I feel the need to remind everyone again that stewardship is the taking care of something that is not yours to begin with. That is, whatever you have been given stewardship over was given to you by someone else, as it belongs to someone else. We’ve already seen that God gives us certain resources to manage: time, money, jobs, technology, our bodies, and many others we’ll learn about in the coming weeks.
Well, your spouse (if you have one) is also on loan to you from God. It was God that gave Adam his wife in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says in proverbs, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.” But this verse does not speak of a man actively searching high and low for a wife. No, in this case, it implies stumbling upon a wife the way you might stumble upon a wallet on the ground filled with $100 bills. You should find your spouse at the God-appointed time, and it’s in your best interest to marry the one He makes you stumble upon.
Spouses serve several functions in our lives. They serve as companionship because God saw that it was not good for a man to be alone…so He created Eve. Our spouses serve as helpers in this life to lighten the load and ease the burden. We know this because after God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, He stated He would create a help meet for him. In other words, God would create a spouse for Adam that was able to help Adam in what he was called on by God to do. That’s a very important aspect to keep in mind as we look into this a bit more in a moment.
In Genesis 1:28, we see that spouses are necessary for procreation…the making of babies. First Corinthians 7:1-5 and the entire Song of Solomon also shows us that God created spouses for recreation…that is…bonding both physically and emotionally. There really are only two reasons for intimacy with our spouse and that is for babies and bonding. Outside of those two reasons, you border on the improper use of your spouse, or the gift of intimacy.
Remember I said that Proverbs 18:22 did not imply actively searching for a wife? Let me begin to explain why that is, and how it relates to the stewardship of our spouse. Paul, in 1st Corinthians 7:27 tells men that if they are not married, to NOT seek a wife. Now, again, Proverbs 18:22 gives the implication of stumbling upon a spouse at the God appointed time (when He favors you). Why would Paul, and Proverbs both tell us not to actively search for a spouse, but gladly receive one at the God-appointed time? Because your spouse should be a helper suitable (meet) for what it is that God has called you to do. Your spouse should have in their heart, a ready desire to SHARE you with those responsibilities that God has called you to undertake for Him.
Do you have any idea what is one of the biggest detriments to someone being wholly committed to serving God in the capacity to which they were called? It’s a family. Now God did not ordain the family if it was designed to be a detriment to the furtherance of His work on this Earth. Rather, a family, namely a spouse, is supposed to be the one to bear the burdens necessary to allow the other to wholly submit and do the will of God in their lives. A case in point is the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31. If you study that passage out, she is actively doing twenty different things related to caring for her home, children, and husband. You know what he’s doing? He’s sitting among the elders of the land. He’s got a calling that keeps him away from home. Who knows for how long, but his work has him out of the house. But he doesn’t worry about the home, because she’s got it all under control, and willingly doing so in order that her husband may fulfill his calling. In return, he praises her. He thanks her. He lifts her up.
Sadly today, how many spouses are willing to give up their mates to the Lord’s work? It was happening back in Paul’s day. In 1st Corinthians 7:7-8 & 29 Paul states that it is better to not be married. Why? The answer is found in verses 32-34, “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth fort the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit: But she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”
It’s going to be a husband’s natural tendency to want to take care of his wife and family. That can easily distract him from doing the will of God in his life. But how many wives do you think cultivate the desire in their husband to care for the family first and put God’s will second? This group probably far outnumbers the number of wives willing to be like the virtuous woman and take on all that responsibility at home while her husband spends hours, days, weeks, or even months away from home in God’s service.
When John Adams married his wife Abigail, he was 29 and she was 20. It’s been estimated that over the subsequent decades, they were separated more time than they were together. During the time Adams was in Philadelphia forging a Declaration of Independence to sever ties with England, Abigail was back home on the family farm in Massachusetts dealing with flu, small pox, measles, a very sick child named Thomas, among many other toils and cares. Later on, while war was raging in Massachusetts, Adams again left his family with an uncertain future and attended the Second Continental Congress. Then, he went to Paris to serve as a diplomat with Benjamin Franklin. He returned home to become the nation’s first vice president and eventually would become president. For all Abigail did for him all those years, when he became president he begged Abigail to join him in Washington, stating, “I can do nothing without you.” Wow, she won the praise of her husband that remains spoken about to this day, and all her “virtuous woman” work all those years did no less than what Adams did to make America what it is today.
So what’s happening today? Spouses are lacking the faith necessary to fully allow the other to pursue their God-called plan for their lives. Those ministers may easily shift their focus from God to their own family at even the slightest of sighs and eye-rolls when a ministerial duty is recognized. “You’re going out again?!?! SIGH!!!” That’s what’s going on today. Wives don’t see themselves as helpers in their husband’s call to the ministry. They see themselves as being abandoned. Not all feel that way. And the same can be said for the husbands. They too may lack faith in God to preserve their family and marriage in their absence. They may cave in to thoughts like, “Will my wife become bitter?” “Will my children become wayward and suffer in my absence?” This all goes right back to 1st Corinthians 7:32-34. Our families can become a detriment to the fulfilling of God’s calling in our lives.
So, between Proverbs telling us it’s a good thing to find a wife, and Paul telling us not to seek a wife, the reasons are clear within the context of spousal stewardship. If you WAIT for the God-appointed time when you will receive your God-determined spouse, it will be the best case scenario for you to fulfill your God-called ministry despite having a family. Why? Because like God did for Adam, you will be given a spouse that is a help meet for you. That is, a helper that is suited for you and for what God has called you to do. They will possess the qualities, characteristics, temperament, personality, and gifts needed to sustain and endure while you pursue your calling in life, regardless of where it takes you.
Remember, every good gift comes from God. A spouse falls into that category. And like every gift, it belonged to someone else before we got to use it. So if you are a spouse who is having trouble reconciling the fact that your mate is legitimately busy being about the Lord’s work, remember, it’s your responsibility to SHARE them with the others that God has called them to minister to. Your willingness to do that is no less important and no less consequential than the work your spouse is doing directly. Do you think Abigail Adams had any idea what the lasting impact of her husband’s work would be? But what if she was contentious instead of virtuous? What if she made life so unbearable for her husband John, that he gave up the cause for independence and returned home to help his struggling wife? Would God have raised someone else up to do the work John Adams was supposed to have done to create an independent America? If the answer to that last question is “no,” then where would we be today? So think on this…if God has called your spouse to minister in some capacity, but you won’t let your spouse be wholly committed to what God wants them to do, what will happen to those people whom God is counting on your spouse to minister to? Will He raise up someone else? What if God doesn’t? Where will those people be years from now? What impact will never be realized centuries from now?
There are countless spouses in the world today sacrificing fully, putting themselves and their needs second so that the work of the Lord can be fulfilled through their mates. That is the essence of spousal stewardship. Your spouse belongs to you, but was God’s first. You are to SHARE them with those whom God put them on this earth to minister to. If you study the parable of the Good Steward in Luke 12, you’ll see that he was expected to dole out the master’s possessions to those in need without a thought of himself. But God promises to bless the faithful steward (Luke 12:42). But you’ll only be blessed to the same extent that you are willing to SHARE (Luke 6:38).