Monday, January 29, 2018

Peter's Word to Husbands

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

(1 Peter 3:7 ESV)

In our last devotion, we looked at Peter’s instruction for wives. We saw that they can win their husband, without a word, by their conduct. And, for this reason, he instructs them to be subject to their husbands and to adorn themselves with a quiet and gentle spirit.

In the above passage, we see Peter’s instruction for husbands. He calls on them, first of all, to live with their wives in an understanding way. He then says something that many women find offensive. He calls on men to show honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.

This phrase is not intended to convey disrespect. It reflects the simple reality that women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength when compared to men. It reflects a simple reality that leaves her vulnerable.

It’s this reality that leads to the abuse of women in other systems of belief. Her rights are reduced and her status is lowered. And the tendency is for her to be exploited.

Men naturally operate by the “might makes right” principle. They live in a world where the strong rule over the weak. And their sinful nature drives them to exercise dominion by sheer force.


However, because she is the weaker vessel, Peter calls on Christian men to do something that runs counter to this inclination. He calls on them to show honor to their wives. They are not to use their strength to dominate. Instead, they are to treat their wives considerately and use their position to bless them.

Men are to do so, recognizing that their wives are joint heirs with them of the grace of life. They are to recognize that their wives are recipients of the very same blessing. They are to recognize that, by faith, their wives will also receive the salvation of God.  

Finally, men are to behave in this way that their prayers may not be hindered. This implies that, failing to do so, may keep their prayers from being answered. As they live in unrepentance, refusing the calling with which God has entrusted them, their prayers are impeded.

Once again, this may seem old-fashioned. In a day and age where we’re told that a woman can do anything that a man can do, it seems quaint. Yet, when we look at what Peter is saying, we understand that it does not lead to oppression for women. We find that it leads to an increased freedom and to greater opportunity.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Peter's Word to Wives

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external-- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

 (1 Peter 3:1-6 ESV)

In our last devotion, as we continued our walk through 1 Peter, we looked at a pretty unpopular subject: submission. This theme continues into the third chapter of this epistle.  But this passage is unpopular not only because it again addresses submission.  It also addresses it to wives.

Many women today, even Christian women, think of this as an old-fashioned attitude. They think of it as demeaning to women. And, for this reason, they try to dismiss this teaching and explain it away.

Yet, we see clearly in Scripture that God has set up an order for the home. And it in no way implies that women are inferior to men. It’s an order that reflects our position in Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-33).

However, in this passage, there’s another reason for the submission that’s commanded. Wives are to submit that their husbands might be encouraged in faith. Even if they don’t obey the Word, even if they aren’t believers, wives are called to submit that they might be won for the Lord, that they might be drawn to faith in Christ.

The simple truth is this: When a woman lives out her faith before her husband, it can make a great impression on him. It can make a greater impression on him than anyone else. It can do so because he sees her life like no one else.

When she is respectful toward him, and when he observes her pure conduct, it reveals the genuine nature of her faith. And not only is this true. When she is respectful to her husband, although he clearly doesn’t deserve it, she is manifesting the grace of God. She is expressing the grace of God which is lavished upon undeserving sinners.

Women put a great deal of effort into their appearance, desiring to appear beautiful. They adorn themselves with beautiful clothes and jewelry. They adorn themselves with lovely hairstyles and make-up. But Peter calls on them to adorn themselves in a different way. He calls on them to adorn themselves with internal qualities. He calls on them to adorn themselves with a quiet and gentle spirit.

We’ll address the men in our next devotion. However, may all of you ladies reflect Christ in your marriage. May your faith, and may the expression of your faith, draw your husband to the Lord rather than hinder him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gracious Submission

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

(1 Peter 2:18-25 ESV)

I think it’s safe to say that most of us want nothing to do with submission. When we’re called in Scripture to submit, the hair on our neck stands on end. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. And we don’t want to be under anyone’s authority but our own.

Perhaps our American mindset, of absolute freedom, plays into this. We’re constantly being reminded of our freedoms and liberties. However, our problem with submission ultimately flows from our sinful nature. It flows from our desire to be lord of our own life.

Our reaction against submission is even more severe when we deem our authorities unjust. If we feel that we’re being treated unfairly, our instinct is to rebel. Our instinct is to push back.

However, as we see in the above passage, we are called to submit to our authorities. And we’re called to do so not only when we’re being treated justly. We’re called to submit even when we’re being treated unfairly.

We’re called upon, in this passage, to suffer graciously. We’re told that it’s a credit to us when we endure injustice. We are called upon to follow the example of Christ.

We’re reminded that what Jesus suffered was far from just. However, as he suffered, he did not react against his persecutors. He, instead, entrusted himself into the care of God.

He did this for us. He did this for our blessing. He did this that he might bear the punishment of our sin.

He did this that we might die to our sinful nature. He did this that we might not continue living for sin. He did this that we might, instead, live for the glory of God.

When we’re treated unjustly by our authorities, we are to graciously submit.  We are to do so for the blessing of those around us. We’re to do so even for the blessing of those who dole out our suffering.

We’re to do so, entrusting ourselves to the care of God. We’re to entrust ourselves to him knowing that, even if we don’t receive justice in this life, we will in the end. We can be confident that those who act to harm us will ultimately answer to him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Why Resolutions Fail

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Romans 2:4 ESV

With the change of year, many of us make resolutions. We see things in our life that we want to change, and we resolve to do better. Maybe we want to eat better and lose weight. Perhaps we want to better handle our finances. Or maybe we want to take control of our speech.  But, whatever the case may be, we look at the new year as an opportunity to start with a clean slate.

Sadly, few of us make it even a month before abandoning our efforts. We quickly tire of battling old habits and desires, and go back to our prior way of life. And, in the end, we are no different than we were the previous year.

The same is often true in our life of faith. As we look to God’s Word, our sin is evident. And we want to do better. We want to leave these sins behind.

Once again, we strive to do better. But, we quickly tire of these efforts. And before long, we return to the sin we desired to leave behind.

We will never be free of sin this side of eternity. But, as we seek to do better, as we seek to turn from sin, we have the wrong motive. Our reason for making a change is insufficient.

We often try to change for our own sake, to make ourselves a better person. We try to change because we want to feel better about ourselves. We try to change in an effort to make ourselves worthy of God and his blessings. We try to change in an effort to improve our image and our standing in this life.

With motives like these, we will never make a permanent change. Once the battle gets hard, we’ll decide it’s no longer worth it. We’ll conclude that our efforts are futile and that true change is elusive.

However, when we truly recognize the kindness of God, true change, true repentance, is possible. Recognizing that God has provided salvation in spite of our unworthiness, recognizing that he loved us when we were unlovable, this repentance flows naturally. In response to his love, we want nothing more than to love this God in return. As we see above, God’s kindness leads us to repentance.

At this point, change that couldn’t be attained by our own willpower, that we were powerless to effect in our life, suddenly becomes possible.  And it’s the gospel that makes it possible. The message of God’s grace, and the reception of that grace, results in a sincere repentance and the power of God at work in our heart.

Our focus, then, must not be on the things we can do to change. Our focus must be upon Christ and what he has done for us. We must sincerely trust in the gospel knowing that, as we do so, he will be at work within us and that change will happen.