“Let your beauty not be external - the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes - but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in the God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NET)
The verses that we have to memorize are those from which I took the title of this study. The word for beauty could be translated adornment. Although the words are found in this particular context, the thought that our primary adornment is to be in the heart applies to every area of our lives as women of God. Memorize these verses to help you remember what true beauty is all about.
Some of this lesson will be about marriage, and I realize that not all of you are married; however, we all do need to learn to have gentle and tranquil spirits. If you are single, there will be applications for you. Certainly, we all need to know what God says rather than what the world says about marriage so that we are prepared to stand for truth in a time of relativity. God designed marriage, and it is generally best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if we want it to work.
Reread 1 Peter 3:1-7.
1. Does 1 Peter 3:3 that mean that women should not wear gold rings, etc.? Carefully read the verse and any notes in your Bible, and explain your reasoning.
2. Peter describes the gentle and tranquil (quiet in NASB) spirit and its importance in v. 4. What descriptive phrases or adjectives are used and how do they emphasize the need for this kind of spirit? How does this help us understand that this is for all women, not just wives?
The idea of a gentle and quiet spirit used to really bother me. I am not particularly quiet spoken. When I get excited, sometimes my husband reminds me to speak more softly. When I really looked at these verses, I realized that it doesn’t say a gentle and quiet voice. How exciting! But what does it mean, then, to have a gentle and tranquil spirit? Dr. Wayne Grudem says that gentle means “’not insistent on one’s own rights’ or ‘not pushy,’ ‘not selfishly assertive, not demanding one’s own way.’”10
3. Look up these other verses that mention gentle or gentleness. Write down your thoughts and insights:
a. Matthew 5:5
b. Matthew 11:29
c. Galatians 5:22-23
4. Sharing question: In light of the verses on gentleness, what can you do to develop a more gentle and tranquil spirit?
5. Responding to God: Confess to God your lack of showing a gentle and tranquil spirit (I expect that we all fall short in this). Ask Him to help you in this area.
Reread 1 Peter 2:11-3:7.
6. How does Peter describe the kinds of husbands for whom he is concerned in 3:1? How does that relate to the general overriding purpose of God for our behavior in all these relationships according to 2:12?
In that day, the wife was expected to follow the religion of her husband. However, as the gospel spread, women came to faith in Jesus apart from their husbands, creating problems in the home. Although in our culture we are not expected to adopt the religion of our husbands, we have the same concern as these women in the first century that our husbands come to faith in Jesus.
7. What does Peter tell wives to do if they are to influence their husbands to faith?
8. If you are married, how can you apply these principles to issues other than salvation? If you are not married, are there situations where you can apply this?
9. Sharing question: Relate a story from your own life where you were influenced more by a person’s actions and attitudes than her words.
10. Sharing question: How are you doing in this area? Are you spending more time adorning your spirit or your body? Responding to God: Write a prayer being totally honest before God about your feelings and thoughts toward your husband or another person with whom you relate daily. Ask for God’s help where you are struggling.
Today we need to go back to the actual submission issue. As I mentioned in last week’s lesson, there is much confusion about it. Some women see it as simply obeying whatever their husbands request without comment. I don’t think that is the Scriptural principle for marriage at all. So to understand what it means to submit in marriage, we need to look at the major marriage principles back in the beginning, remembering that marriage was created by God in the garden before sin entered the world.
Read Genesis 2:18-25.
11. According to v. 18 God made woman as a helper. If you are to help your husband, does that mean silently standing by while he makes decisions? Why or why not?
12. Consider vv. 23-24. What is emphasized about the relationship of husband and wife? (You can find emphasis by the repetition of an idea, not necessarily the same wording.) If that is the way God describes marriage, what does that imply about decision-making?
Read Genesis 2:9-12.
13. What do you learn about submission in marriage, the wife/husband relationship, and God’s will from this passage?
I believe that we are to submit to the leadership of our husbands as wives, but I also recognize that many have distorted what that means. I once read a book that made the command to submit into a higher law than the other commands of Scripture. It suggested that wives were to submit to any request and just trust God to protect them. Somehow the author denied our personal responsibility before God in obeying the other instructions of the Bible. Choosing to submit does not mean choosing sin. When it is blatantly sinful to submit, we must choose to obey the more specific instruction in God’s Word.
In my marriage, submission rarely comes up because we work together in unity to make our decisions. When we do disagree, I have learned to defer to my husband who is responsible before God for the decision; however, I am responsible to share my perspective with him because I am his helper. Again, the key to my attitude is faith. I believe that God is powerful enough to change Gary’s mind if He desires and can use a bad decision for our good; thus, God may choose to allow him to make a poor choice. Whatever consequences follow, our mighty God will use it in some way, even if the purpose is hidden from me. Because I believe that, I don’t have to manipulate, pressure, or argue when I think I am right. I can respect my husband and know that it is between him and God. I state my perspective and then leave it between them. (I do have to add that I really have to pray through that sometimes, especially with money decisionsJ)
14. Review Lesson Five, Day Three where we studied the limits on submission. Think of an example of a situation when a wife should not submit to her husband.
15. Sharing question: What is your attitude toward your husband’s leadership? How can your group pray for you concerning this issue?
Read the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:2-42.
Abigail had a truly difficult husband and in this particular case, she chose to act in opposition to his decision concerning the matter of David and his men. She did not submit to his stated desires.
16. What benefits happened as a result of Abigail’s actions, not only to her and her husband but also to David?
17. How do you see Abigail respect and honor Nabal even when she did not submit to him?
18. What lessons do you see in Abigail’s life which apply to a difficult marriage and to submission?
Submission does not mean that you are to submit to physical abuse from your husband. When you are in danger of harm, you need to act wisely to protect yourself and your family. Although Abigail was not in physical danger from Nabal, both she and her husband were in danger, and she acted to protect them and their servants.
Peter uses Sarah as his example of a submissive wife in 3:5-6. He is probably not commenting on any specific action of Sarah’s but on her general attitude and submissive heart. I have read some who use Sarah to suggest that we submit to anything that our husbands ask, but I don’t think that is Peter’s point here.
19. What does Peter emphasize about Sarah in 1 Peter 3:5-6?
Again, attitude has a lot to do with submission. I find that when I respect my husband and expect him to make good decisions that he never has a problem with my sharing my opinions as well (and may decide that I am right); however, when I suggest that he doesn’t know what he is doing, I am failing to honor him and respect him as I should. The issue isn’t that I can’t state my perspective, it is that I need to do it in the right way with the right attitude.
Our story this week is about a wife who learned to submit to her husband, who was an unbeliever at the time. Even if you are not married, you will enjoy the lessons she learned about submitting to God, and you will be encouraged in areas where you are learning to submit to others (not my favorite thing to do).
I learned to submit to my husband when my marriage was on the rocks and I came to know the Lord through that rough time. I learned to first yield to Jesus as my Savior and Lord of my life. Nothing short of losing my husband, especially to another woman, could have prepared me to yield to Jesus.
My whole life I had planned to have a career. Because I had a crisis pregnancy in high school, I was forced out of school (a parochial school). I got my GED, eventually got my business degree from SMU, and was ready to try to enter the work force when this marital crisis hit. We had a brief separation. When I was invited back into the home, I was told that I would not be able to work outside the house. My biggest dream was crushed, but because of my newfound relationship with the Lord, I looked to Him and said, “Lord, now what? Be a housewife?!!! Give up my idea of being a businesswoman co-equal with men? Okay.” I never felt so vulnerable as I did then. I had just gotten my degree and all for naught.
My husband was cold, distant and affectionately unavailable for me. What’s more he was still maintaining a friendship with the other woman and her husband. I felt much pain and hurt from those experiences but I learned to lean on Jesus.
I asked the Lord for friendships with other women during this time, but He told me no! He was sufficient. It was during those lonely times that I learned to run to Him whenever trouble hit. He alone was my sufficiency, and I had to learn it without anyone around. This lesson has stood me in good stead. No friend, no counselor, pastor, spiritual advisor was available--only the One that could really do something about my pain and the offensiveness my husband threw my way. Praise God for the crucible. I’m a much stronger person today for it!
I learned not only to submit to God’s principles and to my husband but learned that I needed to change. My ever-constant prayer was “Change me, Lord, change me!” I didn’t like me because I figured I brought on most of the pain. When I tried to make things better, they backfired, so I concluded that it must be me!
Today I’m learning to submit to things I can’t control. I am learning that not everyone will like me nor will they understand me. And that’s okay. When I feel unappreciated, ignored or disliked by others, I’m learning to look to God for my comfort. It’s amazing how much change that has made in my attitude and in my countenance. It is a freedom from the snare that Satan often has put in my path to steal, kill and destroy my abundant life here and now. Praise God, I’m still a work in progress!
20. Sharing question: As you consider 1 Peter 2:11-3:7, what area of submission is most difficult for you personally? Why?
21. Sharing question: Share with your group a specific way that you have found to develop a more gentle and quiet spirit - specific prayers, verses to memorize, Scriptures to read, simply leaving the room, etc.
22. Responding to God: What one specific action will you take this week to become more beautiful in this way? Write it out in the first person, i.e. I will . . ., and remember that God takes us seriously when we say we will do something.