Less than Ideal Situations -- Christians Can (must) Deal With!
1 Peter 3:1-7
1 Pet 3:1-7 (NKJV) Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
AIM OF BOOK
The Book of I Peter is written to offer HOPE to a people in less than an ideal situation -- where often there is persecution of the righteous, ridicule of the message from heaven, and various temptations to give UP under pressure or IN to the challenges of evil -- for all who will remain faithful.
PRESENT CHAPTER SETTING
Chapter Three gives instruction to persons who are in a situation less than Ideal -- a woman being married to a man who is not a Christian. The instructions are to the extent that she'll live a life that is of such quality that her husband will be impressed with her conduct, so that he'll want to serve the Lord, even though she cannot win him over with words, by argumentation.
TOOLS SHE HAS AVAILABLE TO USE
Her tools (ammunition) consist, however, of more than the clothes, the hair, wearing of ornaments, the outward adorning, appearance, etc. It must be the inward (hidden) person of the HEART! That hidden person of the heart is so PRECIOUS IN GOD'S SIGHT! Her conduct is to be "chaste" in purity, and a manifest FEAR or respect. She is to be submissive as God directs all wives to be where ever they are (Cf.Eph. 5:22ff; Col. 3:18). God has set forth the order of things in the field of Human relations: God the father, Christ the Son, Man the head of the house, wife as an help meet, Home makers. ( I Cor. 11:3;Gen. 2:18-24; Matt 19:4-6; I Tim. 2:11-15; 5:14; Tit. 2:3-5). When this order is perverted, stood on its head, all creatures involved lie deprived and condemned!
Lest one should harbor the notion that its degrading for a woman to be submissive to her head, consider if you conclude that Christ is degraded by being subject to the father. Many forces are operating in the universe, whose aim it is to change the order designed by God. All such forces emanate from a lack of wisdom, a misunderstanding of what really works, or from a rebellious attitude in an effort to turn things upside down!
PRINCIPLE IN GENERAL
This points to a principle that is weighty: What we DO at times is more important than what we SAY. Surely, this is the case when our behavior does not harmonize with our message. It's easier to SAY it than to DO it. Yet, if one does not make an honest and persistent effort to LIVE what he/she preaches/teaches, his/her behavior negates the verbal claims. Many a person has destroyed the effect of what he/she has said by careless behavior, not walking according to the rules he/she claims verbally.
HISTORICAL FACTORS TO DRAW FROM
There are historical precedents for such. The women in the context are pointed back to women of old who showed their husbands respect and worked with them as partners in serving God. Sara is pointed to as one who has so acted in the past. Whose daughters these women would be, if they indeed, imitate her in their behavior.
STRENGTH TO ACT
Women in this LESS THAN IDEAL SITUATION should not be AFRAID or work with an uneasy sense of terror, when they do "well," as defined by God in His holy word. They can achieve the best possible when they so act, and if that will not win the husband for the Lord, then nothing will. But when they so act, they can KNOW in their heart of hearts, that they used all that was at their command. That's all anyone can do!
IDEAL SITUATION IN HUSBAND/WIFE
After these instructions to women, then husbands, who are Christians, are instructed to dwell with the wife, according to knowledge -- of her makeup, nature, as being different from him, as a "help meet" -- giving HONOR for her delicate, feminine, elegant qualities. She is due honor, being and serving as God made her to be and behave! He is to recognize that she is the "weaker vessel" of the two generally speaking such is quite evident. She is not structured as he is, with muscular strength. That does not mean that she is weaker intellectually, in fact she may very well be his superior in that field as well as emotionally. So He is to accept the fact that they are different, and such is significant, each can and should complement the other.
TEAM WORK NEEDED
Yet, they are to be a TEAM! They are to work together as partners. God decrees they are "HEIRS TOGETHER" of the grace of God. That's the IDEAL SITUATION toward which each of us, male and Female OUGHT to be striving!
POTENTIAL FOR EVIL ONE TO MOVE IN
However, there is another less than ideal situation developed when either the husband or wife fails to perform in the role assigned them by the Maker -- Satan is a allowed to move in and their prayers are hindered! Their means of communication with heaven, and in return receiving the benefits, are blocked.
How many homes are there this day in our nation where this SITUATION prevails -- one, husband or wife, is a member of the family of God and their mate is a child of the evil one, walking in darkness? How many women/men will work with the formula laid down by the Father here, in an effort to bring about the IDEAL SITUATION out of that undesirable circumstance? How many have the FAITH to act courageously in these situations?
VITAL SURVEY OF LIFE
Beloved, if you are not a child of God, please consider the value of having a mate that is an "heir" with you of the grace of God. Consider how wonderful it is to be able to speak to God in prayer, knowing that He is listening and wanting to help you be a better person, able to assist others, having the hope of heaven. If you will consider the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, ( Jn. 20:30) repent of your sins ( Acts 17:30), confess your faith in Him (Rom. 10:9-10) and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16) you can be identified with Christ, establish a saved relationship with the Son of God, be raised to manifest a NEW LIFE (Rom. 6:3-4; 16-18).
Beloved if I can be of any assistance in you establishing this relationship with Christ or help you to muster the courage to firmly stand on the bed rock of truth and use the tools that are available to you to bring about an IDEAL SITUATION, please let me know. May God bless you and yours as you serve Him faithfully.
By William C. ("Bill") Sexton
From Expository Files 2.4; April, 1995