‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 16. Silent Witness
1 Pet 3:1 “if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words”
I sense there is often a feeling of defensiveness when we approach gender differences in the New Testament and so I should say from the start that we’ll come to Christian husbands tomorrow but for now – Christian wives. (This could also apply to reaching a friend). The world is in compete confusion over gender but as far as the Bible is concerned male and female are distinct in terms of physical, emotional makeup and roles. Science and simple observations indicate that generally speaking women are better communicators – and therein is a danger. We may think we can argue our partner into the kingdom. That doesn’t work and the apostle Peter has a better idea.
Arguing, and dare I risk adding, nagging, will NEVER convince your unsaved partner (or friend). Words will have a place somewhere along the line but probably only after you have been demonstrating a whole lot of love, care, understanding, and acceptance (WHILE you are still praying). Here’s a challenging question: are there any subjects in your partnership / friendship that are taboo? If so, why? When we love one another – AND demonstrate it – it paves the way to face anything – fears, doubt, worries, faith. Ask the Lord for wisdom here (Jas 1:5)
So let’s look again at what Peter is saying here. There is a negative followed by a positive. The negative is, give up trying to win your husband over with words. The positive is win him over with the sort of person you are on the inside. That transfers the consideration of this battle from an exterior one fought with words to an interior one fought by the Spirit.
Peter asks you to be nothing other than what you naturally can be as a child of God filled with His Spirit. Consider again the words he uses: “the purity and reverence of your lives… the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit … do what is right and do not give way to fear.” This doesn’t stop you being an energized wife, a dynamic mother, a powerful career woman.
Now I say these things because the closing words of Peter that I have cited are unusual and I have never heard anyone preach on them: “and do not give way to fear.” Now I understand that there are violent men and physical abuse in marriage relationships is not uncommon, mostly by men, but I don’t think that is what Peter is talking about here, although I will refer to it again tomorrow. No, I believe we observe two extremes in modern Western culture. On one hand there is the rise of the powerful career woman and on the other side the large number of women who suffer from what we often refer to as ‘low self-esteem’ which is not a phrase I find in the Bible but is nevertheless very common. I believe Peter addresses this latter group and his call in the whole paragraph is to know who you are, a child of God with all the resources of God.
You don’t have to pretend to be someone who you are not but the Lord holds out His hands to His daughters in order to help them become the women of God they are called to be. This isn’t only about being praying people but it is about godliness and all that is encapsulated in that word. Let me surprise you: the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal 5:22,23) – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” are fruits of the Spirit, fruits of God to enable us to be like God – that is godliness. As these things grow in us, any man would be stupid not to want to cherish this one, please this one, be open to this one, love this one; these are wonderful characteristics to have. So you want your male partner to turn to the Lord? Then focus on yourself. I bet you never thought you’d hear that! But yes, focus on being the godly woman that Peter talks about, and leave the rest to the Lord. When your partner starts opening, up, you’ll know what to do or say, because you’re a godly child of God.