A recurring question that the women I talk with have is, “What is the most important ingredient for a happy home?” I am amazed that they anticipate a deep theological or intricate management strategy to come forth from my lips.However, my response is generally something like, “the key ingredient, regardless of your marital status to a happy home, is found in 1 Peter 3:4—we are to do whatever is necessary to cultivate ‘the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.’” Gentle is actually ‘meek or humble’ and quiet describes the character of her action and reaction of her husband and life in general.Such is precious not only to her husband, but also to God.”(1) Extensive bible or management strategy study may yield solid facts.However, the information gleaned is only cold, hard facts if a “gentle and quiet spirit” is not the cornerstone of their application.
I vividly recall the night I arrived home from a long day on campus and found a Fed Ex tag hanging on my front door.I could not imagine what the package might contain.I investigated the tracking number using my computer and found that it was sent from Chicago. There was only one business in Chicago where I had current contact—Moody Publishers.I signed the tag, giving my permission to have the delivery person leave the package at my home the following day.I approached the front door that evening with great anticipation! Lifting the seal of the envelope, I withdrew the contents and my eyes beheld the cover of Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God.The first adjective that crossed my mind was gentle.From my perspective, the cover designers had captured the intent of the book’s content—power under the control of my heavenly Father.Our goal was to communicate biblical truth on how to become a woman who pleases God, powerfully and gently inviting the readers to consider the principles.The cover reinforced a significant spiritual lesson: As a woman seeking to please my heavenly Father, I do not have to demonstrate a lack of backbone, nor be like a rag doll that flops about.Rather, I am to exhibit strength under the control of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Such behavior demonstrates a gentle and quiet spirit “which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).
The book of First Peter provides us with principles that challenge us to establish a lasting standard of beauty concurrently with establishing what God’s will is for our lives. Principle is defined as “an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct.”(2) Peter not only provides us with principles for living out God’s will for our lives, he also provides us with two role models—Christ (1 Peter 2:21-25) and Sarah (1 Peter 3:6). Let’s take a look at the principles Peter suggests . . .
- Christ is our primary example for a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 2:21-25).Our internal thought life, which controls our outward behavior (Philippians 4:8-9), is to reflect that our lives were changed for the better when we were “called” (1 Peter 2:21)—that is, when we became Christians (2 Corinthians 5:17). The liberty Jesus gives us is not license to do everything our old nature directs us to do, but freedom to do what is right (John 8:34-36; Romans 8:1-11; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1; James 1:22-25).
- We are to direct our energy toward beauty that endures. This includes acknowledging that our attitudes are affected by how we dress.The Conselle Institute of Image Management teaches, “The way you look directly affects the way you think, feel, and act.”(3)Judith Rasband, director of the Institute says, “When you dress down, you sit down—the couch potato trend.Manners break down, you begin to feel down, and you’re not as effective.” (4) In Peter's day, as in ours, women put heavy emphasis on their appearance. Peter is not trying to say women should not dress attractively.He is saying, however, that we should not concentrate on making appearance our sole source of beauty (1 Peter 3:3). His illustration of lasting beauty refers the reader to the holy women who did not adorn themselves with the temporal cultural extravagances of their day, but rather with the timeless hope in God that produces beauty of character and disposition (1 Peter 3:4-5). Sarah (1Peter 3:6) is cited as an example of a woman who possessed inner beauty, character, modesty, and submissiveness to her husband (Genesis 12:11-20; 1 Peter 3:6).
- All Christians are to live in harmony.As God’s children, we are called to live in harmony with one another (1 Peter 3:8-9). This applies not only to husbands and wives but also to other members of the body of Christ.In this passage, Peter suggests behaviors for successful relationships among Christians.A number of words and phrases (harmonious, absence of nagging, brotherly, chaste, faithful, forgiving spirit, humble, kind-hearted, respectful, and submissive) help us understand what it means to live in harmony..May I encourage you to study each of these words and phrases and develop a strategy for living in harmony with others?
Exemplifying spiritual and physical beauty requires time and effort.To “multitask” the two (a key management skill) consider using this spiritual grooming routine as you dress daily…
- As I physically cleanse my body spiritually I will ask my heavenly Father to create a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
- As I physically apply my foundation (make-up) spiritually I will recall that as God’s child I was chosen from the foundation of the world and that my standard of living for this day is to align with His Holy standard (Ephesians 1:4).
- As I physically accentuate my eyes spiritually I will keep my eyes focused on Jesus, the object of my faith and salvation (Hebrews 12:2).
- As I physically color my lips spiritually I will purpose to say and think those things that are acceptable to my heavenly Father (Psalm 19:14).
- As I physically arrange my hair spiritually I will recall that my heavenly Father has numbered the hairs of my head (Matthew 10:30).
- As I physically put on my garments spiritually I will meditate on the clothing of the Christian soldier and purpose to put on the full armor of God today (Ephesians 6:10-20).
As we exemplify spiritual and physical beauty, we will fulfill Peter’s instruction of not allowing our adornment to be merely external because we have chosen to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:3-4) concurrently possessing the most important ingredient for a happy home! (5)
1 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word: 1997), note at 1 Peter 3:4.
2 Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. “principle.”
3 E. Kaplan-Leiserson, “Casual Dress/Back-to-business Attire,” Training and Development, 54, no.11, (2Ibid, 39.000)54, no. 11, 38-39.
4 Ibid, 39.
5 For further elaboration see Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock Designing a Lifestyle that Pleases God (Chicago: Moody, 2004), 259-274.