We live in a world, not our home, but one where we live as ambassadors of Christ desiring our Lord’s Kingdom to come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We desire this for the world, however, when we bring this hope into the scope of our personal lives, we begin to consider the relationships with have with others. Peter, in the third chapter of his first letter, describes how a husband and wife are to relate to one another, as well as how all believers are to relate to others. Peter desires for the church’s witness for Christ to be effective. He begins by teaching on the sacred relationship of marriage.
In 1 Peter 3:1-2, Peter begins by writing to Christian wives. The teaching about the relationship between a wife and her husband was especially relevant to the first-century married woman who had started to follow Jesus. Christian wives with unsaved husbands were prominent in the early church. She would ask questions such as “Should I leave my husband?” or “Should I change my behavior towards him?” or “Should I assume a superior position to him because I am in Jesus?” Peter decides to answer these questions by addressing: “How will you see your husband saved?”
There can be significant conflict when one spouse is a believer, and the other is not. This has always been the case. It carried great weight in the first century where it was unthinkable for a wife to adopt a different religion than her husband. Christian women who came to Jesus before their husband needed instruction. Peter writes that their husbands “may be won,” gained, or acquired for the Kingdom, not by continual complaining or faultfinding, but by the way, they, as wives, behave. He, in 1 Peter 3:3-4, challenges wives to focus on their inward beauty, even pulling examples from women of faith from times past (see: 1 Peter 2:5-6). Godly love is powerfully attractive. The simple truth is that those who refuse to hear the Gospel will find it difficult to look away when it is being lived. So Peter instructs wives to love and respect their husbands.
Peter then turns his attention to husbands. In 1 Peter 3:7, we discover that a husband is to live with his wife in a manner that recognizes the loving, selfless nature of the marriage relationship. Scripture teaches that men and women complement one another as a married couple. Therefore, a husband is not to be demeaning or domineering, but have a special place of respect in his heart for his wife. Peter even warns that discord hinders our prayers. In other words, failure to live as godly husbands has spiritual consequences. The simple truth is that husbands, like their wives, are to love and respect their wives.
Peter then leaves the field of married couples and concludes with a summary of the attitudes Christians, as the family of God, should demonstrate to others, in both their actions and reactions. In 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter instructs believers to “have a unity of mind.” The problem is that most of us are willing to “have unity of mind,” as long as that “unity” is with our own mind! Our mind needs to be conformed into Christlike thinking. A “unity of mind” speaks of unity in Christ desiring His will in all things. When we look at the example and teachings of Christ, we discover a selfless servant who even loved his enemies. For a believer to follow in His footsteps takes having faith that God cares for and rewards those who trust in Him. God’s call for the believer is to live under a general principle of love and respect for others.
I believe all of us desire to be loved and respected. Love and respect do not mean that we agree or approve of another’s actions. It doesn’t mean we choose to follow directives that go against God’s known will for us in His Word – the Bible. Love and respect mean seeing others as being image-bearers of God. Selflessly desiring God’s best for them and being aware of the impact of our witness. Imagine what it would look like to trust God, allowing Him to be our foundation and security. Imagine the impact not just on our lives, but on the lives of those around us as we, by the Spirit’s power and leading, love, and respect others. The question we need to answer is this, as ambassadors of Christ will we, by the Spirit’s power and leading, love, and respect others?
It is a privilege following Christ with each of you. It is not easy loving and respecting others, especially when they don’t love and respect us. However, when we allow the Spirit to make us more like Christ and trust in God’s goodness, we are unleashed to be supernatural witnesses for the Lord that not only blesses us but benefits others. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!