The Heart of a Godly Wife
“1In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.
3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 6 For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.”
1 Peter 3:1-6 NIV
Throughout the book of Peter, we have learned that the aged Apostle speaks encouragement to the early church through their seasons of intense pain and suffering. In chapter 3, we reach the center and the heart of Peter’s letter dealing with pain and suffering and Peter begins to speak about marriage! In the heart of the letter dealing with suffering, Peter turns his attention to deal with marriage. Hmmm…
Someone once said, “Marriage can be the closest thing to Heaven or, the closest thing to… well, not Heaven.” It is not surprising that Peter addresses marriage when he speaks to the early church about suffering because when difficulties come our way, as it does for everyone, there is a tendency for couples to stand together, cling to one another, and draw nearer in times of difficulty or to withdraw from each other, become more distant, and eventually separate. Intense suffering creates a strong bond between two people and binds their marriage together, or it will drive them against each other and lead to separation.
In 1 Peter 3, Peter says something that most modern American women don’t want to hear, and many Evangelical pastors and preachers want to avoid. Still, I think it is important to address because it is God’s word. Here is what Peter says, “you wives must accept the authority of your husbands.” Other bible versions tell wives to “submit” to the authority of their husbands. In our society, many people may argue that this verse is sexist, discriminatory, old fashioned and out of date. Because we know that God’s Word is relevant to God’s people TODAY, this needs to be explored.
First it is important to learn what submission is NOT.
1 – Submission or “accepting the authority” of a husband, is NOT giving a reward for a husband’s good behavior, but rather a command by God as the order of the home.
This teaching was especially relevant to the first century married woman who came to faith in Jesus Christ.
In Roman culture of the time, it was unthinkable for a wife to adopt a different religious faith from her husband. Women were viewed by the culture as slaves to their husband. They were first property of their fathers, and then when they married they became property of their husbands. Women who became Christians before their husbands needed instruction. Some common questions that may have arose were, “Should I leave my husband? Should I change how I act towards him? Should I assume a superior position in the house because I am now in Jesus Christ?”
2 – Submission is NOT saying that one person has less value or less importance than another.
We know that Jesus also submitted to the authority of His parents. This of course did not make Him of less value or importance than them. The term Peter used for “submission” was similar to the term used in the original language as the obedience a soldier in army gave to those in superior rank.
3 – Submission is NOT blindly doing whatever is asked of us.
Throughout the scripture, we know that we are obligated to obey God first, in every situation. If a husband is abusing a wife or their children, by all means, she needs to submit to God first and care for their safety.
Before we get into submission and husbands saying “amen”, I want to recognize in verse 7 when Peter speaks to husbands, that he says, “In the same way,” or other versions say, “likewise.” This means that husbands are to give honor to their wives “in the same way.” We will explore this more in the next devotion.
Submission means acting well toward others even when they are acting unfair toward us.
How is a godly wife to act in godly submission? Verse 4 reveals that it is done through a “gentle and quiet spirit.” How powerful and simple to state this is, but how difficult to accomplish.
When women came to faith in Jesus Christ back then, it would be easy for them in their newfound faith and freedom in Christ to act as if they were superior to their husbands and try to argue with their husbands to come to faith in Christ as well. While these wives would be right in the argument, they would be ineffective in their witness. Peter knows that unbelieving husbands are not going to have any desire to be a part of the church or to worship Jesus Christ, if He was a reason for argument in the home, so Peter encourages wives to stand firm in God’s will – with a “gentle and quiet spirit.”
The Prophet Zechariah would agree when he says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”
While it is VERY easy for any wife to identify the flaws, insecurities, hang ups, and problems of her husband, a godly wife will speak life to him instead. She will look for and ways to speak to his potential and to edify him. She won’t look for reasons to argue with him or to put him down, but allow God’s Spirit to reveal to her ways to build him up.
The next thing Peter instructs is:
Wives are not to be in their husband’s face, but committed to being by his side by building up her inner beauty.
“3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.”
1 Peter 3:3-5 NIV
Wives need to know that their outward looks should not be their universe and their number one priority. Some people take this to say that Christian women should not wear jewelry in verse one. But that is now how you should read this verse. If you read the verse that way, when you get to verse 3, and women shouldn’t wear clothes either. I don’t think that is what Peter is saying here.
The priority of a godly wife, according to the bible, is to be standing by her husband and focusing on her inner person.
The heart of a godly wife, according to Peter, is one who will be loyal to her husband by loving and respecting him. Women of God, if you want a godly marriage, Peter encourages, stop looking at your husband and start look at yourself. Stop looking TO your husband to change himself for you, and start looking to God to change you first, so your husband will be won by your conduct.
Rather than trying to win their husbands to Christ by overpowering them with arguments, Peter says that they are to win their husbands to Christ by overwhelming them with godly conduct from a godly wife.
These have probably been the hardest words I’ve written that speaks to wives, but it is my best attempt to stay faithful to what the scriptures teach. I know this is a tough word for wives, but I believe this to be what Peter meant in his letter, and while there are countless seminars, books, conferences, and retreats dealing with love, intimacy, and communication in marriage (I’m sure with great intentions), I think it is sad testament to Christians that with so many resources available to us, divorce in Christian couples is at an all time high since today more than 1 in 2 Christian marriages unravel and ultimately end in divorce.
The bible gives some simple basic instructions in marriage. The issue is not about knowing what to do, but rather in doing what we know (even if we don’t like it). We don’t need to learn more information about how to be a better husband or a better wife. Instead we need to apply what we know and what God teaches. Our need is not more information for our heads, but in doing what we know with our hands. There is a strong tendency today to think that we need more information transfer to manage our marriages better. What we need instead is to allow the information we already have to transform us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stick around and stay tuned for the next devotion on Peter speaking to the heart of a Godly husband because He speaks some challenging words to husbands as well!
Holy Spirit I pray for the wives that read this and who need a touch of Your power in dealing with us husbands. Lord I think that maybe You gave 6 verses in Peter to wives and 1 verse dealing with husbands because women of God need more instructions on dealing with us.
I pray for the wife whose husband does not know You… empower her to win him by her conduct.
I pray for the wife whose fed up in her marriage… give her Your Spirit, because that is what can change her husband far more than her strength can.
I pray for the wife who thinks it is by her outward beauty that she wins her man… may she recognize the importance of caring for her inner beauty.
In Your precious name Lord, amen.