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I’m going to start off our sermon mediation this morning by reading a blog post from a Christian author by the name of Jonathan Acuff. On his blog “Stuff Christians Like” Acuff pokes fun of some of the inconsistent behaviors that Christians exhibit.
In a post titled, “Getting Caught Off Guard By Divorce”, Acuff writes…
“I’m married and if you are too, then statistically speaking, one of us is getting divorced.
‘Hold up one second!’ you might say. ‘That can’t be true. I’m a Christian. I’ve seen studies that indicate that Christians actually have a lower divorce rate, something like 33 percent instead of a 50 percent divorce rate like the rest of the country. How dare you misinform me!’
Shame on me, but arguing about whether Christians have a 33 percent or a 50 percent divorce rate is ridiculous. Look at it this way: Would it make a huge difference if one out of every three neighbors on your street got mauled to death by a bear or one out of every two? Would you sit around with friends and say, ‘Those bear stats are grossly exaggerated. I read that there are only 33 deadly Grizzly bears in our gated community, not 50. The media is so biased!’
No, regardless of the statistic, you’d be more careful about bears. You’d buy books on how to keep your house safe from bears. You’d carry a gun and bear spray. And when Valentine’s day rolled around, you’d probably buy your wife a hot water heater.
Okay, one of those sentences had nothing to do with the metaphor but was in fact true. In my defense, it was a ‘State Select’ model, which I’ve been assured is one of the sexier hot water heaters available. So don’t worry about us becoming a statistic; we’ll be fine” (Stuff Christians Like, by Jonathan Acuff).
In his thoroughly sarcastic way, Acuff points out a huge problem among Christians—divorce.
We know that God doesn’t like divorce. And we know that it still happens among us. So maybe we Christians aught to spend more time meditating on God’s directives concerning the husband/wife relationship.
In our ongoing study of Peter’s first letter, that’s the subject we find Peter touching on today. You And Your Spouse. We start by reading the first two verses of 1 Peter 3…
1 Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)
1In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
Just before these verses, Peter was writing to the churches in Asia Minor about submission. He told them that it was God’s will for them to submit to human authorities, such as the government, police, etc. Even when authorities were unreasonable, Christians were to submit to those authorities government, and be good citizens.
As usual, there was a purpose behind this command. When Christians imitate their Savior’s attitude, they bring honor to his name, and blessing into their lives.
In our verses for today, Peter turns his attention toward married Christians and explains how conscious submission fits into their marriage relationship. Putting one another ahead of ourselves is crucial to god-blessed marriage.
To begin with, Peter says, “wives, be submissive to your own husbands” (1 Peter 3:1 NASB). The verb form in the Greek makes it clear that this is a voluntary and on-going attitude, not a one-time-event.
Peter points out one of the purposes of this attitude. Not all of the Christian women in Asia Minor were married to god-fearing husbands. But their daily behavior could effect a change in their husbands.
Ever since the fall into sin, the human race has endured the “battle of the sexes.” Men and women vying for control over each other. This isn’t God’s will for us. Instead God would have us put one another first. He would have us honor each other as he directs.
In the Garden of Eden, God created Eve from the side of Adam to be his most precious companion and helper. Throughout the Bible God reveals that this relationship model wasn’t just meant for Adam and Eve. It was to exist between all married couples.
Peter points out that part of a wife’s godly submission to her husband is to honor him through chastity, or pure behavior. Christian women were to be sexually faithful toward their husbands. One of the most painful insults a husband can endure occurs when a wife invites a different man into their marriage bed.
Another way Peter directs Christian women to honor, or value, their husbands is through simple respect. This directive has application in a wide variety of situations. Almost everything we do in life can be done in either a respectful way, or in a disrespectful way.
Studies have shown that respect is highly valued by men. In his book, “Love and Respect”, author Emerson Eggerichs interviewed men and asked them if they would rather be loved, or respected. While desiring both, men were more prone to place respect on the top of their list.
When the Christian women of Asia Minor submitted to their husbands and honored them through marital faithfulness and simple respect, those husbands saw women who were being changed by their relationship with God. And through the godly conduct of their wives, these men were drawn toward their own relationship with God.
Peter continues to speak to Christian women in verses 3-4.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASB)
3Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
Popular culture has always put high value on outward appearance, especially when it comes to women. Endless lines of clothing, cosmetics, lifestyles, and procedures offer ways for women to enhance their outward beauty. The majority of female images presented through the media have been airbrushed, or enhanced in some way to present a popular view of what a truly beautiful woman looks like.
But Peter calls Christian women to pursue a beauty that is deeper than corsets, cosmetics, and fine jewelry. Peter says that the beauty of a Christian woman should flow from the inside. From the “hidden person of the heart.”
A Christian woman is directed by God’s Word to be gentle, not forceful. Quiet, not loud. This is at odds with to our current culture’s manifesto.
Culture today encourages women to even the scales for all the abuse that thoughtless and selfish men have heaped on women over the ages. Common culture says “Settle the score women!” Quiet?! Never. Bold? Loud? Forceful? Yes.
Should we be surprised that God values the opposite of what the sinful world around us values? Not at all. Peter describes an attitude of gentleness and quietness as “imperishable” and “precious in the sight of God.”
Peter gives his female readers an example to follow in verses 5-6. They are to follow the example set by women of faith who came before.
1 Peter 3:5-6 (NASB)
5For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
Think about the people you admire. Do you ever find yourself saying, “I just love being around Tanya. She always wears Prada.” Or, “Doug is a great friend, he’s always in Armani.” Clothes really don’t make the man, or the woman. The things we cherish about people are the inner qualities that they express through their outward words and actions.
By talking about Abraham’s wife Sarah, Peter directs the modern women of Asia Minor to a simple passage in the Old Testament. The passage Peter appears to be referring to is found in Genesis 18, verse 12.
In this chapter of Genesis, God had just appeared in human form to tell Abraham that he would soon be blessed with a child, even though he and his wife were well past the age of conceiving children. When Sarah overheard the Lord talking to Abraham about this we read…
“…Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:12 NIV).
Here God gives us a little glimpse into Sarah’s heart. No one else heard her words. But God reveals them to us. Peter points his readers to one simple word that Sarah used in reference to her husband. She called him “lord”, or in other words, “master.”
Peter calls the Christian women of Asia Minor to take Sarah’s attitude and make it their own. He says,
“you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (1 Peter 3:6 NASB).
A life of godly submission is powered by faith in Lord’s protective care. Our attitude is this—I’ll do what God directs me to, knowing that in the end HE is in control, and HE will watch over me with power and love. I am ultimately in the hands of the Almighty God. His Son has taken my sins away and made me a child of the greatest lord.
Now, Peter spends most of his words here talking to Christian wives. Perhaps this was because there were more Christian women with un-Christian husbands than men in the congregations of Asia Minor. We’re not told. But there are plenty of passages in the Bible directed to Christian husbands. And the final verse of our sermon reading is one of those. To Christian husbands Peter writes…
1 Peter 3:7 (NASB)
7You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
If you want your church to get egged, just put this verse on your church sign. In our modern culture it is taboo to make any reference to women being in anyway inferior to men—no matter what you’re specifically referencing.
But what is Peter actually talking about here? Is he saying that women are intellectually weaker than men? Morally weaker? Emotionally weaker? Not at all.
Let’s think about this for a moment. What do we know about women and how God talks about them in the Bible? First of all, think about why woman was created in the first place. It was because the God looked at Adam in the Garden and said,
“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18 NASB).
Was God’s solution to Adam’s solitude to give him a companion that was intellectually inferior, emotionally unstable, and morally flimsy? I don’t think so! God doesn’t make junk!
God made Eve to complement Adam. Our whole experience in life shows that women are at least man’s equal when it comes to intelligence, just as crippled when it comes to morality, and—dare I say it—generally more endowed with emotional sensitivity than men.
The one area where we see a difference in the strength of men and women is in simple physical strength. You know, brute force. Let’s be clear here, there are plenty of women who are stronger than men, but in general, men are built for the heavy lifting.
This is what Peter has in mind when he calls Christian men to live in an understanding way with their wives. She’s not just another guy that happens to look different than you and has different parts. There are differences! Pay attention to her needs men!
While there are differences between men and women, Peter calls his fellow Christian men to remember that there is no difference when it comes to the grace of Christ. Women are sinners in need of a Savior just as much as men. And through faith in Christ they are heirs of forgiveness and life on the same level as men. Like Paul says in Galatians 3...
“26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29 NKJV).
In our sermon text, Peter directs husbands to be thoughtful and considerate toward their wives. To remember that they are blood bought souls—dearly loved by the Triune God.
Paul is even more to the point with husbands in Colossians 3, where he writes…
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19 ESV).
Through Paul, the Holy Spirit sets the bar even higher. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes…
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26 NIV).
In our sermon text Peter tells the Christian husbands of Asia Minor to be considerate toward their wives, because in doing so they will keep the line of prayer open between them and God. Peter says their prayers would be left unanswered if they were to persist in ungodly behaviors like treating their wives harshly.
How many marriages have been torn apart by husbands and wives ignoring God’s clear directives concerning their relationship? Too many to count.
How many marriages have been blessed when spouses took God’s Word to heart and began to practice the Lord’s directives on a daily basis? Too many to count.
I’m not sure who said it first, but recently I saw a quote posted on Facebook. It said…
“The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, it’s green where you water it” (Unknown).
This is true when it comes to our relationship with God. When we come to his Word regularly, to meditate on the forgiveness we’re given in Christ, our faith is strengthened.
And this is also true when it comes to marriage relationships. When God’s people consciously, and continuously put God’s marriage directives into practice, that relationship is strengthened, blessed, and caused to flower.
May the Lord life bless our families by teaching us his way. His way of forgiveness in Christ, and his way to marriages that are blessed by God himself.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts, and your minds, in Christ Jesus.