John Fuller: Have you ever wondered why God brings men and women who are so different together in marriage? Well, today’s speaker is Dr. Walt Larimore and he offers a different perspective how we complete one another.
Dr. Walt Larimore: She and he are perfectly matched. She is a superlatively dovetailed ally for him. She is his God-designed accomplice and comrade.
End of Excerpt
John: Well, Walt’s ideas about marriage came from some personal in-depth study of the Scriptures. And we heard some of his insights last time. We have more from him today on Focus on the Family and your host is Focus president Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, no two people are the same. I know for Jean and I, we’re different people, too, probably like you and Dena.
John: We are different.
Jim: And I believe that Walt Larimore is right on the money. Those differences are God-designed, even if they sometimes frustrate us. It might mean He’s frustrating us for a reason. Let me recap the most important points Walt shared. Um, he said in the Creation account in the book of Genesis, if you look at the original Greek language, it says Adam was formed, but Eve was built – the same word used for the intricate architecture of God’s Temple. You might say she was handcrafted by God. Walt also referred to the New Testament, 1 Peter 3:7 in the King James version, which says, “Husbands dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Walt pointed out that the phrase “weaker vessel” is not referring to something substandard, but something like fine china. In modern secular Greek, the word describes valuable and fragile artwork and he’ll continue that analogy today as we listen. If you missed part one last time, get in touch with us, because there are so many great nuggets of wisdom here. We can send you the entire message on CD or audio download, so you can hear it again or hear it for the first time.
John: Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or online we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And here’s our former colleague, Dr. Walt Larimore, a respected physician, author and speaker, as he was giving a message at a conference that we hosted here at Focus on the Family for physicians and their spouses.
Walt: Do you see, men of clay, that you’ve been commissioned by your Father in heaven to be the curator, the caretaker, the preserver of an art gallery? An art gallery that holds one of His most precious art pieces, one that He designed for you, and that He gave for you, your spouse. The owner of this art gallery, men, holds you responsible for her care. He holds us responsible for caring for her. It’s such an incredible job. It’s such an important commission. It’s such a wonderful and magnificent calling, that if we don’t do it, if we refuse as an act of our will, to carry that out. If we let dust gather on that artwork that he designed for us, Peter tells us that the Father will not talk to us. I mean look at what he says. Value her “as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” Your woman is designed to respond to you, to respect you, to have an extremely high regard for this type of man. The type of man that will honor and value her, is one that she is designed to respond to, she’s designed to react to a real man.
How does the world describe a “real” man? This is a story that may indicate how most of the world describes a real man. A passenger plane was being pounded by a raging storm. The terrified passengers screamed certain of their imminent death. A young woman jumped up and exclaimed, “I can’t take this. I won’t die like an animal, strapped into a chair. If I must perish let me die feeling like a real woman, and who here is a real man, manly enough to make me feel like a real woman?” Well, immediately, from up front, a strapping brute of a man, handsome, smiled, and began to stroll back to her. As he approached, he tore off his shirt, his huge muscles rippling dramatically in the flashes of lightning, and he stood before her, shirt in hand and said, “Here, iron this.”
Walt: Not! Wrong!
Men, if Scripture is correct, your woman was not designed to be your servant. She is not designed to serve you. She is designed to co-serve God with you. Your ministry cannot be what God intends your ministry to be without her. And guys, I’ve got some really bad news for you, because you are commanded to love her, and she is not commanded to love you.
Look at the Scripture. Turn in your Bibles to the 5th chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. In Paul’s marriage manual to the church, God’s divinely inspired words on balancing faith and your family. This is what he says: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory having no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.”
Men, Paul commands us to “agape” our wives the same way Christ “agapes” us. Men, when we are moody, Christ “agapes” us. When we rebel and do not honor Him, Christ “agapes” us. When we reject His approaches, or spurn His appeals, or deny Him intimacy with us, Christ “agapes” us. Guys, the bar is set very, very high, indeed. We are to love our wives the way Christ loves us. We are to love her more than our own bodies, more than our work, more than our own hobbies, more than our sports events, our cars or trucks, even more than our golf clubs, fishing rods, hunting equipment, or remote control.
Walt: Not only are we to “agape” her, but we’re to nourish and cherish her, and the Greek word that is translated “nourish” gives us a wonderful picture of our responsibilities in honoring our wives. The Greek word is “ektrepho,” and it means “to rear up to maturity, to train, to build up, to nourish.” Do you want to know how to nourish her? Do you want to know how to nourish your wives? Well, there’s at least 40 ways in Scripture, that Scripture tells us how we can nourish our wives.
Now, in Scripture, they’re called the “one another” verses. And I believe the wise man will look up the “one another” verses, and study them, and begin to practice them. These verses tell us, not only what to do with and for one another, but they tell us how to care for, and how to nourish our wives. These verses tell us to be at peace with our wives, to be devoted to our wives, to encourage our wives, to build up our wives, to serve our wives, and to honor our wives, to greet our wives with a holy kiss. We are told to not provoke or envy our wives. We’re commanded to forgive whatever grievances we have against our wives. We’re told to make our love increase and overflow for our wives, to be patient with our wives, and to bear with our wives, not be a “bear” with our wives. (chuckle) We’re commanded to wash their feet, to live in harmony with them, to stop judging them, to instruct them and teach them, and to speak to them with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.
Men, do you want to know how to do this? Do you want to take the first step towards nourishing your wife? Now I guarantee you, 100%, that this will work. Are you sure you want to know? Just ask her. It’s simple. Just ask her. She’d be delighted to regale you with countless examples of how you’ve come up short…
Walt: …But she’d also be delighted to encourage you with countless ways that you could succeed in this area. You would honor her just by asking her. Just by sincerely wanting to know, and you’d bless her by asking for her forgiveness for not nourishing her. Men, you’d bless her by beginning today to nourish her, and when you nourish her, she’s free and compelled, only then, to nourish in return.
And Paul tells us, not only to nourish our wives, but he also tells us to cherish our wives, and the Greek word here is “thalpo.” This is a word that’s literally translated “cherish,” but it also means, literally, “to brood or to warm.” Now, those of you raised in the city probably don’t know what is meant by the term “brooding.” You think of it as having a depressed mood or being deeply moody. But, primarily, it’s an agrarian term that’s used to describe, for example, a bird sitting on eggs to incubate them, or it’s a word that can be used to describe a mother or a father bird gathering their young to their down-covered chest, and covering them with their wings to protect them, to warm them. It’s a sacrificial and loving way to protect the precious from the elements.
John: Well, today on Focus on the Family we’re hearing from physician and speaker, Dr. Walt Larimore, and in a few moments he’ll provide some really good relationship building ideas that you can try with your spouse tonight. And we have a CD of this entire presentation. We’re making that available when you contribute a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today when you call 800-A-FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and hear more now from Dr. Walt Larimore.
Walt: What Scripture teaches us about men and how our women were designed, and built, and created, and how we should protect them, and nourish them, and cherish them, and love them. That, which is not instinctual to us, guys. That which has been withered by the world and the flesh and the Devil was obvious, was obvious to the first man, Adam.
Turn back, if you would, to Genesis 2:22. Moses records God’s presentation of the woman to the man, when he awoke, and in verse 23, he records Adam’s response. Now in Hebrew, transliterated to English, it goes something like this, according to my Hebrew scholar friend. “Wow. My, oh my, oh my, oh my. Right in the nick of time. This feminine, sexy work of art is awesome. This special one is my other, to be part of me, to complete me, strong where I’m weak, weak where I am strong, my match, my perfect match, this masterpiece shall be called my “’ishshah,” for she completes me, her “’ish.’” In our transliteration, it’s toned down just a bit. “This is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. She’ll be called Woman, because she was taken out Man.”
But I hope you’re beginning to see the meaning and richness here. The expression “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” refers not to the woman as a secondary creature taken from the primary man, but it refers to a total and complete relationship, the jewel of creation. This woman is not just a physical, anatomical, biologic resemblance to man. She is part of him. She is bone and flesh with him, and without her, he is as a bone without a muscle, or a muscle without bone. They are stronger and more effective together.
But, something else very dramatic happens in this verse. The language of Scripture here takes a dramatic term, because up to this point of time in Scripture, it is talked about man as the “ha’adam,” the human being, the man, if you would. He’s been alone. He’s been incomplete, but now that he has been presented by God, that which God designed and built and created to complete him, he changes, because Scripture now calls him the “ha’ish.” And this term describes man with very particular roles, for he is now assigned by His creator the role of husband and mate, partner and protector, provider and priest for what was designed to be his most valuable and honored belonging, his woman, whose name also changes now to his “ha’ishshah.” The word for man, as husband, protector, provider, priest, used here in Scripture for the first time, is derived from terms that mean “to blaze ahead, to lead, to protect,” and the word used for woman, his wife, here for the first time, is a word that describes “delicateness, elegance, value, and preciousness.” So, Moses tells us in a very clever way, both the differentiation of function and the oneness of man and woman, husband and wife. Now in a new community, a new oneness of purpose, a relationship of exchange, and sharing with a reciprocity of needs, and a mutuality of responsible concerns. This antique narrative is as fresh as today’s science. It points to both the ideal monogamy, and the ideal of monogamy.
Let’s wrap up our time together. I want to be able to give you a couple of homework assignments about this wonderful picture that our Father has put together for us. Through the pen of Moses, He teaches us that our wife is our “Wow. My, oh, my, oh, my, oh, my, oh, my.” She’s the final, supreme act of creation.
She was built and designed by your Creator for you, and she was presented to him. Man’s first response to his woman should become our own. I mean you should be able to look at your wife now, and go, “Wow! My, oh, my, oh, my.”
Men, she’s not your menial. She’s not your servant. She’s not your domestic helper. She’s the queen of all your earthly gifts. She’s been designed, and if you properly value and treasure and nourish and treasure her, if you cherish her, if you allow God to use you to honor her, He will use you two, together, in incredible ways, that you’ve never seen. Ways that you cannot even imagine if you begin today to honor her. You can do it. You must do it.
Well, here’s your three homework assignments for today. When Barb and I have friends that get married, we buy them a beautiful, but empty box, and in that, we place a piece of prose. It goes like this: “Most people get married believing a myth. They believe that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for. They believe the box is full of companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, and friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take something out. There’s no love in marriage. Love is in people, and people put it in marriage. There’s no romance in marriage. People have to infuse it into their marriages. A couple must learn this art, this form of the habit of giving, the habit of loving, of serving, and of praising. It’s up to you, as a couple, to keep your box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.”
So, here’s your first homework assignment. Husbands and wives, start looking for that empty box. Find it and purchase it. Maybe it’ll even be a silver box. Use it as a marriage altar. Use it as a reminder of this mountaintop week here at Focus on the Family, and fill it daily with “one anothers.” Let it remind you, men, to love and nourish and cherish your wife. Use it as a memorial to your marriage.
Here’s your second homework assignment. I want to tell about one of the most special gifts that you’ll get here this week at Focus on the Family. It’s called the “marriage barometer,” and it’s free. It will tell you, in an instant, two things. The first thing your marriage barometer will tell you is, it’ll tell you what your marriage condition is on a scale of one to 10. Remember, the average barometer shows four, or sometimes three, right? So, the first thing it’ll do is it’ll tell you the condition of your marriage on a one to 10 scale. One is awful, and 10 is heaven. The second thing the marriage barometer will tell you is, precisely and concisely, the exact steps that you need to take, to move your marriage condition up the scale. You don’t have to go to the bookstore to get this gift. She’s sitting right next to you.
Walt: Men, if you have the guts, here’s your homework assignment for this afternoon, today. Sit down with
your marriage barometer, and ask her to rate your marriage, and listen very carefully and very sensitively to what she says. If it’s not 10 out of 10, then listen to how she will tell you, explicitly and precisely, how you can, just one step at a time, improve that. Bottom line, “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…”
Walt: “…Especially the Lord.” Honor her and honor Him, by using the barometer that she is.
Here’s your last homework assignment. This will just take a couple of minutes. I want to give each of you men, a chance, an opportunity to declare your willingness – not that whether you’ve done it – but your willingness to honor and value, your willingness to nourish and cherish your wife, God’s especially designed gift. I call this the “Wow! My, oh, my, oh, my covenant.” Now some of you may not feel like doing this, and I’m not asking you to feel like doing this. And I’m not asking you to feel like doing it.
Walt: I’m serious. Agape love isn’t a love that always feels like loving, but it always loves, because agape love is love in action, not in word. It is a decision of the will to love, even when loving is tough. And agape love will result in feelings. I mean fantastic feelings. Don’t forget the command of 1 Peter 3:7. This is the Larimore version. “Okay, men, listen up. Live with your wife in an understanding way, as with someone incredibly unique and special. She is a woman, and right now, as a matter of faith, show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers, your ministry, your effectiveness in God’s kingdom will not be hindered.”
So, to do this, I’m going to ask God’s gift to me, Barb, to come forward, and join me on the stage, and as she’s coming up, let me tell you what we’re going to be doing together. Men, as an act of faith and obedience, I’m going to ask you to join me in making a new declaration of love and commitment to your wife.
So, those of you with your wife, let me ask you, if you would now turn to her, and hold her hand in yours, and let’s, together, honor our wives by pledging our commitment to them. Will you please repeat, to them, after me? “I now know you are a precious work of art. You were designed to balance me. You are strong where I am weak, and weak where I am strong. You are my perfectly created match. You are a masterpiece. You are called ‘ishshah.’ You complete me, your ‘ish.’ I commit, today in front of these witnesses, to love you as long as I live. I will love you as Christ loves His church. I will start today, on a daily basis, to honor you, to nourish you, and to cherish you, till death do us part.” Gentlemen, you may kiss your bride.
Walt: (kiss sound) Okay, enough of that.
Walt: You can finish that assignment later this evening. Do you see now, how honoring and valuing her can balance your marriage? And, men, if you will do this, God will act. If you will honor your marriage, He will spiritually balance you and your family, and through spiritually balanced families, He can balance churches and communities, and, men, if He starts with us, He can balance our country, morally and spiritually, but it starts with us to value them and to teach our children, and to teach our grandchildren these eternal, ageless principles that He has taught us.
John: Well, this is Focus on the Family and we’ve been listening to Dr. Walt Larimore as he addressed a group of physicians and their spouses.
Jim: John, Walt perfectly summed up our mission here at Focus on the Family and that is to help families thrive, both in their marriage and parenting relationships and hopefully, in Jesus Christ as the foundation. And I hope today’s show has inspired you to treasure your marriage and give it the time and attention it deserves. Let me quickly recap what we said to wives last time. If you have a Christian husband, Walt recommends giving him this CD, but let him listen to it alone and let the Holy Spirit tell him how to act upon it. And we want to make that CD available to you for a donation of any amount. Help us cover the cost, maybe not just for yours, but for someone who can’t afford it. And if you’re not married to a Christian man, Walt says, “Don’t give him the CD, but instead, pray for him every day.” I like that advice, too. If that’s the case for you, visit our website for a free audio download of an inspirational broadcast with Patricia Ashley that will really encourage you.
John: Yeah, regardless of how tough it might be in your relationship, Patricia explains how her marriage went from dead to thriving and you’ll find that encouragement at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And let me remind you, if your marriage is on the ropes, we have hope for you. Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored is a four-day intensive experience that is saving marriages every day. And they use a unique, holistic counseling approach that combines the heart, the mind and a couple’s faith. Best of all, Hope Restored has an over 80% success rate and this measure is taken two years after their time at Hope Restored. Here’s one example from a wife and she said: “This is a second marriage for both of us, so we came to Hope Restored with a tremendous amount of hurt, pain and distrust, not to mention the challenges of being a blended family. Our counselors were heaven sent, gentle and sensitive to God’s direction. My message to others is this: no marriage is too far gone for God. Never give up.”
John: Now what an encouragement that comment is.
Jim: It is, John. Blended families can be so challenging and that’s just one example of how Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored is saving marriages and families. But we can’t do this on our own. We need your support. Please consider making a donation today and join our marriage-saving team.
John: You can be a part of the good things that we’re doing here with God’s help every day when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or donate online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast and request your copy of this two-part message from Dr. Walt Larimore. And when you’re online with us be sure to look for our free marriage assessment. It’s a great little tool. It takes just a few minutes to fill out. I think you’ll find it illuminating. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.