Contrary Christianity

1 Peter 3:7

November 29, 2014 | Brian Bill

Aren’t you glad we can count on God’s faithfulness?  I was struck by Abraham Lincoln’s leadership when he spoke these words during his second inaugural address in 1864, when our country was in danger of coming apart at the seams during the Civil War: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”  

Let’s give attention to the passage that comes right after our text for today.  Turn to 1 Peter 3:8-12 as we allow God’s Word to speak into our world right now: 

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.  For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.  Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”

I decided to keep the title (“Contrary Christianity”) that I had originally chosen for this sermon even though it will really be part two of “Help for a Hurting Marriage” as we focus on how husbands are to live out their roles.  Actually, when husbands (and wives) practice what God prescribes it often does feel contrary to what we think, and certainly to what our culture teaches.

There are a few things to refresh ourselves on from the previous passage. There are six ways wives can win their unbelieving husbands. 

1 Peter 3:1-6:

  1. By being submissive.
  2. By chaste conduct.
  3. By showing respect.
  4. By inner beauty.
  5. By trusting God.
  6. By doing good.

A man is walking along the beach in California and trips on a golden lamp.  He polishes it off and a genie comes out and says, “I will grant you one wish.”  The man thinks for a while and makes his request: “You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I’ve been too scared to fly and boats always make me seasick, so I’d like you to make a bridge to Hawaii.”  The genie replies, “Are You Crazy?  That would be almost impossible.  Do you know how deep the ocean is?  It just isn’t structurally possible.  Make another wish.” 

The guy thinks for a bit and then says, “I wish I could understand women.”  The genie looks at him with a shocked expression on his face and says, “Do you want that bridge two lane or four?” Here’s what I now understand…wives don’t like that joke!  

Words to Husbands

Fellow husbands, we’re not off the hook.  Look at 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Let’s start with the word “likewise.”   It means, “of equal degree.”  It’s like Peter is saying, “Husbands!  Listen up!  It’s your turn now.”  We’ve seen that same word in 3:1.  It means in a similar way.  Wives are to submit, and husbands are to submit, just as Jesus submitted.  The husband’s role is different and so his serving will look different but Ephesians 5:21 puts it simply and strongly: “Submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

I see six ways that husbands are to love their wives from 1 Peter 3:7.  These can be summarized by using words that all begin with the letter “C.”

1. Companionship. 

The first phrase is, “dwell with them…” and means to “dwell or reside together.”  Fundamentally, it means to share the same bed.  And, it’s a command in the present tense, meaning that husbands are to hang out with their wives and do life together.  In Peter’s day, husbands were generally uninterested in being friends with their mates so this command was definitely counter-cultural.  Peter’s basically saying, “Enjoy life with your wife!”

In Genesis 2:18 God says: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” This word “helper” refers to a partner or companion.  Literally, in Hebrew it means, “one who answers to, or corresponds to, one like himself, one who speaks his language.”  

Then God takes on the role of an anesthesiologist (or a preacher), and puts Adam into a deep sleep.  He removes a rib from his side and forms a woman for him.  Then He wakes Adam up and says, “I have something else for you to look at.”  

The first thing Adam sees is Eve; and he says in beautiful Hebrew poetry, “Whoa-man!”  That’s where we get the name woman.  Well, sort of.  Check out Genesis 2:23: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”   This loses something in the translation.  Adam is saying something like this: “Yes!  That’s what I was looking for, someone who corresponds to me as my companion.”

Out of his side to be his equal, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.

I like how commentator Matthew Henry captures it: “The wife is to be looked upon, not as a servant, but as a companion to the husband, with whom he should freely converse and take sweet counsel, as with a friend, and in whose company he should take delight more than in any other’s.” Eve was not made out of Adam’s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be his equal, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.

Let’s face it.  A lot of husbands huddle with other guys but not with their wives.  One survey I read found that the average married couple spends 37 minutes a week in actual communication.

Fellow husbands, let’s work at having hang out time with our wives.  You can’t beat the importance of companionship.

2. Consideration. 

Husbands are to dwell with their wives “with understanding.”  This has the idea of knowledge or learning by experience and implies intimacy.  It can also be translated as “with wise consideration.”  One version puts it like this: “Be thoughtful of your wife.” Get to know her fears, failures and feelings…and the fun stuff that makes her who she is!

Your wife should be your object of study.  Go to school on her.  Observe her.  Notice her.  Ask yourself this question: What does my wife need and how am I doing at meeting those needs? Celebrate who God has made her to be and then unleash her to live on mission for the glory of God in your home, in your neighborhood, in the church, in her workplace and with her friends.

Husbands, do you know your wife’s love language?  Gary Chapman believes there are five key languages in his book called, “Love Languages.”  If you don’t know which one most closely aligns with her, just ask her.  She’ll tell you.  Here they are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

The word “husband” originally meant one who holds the house together, like a manager who spends his time and resources wisely.  Another image is that of a gardener who cultivates the soil and keeps the weeds out.  We need to be planting seeds of security, using the fertilizer of faithfulness and watching to make sure weeds are not allowed to choke out that which is growing.  As husbands, our responsibility is to love our wives by holding things together in the home and providing an environment for growth and fruitfulness. 

A seasoned pastor recommended this resource.  Guys, you might be interested in a post called, 6 Things Gals Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women.  Here are a few that were helpful to me.

  • Women need reassurance that they are loved
  • Women value emotional security more than financial security
  • Women want men to hear and validate their feelings, not just their problem at hand
  • Women need reassurance that they are beautiful (on the inside and outside)

Husbands, cultivate companionship with your wife.  Second, live with consideration.  Third, cherish your bride.

3. Cherish. 

Here’s the next phrase: “Giving honor to the wife…”   The word “giving” is “to grant, apportion, and bestow. And it’s in the present tense, meaning that we’re to be doing this continually.  

To honor your wife is to hold her in high regard, to treasure her.  Proverbs 31:11: “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.”  And Proverbs 31:28: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

I like this definition of honor from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: “To show honor entails an affective side (a feeling of respect or reverence) and a set of outward manifestations, such as gestures (bowing before or being attentive) or actions (conferring titles or privileges).”  It’s sometimes helpful to ponder the opposite in order to get at the true meaning of a word.  Here are some antonyms of honor – to diss, scorn, neglect, disregard, put down, ignore, criticize, condemn and humiliate.

How are you doing at honoring your wife?  Guys, does your wife know that she is more important than anything else in your life?  That’s a challenge during football season, isn’t it?  Proverbs 31:10: “A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.”  Don’t take your gift for granted.  Value her by spending time with her and speaking well of her.  

By the way, one of the most important things you can do for your children is to love their mother.  That means no flirting with anyone else and making sure you have some moral guardrails up.  There was a radio show many years ago that told this story.  A guy called in and they asked him who he thought the most beautiful female actress was.  They suggested some names.  Penelope Cruz?  Julia Roberts?  The guy paused and then said, “My wife.”  The radio hosts allowed a few seconds of stunned silence to go by and then said, “Good answer.  Good answer.”  Guys, that’s always the right answer!   That man knows how to serve his wife by making her feel safe and secure.  

Companionship.  Consideration.  Cherish. 

4. Compensate. 

The particular word translated “wife” is used only here in the New Testament and means “womanly or feminine.”  This helps us understand what it means to be the “weaker vessel.” This word “weaker” certainly does not mean weaker morally or intellectually but refers to the fact that in general, men are stronger physically than women.  

The word “vessel” describes an object hollowed out for the purpose of containing something and was used of priceless, fragile china.  Our English word vessel comes from the Latin word vasellum, from which we get vase.  The picture of Waterford crystal drinking glasses comes to mind.  These must be hand washed by someone who is paying attention to how fragile and valuable they are.  The idea behind “weaker vessel” is that a woman is extra special and valuable.  Treat her as you would the most delicate glass.  She needs protection and gentle care.

Actually, husbands and wives are both vessels2 Timothy 2:20 says: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.”  It helps me to remember that Beth is like Waterford Crystal and I’m like this green plastic cup.  We are both containers into which Christ does His work.  Or to use Peter’s metaphor from 2:5, we are both “living stones” as we seek to gather, grow, give and go with the gospel message.

Companionship.  Consideration.  Cherish.  Compensate.  

5. Cooperate. 

A husband is not inherently better or more special than his spouse.  We’re equal in spiritual footing and eternal importance because we are partners.  Christian husbands and wives are “heirs together of the grace of life.”  That means that we are sharers together in salvation. Romans 8:17 calls us “joint heirs with Christ.”  Malachi 2:14 says, “…yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”    

One pastor speaks to husbands in two categories. In it, he said that often a husband is either a bully or he’s a bum.  He calls these two extremes distortions or perversions of God’s order.  

Bully Bum

Tyrannical Timid

Abusive Passive

Pig Chicken

Rabid Dog Scared Puppy

Iron Fist Cold Feet

Hurts Hides

Heartless Spineless

Attacks Abandons

Hovers Over Hides Under

Brute Baby

Scary Scared

Jerk Joke

Domination Indifference

Instead of being bullies or bums, we’re called to be biblical men who recognize that we are “heirs together of the grace of life” with our wives.  Galatians 3:28-29 says that there are no second class citizens in the kingdom: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This helps husbands to initiate without being intimidating.  I’m to be bold and yet broken, a lion and yet a lamb, caring but not a coward.  

Pray for her, love her, encourage her, and serve with her.

I like how John Piper defines headship: “The divine calling of a husband to take the primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.” Fellow husbands, because your wife is your sister in Christ, pray for her, love her, encourage her, and serve with her.  

Companionship.  Consideration.  Cherish.  Compensate.  Cooperate.  There’s one more word.

6. Connect. 

I don’t think enough about this but how I treat my wife has a direct impact on my spiritual life.  Specifically, Peter tells husbands to love their wives “so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Fellow husbands, while it’s true that God calls our wives to submit to our loving leadership, listen to what Colossians 3:19 says: “Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  Another translation puts it like this: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”  I like this paraphrase: “Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.  Don’t take advantage of them.”  The way I treat my wife is a proclamation of who Christ is.  If I’m not treating her right, then things between God and I won’t be right.

The word “hindered” was used of digging a trench to stop the enemy’s advance.  Satan will dig a trench if you ignore or mistreat your wife.  You’ll fall into a ditch and not be able to go forward.  Your prayers will feel flat and futile if there’s friction in your marriage.  Bitterness will put up a barrier.  Conflict with your wife can affect communication with God.  Proverbs 15:29: “The Lord is far from the wicked, but hears the prayers of the righteous.”  I’m challenged by Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear.”

I want to go back over these six words slowly and put them in the form of questions.  Husbands, as I do, think through how you can apply this verse to your marriage.

  1. What one thing will you do to live in companionship so that you become best friends with your wife?
  2. What will you do to grow in consideration of your wife?
  3. How will you cherish your bride this week?
  4. In what ways will you compensate by valuing the vessel God has entrusted to you?
  5. Where will you serve in cooperation with your ministry partner?
  6. How specifically will you connect spiritually with your spouse?

I think of a football player stretching his body as far as it can go so that he can secure the ball and make the play for his team..  As great as catches like that are, I think husbands who stretch out with everything they have, determined to not drop the ball that God has sent their way in the form of their wives, is even more spectacular.  Fellow husbands, will you catch what God has sent your way?  Don’t drop your duties.  

Actually, the greatest catch ever was when God sent His Son Jesus to snatch us away from sin and Satan and to save us from our sins.  We might fumble but because of God’s faithfulness He will never drop us.  Jesus put it like this in John 10:29: “And no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  Give him your life right now so that you can live out the life He longs to give you.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?