Category Archives: Honor

Are You an Ezer?

The following is an excerpt from my new book Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband.  My husband David has written the companion volume Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Wife

In our ongoing conversation about honor, it helps to remember that at its core, honor in marriage is a biblical concept. The first mention of marriage in the Bible is between Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. If you want to understand God’s blueprint for marriage, or anything else for that matter, it helps to look through the lenses of what theologians call “original intent.” What did God originally intend for marriage look like?

We see that God’s purpose for creating marriage was to provide companionship. Everything which God had made up to that point was good. But when he looked at Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Something was missing. The Genesis account explains that there was no “suitable helper” for Adam, so God plans His next step: “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

God created a woman from the very stuff of man, his same substance: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:20-24).

The marriage relationship was God’s gift to the humans. Eve was Adams’s companion, but the Bible also calls her his helper. The exact meaning of the word helper has been the source of much confusion and debate for centuries. The word “help” in our English language has evolved into a watered-down version that can mean anything from roadside assistance, to a distress call, to domestic servants.

But in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament the word helper is surprisingly strong. Helper, or ezer, means “to support.” One Hebrew scholar has pointed out that ezer is actually a combination of two roots meaning: “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong.” In its more than twenty uses in the Old Testament, the word ezer is used just twice to refer to the woman. The rest of the time, ezer refers to God as the helper, most often during times of danger or on the battlefield.

So in the Psalms, when David says, “The Lord is with me; He is my helper, I look in triumph on my enemies,” he uses ezer (Psalm 118:7).  The word ezer is also closely related to the Hebrew word for rock, or eben. Thus, the Ebenezer stone mentioned in the Bible is a “stone of support.”

I’ve discovered that an important part of being a wife to a strong husband like David is to be his “rock of support” when everything around him feels like it’s crashing down. When you grasp what it means to be an ezer, you begin to get an image of your role as a rock, not a doormat. Your challenge is to become strong so that you are a source of strength for a husband who will sometimes be weak.

Do you see the powerful imagery here? Think about what it means to be strong like a “rock” for our husbands, for our families, and for our communities. We live in a hurting and broken world.  Lord knows we need more women who are willing to live strong as ezers.

Are We Thirsty for Honor?

It was little more than a year ago that my husband’s beloved basketball coach, University of North Carolina’s legendary Dean Smith, passed away. News of his former coach’s death brought a few tears. It’s been more than forty years since graduation. Yet David says that next to his own father, Smith was the most significant man in his life. He’s not alone. Even superstar Michael Jordan called Smith his “second father.”

Now for the record, I did not attend Carolina like my basketball player-turned-preacher husband. Decades ago, when we first met, I was a University of Georgia grad and a die hard football fan. Basketball, not so much.

But I loved my husband, and I actually grew to love basketball.  And it was hard not to become a fan of his beloved coach. Soon after we started dating, Coach Smith sent me a handwritten note essentially welcoming me to the “Carolina Family.” And when we became engaged, he sent us a gift and another handwritten note.  After we married, we could expect a Christmas card each year with a few hand-written comments in Smith’s familiar scrawl.  Coach Smith remembered my alma mater, my college major, and when children came, he knew each of their names.  He always welcomed a visit from us or from any of his former lettermen and their families. Seriously. Who does that?

I was inspired by the public reaction to Coach Smith’s passing last year. It seemed to me that people expressed a yearning for honorable men like Coach Smith…for role models…and for dads. So I hastily wrote an editorial for our local paper.  Coach Smith’s death, and more importantly, his life, inspired me to give a shout out to all the good guys in our lives. Click here to read the article.

David and I were blessed to have exceptionally good fathers who, like Coach Smith, cared more about their children (and players) than they did themselves. But good dads these days are hard to find. Perhaps we’ve brought it on ourselves. Just watch any television show. Dads are spoofed, maligned, caricatured, and generally disrespected. The message? It’s just not cool to be a good guy any more. If the same treatment were given to moms, you’d spark a revolt. Man-bashing, it would seem, is the new national sport.

I was surprised by the responses to my editorial. A prominent defense attorney in our community sent me a handwritten note, thanking me for writing on the subject of honor. His own dad, he shared, had been an amazing and honorable man. A federal judge and a former bank president weighed in on the subject of honor, as did the former head of our county’s Department of Social Services.  Young moms wrote in to tell me what great husbands they had…and some shared that they wanted to be more intentional to honor their husbands.

And I wondered. Had I touched a nerve? Are we a culture that is thirsty for honor? Perhaps it’s because honor is lacking in many homes. Marriages are breaking up at an alarming rate. Some say that 70% of divorces are now initiated by women.

So when David and I were asked to write on the subject of honor in marriage, it just felt right.  The companion books can be ordered now: Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband and Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Wife.

Our hope is that you will not only read the books, but also join in the conversation.  Is it time to bring honor back?  I wonder what would happen if together we sparked a movement of honor in our homes, our communities, and our culture.  What do you think?  Are we thirsty for honor?

Whatever Happened to Honor?

“I don’t enjoy going to lunch with my work associates as much as I used to,”” my young friend confided over coffee one day. “The conversation always seems to turn into husband-bashing.” She admitted that while her own marriage wasn’t perfect, she tried to respect her husband’s reputation in the eyes of others. “I’m a very transparent person,” she smiled. “So I try to be real. But I don’t want to dishonor my husband. And I want my friends to know I love being married to him.”

As we talked further, she came to the conclusion that it was okay for her be honest with her friends about some of her marriage struggles. She decided she could share a few of the ways she and her husband are working through their issues. But she resolved to do this in a manner that would honor both Christ and her husband. I loved her heart. And knowing my friend, she’ll be a winsome witness to her friends about what it means to have a Christian marriage.

That conversation was just one of many I’ve had with women of all ages and stages over the last few months while working on my soon-to-be-released new book: Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband.  My husband David has written the companion volume for you guys: Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Wife.  I think you’ll discover that honor is something that’s vital for all of us–married or single, young or old.

Honor not a subject you hear much about these days. If anything, we’ve become much more accustomed to disrespect and dishonor. The urban slang for disrespect, or “dis,” has made its way into everyday language. Most any child can tell you what it means to “dis” someone. Or worse, to be “dissed.”

Honor. Simply put, the word means to treat someone with respect or admiration.   It has to do with qualities like honesty, integrity and dignity. The biblical version of honor is much weightier. Even lofty. It conveys the precious nature and worth of the person being honored and is related to words like glory, worship or prize.

I’ve come to believe that deep down inside, most people yearn to be treated with respect. We benefit from both receiving honor and from giving it to others.

God set the bar so low that even a child can show honor. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2,3).  Some refer to this commandment as “the training wheels of honor” ((Exodus 20:12).

A  beautiful thing can happen when children learn to show honor to their earthly parents–they begin to understand the importance of honoring their heavenly Father.

We’re a culture that’s desperately thirsty for honor. Perhaps it’s time to recapture this age-old virtue. We can take the first step by honoring God.  But let’s do so with a sense of reverence and expectancy. For God Himself makes this bold promise: “Those who honor me, I will honor…” (1 Samuel 2:30).