Tag Archives: attitudes

08. Winning behavior: Repay evil with blessing

Our way is not words, but behavior, not outward apparel, but inner beauty. Repay evil with blessing. Jesus is our way. We are followers, pure, modest, beautiful, human, and faithful.

Daughters of Sarah Bible Study session 8 (1 Peter 3:1-12).

We Are Followers

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… (3:1)

In the same way as what? Backing up into verses 20-25 of chapter 2, we find the context is speaking of Jesus and his submission to the unfairness he suffered in order to purchase our redemption.

“In the same way…” Jesus is our way. He has set us an example. Now he tells us that his way is not words, but behavior. Jesus could have told us over and over from heaven, “I love you.” But his words would have rang empty, and we would have still been forever separated, were it not for his behavior:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death —
even death on a cross!

–Philippians 2:5-8

We Are Pure

The Bible says our husbands may be won without words “when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (3:2). Our words will ring empty, too, without proper behavior. Our behavior is to be manifested by the purity and reverence of our lives.

God explains further that outward behavior begins with inner change.

“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” (3:3-4).

We Are Modest

The way we behave on the outside will reflect what we are on the inside. What we put on the outside or leave off of the outside will reflect our inner purity as well. We have an important role here.

The Christian community will throw stones at a man who is in an adulterous relationship. Yet it is acceptable for Christian women to adorn themselves, even at church, with as little as they can get by with, and then a little less. Somehow we’ve got our values all messed up.

Temptation is everywhere for men. A Christian woman can walk by wearing a skimpy garment. She finds pleasure in the attention she gets for the moment, and just as quickly, her mind is on other things. But she leaves behind her a man struggling to capture the emotions she has unraveled within him. He may have committed his heart to sexual purity before God. Now he feels guilty for the lust he finds in his mind, even though he has done his best to avoid temptation. Who will God hold accountable for this evil? (Update 4-5-2006: For an eye-opening look at this subject from a young Christian man’s viewpoint, see On Modest Dress.)

We have a major responsibility, ladies, to dress in such a way as to help men live above reproach in a sin-sick world. Woe to us if we adorn ourselves in such a manner to pull them down to the level we have lowered ourselves to when we dress immodestly.

We Are Beautiful

When we get our attitudes in order, our actions will follow.

We’ve been taught since we were tiny that beauty is what is on the inside, not the outside, but we’ve never believed it. We take time to get our makeup just right, coax a lock of hair into the right place, and make the necessary adjustments in front of a full length mirror to be sure we’ve put together a lovely package. But that same morning, we brush by our Bible on our way out the door and think to ourselves, “I really should take time to read that…maybe tomorrow.”

God says this is wrong: “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. 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” (v. 4-6).

We Are Human

Sarah was human just like us, ladies. She laughed in disbelief when God said she would have a child in her old age. Then she lied to cover up her lack of faith:

Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, `Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

–Genesis 18:10-15

Sarah was not perfect, yet God calls her a holy woman of the past and says she had unfading beauty because she subjected herself to her husband, did what was right, and did not give way to fear. God puts a high priority on this.

We Are Faithful

How do we give way to fear? We fear that when we obey our husbands in what seems to be poor judgment on his part we will bring disaster on ourselves and our children. We don’t have to fear being obedient. Obedience to God via our husbands is right. God will honor our obedience and take care of us.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (v. 7).

“Ah… finally we are getting to the heart of the matter. I would if he would!” We sound like Spiritual two-year-olds. How God must long for us to grow up and realize that our husband’s failure does not free us.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (v. 8).

We are commanded to live in harmony. Our part is submission. We are commanded to love as brothers. Is it possible to love our husband with brotherly love as well as romantic love? It is not only possible, it is necessary. What is brotherly love? Compassion and humility are good descriptions.

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (v. 9).

Do you want to get even with your husband? How can we repay evil with blessing? What is promised if we repay with blessing?

“For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it…'” (v. 10-11).

If we keep our tongue from evil but harden it in our heart, are we okay then? No, what is in our heart will eventually spill over. We can only keep the lid on so long.

“…Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Submission starts in the heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (v. 12).

Do you want God’s eyes and ears attentive to you or against you? The greatest blessing on earth is to have the God of the universe attentive to our prayers. He asks so little in return. He only asks that we trust him, trust him enough to be submissive to his leadership through our husbands. God calls us to submission to teach us faith so he can bless us.

You can trust God. He gave his Son for you.

Prayer

Lord, this is more than we can do. We’ve already failed. Thank you that you understand our humanity. Forgive us, and lead us onward from here. We follow. Amen.

Questions for Discussion

Is it possible for us to live as Jesus did?
How does our humanity fit into all of this?
How do the clothes we wear reflect the level of purity and reverence in our hearts?
What is the relationship between attitudes and actions?
What is the relationship between fear and faith?

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. Rid youself of selfish attitudes: Needed and honored

If our attitudes are wrong at home, they are wrong everywhere. There is only one right answer: Rid yourselves! Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander can destroy a home.

Daughters of Sarah Bible Study session 4 (1 Peter 2:1-8).

We Are Needed

Does this mean we are not to have any role in the decisions of our home? Not at all. We owe it to our husbands to share with him our insights on the issues we face together. But we are not to force these insights upon him. We are to offer them in love with respect for the leadership role that God has given to him. The Bible says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (2:1).

Rid yourselves! Rid is an action word. We tend to think of this Scripture as referring to someone else. Or we think it refers to our attitudes toward other people in general. We need to bring this verse home where it hurts. If our attitudes are wrong at home, they are wrong everywhere. This is not multiple choice. There is only one right answer: Rid yourselves!

In your home, toward your husband, is there

  • malice?
  • deceit?
  • hypocrisy?
  • envy?
  • slander?

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (2:1)

A newborn baby craves only one thing — pure milk. When we are born again, we are born to crave God’s pure milk. We feed on it. We are nourished. However as we grow, and develop an appetite for more solid food, we often turn away from God’s wholesome word to the delicasies of the world.

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

We are like a two-year-old whose favorite word is “me.” We stomp our feet if we don’t get our candy bar. We bang our head on the wall when our husbands fail to live according to Godly standards. We sulk and pout when our husbands attempt to lead us against our “better” judgment. What we don’t realize is that our role of submission is just as important, and just as honorable, in the kingdom of God as our husband’s role of leadership.

We Are Honored

Where is a wife to turn when her husband fails to honor her as he should?

“As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame'” (2:4-6).

Are you rejected by others, maybe even your husband? You are chosen by God. Think about it: not just accepted, but chosen! You are “…chosen by God and precious to him.” He uses the same words for you that he uses for his Son when he calls him a “chosen and precious cornerstone…” You are chosen and precious.

By submitting, we are not accepting a role of second class citizens. Some husbands may treat their wife as though they were inferior. But the wife who submits her heart and actions to God is highly honored by God. He himself was rejected by men and he understands the plight of a wife whose husband has rejected his responsibility to care for her in love. The real problem is not our husbands. The problem is our own hearts.

We Are Obedient

“Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for (2:7-8).

Many women stumble at the command of submission. They fall because they disobey. They miss God’s best.

Let us rid ourself of the selfish attitudes that keep us from God’s best for us. Let us submit to God and experience the security and richness of a life rooted deeply in the Cornerstone of life itself, Jesus Christ our Savior.

Prayer

Lord, help us to rid ourselves of attitudes that hinder us from being obedient to you by respecting the authority you have given our husbands. Thank you that we are “chosen by God and precious to him” as we are built upon the foundation of your Son, “a chosen and precious cornerstone.” Thank you that you promised us that “the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Amen.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What should we do when we do not agree with our husband’s decisions for our home?
  2. How do the attitudes listed above from 1 Peter 2:1 hinder us from being the wives God has called us to be?
  3. How can we rid ourselves of these attitudes?
  4. How would you respond to someone who argued that to submit to our husbands as head of our home is to acknowledge that we are inferior to them?
  5. Explain how our role of submission is just as important and honorable in the kingdom of God as our husband’s role of leadership.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted.