1 Peter 3 | Marissa Sharbaugh
So Amy pretty much summed up the book of 1 Peter perfectly when she said, "He calls his readers to lives of holiness and self-sacrifice out of gratitude and reverence for Christ." So how are we to do this today--living as godly women in light of our God-ordained suffering? Like Jenny stated, we need to understand that our natural self is more easily drawn to malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. We need to recognize our need, our dependence upon our All-Sufficient God--like that of a newborn baby. And just like that baby who craves milk, we need to long for the spiritual milk of the Word of God. In His Word, He reveals Himself to us. We learn of the character of God--His goodness, His faithfulness, His truth. It is when we know God's character that we can have peace in the midst of suffering. A verse that has become very real to me is Isaiah 26:3 which states, "You [God] keep him [you and me] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You." Our minds must be stayed on the very person of God.
Chapter 3 begins with Peter addressing both spouses with their God-designed roles, but we will look at God's instructions specifically to women. The word says wives "in the same way" submit. This is referring simply to the two examples he gave in chapter 2 (citizens being under civil authority and servants under their masters). This submission is not a manner of one party being inferior to the other, but rather God's chosen design for roles within the community and family. I am very thankful for the distinction that a women is to be subject to her OWN husband, not all men in every context.
By God's very design, wives who fulfill this submissive role can in fact point people to the gospel. This can be seen in both her appearance and her behavior. So what does that look like practically? The way Peter describes it here is chaste, respectful, having pure conduct, submissive, doing right, having a gentle and quiet spirit. Family life is CRAZY. Whether you have little babies or toddlers or school-aged or teenagers, every season has its own set of craziness. Home life can be the very opposite of still and tranquil. For some, like myself, to have a gentle/patient/quiet spirit requires work. I pray for it daily. I fail at it daily. But that striving and the grace for when I'm actually successful, Peter tells me that it is precious in God's sight. It's precious.
Peter knows that we need godly examples. He points us to the "former times", the example of Sarah in the Old Testament. Not only do we need examples from the past, but we need examples now. I would encourage you to seek out a godly older woman as described in Titus 2--a woman who will teach you love your husband and your children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to your own husband. This is glorifying to God. Then, don't hoard that knowledge, find a younger woman who needs to be taught the same things you've been taught.
A godly woman is also called to live in harmony with others, to be sympathetic (weeping and rejoicing with those who weep and rejoice Romans 12:15), declaring God's truth, affectionately serving, esteeming others higher than herself. When mistreated, she is to show unconditional love, blessing and forgiving the offender--striving for harmony without sacrificing the truth.
This book tells us that God is an active participant in our lives--in our suffering--and not simply a passive observer. First Peter 3:10-12 is actually quoting Psalm 34:12-16. I'm not sure why Peter stopped at verse 16. In the midst of suffering I have found great comfort in the two verses that follow, "When the righteous cry for help, The Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
We live in a broken, sin-cursed, hostile world. Believers are to embrace a devotion to Christ, a passion for goodness, a pure conscience, a willingness to suffer, and a readiness to defend the faith. We are reminded again that suffering in a God-honoring way is a blessing, a granted honor and privilege. In Revelation 2:10 John received a promise, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer... Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Suffering may come as God's loving hand of disciplining His child, but there is also suffering for doing what is right. We are called to accept that pain as part of God's wise and sovereign blessing for our life--"if that should be God's will" (3:17).
Many times suffering brings its own unique opportunities to be a faithful witness for Christ to a watching world and as godly women, we should be able and ready to make a defense for our hope. Our son Malachi was born with CHARGE and DiGeorge syndromes. His brief life, his death, and the grief I endure give me a platform for the gospel. Even worldly people are affected and saddened at the loss of a child. It gives me an amazing opportunity to share God's goodness and faithfulness and His truth in the midst of overwhelming darkness and heartache.
We serve a redemptive God. We serve a God who brings life from death. We serve a God whose character never changes or fails. We can have peace in our submission and peace in our suffering when we keep our eyes on His very character. And in so doing, we reflect the very person of Christ into the darkness of this world. The Christ who suffered once for the sins of all that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. The Christ who was resurrected from the dead who is now at the right hand of God over all angels, authorities, and powers (3:18-22).