1 Peter 3:1 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, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 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. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 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.
As I have studied these passages this week, I have been made to realize that the persecution many of these Christians were facing did not come exclusively from the Roman government. They were experiencing persecution in almost every facet of their lives. Today we see that for some, their persecution was occurring in their own home.
In today’s passage, Peter addresses how a Christian husband or wife should respond to their unbelieving mate. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that Christian husbands and wives should not divorce their unbelieving mates, as long as their mate is pleased to remain in the marriage. (see 1 Corinthians 7:12-14) The reason Paul tells them to remain married is because the believing husband or wife can have a very positive spiritual influence upon their unbelieving mate. Peter echoes those thoughts in his instruction. To paraphrase Peter’s words –
“Christian wives, win your unbelieving husband to the Lord by the way you honor and respect his position of leadership. Back up your spiritual words by your godly behavior. Strive to be a beautiful wife for him: not by your external beauty, but by your internal beauty as well.”
“Christian husbands, honor your unbelieving wife by your sacrificial love. Demonstrate to her the gentle love of Jesus Christ. Draw her to your Savior by your Christlike behavior.” Peter adds an additional word of instruction to Christian husbands – “If you don’t treat your wife in this manner, you are out of the will of God and therefore the Lord will not hear your prayers.”
During my years in the ministry, I have counseled many Christian husbands and wives who wanted me to support their desire to divorce what they claimed to be a non-believing mate. I’ll never forget what one man said to me. Although he admitted that divorcing his wife was wrong, he also tried to make me believe that it was right. He reasoned that once he divorced his un-spiritual wife and asked for God’s forgiveness, he would then be free to marry another woman whom he said was very spiritual, and together they would be able to serve the Lord. All I could think of as he said this was – “You have got to be kidding me!”
What many of us do not realize is that serving the Lord is not just teaching a Sunday School class or serving food at a Rescue Mission. Serving the Lord involves every part of our lives. As citizens of this country, we serve the Lord by the way we live. As people who are trying to earn a living, we serve the Lord by the way we work for our employer and treat our fellow employees. As husbands and wives, moms and dads, sons and daughters – we serve the Lord by the way we treat those with whom we live with every day.