Actions that Speak 3
Have any of you ever heard the words, “oh you remind me of your dad!” or “oh you remind me of your mom”! Anyone heard that before – I won’t ask for a show of hands how many of you enjoy hearing that, or how many of you hate it. But we know what someone means when they say that, right? We know they mean, something about us – our physical features, or mannerisms, what we say or how we pronounce words, or something about our personality reminds them of our parents
Sermon series called “We’re Not Home”; We are looking at the apostle Peter’s first letter to new Christians, who have been exiled throughout various regions in what is now Eastern Europe. And to sum up everything Peter has been expressing to them so far is:
You have been born into a living hope, a salvation that is ready for you, an inheritance coming your way from your Heavenly Father, and as the world watches you, in the way you respond to civil authorities, your masters or bosses, and in your home, the absolute best compliment you can get is this: you remind me of your Father.
That’s Peter’s point in chapter 2:12, where he says, “Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles so that when they slander you, they will observe your good works and glorify God on the day he visits.”
We saw in the past couple weeks as we’ve talked about how we relate to civil authority, vocational authority, and authority in the arena of the home, and to follow the example of Jesus – especially in the area of submission. He submitted to Pilate and King Herod, even when they sentenced him to death, beating him and nailing him to a cross; he submitted to his Father, even though he knew it would bring pain and hardship. So we too can submit to government – even if they persecute the church; we can submit to our masters/bosses, even if they are crooked; and we can submit in the home, even if we don’t see eye to eye, and here’s are three reasons why:
- It Brings Glory to God: that everything is done with an awareness of him, trusting his providence and his care. Being obedient to him. Whether or not civil authorities recognize your “good”-ness and make life easy for you, whether or not your boss is fair or generous, whether or not your husband ever is won over to Jesus – submission brings glory to God.
- Actions Speak Louder than Words: People are more likely to be won by the gospel when they see it and don’t just hear it, than if they hear it but don’t see it. Don’t just not do what is bad – do good!
- Some may be won over: We learn that we best represent Christ to others by following his example of sacrifice. He laid down his life for sinners. As we follow his lead, laying down our demands and our rights, a co-worker, a boss, a relative, a spouse, might be won to Jesus – just by observing our lives.
So submitting to authorities has been the primary focus of Peter’s instructions here from chapter 2:11 to where we are today. But to this point Peter has never addressed people with authority – he didn’t address civil leaders and tell them how to govern; he didn’t address masters and tell them how to employ. But in chapter 3:1-6, Peter instructs wives on submission to their husbands, and then for the first time in verse 7, Peter turns to and addresses people with authority:
Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. -- 1 Peter 3:7
So I know it’s just one verse today, but there’s a lot here. Let’s take it a little at a time:
Live with your wives...
The word we translate “live with” actually means something more like “Be built together” with your wives. This points back to Genesis 2:24, which says, “this is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife and the two become one flesh.”
That’s the picture of being built together. There’s a union. A bond. Two becoming one.
...in an understanding way as with a weaker partner
Be built together with your wife in an understanding way as with a weaker partner. But even as Peter says that, he doesn’t explain what he means. “In what way is she weaker? And how should the husband understand that?”
Well, first, what we know from the rest of scripture is that when God says you are weak, that is not an insult. It is a matter of fact. And throughout scripture, God often loves to give honor to those who are weaker or less honored in the eyes of the world
Matthew 5:3-12, known as the Beatitudes:
- The kingdom of heaven is for the poor in spirit
- Those who mourn are comforted
- The humble will find an inheritance
- Those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness will be filled
- Those who are persecuted because of righteousness will be given the kingdom of heaven.
- You’re blessed when people insult you – your reward is in heaven
1 Corinthians 1:26-31– Consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many were powerful, not many of noble birth. But God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, what is weak in the world to shame the strong… in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
James 4:6 – God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
The songs of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2, and Mary in Luke 1 are both about the powerful being brought low and the humble being raised up. The Psalms of David calling out for strength.
All of those scriptures about weakness include the men as weak, powerless, foolish, and instruct them to be humble, to mourn sin, to be poor in spirit, to endure persecution. So what exactly is a husband to understand as he lives with his wife?
- To live with her as the “weaker partner” is to admit you too are weak! She is not the weak one, and you the strong one. One is weak, the other weaker.
- Secondly, it’s understanding that things that are weak are easily broken. So live with your wife as if she is more fragile than you.
- I remember a couple years back, talking to a husband and wife who were going through one of those rough patches, where communication was difficult. He had been pretty harsh with her earlier that day, and his justification was, “she’s a big girl – she can handle it.”
- I don’t know exactly what Peter had in mind here, but I don’t think it’s that!
- Third, when Peter identifies women as “the weaker” vessel, or the weaker sex, or the weaker partner, he is not putting her down or saying she’s inferior to her husband. Peter does not say how he understands her to be the weaker partner, but the context would make me believe that he’s referring to any area, physical, mental, spiritual, sexual, where the husband is expected to not take advantage of her.
So the husband is to “live with [his wife] in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner,” and then Peter continues...
showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life...
A few weeks ago, we saw how Christian wives are to live pure, reverent lives in their homes whether or not their husband is a believer, in the hope that he will be won over without a word. She won’t win him with her preaching, her scolding, or finger-pointing, but with her own devotion to the Lord.
And here Peter seems to instruct something similar to the men – show your wives honor. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think we could draw the conclusion, considering Peter’s instruction for submitting to civil authorities, to masters, and to husbands – that the man isn’t going to win his wife by his preaching or scolding either, but by his actions… how he shows her honor as a coheir of grace.
Showing her honor. Some translations say “treat her with respect”, but that is too weak, because you can show respect to someone you don’t really care to be around.
Other translations say
NIV: Be considerate as you live w/ your wives
AMP: with great gentleness and tact
CEV: Be thoughtful of your wife
TPT: Treat your wives with tenderness
Those things are all great, but the Greek word used here means so much more. In Ephesians 5:28-29, the apostle Paul encourages husbands to love, provide, and care for their wives the same as they care for their own body. You value it. Treasure it. You don’t intentionally bring harm to your own body. You show it honor. You protect it.
Showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life. So honor her, hold her up as a co-heir of the grace of life – reminds husbands that even though they have been given greater authority in marriage, their wives are still equal to them in spiritual privilege and eternal importance, and at the same time co-heirs of the grace of life informs the women that being a co-heir in the grace of life does not eliminate submission to her husband.
Men and women are not interchangeable in the home. There are God-given roles and order within the home that glorifies God, and celebrates the uniqueness of the way God created each partner.
So, to put things together for husbands, Peter instructs them to live with their wives in an understanding way,
As with a weaker partner – gentleness and patience and care
Showing them honor – value and treasure with action, not only words
As co-heir’s of the grace of life – as a sister in Christ who has equal access to the Father
And here’s the most terrifying phrase of the whole thing, as he closes out the instructions to husbands – So that your prayers may not be hindered – God is so concerned that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he willingly “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing it.
- No Christian husband should think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective life of prayer.
- And according to Peter, no husband can expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife in an understanding and honorable way.
- G-R society wants men to control the household; their prayers for success and prosperity are the ones that will be heard, which therefore contributes to the welfare of the city, and Peter uses that cultural trait to say the man who uses his authority to run roughshod over the women under his care, and doesn’t honor her, even if he has society’s full approval, will not be heard by God.
And finally, look back to the very beginning. All of this is under the same intro as it was for the women. Husbands - in the same way! Remember Bible Reading 101? When we see words like that, we have to ask – in the same way as what? And once again, Peter takes us back to the example of Jesus in 2:21-24.
If the Church is the bride of Christ, then Jesus is the true husband, who left his throne in heaven to come to earth to live with his bride in an understanding way. He understands us because he made us! He made us out of dust back in Genesis 2, and he hasn’t forgotten. He knows that we are weak vessels, fragile clay pots that are easily broken. John 2:25 says Jesus didn’t need anyone to tell him what people are like, or that John liked fishing or Peter was a little ambitious – he knows everything that’s in a person, and he came to show us the love of the Father anyway.
He loved us in our weakness, not coming to the world to condemn it, John 3:17 says, but to save it! Romans 8:1, therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ!
And as it pertains to authority, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 28 that all authority on earth and in heaven belongs to him, yet even with all of that authority, Jesus submitted himself to the will of his Father, even when it meant his death. Verse 2:23 – He entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
In the same way, wives can submit to their husbands, even if their husbands aren’t walking with the Lord, because they know God is a just and righteous judge. The goal of submission is to entrust yourself to God and be a living example of Jesus who submitted to his Father so you might win your husband to, or back to ,a right relationship with God!
In the same way, husbands can entrust themselves to their heavenly Father so much that they don’t need to use their authority to manipulate, insult, or threaten their wives. The goal of authority is not to manipulate, demand, or cause suffering, but to point our wives to Jesus, who even though he had all authority in heaven and earth, laid down his life loving and praying for the very people who were smashing nails into his hands, so that we might win our wives to, or back to, a right relationship with God!
Do you see this, River City? Both the submission to authority AND the exercising of authority are based on Jesus’ example of trusting your heavenly Father to be a righteous judge, with the desired outcome that
- God gets the glory
- Some are won to God, or back to God!
We don’t have to be the Holy Spirit to our spouse. We don’t need to be the evangelist that shows up and preaches “thus saith the Lord” to them. We don’t need to make snide comments that mean a lot more than it sounds like. And we don’t have to defend ourselves when we feel threatened. We trust God — and do good! That’s it!
And the amazing thing is, Peter doesn’t give you ideas or a checklist of how to work out authority and submission in your home. He leaves it up to you as a husband and wife to work this out together, with prayer being a key ingredient in your marriage.
The authority of government over civilians is useful for human flourishing, but it’s not a picture of Christ and the church.
The authority of a master over a slave is useful for productivity and order in society and can be helpful for viewing ourselves rightly in relation to Christ.
But it’s the relationship of a husband and wife that is what Ephesians 5 says is a picture of Christ and the Church, each loving the other to the death.
One of my favorite parts of this section on husbands and wives was sitting down with three couples from River City to hear from them about how they’ve seen redemption as part of their marriage. You saw two videos previously, and before we sing one last song together, I want you to hear Bob and Carli’s story of God’s grace in their marriage – take a look, and then we’ll wrap up.
Thank you Bob and Carli, Gail and Jo Ellen, Justin and Olivia for being vulnerable and sharing part of your story with us – such a great reminder there at the end, that the closer we are to God, the closer we are to each other.
If that’s true, and I believe it is, it should come as no surprise to us that governments and workplaces aren’t the primary place of influence for Satan and his destructive plan for humanity. Marriages are under attack in every sense of the word, and we HAVE to stand on the wall, watching, praying, seeking, listening, and putting on the armor of God to protect this beautiful gift of marriage. And we won’t stand by as a church and just hope for the best.
So here’s what we are doing to be proactive: Starting January 23, we are launching a marriage pathway, where every 90 days (once a quarter) we meet for 6 hours on a Saturday morning to invest intentional time and energy into our marriages. It means enough to us to do this that we’re willing to pay for your childcare, so that you and your spouse can spend quality time together, working on that most important relationship.
And we are delighted to say: REGISTRATION IS OPEN right now for this.
And because we’re using texting to communicate announcements – you’ll get a link by text sent out at noon today, or you can get more information on our website: www.rivercityia.org/marriage. I’ll also be posting about it this week on our Facebook Page, so you can look for it there as well.
Let’s close in prayer
- Jobes, Karen, 1 Peter, (Baker Academic, Michigan, 2005), 203
- Grudem, Wayne, 1 Peter (England: Intervarsity Press, 1988), 150
- Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871)