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A Virtuous Bride

By Watchman | October 6, 2011

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”       Revelation 19:7.

I officiated at two weddings over the last couple of weeks.  Listening to the vows the new couples made to each other and re-reading the Scriptures presented at the ceremonies, I began to wonder if the “bride” and “wives” passages of the Bible referred only to women in the traditional marriage of a man and woman, or if in these words God was telling us–the church–what He expects of those of us who refer to ourselves as the Bride of Christ.  I expect it is more difficult for men to contemplate this, as few can easily identify themselves with the “bride” passages; yet if there is any validity in the idea, then men as well as women need to take a fresh look at how the Bible characterizes a good wife and decide if we all need to be applying these standards to our lives in Christ.

The first reference we have to marriage in Scripture occurs in the second chapter of Genesis, with the creation of Adam and Eve:

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And Adam said:  “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Just as Adam and Eve became one in spirit, so we are to become one in spirit with the Father when we come to Him at the time of our profession of faith in our salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus.  Too often the tendency is to believe that the union ends when we  first repent of our sins and accept Christ.  While my intention is not to enter the “Can one ever lose their salvation?” debate here, it must be noted that God has set some pretty high standards for those who would call themselves by His name.  Are we really trying our best to live up to these standards and to be worthy of the fine linen in which we will approach the marriage supper of the Lamb?  Proverbs 12:4 tells us that “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Most married couples can tell you that becoming an excellent wife is not easy.  It takes work, love, commitment and constant vigilance.

Who can find a virtuous wife?  For her worth is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.  She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.  She is like merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.  She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.  She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.  She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.  She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.  She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.  She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy….Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.  She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.   (Prov. 31: 10-20, 25-27)

Wow!  If you read this passage carefully, you will see that it is an incredibly high standard for any human being  to achieve and maintain.  I believe that God is calling all of us to be vigilant and virtuous brides. According to a footnote in my Bible, in Hebrew this form of “virtuous wife” which we see in verse 10 literally means “a wife of valor” in the sense of all forms of excellence.  We are all to be brides who are faithful, industrious and generous to the poor.  We are to advance the kingdom of the Bridegroom by our very natures and examples.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands… (1 Peter 3:1)

In our society, submission is looked upon as a show of weakness and inferiority–hence the extreme resistance to following God displayed by so many people today.  However, submission as it is looked upon by God by no means demands that one has to quash one’s personality, or have no opinions or thoughts of one’s own.  It does not mean blind obedience to the sometimes unreasonable or even vicious temperament of another.  In a Christian marriage, a submissive wife will not follow her husband into sin, but will be ready to accept his spiritual headship and to help him carry it through.  Are we submitting ourselves before our Bridegroom?  Are we rejecting our fleshly desires and our lusts for money, power, popularity or adulation in deference to His will?  Are we being obedient to Him, and are we being faithful to Him and Him alone as long as we live?  If we are to be His bride, we must behave as His wife must.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.  (1 Peter 3-4)

This too must be a admonition for us all.  As the bride of Christ adorning herself for the coming marriage, certainly we must see to the conditioning of our spirits, that we may appear spotless and righteous before Him!  The world says the outward appearance is of very great importance, but the Lord looks upon the heart.  As I said in an earlier post, there is no great spiritual gain in not making ourselves look as nice as we can, but the Bride–male and female as we are–must be clothed in the white garments of virtue  and righteousness.

Scripture has some pretty pithy sayings about those who refuse to live as faithful wives of the Lord our God.  The book of Hosea illustrated to the Old Testament Hebrews that God looked upon their apostasies and their unfaithfulness  to Him as a state of whoredom, deserving of divorce by their eternal Husband.  John was given such warnings to give the church in the Revelation he received from God while in his island prison on Patmos.  Jesus told John to tell the church of Ephesus (and us as well) that He can tell when we have left our first love of Him, and does not like it.  He (Jesus) goes on to say, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)  He later promises to cast the false prophetess Jezebel into a sickbed along with those who commit adultery with her (i.e. stray from the teachings of Christ and worship falsely).

Beloved ones, Jesus is coming soon for His bride.  Scripture is filled with examples of what makes the perfect wife, and what constitutes the wife that is unfit to be acceptable to God.   Read them for yourselves and decide what kind of a bride you want to be to Jesus.  Then pray that we all may be found worthy to attend the marriage supper!

Maranatha!

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