I think we all want to be good wives, but precisely what that means varies so much; how can we really know what that looks like? By studying the women in the Bible, we will find the qualities of a good wife. Let’s look at Sarah and see what made her the first woman God named in the book of Hebrews as having great faith. What kind of a wife was she?
The story of Sarah
Sarah was the wife of the patriarch Abraham. She and Abraham were from the city of Ur but eventually moved from there to Haran, a town near the modern-day border between Turkey and Syria. Ur was in what is now the southern part of Iraq, about 600 miles away from Haran, so this was not an easy move to make. But she followed her husband and his father and moved to Haran.
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. Genesis 11:31
Later, God calls Abraham to leave his home and show him a new place to settle. God promises to bless Abraham and make him the father of a great nation. This move was probably a little tougher for Sarah to get on board with because there was no definite ending place. Not to mention the fact that she was 65 years old! But, again, she followed her husband’s leadership and left her home in Haran.
At the time, there was a bad famine in Canaan, so Abraham and Sarah went south into the land of Egypt. On the way, Abraham told his wife to identify herself as his sister because he was worried the Egyptians would kill him to get her. After all, she was so beautiful.
So when the Pharaoh summoned her, Sarah said that Abraham was her brother, as he had told her to do. The king lavished them with gifts, but God caused plagues to come upon the Pharaoh’s family, and he realized that Sarah was indeed the wife of Abraham. The king kicked them out of Egypt, and they returned to Canaan.
The promise fulfilled
Ten years later, Abraham and Sarah still had no children, so Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her Egyptian handmaid Hagar. He agreed, and Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.
In Genesis 17, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God changed his name from the original Abram to “Abraham,” a father of many nations. God assured Abraham that Sarah would have a son. Even though Sarah was 89 years old, she became pregnant and gave birth to her son Isaac. It was an appropriate name because Isaac means laughter, and Sarah laughed when she heard she would have a son. I mean, at 89, wouldn’t you?
She trusted him
One of the qualities of a good wife is trust. The first time Sarah had to make a massive leap of faith by trusting her husband and submitting to his decision was when God told him to leave the city of Ur. Eventually, God called Abraham and told him to move to a place that God would show him. He gave no other clues, yet Sarah was willing to pack up again and follow her husband into the great unknown.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with many of us women these days. Instead of trusting our husband, and by doing so, ultimately trusting God, we argue and call into question his decisions. Men need to be trusted. When he is not, he will withdraw and disconnect. A lack of trust puts communication barriers up and often offends and hurts him.
So, even if you disagree, try trusting your husband and see what happens. I’m not saying you don’t question him or put in your two cents. But know when to stop nagging and start trusting.
Sarah put Abraham first.
When the two of them traveled to Egypt to escape famine, Abraham told Sarah to say that she was his sister and not his wife. (Technically, she was his sister, his half-sister). Sarah knew that if the Egyptians knew that she was his wife, they might kill Abraham and take Sarah into Pharaoh’s harem.
Yes, this was a lie, and I never advocate lying, but her agreement to go along with the lie showed, in a weird way, how much she honored her husband. She believed that God had promised Abraham he would be a father of a large nation, and she intended to do everything she could to make sure God would fulfill this calling.
As Christian wives, we need to have this kind of faith in God that allows our husbands to excel in their calling. God has a calling on every man’s life. Sometimes it’s in his occupation, and sometimes it’s in a plan outside of that, such as a ministry God has for him. To demonstrate the qualities of a good wife, women should support and encourage their husbands in all areas of life.
Will making these changes work in your marriage. Read: Is it Useless to Try to Save Your Marriage Alone?
Sarah respected her husband.
Another way Sarah showed us the qualities of a good wife was when she called Abraham “lord.” The meaning of the Hebrew word for lord is not just someone who rules over another, but also one who provides and protects. We wouldn’t refer to our husbands as “lord” today, but we should show the same respect for his headship in the family and his call to protect us. Sarah did not question Abraham or argue with him when he felt the call to move on. Instead, she honored his decision and trusted God to take care of them no matter what.
The word respect in its earliest forms meant to treat with deferential regard or esteem, regard with some degree of reverence. Men need to be respected. They want people, especially their wives, to see them as heroes. You can respect him by showing that you believe in him even when the odds are not in his favor.
You see, men don’t believe that respect is earned. They expect it simply because of who they are. This mindset doesn’t mean they’re sexist. It’s just a fact about how God created them. The respect they need comes from who they are, not what they do.
Consider the way you treat your husband. Do you think highly of him? Do your actions show him that you do?
She wanted to help her husband fulfill God’s purpose for him.
When Abraham asked Sarah to say that she was his sister and not his wife, she could have argued with him. I mean, it was a lie, but Sarah knew that God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many descendants. This meant that he had to survive this encounter. She, however, was expendable. Sarah cared more about her husband fulfilling the call of God on his life than for her own survival.
Now, most likely, you won’t need to die so that your husband can fulfill his purpose, and it definitely wasn’t cool that Sarah went along with a lie. When we submit to our husbands, we should refuse to partake in any blatant sin. That being said though, Sarah’s heart was in the right place, and we should follow her example putting our husband’s needs before our own, just not her actions. Sarah wasn’t perfect either, and the Bible doesn’t make her out to be. Selflessness is definitely an important one of the qualities of a good wife.
She kept up her appearance
When Sarah and Abraham went to Egypt, Sarah was about 65 years old, yet her husband knew that she was still beautiful enough to captivate the Egyptians.
The crops failed, and there was no food anywhere in the land. So Abram and his wife Sarai went to live in Egypt for a while. But just before they got there, he said, “Sarai, you are really beautiful! When the Egyptians see how lovely you are, they will murder me because I am your husband. But they won’t kill you.” Genesis 12:10-12
Men want their wives to be attractive. Now, every man has a different opinion about what true beauty looks like. To show the qualities of a good wife, we should do our best as wives to keep ourselves as attractive as possible. Be careful with your weight. Consider his opinion about how you keep your hair. Dress nicely each day, or at least try to change into something attractive before he comes home from work. This extra effort shows that you value their view of you.
She was beautiful on the inside, too
Sarah was beautiful on the inside, but more importantly, she had inner beauty as well. When her outer beauty merged with her inner beauty, her allure overflowed. It caught the attention of the people around her, even the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Peter refers to Sarah as an example for women in 1 Peter 3:5-6
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6
The verse before this speaks of a quiet and gentle spirit that is precious in God’s eyes. Sarah had this kind of spirit. It’s a Christ-like spirit, one where you speak gently to other people, especially your husband. It also allows you to forgive him more quickly and love him more deeply while still speaking up at the right time. What’s on the inside is one of the most powerful qualities of a good wife.
Read more on this topic: How to be a Great Wife: 8 Helpful Mindsets
I spent some time talking about how men see respect differently than women do earlier in this article. The differences come from brains that God wired in ways unique from women’s brains. These differences show up in many different aspects of our marriages, but communication is one big one. Want to learn more about the way God wired your husband to communicate? Sign up for our Conflict to Communication course. It’s not open yet but will be very soon, so if you want to know when it opens, sign up for the waitlist below. No obligation!
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