The Wonderful, Amazing, Mysterious, Azar Neged

Recently, as I sat at the lobby desk monitoring the security cameras like the good security guard that I am, one of the female tenants on her way to lunch asked me if I’d like her to bring me back a sub. I said yes, and she said, “I worry about you. This is the second time you’ve said yes. Don’t you have anything to eat?”

I explained that I did, but that a fresh sub sandwich is preferable to canned corn.

Her concern made me smile, because it reminded me of many similar occasions when a woman inquired after some male’s well-being. Not long ago I heard a lady say that when she visited the apartment of a fellow she had been dating for awhile, she saw total disorder. She realized that he needed someone to take care of him, and she thought, “I can do that!” They were married shortly thereafter, and have lived in orderly wedded bliss for several decades now. (This lady would want me to tell you that her visit to the apartment was entirely proper and honorable. There was no questionable conduct.)

Even little girls have this instinct. Back in 1973 or ’74, I was attending a small country church where all the members knew each other. One Saturday night I had one of those experiences that are so terrible they change your life forever. At church the next morning, before the service started, I was leaning against the last pew with disaster written all over my face. One of the little girls, about eight or nine years old, walked past and glanced up at my face as she was going by. I know she could see that I was hurting, because she stopped, walked over to me and took hold of my hand. All she did was stand there for less than a minute, holding my hand, and then she let go and walked away, without saying a word. She was a little woman. Her womanly instinct was already obvious and strong, and the amazing thing is that it really helped. I was powerfully encouraged and strengthened by that simple gesture. God bless her, wherever she is.

Women have this strong built-in drive to take care of us guys, and it’s lucky for us that they do. There’s a lot of chest-pounding among men about  buddies and male bonding, but male-female bonding has a remarkable potential beneficial power to it that is, regrettably, often overlooked by men. I think that may be in part because most men don’t realize where women came from, what they are, or why they’re here. (Many women don’t either.) No, I’m not talking about “Women are from Venus and men are from Lowe’s.”

The fact is, guys, that God designed and created women for the specific purpose of being the best thing that ever happened to us…but the woman in your life will never be truly happy, or able to reach her full potential, unless you:

1) understand what she is and isn’t supposed to be,

2) realize that God requires you to be the best thing that ever

happened to her!

In Genesis 2:18-20, Adam met and named all the animals, but unfortunately discovered that none of them were adequate assistants. (The dog is not man’s best friend.) God then announced that He was going to create an assistant who would be competent to fill this role. The original language is “azar neged”, “an appropriate or competent assistant”. “Azar” is a powerful word. It’s derived from a word meaning “to surround, protect, or aid.” “Azar” itself is used many times when referring to military aid for those going into battle. Guys, did you ever think of your wife as Zena the Warrior Princess? Let me tell you a true story…

I read this in a magazine under the title “Dynamite Comes In Small Packages”: fellow has a wife so small she’s nicknamed “Tiny”. He hears a noise one night, looks out the window and sees several drunks get out of their car and disgrace their ancestors by profaning the next-door lot. (I think it was a church.) Outraged, he rushes outside to speak harshly to these uncivilized wretches. Turns on the macho, snarls and growls, and they, though they be many, are all “yessir”, “sorry sir” and like that. Real polite and abashed. Finished with the rebuke, he suggests that they leave. Ego swelling, he watches them obediently depart, thinking along the lines of, “Wow, my awesome presence overwhelmed them.” Turns around and there stands…”Tiny”, with a double-barreled shotgun.

Now that’s a fun story, and to the point, but what I really want you to think about is this: she loved her husband so much she was willing to get into a gunfight, or even kill someone, to protect him. Granted, her back-up was important, but the most important thing was the whole-hearted love she showed for her husband that night. That, men, is the most valuable thing on earth. When you are loved like that, you can pretty much deal with whatever life throws at you. Now, tell me, do you support her as strongly as she supports you?

(Here’s a helpful hint, fellows: love just happens, sometimes for no apparent reason, but you have to earn it to keep it.)

Many years ago, my Uncle Wilbur called to say that he’d had to put his father in a nursing home. My grandfather was a big, wild Scot, and he did not go gentle into that good nursing home. Uncle Wilbur was a pretty doggone wild Scot himself. It must have been interesting. Wilbur was feeling significantly frayed around the edges as a result, so he called his brother (my father) to whimper a little. After describing the events of that dark day in his life, he finished up, “Ahh, what the hell. As long as Amy loves me, I guess I don’t give a damn.”

Even wild Scotsmen benefit from the love and support of a good woman, so I know the rest of you wimps need it.

Just kidding, fellows. And don’t bother looking, my address isn’t listed in the phone book. (I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.)

If you are married, take time to think about the everyday things that your wife does that make your life much easier and much more pleasant. Like just being there, for example. Like listening when you need someone to talk to. Like taking your dog to the vet when you’re at work. Like being a really good mother to your children. (Once upon a time a large, tough guy told me, “When your mother dies, life is never the same again, because your mother is the only one on earth who will always love you no matter what you do.”) Like having your children. Would you have gone through nine months of increasing discomfort, plus labor pains, to say nothing of giving birth? Not me, pal. (Of course, being the gentleman you are, you didn’t laugh at her appearance during pregnancy, did you? Didn’t make tasteless jokes, etc.? Of course not.)

If your marriage is even halfway what it should be, you have a lot to be thankful for.

Do you tell her? Frequently? You should tell her in many different ways. Sincere words, while you are focused on her, no interruptions allowed. Flowers, dinner out, going shopping with her, dancing if she likes to dance. Do you listen to her? Do you encourage her to talk to you? Who cleans up after the dog? Do you share the housework before she gets exhausted? Do you know what household chore she hates the most, and do it for her, without being asked? Do you just spend time with her? Do you spend more time with her than you do with anyone else? The point is, she should be, not just important to you, but the most important person in your life, and you should make sure she knows it!

If your wife doesn’t meet your expectations, are your expectations realistic? Or are you maybe not doing your job? If you’re not the husband you should be, it is difficult-to-impossible for her to be able to do her part. And did you know that the God Who created women for men’s benefit also assigned certain heavy-duty responsibilities to their husbands? Don’t stop reading now, men. No cop-outs allowed.

1st Peter 3:7 tells husbands to “live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor [or esteem] to your wives, as to the weaker vessel, and as your joint heir of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be chopped down.” Most English versions say “that your prayers be not hindered”, but the Greek word is “ekkopto”, which means “chopped down” or “chopped out”, like hoeing weeds out of your garden. Get it? Peter is saying that God won’t even listen to you if you mistreat or neglect your wife.

And “according to knowledge” means that you should use all your vast knowledge of women to make her life a rose garden (without thorns). If you don’t have a vast knowledge of women, you should 1) go to the library and do some research, 2) ask your female relatives questions, 3) ask your wife questions about herself. Ask about everything you can think of. Ask her what she would like you to know about her. If she’s too shy to say it to your face, ask her to put it in a letter to you. This can be a really fun adventure, guys. It will be like exploring a foreign country. Very different.

Ephesians 5:28 says that a man should love his wife like he loves his own body, nourishing and caring for her like he does his own body. Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31 say that when a man co-habits with a woman, they become one body. Incorporated, “as one body rated”. That was God’s terminology millennia before the business world even existed. Yeah, buddy, you are the President of the corporation, but your wife is the Vice President. Not the janitor, the caterer, the nanny, the laundry service, the lawn care service, the car wash. Or the…how can I say this without being insulting…”escort service”? Yes, all of these things and others, but always with your respect, honor, courtesy, gentleness…get the picture, guys?

This is how it’s supposed to work: no corporate president worth his bonus check will insult, belittle, humiliate, or ignore his vice president. Vice presidents should be active, informed executives. They have great potential value to the corporation. No  vice president worth her stock options would insult, etc., or defy her president. Disagree, yes, of course, at least sometimes. Strongly advocate her point of view, absolutely. Any corporate president with the brains that God gave a crowbar realizes that he will be wrong sometimes. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. Sometimes he needs a word of caution or a different perspective or information that his vice president has. The wise corporate president knows that he ignores his v.p. at his peril.

Colossians 3:19 says that husbands are to love their wives and not to be “bitter against them”. Love is an action verb and we’ve covered that, somewhat. What does it mean to not be bitter against your wife?

What happens when she puts a big ding on your brand new Lexus? When she brings home work and happily leaves you to handle household chores and get the kids ready for school tomorrow and in bed on time tonight? When she invites her mother along on your vacation? When she’s too tired for anything except sleep? When dinner is burned or bought? When she gets a promotion and you didn’t? Does she have to dread your acid comments? Fear your reactions? Or does she know that your love for her is more important than any of these things?

(When there is a continuing pattern of neglect, or of abuse of privilege, by either party, that’s another matter. I’m talking about the fact that in life, organic fertilizer occurs. When it does, do you respond with love, or bitterness?)

Do you rejoice in her victories wholeheartedly? Are you her cheerleader? Does your wife support you joyfully because she loves you, or just live in the same house with you? Or does she wonder why she ever married you?

Once upon a time, a married woman who was also a missionary was speaking to a group of women about the difficulties of married life. One of them asked if she had ever considered divorce. She replied, “No, but I  thought about murder once or twice.”

One hopes that she was joking. However, I recently read an account of a man married to a pro golfer, who had neglected and abused his marriage. He made the statement, “You don’t know fear until you’ve seen a five iron in the hands of a professional golfer at two in the morning.”

In 1st Corinthians 7:1, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence…” Properly translated, that means, “the kindness that is due”  –  due, like when your mortgage payment is due. Got it?

You’ll often hear only part of the next verse quoted: “The wife does not have authority over her own body; her husband does.” I have never heard the last half of that verse quoted, so here it is: “Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his body. His wife does.”

So when she says, “Honey, I think you’d look great in purple spiked hair. Yeah, and you should have one big gold earring like a pirate’s. And I want you to have my name tattooed on your big, hairy, manly chest…”

Better be nice to her…

Are you ready for the big one? That’s right, all the foregoing was just warm-up exercises. Ephesians 5:28 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

Think about how Christ gave Himself for the church: He was publicly insulted, ridiculed, mocked, spat on, humiliated, stripped, and crucified. Death by torture. That is what God expects you to be willing to go through, if it is necessary, to protect your wife.

God places an extremely high value on the Azar Neged He created for you. See to it that you do also.

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