Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Here is a note on that word “harsh” from Robertson’s Word Pictures on Colossians 3:19: “Stop being bitter” or “do not have the habit of being bitter.” This is the sin of husbands.
The natural condition of man if left to himself is found in Romans 3:10-19, part of which is “their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” In the book of Acts, we see an example of a new Christian, Simon the Sorcerer, who was full of bitterness. Peter told him, “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). If you have ever processed your own meat and accidentally sliced the wrong organs, you will know what Peter means. This green liquid gets all over the meat, staining it with its nasty bitterness. If you sliced Simon the Sorcerer, all you would get is green nasty bitterness that stained everything and everyone around him. In order for Simon to be right with God, he would need repentance and prayer!
Bitterness and harshness affects not only ourselves, but all our relationships, especially the marriage relationship. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (Hebrews 12:15). That is why Paul spoke to men about not being harsh and embittered toward their wives.
God expects His people, especially those leading others, to be gentle, not harsh and bitter.
First of all, God himself is gentle. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). You can’t find rest in bitterness. Because Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart, not bitter, we can find rest, assurance, peace and comfort in His arms. That is the picture and the model of what we are to be as husbands. Can our wives find rest, peace and gentleness (not weakness) in our arms? Here’s a simple question, why do many wives not want to talk to their husbands? Because they have learned by experience that they probably won’t find acceptance, understanding and gentleness. Again, what kind of leader is Jesus? Isaiah wrote, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
Those leading His people are to be gentle. The apostle Paul was a gentle-man. “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). One who serves as an overseer in the church has to have this qualities: “…not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome” (1 Timothy 3:3).
The priest was to be able to deal gently with others because he himself had his own weaknesses (Hebrews 5:2). Before we get harsh and call down judgment upon our wives we had better take a very good look in the mirror with God. Our merciful Lord, full of lovingkindness, has forgiven us all our sins and deals with us gently. When we deal harshly and bitterly toward our spouses, we forsake the mercy of the Almighty. “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Remember that our prayers and our relationship with the Lord is directly tied to how we behave towards our precious wives (1 Peter 3:7).
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18).