It really is outstanding how much emphasis the Spirit leads Peter to place on right relationships in addressing a people who are experiencing increasing pressure amid persecution. And I can’t help but think that, knowing our frame and the nature of our flesh — having experienced our humanity and been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 2:18, 4:15) — the Lord knows that when the heat gets turned up on people, people have a way of turning on one another. And yet, it’s in such times — when being “crabby” towards others is a natural by-product of crushing concerns, when back-biting becomes the fruit of bad times, when tribalism emerges from tension — that right relationships can draw people to a Righteous Savior “without a word” by our conduct.
And so Peter talks first about right relationships to “every human institution”, even exhorting these believers to “honor the emperor” behind their increasing persecution (1Pet. 2:13, 17b). Then he talks about right relationships between servants and their masters, regardless of whether their masters are “good and gentle” or “unjust.” He lays out a high-road posture modeled after Him who walked the road to Calvary (1Pet. 2:18-25).
This morning, I’m hovering over Peter’s exhortations of how to hold it together in the home when the pressures of the world take people to a breaking point. In particular, I’m chewing on something that I’m pretty sure isn’t for wives only.
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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — 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.
(1Peter 3:1-4 ESV)
What caught my eye was the word “imperishable.” Incorruptible in the NKJV. Unfading in the NIV. In essence, undecaying.
The word isn’t used a lot in the NT. Paul talks about an imperishable wreath for those who run the race well (1Cor. 9:25). In 1Corinthains 15, he uses imperishable 5 times to describe the nature of the resurrected body (1Cor. 15:42). An imperishable body is the only body fit to inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor. 15:50), and will be the eternal testimony that “death is swallowed up in victory” (1Cor. 15:54). Peter uses imperishable three times in this letter. The first two times to describe the nature of our inheritance “kept in heaven for you” (1Pet. 1:4), and then the nature of the seed of the word of God by which we’ve been born again (1Pet. 1:23). The third time, talking about the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
Hmmm. Respect and pure conduct sure seems to carry an eternal weight in God’s economy. To adorn oneself with a gentle and quiet spirit apparently rivals other unimaginable beauties of heaven. Gold jewelry and fine clothing will perish, but not so putting on the beauty of the Savior.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart . . . ” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 11:29 ESV)
A gentle and quiet spirit. Oh, how this isn’t the natural me. Especially when the points start piling up on my stress chart. In fact, how easy it is for me when I’m feeling maxed to be “crabby in heart” and reckless with words.
But praise God for a supernatural gospel. A cross where confession can be made. Blood once poured out as the just basis for a holy Father to forgive all sin and cleanse from all unrighteousness. A righteousness credited to my account, and an indwelling Helper to lead me in drawing from that account, so that my heart can, in practicality, know the adornment of the imperishable beauty of a gentle quiet spirit even as it is more and more reflective of His gentle and lowly heart living through me.
Respectful and pure conduct. Gentle and quiet spirit. An imperishable beauty. Not for wives only.
By His grace. For His glory.