Monday, June 22, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: What Are You Afraid Of?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:5-6 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
After Philip Yancey and his wife reached their 25th wedding anniversary, he reflected on their experience:
Before marriage, each by instinct strives to be what the other wants. The young woman desires to look sexy and takes up interest in sports. The young man notices plants and flowers, and works at asking questions instead of just answering monosyllabically. After marriage, the process slows and somewhat reverses. Each insists on his or her rights. Each resists bending to the other’s will.
After years, though, the process may subtly begin to reverse again. I sense a new willingness to bend back toward what the other wants—maturely, this time, not out of a desire to catch a mate but out of a desire to please a man who has shared a quarter-century of life. I grieve for those couples who give up before reaching this stage.
Unfortunately, many couples do give up before they reach the stage of surrender and submission again. We generally call that the mid-life crisis. It’s that age where unfulfilled dreams and goals become over exaggerated and attack our sense of worth. We feel slighted by the life we are living. We begin to see greener grass on the other side of the fence. We become self-centered, which, if left unchecked, will lead to self-serving choices. In the case of women, this will lead to affairs with men who communicate, understand, and validate their dreams. Their perception quickly changes and they begin to believe that submission will never accomplish any grand purpose in their lives, and that God has left them to fend for themselves.
I think today’s verses from Peter give us a key to understanding this. In his final statement about the true beauty of a woman, he gives a warning. I believe the whole discussion on the subject of submission hinges on this one point. Peter says to be careful not to give way to fear. What kind of fear is he talking about?
To begin with, I do not believe he is talking about being afraid of another person. He is not advocating ignoring fear caused by potential or real physical harm from an abusive husband. In the context of his whole discussion on submission, it seems that Peter is referring to the fear that is self-generated by pride. It is the fear that stems from the false belief that self cannot and will not be fulfilled or satisfied by obedience to any other person. Fear like that is the product of distrust. Not distrust of people, but distrust of the promise of God.
My dear friends – my heart is heavy today. While yesterday was a fantastic Father’s Day filled with family and fun for me, I am disturbed by the overwhelming blindness of people to their own pride, especially within the context of marriage. I deal with far too many relationship issues with people that are based on one common point contention reflected in statements such as I’m not being satisfied, or He’s not meeting my needs, or When do I get to fulfill my dreams for life?
Ladies, I’m not assuming that every husband is perfect, but if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and your husband, saved or unsaved, is willing to live with you, support you, care for you, and love you, then the true beauty of Christ will be seen in you by trusting God to use your husband to fulfill you. Do not give way to the fear that God will not fulfill His promise to you. Do not let fear cause you to run from doing what is right and turn instead to self-fulfillment. Be patient, and trust God. Put your hope in Him, not in what you think the world will provide for you. There’s way too much self-gratification going on. There’s way too much denial that it is. Surrender to Christ. Submit to others. Be the servant of those God has put into your life, and trust Him to exalt you.