As we work through what it means to be an excellent wife, we keep hitting one truth over and over. Being an "excellent wife," in almost every respect, means being an "excellent person." You are told to be kind, but so is your husband. You are told to be gentle, but so is your husband. You are told to fear God, but so is your husband. You are told to be wise, but so is your husband. 

Eventually, you get down to the real battle. Who goes first? Who has to "be gentle" first? Who has to "be wise" first? Who "gets to be selfish" while the other one practices graciousness?

This is a false question, because it presumes that someone is "supposed to be first." I have heard preachers say "if men would just be what they are supposed to be, women would naturally follow." I have been in classes where we men were told that it was "up to us" to be first. Why? Given how often we disobey and ignore God, who is the greatest of all husbands, who thinks that a man's obedience is going to somehow cause a wife to quit being who she is.

The Bible never suggests that one person's obedience to God depends on someone else "going first." God expects you to do what you are supposed to do. You are not at a stop sign waiting for the next driver to take his turn, you are traveling a road at high speed and you had better do what you are required to do. "He has to stop first" is not a good rule for drivers or for wives.

Besides, how would you decide that he had "already gone first" if that is your standard? Too many wives will say that what a husband does somehow determines what they do. "He makes me so mad," they will say, not realizing that they are confessing their own weakness. What if he is "getting wiser" but is not yet "fully wise?" Does that excuse your failure? What if he is wise for several days and then does something foolish, does that allow you to do something foolish in return?

Finally, who made you the judge? 

This is what it comes down to in many marriages. The husband and wife sit as judges of one another's righteousness or one another's maturity. They each decide how to behave based on how they feel about what the other one did that morning. She will cook a nice meal if he sends her flowers, but if he forgets her birthday he can just eat hot dogs. She will clean up the kitchen if he was sweet about going to a children's event, but will stay in bed stewing if he complained or didn't go. 

These wives have decided that they can ignore God and punish their husbands because they have taken God's seat as the judge. Remember that scripture says we are not allowed to take our vengeance on others. We are not allowed to punish our husbands because they failed at something.

God punishes. Excellent wives love their husbands. 

Who goes first? You do. Because God's command to you is to love your husband. And your desire is to please God.

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