Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Submission in Marriage
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:1-4 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
I saw a cartoon in a Leadership Journal some time ago in which a preacher had prepared the pulpit area like a fortress. He was peering through the crack of a machine gun nest. The caption read, “Today my text is 1 Peter 3:1, ‘Wives submit to your husbands.’”
If you did your homework from yesterday, you have a better understanding of what it means to be submissive. I’ll assume that’s true, and step out from behind my fortress. I want you to notice today that the command to wives to be submissive to their husbands is not contingent upon whether or not they are saved. These are not special instructions to wives who have unbelieving husbands. They are to be the guidelines for all women. The admonition to be a woman of purity, reverence is given to all wives. The instruction to be beautiful from the inside out and have a gentle and quiet spirit is given to all women. In the event that a husband is not a follower of Christ, these qualities in his wife will be the best chance he has to be won to Christ. In the event that the husband is a believer, these qualities in his wife will bring him the greatest blessings in marriage.
I also want you to notice the distinction Peter makes between behavior and characteristics. He does not instruct women to act as if they have these qualities of Christ, but to actually be the living example of these attributes of their Lord. Behavior is not to be an act. Behavior is to be a product – a product of a pure heart which reflects the nature of Christ.
Jill Briscoe, wife of Pastor Stuart Briscoe, relates this story about her married life:
Stuart and I brought our families and religious heritages to our marriage. My father, a quiet, gentle man, considered himself head of his home: protector, defender, and provider. My mom was a sweet, Scottish- born Presbyterian. She believed in the sovereignty of God and her husband. My father adored my mother, put his considerable business assets into her name, and looked to her to raise the children. When my sister came of age, my father supported her when she became an excellent car mechanic and raced cars. Eventually she took her place at his side as partner in his successful car business.
Stuart’s family was strict, conservative evangelical. His father was an elder in a small local assembly of believers, and he took seriously his responsibility to rule the household well. He considered himself the authority in his family, while his wife, a bright, articulate, efficient lady, considered herself in subjection to her husband in everything, carrying those convictions to her dress, her hair style, and silence in the presence of men at the church.
Newly converted at a college in Cambridge and having just been introduced to Stuart’s family, I remember wondering greatly about this amazing mode of doing things. I sensed an unconscious frustration of unexplored desires and frustrated gifts in my mother-in-law. It was as if those gifts sat meekly inside her heart with eyes downcast and wearing a hat.
In that moment as a new believer, I believe I stumbled on an important truth of what submission isn’t. Submission isn’t sitting down on the outside while you’re standing up on the inside.
Submission is not an act. It is not an obligation. It is not simple obedience to a command. It is a reflection of the very nature of Christ within us. Jesus submitted to the will of the Father because He loved Him. He gave Himself up for us because He loved us, and wanted what was best for us – forgiveness of sin. We do not truly reflect Jesus unless we are living lives of submission and surrender to Him. That, in turn, will cause us to submit and surrender to those we love so that their best might be accomplished.
Submission is never selfish. Check yourself on this in your marriage today. The issues and problems you may be facing are probably your own fault (sorry for the finger pointing) because your selfishness is showing. Let the quiet and gentle spirit of Christ captivate your heart, and surrender. It’s the guaranteed way to experience the fullness of love.