Are You Precious?

Reading through I Peter, Peter gives practical ways to demonstrate your love for God. He also shows the importance of respecting the authority placed in our lives, including government, church leaders, servants, co-workers, and now in chapter three, he focuses on us women and how we should treat our husbands. 
In verse 3b of chapter 3, “But 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.”

Want to be precious in God’s sight?
Cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit.

What does that mean?
Let’s look at the context of that verse for insight and meaning.

“In the same way, (chapter 2 was talking about suffering and submitting to authority) 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, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” I Peter 3:1-3.

Early in Peter, he addresses obeying government. This government was the same one that was persecuting and burning Christians at the stake. Christians were hiding from their government. Yet he tells his people to submit to them.
Now in chapter 3, Peter says that wives are to obey, even if our husbands aren’t Christians and aren’t doing what is right.
He gives no exceptions or conditions to our obedience to our husbands.
By our chaste and respectful behavior, wives may bring their husbands to Christ.
This may encourage some of my readers who do have husbands who do not know Christ. Persevere. Submit. Your behavior (without words) may win them to Christ. 

Let’s go on:
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, the wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but 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.”

Often, we get all concern with whether we are allowed to wear jewelry or braid our hair, but somehow we don’t misinterpret the meaning when it says to put on dresses. We get all tied in knots whether we should or shouldn’t wear jewelry or braid hair or…but that is not what Peter is saying. Notice the word “merely.”
We don’t dress for preciousness by what is on the outside. 

God looks for the preciousness in the heart.
When the heart is right, you could be dressed in rags with messy hair and be precious.
The emphasis is on having a “gentle and quiet spirit.”

I don’t like being “gentle and quiet.”
I like speaking my mind. Holding nothing back. 
In today’s world, that’s empowering—give them a piece of your mind, tell them exactly what you think, don’t let them step on you. 
That’s not the spirit God considers precious.

But nor do I think Peter means that women should never speak. 
I remember reading a book about a mail-order bride. The girl was taught at an orphanage that her ramblings were not what a man wants.
But when the man “ordered” his bride through the mail, he was lonely and couldn’t wait for someone to help fill the loneliness that his aloneness brought.
When the girl married, she constantly reminded herself to keep her mouth shut. She didn’t tell him how much she enjoyed the flowers he had planted on the walkway. She didn’t share how the real window he installed allowed the sunlight to dance on the floor and brightened her day.
By her silence, instead of easing his loneliness, she exaggerated it by having two people sit in silence.
This is not the quiet which Peter means.

I’m not sure how to master that quiet and gentle spirit.
But Peter shows us who to follow.
For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just 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.” I Peter 3:5-6.

Let’s look at Sarah.
She was beautiful, even when she was old. 
How do we know? Abraham tells her.
Ladies, do your husbands tell you, “You are beautiful”?
We can give ALL the reasons why that is not so. But do you know why you were made?
For your husband. He thinks you have beauty. 

My husband works with skin. Ladies come with their list of what he must fix so they will be up to their preconceived standards of beauty.
He tells them to throw out those magnifying mirrors that show all their imperfections. 
They are the only one who sees them. 

He tells them to believe their husbands when they tell them ‘they are beautiful.’ 
Most exclaim that he does tell them that.
He nods.
Believe them.
I can only tell my husband, “I’m glad you think so.” But in my mind, I know better.
Ladies, respect your husband. BELIEVE HIM. (I must speak to myself here.)

It reminds me of Shakespear’s Taming of the Shrew.
The outspoken, mouthy girl married a man who had bet his friends that he could tame her. Traveling home from their wedding, he comments that the sun shines brightly. 
She corrects him that it is the moon that is shining. 
By the journey’s end, she agrees that the sun is shining brightly. She learns to believe her husband. 
By believing his words, she respects him.
She instructed the other wives, [even her beautiful sister whom every man wanted to marry, but couldn't until she (the shrew) had married] of their need to allow their husbands control. 
The man won the bet, but also won his wife for life. Why? That’s what we are made to do.

Sarah believed Abraham.
Does your husband tell you, “Don’t worry about something, that I’ll take care of it”? 
THEN LET HIM TAKE CARE OF IT. Even if it takes him months to complete the job.
I especially struggle when my boys, who are not quite men, tell me, “I’ve got it, Mom.”
They say it with finality.
Like I should go back in the kitchen where I belong.
I do, but with hesitation.
When your husband tells you, “He’s got it.” Then let it go. 
Believe him.
That shows him respect.

What did Abraham want Sarah to do with her beauty?
Look at the passage.
We will skip over the journey Abraham took from his country of Ur to the land the Lord promised him. But even that journey was a great thing for Sarah. 
She left everything.
And believed Abraham followed a God that she did not know yet.

Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.’

It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, ‘here is your wife, take her and go.’ Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.” Genesis 12:10-20.

Consider what it took for Sarah to obey her husband.
Instead of protecting Sarah, Abraham threw her under the bus (to put it in today’s terms).

Abram’s decision was based on fear, not faith. 
Maybe they shouldn’t have even been in Egypt.
But they were.
Now, Abraham fears for his life and commands Sarah to help him. 

Women feel our husband’s fears.
Their fears make us afraid too.
But Peter says, “and you have become (Sarah's) children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” I Peter 3:6.
Sarah could obey, without fear, because she was obeying her husband, which was right.

Nor does she tell Abraham how she would have done it. That’s the quiet spirit coming out.
How does she help Abraham?
She becomes a prostitute for Pharaoh.

Me, in Sarah’s position, would have shared a lot of words of wisdom (and not so wise) at this point.
That is not what being “quiet” means. 

Sarah could have resented Abraham. Yea, he’s alive. But she’s not protected.
She’s at the whim of Pharaoh’s pleasure.
This would be time where she could say, “Now wait a minute….”
But she respects Abraham’s decision. And obeys. 
That, my lady friends, would be very hard.

She does this, not once, but twice during their marriage. 
Today, some would say she “enabled Abraham” to continue his fear-based decision making process. 
But the Bible says, her obedience was counted to her as righteous. 
She respected his decision.
Peter tells us to model her behavior.

Do you think it was easy for her to live in Pharaoh’s palace?
Most of his concubines were just a one-night stand. They lived in the palace harem waiting for another time. But in their waiting, they could just wait.
There was no family to dream about, no relationship of real love to cultivate.
This was the end of the road for them.
They could truly have it all, but not really.

Sarah was there too. But she had experienced a meaningful relationship with Abraham.
She left everything (remember she came from Ur, too) to be with him.
Yet now she couldn’t be with him. She didn't know how it would end.

Sarah was at the palace long enough for even Pharaoh to figure out that no one was giving him an heir.
God had shut their wombs. 

Sarah may have struggled with anger and fear toward Abraham over their separation.
It would be easy for Sarah to become bitter toward Abraham, to bemoan his weakness, his fear, his decision. 
She was trapped. 
Sure she had any thing she wanted. But things do not satisfy a heart. We want a relationship. 
We want fulfillment found in meeting our God-given role as help meet. 
What kind of help was she hiding in Pharaoh’s harem?
She suffered because of his decision.
Is your husband gone a lot with his job? Is he deployed? How's your attitude? Still submitting? 

And consider the jealous bickering from the other women! 
Not just over her beauty, but she must keep her mouth shut about being Abraham’s wife. 
Imagine what they would have done with that!
All of them lived a hair-breath from death; they could be removed without warning or reason by Pharaoh’s whim.
But they also knew how to wield their beauty as power to minimize Sarah’s influence—since she was the outsider and unwanted (according to them). 

If they knew that Abraham was her husband, what an edge they would have to win Pharaoh’s attentions! 
Sarah’s loneliness may have brought the temptation to share Abraham's faults with a servant in confidence.
Do servants keep secrets?
Do you share your husband’s faults with others? 
"Love covers a multitude of sins." I Peter 4:8. 
A gentle spirit extends grace.
Sarah kept her mouth shut for Abraham's protection and her own.

When Sarah was given back to Abraham, they had to flee the country. They didn’t know what they would face when they returned to—where-ever they were going.
Sarah did not hesitation to preserve Abraham’s life. She did whatever it took to keep it.
But returning to him, she also had to adjust her attitude when she wanted to tell him, “I told you so.”
Could she respect him again? It would be hard. 
And believe him? 
And obey him?
We find from the Scriptures that she did.

This would be a time where “giving him a piece of her mind” would be very tempting.
The proverbs speaks of living with a wife that is like a dripping faucet: Nag. Nag. Nag.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Yet Abraham had been separated from Sarah, missing her, wanting her. 
She would need to set aside her feelings and meet his needs.
That’s asking a lot.
Her choice to submit every time endears her to God.
That’s why God sees her as precious.

Abraham may be God’s friend. But Sarah is precious in His sight.

We see Sarah respecting Abraham’s fear-based decisions when he does the same thing again. 
Can you imagine how she felt?
He knew he shouldn’t the first time, yet here he does it again!
And she knew what submitting involved.
Yet she submits, and allows herself to be taken by Pharaoh again (another pharaoh). 
How would that crush her sense of worth! Chosen only for her beauty? What a curse this beauty must feel for her! 
Or maybe—what power she could wield with it? 
Yet she submits. 

When it was all over, she didn’t tell Pharaoh, “I’d rather stay with you. Abraham’s done this to me before….”
How loyal she was.
God again considers her act as precious.

 Her acts reveal an inner quality of submission—not only to her husband, but to God.
What kind of view of God is she getting from Abraham’s actions? 
Abraham is the one who talks and hears God, yet Sarah must obey without hearing God’s voice.

Abraham left Pharaoh’s land with more than he came into it. 
I never understood why, until I read Peter. 
God blessed Abraham, because of Sarah’s obedience.
Is your husband blessed? 
Your obedience can bring blessing. Not always tangible.
The Proverbs 31 woman has a husband who is known at the gates, why? Because she is at home obeying him.
By her obedience, her husband is elevated and blessed.

Total submission to God and to our husbands.
Thoughts to consider as we think of being precious to God.
God wants our hearts—all of it.

Is your heart divided? Does your husband come first? Or work? Or the children? Or family?

A gentle and quiet spirit starts with total submission to God. 

When God controls your. heart, He has our actions. 
That helps us with that quiet part, when we want to speak our mind, we defer to our husbands and allow them to lead. 
We don’t have to interject all our thoughts in the decision making process. 
We encourage. 
We support. 
We stand by our men by believing, respecting, and honoring our husband’s decisions. 
God blesses that. 
God blesses us.

A gentle and quiet spirit starts with total submission to God. 
It continues by believing our husbands.
And giving your loyalty to your husband.
And allowing him to make the decisions without sharing our “wisdom.”

And God looks down and sees something precious.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Displaying all 2 comments

Sometimes God really does bless tangibly -- after a season of "silence".

When we moved out of state for a couple years, my husband felt we should buy a small old fixer-upper house. (I had input into the decision, but ultimately I chose to follow his leading as we made the choice.) It was not necessarily easy, living in an 800 sq ft ugly old house with no basement on a busy street with 2, then 3, then 4 small kids. It was hard at times (especially when others with fewer kids and bigger houses than mine complained about their homes being too small), and I didn't do it perfectly, but I did do my best to support him as my man and not complain or nag. We weren't able to do as much renovating on the house while we lived there as we had hoped to, and so the peeling wallboard remained in the house until after the family moved out.

After renovations (my husband did such a gorgeous job!) the house sold in less than 24 hours on the market, for the full asking price --a very clear answer to months of prayer as we prepared to sell. I realized later that none of it would have been possible had I not approached it with the attitude of submitting to and supporting my husband. I still find it very humbling and touching that God would bless my choice to honor my husband in such a personal way!

P.S. I also learned a lot of other lessons while we lived in the house...such as contentment is a choice and not dependent on the size of your house or the niceness of your things. We had a lot of very happy memories in that home and that town and I sobbed when we left.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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