed him so little. You may say, “Well, the one who has wronged me is the one who owes much and I have done so little, so it is the other way around.” Remember your debt is not how little you have done wrong to that person, but rather the debt of your entire sin in thought and action that you owed to God, and He forgave you on the basis of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for you in His blood on the cross if you have accepted this gift. All debts others owe to you are little in comparison….so very little. And we are not responsible for another’s wrongs—only for our response to them.
(There are also some times we think something to be a wrong, but later find out it was appropriate. We must leave the judging to the only One Who judges righteously and instead do to others as we would have them do to us—good. Just like the Virtuous Woman who does her husband good...all the days of her life.)
A busy wife and mother carves a few moments out of the demands of her day to steal away and sew a new dress for a poor family who she is cooking a dinner to bring to. She is busy at her task when she looks up to see her husband’s angry face as he enters the room. He speaks harsh words with a mean look and is not happy with what she is doing at the minute, but she didn’t know beforehand that there was anything left for her to attend to. Her responsibilities were complete. She was actually doing well, but still received ridicule for it. This is another time of the “all the days of her life” that a virtuous woman does her husband good. All means all—when her husband is kind and when he is not. And what does “doing good” entail here?
Is it good enough that she was doing well and then had to suffer for it, if she were to then just sulk away in self-pity without a word? It would seem good that she was able to hold her tongue at least, but friend, God’s calling and standards are very high indeed. There are times that we are to do well; suffer for it; and take it patiently! Yes, indeed, also take it patiently, for this is acceptable or well pleasing to God. (1 Peter 2:20) In fact, I still am amazed that to this very task we are actually called, for the next verse says that “hereunto were ye called.” (1 Peter 2:21). So that is our calling, not only as wives doing our husbands good, but as Christians doing good unto all men (specially unto the household of faith), then suffering for it at times (yes, suffering for doing good), and then additionally taking it patiently! The verse goes on to say that this is our calling because Christ suffered for us and left us an example that we should follow His steps. Wow! Doesn’t that really change it for us? We actually are allowed the privilege to follow Christ’s steps.
Like many good things, this is not easy, but we have His example to look to. The passage continues by showing His example: “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22-25)
He leads us! We follow the Shepherd and Bishop—follow His example—all the days of our lives, resting in the Shepherd’s great ability to lead even us, for we falter in our ability to follow, but He never falters in His ability to lead!
While salvation is a one-time looking to and putting our trust in Christ alone through faith alone saved by grace alone, our looking to Him to follow His example is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute, thought-by-thought endeavor. We looked at the power of our thoughts the last time in becoming a reliable refuge for our husband’s heart to trust in, and our thoughts again are a battlefield here where we wage the war to do our husband good and not evil all the days of our lives.
I recently heard my husband make a wonderful comparison to our children about leading their thoughts captive. With an election year in full swing, much has been said about illegal immigration and the problems with our border. Some have been promising to build a fence and most all were promising to shore up the border, stopping the trickle or flow across it, and instead making prospective candidates go through a legal screening process. This is exactly what we must do in our minds. We must weigh each thought throughout the day and cast out the unlawful thoughts, not letting them slip through our guard and only allow the thoughts through that have been carefully screened and that line up with God’s Word—the obedience of Christ. We must build or rebuild our own fence in our minds and monitor it carefully. To win the war in our minds takes good border patrol! How is your fence looking?
This doing good to our husbands all the days of our lives while not keeping a record of wrong (as Christ is our example) has far-reaching effects, even possibly winning him when he is not obeying the Word just by the behavior of the wife—her chaste conduct coupled with fear. (1 Peter 3:1) It also has the effect of being well pleasing unto God, which is our heart’s real desire and longing. We who have received mercy and know its great joy ought also to joyfully bestow mercy and do our husbands good—good and not evil all the days of our lives—which means for us today, for such does the Virtuous Woman.
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