Summary: For those who are resistant to God’s Word consideration beats conversation
When it comes to being a witness for Jesus, which is more important - what you do or what you say? It seems that when Christians are asked that question they tend to come down on one side or the other.
Some say that the best way to be a witness for Jesus is to just love other people and serve their needs. They might justify that position by sharing this often repeated quote: “You may be the only Bible that some people read.”
Others might take the other side and quote Romans 10:17 to support their position that our words are more important than our actions:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17 ESV)
What we’ll see this morning as we continue our study of 1 Peter, is that witnessing is not a matter of either/or, but rather a matter of both/and. Our words and our works are both necessary if we are going to be effective witnesses for God. There is an appropriate time and place for both. But when dealing with those who have been resistant to the Bible, how we treat non-Christians is usually more important than what we say to them. That is the major premise of the passage that we’ll study this morning.
Go ahead and open your Bibles to 1 Peter 3 and follow along as I read verses 1-7:
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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
(1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)
Most of the commentaries and other sermons that I’ve looked at in my study of this passage treat it as a general discourse on the roles of men and women in marriage. And certainly there is much that Peter teaches here that is consistent with Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5 and other Bible passages that deal with marriage. But the more I read and studied this passage, the more it seems that, given the context within his letter, Peter is actually dealing with a rather limited aspect of marriage here. Let’s put this passage in its proper context and see if we can identify the specific situation Peter is addressing here and then see what we can learn from his teaching.
Let’s begin with the big picture. After introducing himself, Peter begins his letter with this verse that summarizes the theme of his letter:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(1 Peter 1:3 ESV)
The reason that his readers can endure the tremendous persecution that they were experiencing at that time was because God had caused them to be born into a living hope. And, as we’ve seen consistently in our study of Peter’s letter, the same is true for us. Regardless of what circumstances we may be facing in our lives right now, we can endure because of our living hope that results from the resurrection of Jesus.
Although, there is certainly some overlap, the rest of Peter’s letter is basically broken into three sections that describe three important pieces of that living hope:
• In 1 Peter 1:3 through 1 Peter 2:11, Peter’s message is: Remember your great salvation. He reminds his readers that they can have hope because of the salvation that has resulted in them becoming citizens of the kingdom of heaven which means that the life we live here on earth as exiles is only temporary.
• From 1 Peter 2:12 through 1 Peter 4:6, Peter’s message is: Remember your example before men. In the present, we are to live our lives in a way that gives glory to God and in which we bear witness for Him. The passage that we’re looking at this morning is right in the middle of that section.