Waiting for something good is a strange mixture of pain & pleasure. It’s agony mixed with expectancy. Christmas morning. A brisket. A bonus check. The wedding day. The birth of a child. The Eternal God placed us in time, which necessarily means waiting. This is poignantly true for engaged couples longing for their wedding day, or a single hoping for a good mate. But marriage isn’t the destination, it’s a waypoint. God wants to teach us to both rejoice in contentment for current blessings, while faithfully awaiting future glories.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.1 Peter 3:7
Summary of the Text
Peter has instructed wives to sweetly submit to their husbands. Doing so may win even unbelieving husbands to the faith (1 Pt. 3:1-2 ). How much more of a blessing this will be to a believing husband? A wife’s manner of meekness & quietness is of great price & very precious in God’s sight (1 Pt. 3:3-4). Holy women of old set a wonderful example for godly women in all ages: their trust in God was manifested by obedience to their own husbands. A godly woman is to be fearless & faithful in good works (1 Pt. 3:5-6).
Peter then turns his attention to husbands, and admonishes them to not be blockheads. The wife’s duty of submission should be sweetened by an ocean of her husband’s love & wisdom. He is to be continually present. He is to be prudent. He is to enthrone her with honor. He shouldn’t think of her like camping gear; she’s fine china. Of utmost importance, they are heirs together of the grace of life.
Paul warned (Cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35) that marriage could become an impediment to religious service, if gone about with mindless carnality. Here Peter doesn’t contradict that warning, but instead affirms & clarifies it. If a husband & wife dwell together rightly the prayers they offer (whether separately, jointly, or with the congregation) won’t be hindered.
Strife and division is strictly forbidden (Jas. 3:14), and called an abomination (Pro. 6:19). How much more in the sanctuary of marriage should there be unity? The squabbling & fights that fill many marriages is a clear impediment to prayer. It’s hard to sincerely worship God when you just ripped into your spouse with a string of nasty complaints or curses.
This text also serves as an inoculation against the rampant individualism of our culture. A husband & wife are heirs together. Of course, your marital status doesn’t determine your justification. But if you are married, your union with your spouse is impacted by being joint-heirs of grace (Cf. 3:1-2, 1 Cor. 7:14).
Love Your Wife
The danger for many husbands is to come to love the idea of your wife. Loving the idea of your wife leads to a simmering resentment. She’s not living up to some ideal you’ve concocted in your imagination, and so you become a muttering grump of a husband. Distant, dissatisfied, and dishonoring to your wife. Crushing her, instead of lifting her up. In a word, the opposite of Peter’s instruction.
In one place, Paul taught, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Col. 3:19).” This is a more succinct version of Peter’s teaching. Husbands, you must love this woman who has cast her entire life into your hands, for better or for worse. Paul’s warning is an intriguing one. Some render it as do not be harsh, others render it as not to be bitter against the wife. The traffic flows both ways here. Say he’s a grumble-muffin towards his wife, his presence fills the house with too much bleach, becoming a cause of bitterness in her. He is to both refrain from being bitter, and being a cause for bitterness. He is to not be harsh, nor harbor harsh thoughts towards his wife.
Substituting loving your wife, with loving an idol in the shape of your wife will inevitably lead to ungodly anger. Angry husbands (particularly if they are Christians) can get quite clever in the way they express or hide their anger. Don’t pride yourself that you’ve become more clever at hiding your anger or frustration at your wife. Rather, expunge that anger at the first sign. Love her. Draw her into your life. Cherish her, and dignify her by bringing her to stand by your side through thick and thin. She’s your glory.
His Queen & His Crown
This leads to address what many wives commonly misconstrue. Particularly in our feminist age. To admonish husbands in the above way, is not to absolve women of any duty to grow in grace & glory. But rather it is to highlight that as a husband surrounds his wife with houses & bank accounts & cupboards & cribs filled with his manifested love, she is to become a fruitful vine in this greenhouse of his love. The temptation for many women is to nit-pick their husband, criticize how he leads, question his every move, and spend her attention on matters outside her household.
To quote a pastor of a previous era, a wife who embraces Scripture’s teaching on what a godly wife is, is nothing short of a queen & a crown to her household: “Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere. Her hands fashion its beauty. Her heart makes its love. And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of a home (J.R. Miller).”
A wife has the capacity to inspire her husband to be greater than he’d ever imagined, achieve more than he ever thought, and grow beyond his largest hopes. Or she can tear it all down (Pro. 14:1). A husband must build a bulwark of love around his wife, and she should fill that castle with glory, peace, and joy. Wives, make it your aim to regularly adopt JR Miller’s advice and, “Whisper a new word of courage to his heart.”
The Grace of Life
The splendor of marriage is such that Christians have been tempted to turn it into a sacrament. Some interpret the Apostle Peter’s words here as ground for such a view. But Christ isn’t imparted or administered to us in marriage. Rather, He is displayed. He’s showcased as a couple walk in the Spirit’s unity. To be an heir requires long-suffering. Waiting. In Baptism & the Supper we truly receive Christ. In marriage we’re taught to long for the fullness of our inheritance. Husbands & wives you either partake of these things in a wonderful and unique togetherness, or else invite the curses of grace received in vain.
God, in Christ, has made you a partaker of His divine nature. Christ has received all things as His inheritance, and He has given you the Spirit. The Spirit leads you into all truth. He takes from Christ and gives to you. This is so you can give thanks for past faithfulnesses, walk uprightly in this present moment, and long with evangelical faith for the High Countries.
Christ is central to your marriage. An unbelieving couple can get married, but their marriage doesn’t enjoy the grace of life. A Christian married to an unbeliever enjoys God’s grace to them, and may eventually win their spouse through a godly example. But a Christian couple partake of both earthly joys even while waiting to taste eternal joys.
CHARGE & BENEDICTION
Husbands, find multiple ways in the coming days to make your love abundantly known to your wife. Loved women are lovely. Wives, seek to make known your respect and admiration for your husband in the coming weeks. Respected men are respectable. And do this, not because “well, the preacher told us to,” but because Christ commands this in His Word. This is for His glory.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14