Last time, we left off with I Peter 3:1 telling wives to submit to their husbands. You can see the first post here.
We continue talking about submission and hopefully unpacking more of what it truly means.
I believe Peter starts with wives for a couple of reasons. (No, he’s not picking on us.)
First, I think it’s because God set up the order of a family. In Ephesians, he lays it out clearly. Christ is the head of the church. He is over the family. The husband is now entrusted with the well-being of his family under the headship of Christ. Then the wife is supposed to be covered by her husband, as Christ covers (loves and protects) his bride, the church. After that, the parents are the covering for their children.
Starting with the wife confirms that order.
Secondly, it seems that based on many passages in the Bible, women have so much influence. We are the “helper,” but the word translated like that sounds kind of lame. Like a token we say to our two-year-old for being mommy’s big helper. Encouraging, but we all know our child’s help is minimal.
Thankfully, that’s not what it means.
In the Hebrew, it actually means strength, warrior, working alongside. (This is a great post that goes into more depth. https://www.chasingsacred.com/helpmate-the-real-meaning-of-the-word/)
Think of some women in the Bible:
- Mary (Jesus’s mother),
- Deborah (prophetess)
- Jael (killed a man with a tent peg – Judges 4:21)
- Esther (saved the Jews)
- Abigail (saved her people)
- Rahab (prostitute who saved the spies)
- Mary & Martha (sisters of Lazarus)
- Lydia (business owner who led a church).
And those are only a few.
Every one of these women understood submission as part of the influence they had in their situation.
Peter tells women, in this first verse, that their husbands (and probably others) will be “won over” or influenced by their behavior without a word. Because when we are submitting for the sake of Jesus, we will be beautiful because of our purity, reverence, and our quiet and gentle spirit.
All without fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Submitting to God puts our trust in him. His perfect love for us means we don’t have to fear anything.
See where we’re going with this?
And lest you think that God’s focus is only on wives, verse 7 calls out husbands to act “in the same way” so that their prayers aren’t hindered!
Hindered prayers is a pretty serious consequence of not submitting with consideration and respect to wives while viewing them as heirs of God for the sake of Jesus. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 5:23 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”
Don’t think that God doesn’t hold everyone to the same standard!
After Peter charges spouses—the relationship that mirrors Christ with his bride—he gives some specifics.
What does submission look like?
Verse 8 tells us to live in harmony. That may not be done easily, especially if another person isn’t feeling the tune you’re playing, but as far as it depends on you, be in harmony. (Romans 12:18)
We start by being sympathetic to other people’s hurts and pain. How are they feeling? That means we need to humble ourselves and not be set on our opinion, agenda, or feelings first or only. If we first seek to understand their perspective, it’s easier to show love and compassion.
Peter goes on to say in verse 9 that we are to be a blessing to others. Treat them kindly. Even if they insult us, answer that with kindness. Not always easy, but the Holy Spirit can make us able to do it with sincerity.
Finally, in verse 14 and 15, Peter reminds us not to fear. That was a hard one for me. My past situations gave me the view that I couldn’t really trust certain people so it was hard to submit to them. But I’m learning that when I’m submitting for the Lord’s sake, I can trust Him to cover me and help me choose to honor and respect them.
We can only do this when we “set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.”
Submission begins with understanding the humility Jesus showed to submit himself to God and go to the cross. He tells us to have a gentle and respectful answer for our hope in him. He forgave us. That is our hope, the source of our love, and what makes us able “to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
For me this has been a huge lesson and offered me freedom in place of my misconceptions about submission. I hope it has been helpful for someone else too.
Jesus, I surrender (submit) all.