First Peter 3 1-7
What is beauty? Some say it all depends on your perspective. That is true from a worldly perspective. For example: Three people were visiting and viewing the Grand Canyon--an artist, a pastor, and a cowboy. As they stood on the edge of that massive canyon, each one responded with a cry of exclamation. The artist said, "Ah, what a beautiful scene to paint!" The minister cried, "What a wonderful example of the handiwork of God!" The cowboy said, "What a terrible place to lose a cow!"
When it comes to people what standards do we use to decide what beauty really is? Unfortunately once again the culture we live in often dictates what beauty is. Beauty is deemed by color of hair, skin, teeth, being tall or short, skinny or fat. Our current culture says beauty for a woman is mostly external. The focus on size and looks is what advertising thrives upon. To show you the contrast in cultures let me quote a true account from Dr. Joe Stowell.
It was absolutely amazing. I was in West Africa—Timbuktu to be exact—and the missionaries were telling me that in that culture the larger the women were the more beautiful they were thought to be. In fact, a young missionary who had a small, trim wife said that the nationals had told him she was a bad reflection on him—he obviously was not providing well enough for her. A proverb in that part of Africa says that if your wife is on a camel and the camel cannot stand up, your wife is truly beautiful.
Fan The Flame, J. Stowell,
I find it important that the Bibles focus on beauty is not like the worlds. The worlds is predominately external and the bible’s focus is predominantly on character, internal. Why? Just look at people. God has created such a diverse humanity externally that to say what beauty is from the visual aspect is to always exclude a good portion of the population. Fat skinny short tall blonde, redhead, brunette any of those will be exclusive. In fact based upon the current trends on beauty not many fit the mold.
Praise God we come to a passage that I hope will be an inspiration for the women here today and a proper way for the men to view women. It is very clear and direct which makes my task much easier. God takes the time here to tell us how a woman can be beautiful. The context is focused upon women and their relationship to their husband – be him a believer or unbeliever.
Read. V. 1-2 Right up front we see the word submissive. We have seen that submissive means to put yourself willingly under someone’s authority. Now that is a characteristic of all believers, men and women alike. Eph.5:21 In the marriage relationship a husband submits to God by loving his wife as Christ loves the church, a heartfelt, compassionate, edifying love – more on that next week. A wife is to submit to her husband to build him up, encourage, and allow him to be the man God wants him to be for his wife, children, the church and this world. She is to be a really beautiful woman for her man. So here is God’s description of a beautiful woman and therefore our standard to follow.
Please notice that conduct is an important draw to the gospel. When people see one living for the Lord it has an impact. In this case it was for an unbelieving husband. The same is true living in this world. Women can have a major role in being used by God to bring people to Christ just by the way you live. Note: your daily living will not save anyone they must hear the gospel but it is through your life that they see the life changing power of the gospel. The word see is eyewitness observation of daily conduct. So how is that seen?
First is purity – living a holy life. What you watch, read, where you go.
Second is reverence – a holy reverence for God. This may be as simple as clean language in the relationship.
v. 3 – 6 Before we deal with the third aspect let me point out that the passage does not say a woman is not allowed to wear jewelry or fine clothes. It says this is not were you beauty is come from. What God is saying is don’t trust in externals to attract your husband. What an important point for all women. If you are single and use externals to attract a man what happens when the externals aren’t that attractive anymore. I want every single person to hear this. If you base a relationship on externals on how one looks on the outside you have entered into a destructive relationship. Your looks will change sometimes drastically. You must look at who the person is more than what they externally look like.
Third gentle and quiet spirit. Please notice it does not say she is not to speak but a quiet spirit. Without going into an in-depth study on this it good to understand that there are two words used for quiet – one means absolute silence and the other used here and in 1 Timothy means self controlled speech or gentleness when speaking. The idea is non-argumentative. In God’s eyes this is of great worth. If that is God’s standard so to for us.
In verse 5-6 we read of past examples and especially Sarah. Notice that these women put their hope in God. They looked to God that He would accomplish His purposes. These ladies did not trust in their external looks but trusted God. They willingly put themselves under the authority of their husbands, trusting God to work in his life.
Sarah’s example of calling Abraham master is not the word a slave used for master. You must understand that is a title of respect and honor not a master/slave relationship. Sarah was one who when Abraham was called by God to leave his homeland and travel to an unknown location went with her husband and trusted his relationship with God. Sure Abraham was not perfect, none of us are yet she honored her husband.
You see, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the character of life as proclaimed by God. What freedom from the tyranny of the external when we look with the eyes of God. I thank the Lord MBC has by God’s standard some beautiful women. For your example of purity, reverence, and a gentle and quiet spirit – thank you.
If you happen to be married to a husband who is an unbeliever keep praying for his salvation and live as here directed by God. Ask God to give you the strength and power.
Let me close with this true account. A wife placed faith in Christ and came asking how she could be an influence for Christ in his life. The pastor had her read 1 Peter 3:1-6. Then added these suggestions: At a proper time tell your husband what has happened to you. Tell him of the love and forgiven of Christ, what a difference he has made in your life. Then never mention it again until he asks or until the Holy Spirit prompts you to speak. In the meantime, live for Christ in all you do. It was awhile later and PTL the man came to Christ. He was asked what influenced him the most. Without hesitation he said my wife. She told me what happened to her and then nothing more. She lived as a changed woman, no nagging, no preaching, she just loved me. And I knew what she had was real and I wanted that as well.
Pray for the women of MBC.
10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.