Andrea Nelson walked us through 1 Peter 3 last Saturday at CREATE’s Fireside Church. She shared a little of her story and how she has been hurt by someone else even when has done the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't give us immediate benefit but, as Peter addresses in this chapter, it can be a witness to those around us.

Treating each other well

One part of our discussion focused on 1 Peter 3:1-7. We are called to be Christlike even when people are not treating us well, whether that is in a friendship, work situation or in the context of this chapter, a marriage.

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

The command for wives to submit to their husbands can be a tough one to discuss. Many women feel offended and put down by being referred to as the weaker vessel, called to submit to their husbands and told how to dress, but it is important to understand the context in which this section was written.

When Peter wrote this letter, the women in the city who usually wore elaborate jewelry, dress and gold-thread-braided hairstyles were the city prostitutes. Peter addresses the Christian women who were dressing according to that standard and called them instead to inner beauty instead of the erotic dress of the time.

There are accounts of early men divorcing their wives when they became Christians as it was seen as an act of insubordination. Peter wrote to tell them that by submitting to their husbands, even though it was hard, they could win their husbands to Christ and being treated as rebellious.

Women submitting to their husbands was the culturally normal thing to do, whereas husbands loving their wives and treating them well was very much not part of the culture. In this letter, Peter’s comment to the husbands would have been seen as more shocking.

Suffering for Good

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
— 1 Peter 3:14-17

Peter talks about suffering for righteousness’ sake and the corresponding blessing. He's not the only one who talks about suffering in the Christian life. James talks about the purpose of suffering – our faith is tested and we are refined to be more like Jesus.

When suffering, we can ask “What does this have to do with the kingdom of God?” If we aren’t prepared for suffering now, when it comes (when, not if) it will knock our feet right out from under us. As we talked about last week, faith in the little things builds faith for the bigger, harder things.

God gives us the command to suffer well. When He does, He doesn’t leave us hanging but also gives us the ability and the desire to suffer well.

An analogy

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Andrea brought an object for us to think about this week: a yellow thread in the shape of a heart with a safety pin through the bottom of it. The thread is yellow to remind us that we are lights to the world, even when our hearts are pierced.

Christian women in Peter’s day suffered in a way by submitting to non-believing husbands. Husbands too, by treating their wives with honor, were going against what culture had taught them. Imagine that – very rarely when you go against the grain do you get away with it without negative consequences.

Your Challenge this week

Any difficult thing we face could be considered a trial or suffering in some way. Suffering can be major or minor, but no matter what we have hope in God’s restoration. We don’t have to be afraid of suffering because we know that God has a purpose for it, and his plan is good. And being weak in God is stronger than being strong in ourselves.