By Jill Miller
Near my kitchen’s glass doors, I placed a few feeders in a tree for birds that like to eat while perched.
Since some birds prefer feeding off the ground, I always make sure to spread some feed on the patio.
On this patio, I’ve observed two very different pairs of birds—the sparrows and the cardinals.
As soon as Mrs. Sparrow landed on the patio, she chirped incessantly and hopped around in more feed than she could eat in a week.
For a little while, Mr. Sparrow quietly ate his feed a few feet away.
Eventually, he hopped over and fed her a few pieces of food.
She barely swallowed the last piece before restarting the chirping and hopping routine.
Mr. Sparrow broke down and came over to feed her again.
Eventually, Mr. Sparrow flew off.
When Mrs. Sparrow noticed, she followed him.
Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal landed on the patio together and ate side-by-side.
As I watched, Mr. Cardinal searched for a specific piece of food and offered it to his “wife.”
Even though Mrs. Cardinal was standing amid the same selection of food and could’ve picked up any piece she wanted, she accepted the morsel from his outstretched beak.
I swear I saw Mrs. Cardinal give him a nod and a chirp of thanks, but that may have been my imagination.
This cycle went on for several minutes before they flew off together.
Now, it’s time for the hard part.
Do You Love Your Spouse Well?
If you are married, which pair of birds best exemplifies your expectations of and interactions with your spouse?
Do you love your spouse like the sparrows or the cardinals?
Use the following questions to help make an honest assessment:
- When your spouse comes home, does he find a nagging woman with a list of demands or one who has been caring for herself, their family, and home while he was gone?
- Would he rather sit in his vehicle in the driveway to avoid the conflict that is likely awaiting him, or is he truly looking forward to seeing you?
- Will you or the dog greet him with more zeal and unconditional love?
- When he selects a practical gift, like a new vacuum, do you receive it in the spirit in which it was given or reluctantly accept it and increase the frequency of hints you drop about something you really want?
If you find you tend to nag like Mrs. Sparrow, consider the following verses from the book of Proverbs.
Bible Verses About How Not to Love Your Spouse
“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” – Proverbs 21:19 NIV
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” – Proverbs 25:24 NIV
“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” – Proverbs 27:15-16 NIV
While proverbs are not promises, they predict the likely outcome of certain behaviors and actions.
This means that most men would prefer not to come home each evening to a whining and nagging wife.
So, what’s the flip side?
Paul’s letter to Titus contains a section that gives God’s design for righteous living to various groups of people, including a succinct list for women.
A Biblical Reason to Love Well
Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. – Titus 2:4-5 NIV
The things in the list are straightforward, but let me share some observations about what these verses can teach us:
1 – Paul assumes older women have become adept at living like this and are passing it on to the younger women in their sphere of influence (v. 4).
2 – This is not merely a list of instructions on how to treat husbands. Kids are part of this, too.
3 – No qualifiers are listed for men or children. We don’t get a pass when our families don’t act like or do the things we expect.
4 – Living by God’s design points others to Him rather than giving an excuse to shun Him (v. 5).
The same principles apply to singles as well! While you may not have a husband or children, you likely have family members to interact with and can implement these guidelines.
How we interact with others sends a message to those around us.
It either draws them to God or gives a bad impression of what it’s like to follow Him.
Inspired and Empowered to Love Your Spouse
Watch for the birds God brings across your path.
When you see a sparrow or cardinal, remember what He showed you through this article.
Take a few moments to reassess which bird you’re most like.
Honest assessment is hard, but putting these things into practice is even more difficult.
Each day will be a challenge to:
- Love your family unconditionally.
- Maintain self-control and pure thoughts when they say and do irritating things.
- Continually cook, clean, and carpool without any thanks or recognition.
- Refrain from repeating their foibles, faults and failures to others.
- Submit to your husband even when he isn’t acting like the knight-in-shining-armor you married.
But when you do these things in the strength of the Holy Spirit, not only will it be pleasing to God, but others will notice.
This will give you an opportunity to share the biblical reason why you choose to respond differently.
For one practical starting tool to cultivate a habit of building up your spouse, sign up for this free 30-day husband encouragement challenge from Revive our Hearts Ministries.
After using her math and computer skills in the health insurance industry for more than 30 years, God granted Jill’s desire to retire early. She now uses her God-given skills in volunteer ministry opportunities. In her spare time, Jill likes to be physically active to balance out her love for cooking and baking. She also enjoys crossword puzzles and watching the birds and other critters God brings to her feeder.