Want a better marriage? The key to a better marriage is to show Jesus in your marriage. You can show Jesus in your marriage by fulfilling your God-given role, cultivating your character, and hoping in God.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
In 1 Peter 3, Peter was writing to Christian wives who were married to unbelieving husbands, in a society where it was unacceptable for a wife to have a different faith than her husband. This passage was meant to be empowering to women and “to offer the Christian wife a strategy that would enable her to avoid violence, disarm the opposition of her unbelieving husband, and lead him to Christ” (D. Edmond Hiebert, 1 Peter, p. 194–195). Peter encouraged these women to live with their husbands in a way that showed Jesus (1 Peter 3:1-2), prioritizing what God prizes (1 Peter 3:3-4). When marriage was difficult, they should look to godly role models and put their hope in God (1 Peter 3:5-6).
This passage still matters to us today. It holds the one key to a better marriage today, which is to show Jesus in your marriage. You can show Jesus in your marriage by:
Fulfilling your God-given role.
Cultivating your character.
Hoping in God.
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's good to see you. My name is Timothy Ateek, and I'm one of the teaching pastors here. If this is your first time at Watermark, welcome. I'm so glad you made it.
This past Wednesday, March 8, was International Women's Day, which was a very big day. It was a big day all over the world. Social media picked it up, news outlets were covering it, and women in countries all over the world gathered together to champion equality for women. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I opened up my Bible to 1 Peter 3, the text I'm teaching today, and realized I get to teach these words:
"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."
Those are the words I read. So, let's just mark the calendar. March 12, 2023, is when Timothy Ateek got canceled and no one ever heard from him ever again. Some of y'all are like, "Why did I invite my friend today? Of all days, this was the day I chose to actually reach out and invite someone to church." Here's the deal. I'm actually really excited about teaching this text today for a few reasons.
First, this text actually doesn't say a thing about inequality. It actually has something to say about the equality of men and women, and it's very positive. Secondly, if you're not a believer or you're just visiting Watermark, today is going to give you an opportunity to see how we do things here. We do not leapfrog over tough texts just because we sniff any discomfort. We want to hit hard truth head-on.
Thirdly, this is a passage about marriage, and it is my hope that the marriages of Watermark Community Church would be marriages that are flourishing. So, if you walked into this place, and if you were honest with you and your marriage, you would say your marriage is not what you hoped it would be at this point, perfect, because this passage has the key to a better marriage.
If you're not married, but you hope to be one day, this will help prepare you to be in a healthy marriage. If you're not married, and you have no plans to get married, this passage will just help you be a better follower of Jesus Christ. So, 1 Peter, chapter 3, is where we're going to be. If you have a Bible, I would encourage you to bring a Bible every week. Read along with us. We will wear it out, I promise you.
Here's what I want to do with a passage like this. I want to kind of divide the message today into two sections. The first section is I want to answer the question…What was happening then? It's a contextual question. I want us to look and understand why Peter actually wrote the words he did, what was happening in first-century Asia Minor at the time. The second question I want to answer is…What matters now? That's more of a theological and practical question. How does it inform what we believe, and how does it inform what we do?
So, let's start with answering the question…What was happening then? If we're not careful, our tendency will be to see all of Scripture through a 2023 Dallas, Texas, lens. If we're going to see this passage through that lens, then our only conclusion can be that this text is oppressive to women and men and women are unequal in value and dignity, but the passage is actually saying the opposite. So, it's very important for you to understand what was happening.
Peter is writing to a group of, primarily, Gentile believers who are experiencing persecution for their faith in Asia Minor, and what we see happening in the church is that some women are putting their trust in Christ, and they are in pagan marriages. They have trusted Christ, but their husband hasn't. So, these women in marriages are beginning to ask the question, "Well, should I get out of my marriage? Now that I'm a Christian and my husband is not a Christian, should I get out of my marriage?"
It's a very interesting place to be, because at least in this society, in a Greco-Roman society, it was expected that a wife would have no friends of her own and would carry the religion of her husband. So, the fact that there are women who are putting their trust in Jesus, in that society, is an act of rebellion against the husband. If the public were to find out a husband's wife had trusted in another God, it could actually be costly to the husband. It could cause serious damage to his social standing, even to the point of disqualifying him from certain honors and offices.
So, the reason Peter is writing this passage is to offer the Christian wife a strategy that would enable her to avoid violence, disarm the opposition of her unbelieving husband, and even lead her husband to Christ. So, with that context in mind, just watch Peter's flow of thought. What does he say in verse 1? "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word…" Meaning, they don't believe in Jesus. "…they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct."
Some Christian wives might be asking the question, "Well, should I get out of my marriage because I'm a Christian?" Peter is saying, "No. Absolutely not. Stay in and keep doing what you should be doing. You live in a society where the husband is the head of the household, so submit to him. Respect him. Keep respecting him, because you need to understand you just threw his world into chaos when you trusted in a God that was different than his god.
So, as you live with your husband, continue to honor him and respect him, and don't be surprised that it's not moving the needle when you get in his ear and start telling him he should believe in Jesus. Don't be surprised that he's not just jumping on board immediately. You need to understand that, most likely, you're going to win your husband to Christ through his eyes, not his ears. So let him see Christ through consistent faithful living."
Then he goes on in verses 3-4 and says, "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."
Peter is saying, "Look. You're trying to win your husband to Christ, so you have to be careful that you don't cause confusion. If you become preoccupied with your external appearance, like, you buy into the extravagant hairdos of the day," (which required professional help and caused extensive time) "and you spend all your time thinking about your bracelets and your anklets and your earrings and your necklaces," (which were common in the day) "you are going to be preoccupied with the same things that unbelieving Roman women are preoccupied with.
You're trying to show your husband Christ. What's the best way to show your husband Christ? It's by letting Christ captivate your heart, because when Christ captivates your heart, you're going to be transformed from the inside out. As you surrender more fully to Jesus, you will show Jesus more fully, and you will provide clarity to your husband that Jesus Christ is worth it and transforms lives."
Then he goes on and says in verses 5-6, "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." He's saying, "Don't look to the role models of the Greeks. Look to the role models from your own new faith. Abraham is the father of the faith. Look to his wife Sarah."
Now, Abraham is a famous figure in Christianity, but it was hard to be married to Abraham. One day, he just walked in and was like, "Hey, Sarah, we're actually moving to a new country. We've never been there. Leave your stuff. It's going to be awesome." Another time, he walked in and was like, "I think God wants me to kill our only kid." That's tough. It required faith. It required trust.
Peter's point is… He's just saying, "Look. Your marriage might be challenging as you seek to live a faithful life with a husband who doesn't know the Lord, but look to examples like Sarah. Even in the midst of difficulty, she hoped in God. She might have had a husband who was unpredictable at times, but her God was predictable. He was faithful. He was trustworthy. She knew he would come through."
So, that's why Peter is writing this passage. That's the point. That's what's happening. It's good to realize that a passage that might seem oppressive to women in 2023 was actually empowering to its original readers, because women were rebelling against societal norms. Peter isn't saying, "Stop that." He's actually saying, "Keep rebelling, but rebel respectfully, and let me help you rebel in such a way that you're actually going to win your husband to the faith." So, that's what was happening then.
Now let's answer the question…What matters now? It's a theological and practical question. I think, in this passage, we find the key to a better marriage. So, if you want a better marriage, here's the one thing you need. Here's the one thing you need to do if you want a better marriage, and this is what we see in this passage: show Jesus in your marriage. That's it. If you want a better marriage…this is what this passage is encouraging us toward…show Jesus in your marriage.
My favorite definition of discipleship, following Jesus, is by Dallas Willard. He says discipleshipis the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you. So, if you want a better marriage, then become the husband Jesus would be if he were you. Become the wife Jesus would be if he were you.
Answer this question. Let me encourage you to tune in and take 10 seconds in the quietness of your own heart and just answer this question. What is one thing Jesus would do differently in your marriage if he were you? What's one thing he would change if he were you? If something comes to mind, do it. The key to a better marriage is showing Jesus in your marriage. The text gives us three ways to show Jesus in our marriage.
What I need you to understand is when Peter calls women to submit to their husbands, what he's doing is saying one of the ways you will show Jesus in your marriage is by submitting to your husband. To submit to your husband is to recognize, welcome, and respond to his leadership in your marriage.
You might sit there and say, "How does submitting to my husband show Jesus in my marriage? How could it possibly show Jesus in my marriage to submit to my husband, to welcome, respond to, and recognize his leadership?" Well, 1 Corinthians 11:3 is key, because Paul says this: "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
I want you to see what Paul says there. He says the head of a wife is her husband, but then he says the head of Christ is God. So, in this verse, Christ is actually in the position of the wife. As the wife has a head, which is the husband, Christ has a head, which is God the Father. What Paul is speaking to is the role of the Trinity in God's plan of salvation. God the Father was the one who envisioned the plan of salvation. God the Son, Jesus, was the one who submitted to the Father's plan and executed the plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who now appropriates God's plan of salvation to our lives.
See, Jesus Christ was submitting to God the Father. He was recognizing, welcoming, and responding to God the Father's leadership. On the night Jesus is betrayed, we find him in the garden of Gethsemane, and what does he pray? He says, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Then we see Jesus' attitude as he submits to the Father. What is his attitude? It's one of joy. Hebrews 12 tells us, "…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
So, God the Father's plan was to crush the Son. The Son knew that was the Father's plan. What did he do? He welcomed it. He responded to it. He submitted himself to the Father. When he went to the cross and hung on that cross, what were his final words? "It is finished." What was finished? Accomplishing the Father's plan of salvation. He was put in a tomb. On the third day, he walked out of it victoriously. Why? To make a way, through faith, for us to be reconciled to God.
So, wives, you need to understand when Peter calls you to submit to your husbands, he's calling you to show Jesus in your marriage through submission. He is not calling you to do anything that Jesus Christ hasn't already done. Now, this should be obvious, but it is worth stating. Was Jesus Christ the Son inferior to God the Father? Never. The Trinity is the doctrine which states that there are three co-equal, co-eternal persons…God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son were always equal, yet they had distinct roles. Jesus' role was to submit to the will of the Father.
The same is true in marriage in the sense that husbands and wives are completely equal in value and dignity, but husbands and wives have been given different roles and responsibilities. What Peter is saying is, "Wives, your responsibility is to show Jesus through submitting to your husband." The question is…What does it even look like? What does it look like for a wife to practically submit to her husband? Well, the only way for me to really unpack that in a helpful way is to explain what it looks like for a husband to fulfill his role in marriage, which is to lead.
Husbands, if wives are to show Jesus through submitting to your leadership, then your responsibility is to show Jesus in your marriage by leading. Ephesians 5:23 says, "For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior." So, what does it mean for a husband to be a leader of a wife? Just to be clear, it doesn't call women to submit to men; it calls wives to submit to husbands. Not all husbands…your husband.
What does it mean for a husband to be a leader in a marriage? Here's what it means. Men, don't miss it. It is to bear the weight of accountability before God for cultivating a marriage and household that glorifies God. So, to be the leader in your home is to bear the weight of accountability before God for cultivating a marriage and household that glorifies God.
Men, when you hear that you're called to be a leader, don't think of it in terms of being in charge; think of it in terms of being accountable to God for cultivating a marriage and household that glorifies him and prioritizes his will. Hearing that you are the leader should not evoke pride; it should most certainly evoke humility, because a day will come where you will stand before God and answer for how you cultivated your marriage and your home.
God cares about how we lead, because as we lead, we are to show Christ in our marriages. What does Paul go on and say in Ephesians 5? In verse 25, he says, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…" So, how did Christ love his bride, the people of God? He gave himself up. He died on a cross. He conquered death through his resurrection.
Here's what that means. It means, husbands, make sure you don't major in Ephesians 5:23 and minor in Ephesians 5:25. Don't major in "The husband is the head of the wife" but minor in "Love your wife as Christ loved the church and laid his life down for her." No. Our leadership in marriage should be marked by selflessness, sacrifice, safety, and service.
Men, you need to know no wife complains about having to follow a husband who is selfless, sacrificial, safe to be around, and service oriented. No one complains about that. It's only when men assume the position of leader but don't show Christ as they lead. So, what does it look like, practically, for a husband to lead in his marriage, and what does it practically look like for a wife to follow his lead?
The good news is that Peter gives us that instruction in the same chapter. We haven't read this verse yet, but verse 7 is key. What's interesting is that Peter devotes six verses to talking to the wife and only one verse to talking to the husband. It's because we can't handle more than one verse. He knows us. He gets us. But he packs such a punch, one verse is all we need.
So look with me at verse 7. "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel…" Yikes. "…since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." Godly leaders, godly husbands, cultivate four things in their marriage. Write these things down, men. Godly husbands, godly leaders, cultivate intimacy, obedience, safety, and honor.
First, godly men, godly husbands, cultivate intimacy. Peter says, "…live with your wives in an understanding way…" That phrase live with your wives is the idea of fostering intimate, close relationship. It's physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual intimacy. Husbands, it's our responsibility to take the lead on initiating closeness with our wives.
So, husbands, initiate date nights. Initiate quality conversations in the evenings with your spouse. Initiate times of prayer. Initiate physical intimacy. This is what we are responsible to do. We will stand before God. We will give an account for how we prioritized intimacy with our spouses. Now, is it wrong for a wife to initiate these things as well? Not at all. There's no problem with a wife wanting deep conversation in the evening time. There's nothing wrong with a wife suggesting a date night. Those are all good things.
What I'm saying is, husbands, we are the ones who should bear the weight and the responsibility of ensuring that it is happening. Be intentional. And, wives, when your husband tries to initiate on these things, the best way to follow is to just lean in with him on it. If he says, "Let's go on a date night," don't tell him you're too tired. Make it happen. Please don't hear me wrong. If the best blessing to you is just a night sleeping, great. Do that. My point, though, is that as your husband initiates, you just want to breathe life into that leadership.
So, for us… Kat and I are trying to get into a rhythm of weekly dates. When I'm speaking on a Sunday, we try to go to breakfast on Monday mornings. When I'm not speaking on a Sunday, we try to go on a date on Saturday nights. Kat is very helpful with this. She might say, "Hey, do I need to get a babysitter for our date night?" Or there have been times when we have been trying to get into the Monday morning routine where she has already had plans, and she has canceled those plans to prioritize that intimacy and that connection with one another.
But as we go on dates… Here's what you need to know about me. I might have shared this a few weeks ago. I can't remember if I did or not. My greatest fear is awkward silence. It's a great fear of mine. This is why I don't like to ride in cars with other people. I would rather meet you there, because I'm like, "What are we going to talk about? I don't want to ride with you to lunch because we might use up all the conversation before we get to lunch." True story. I'll meet you there.
Kat and I have this joke where we'll be getting ready for our date, and we'll start talking about something, and Kat will be like, "Should I save it?" She knows me. She knows I'm starting to get panicky, like, "Oh my gosh! We might be using up the good conversation." But I know that about myself. So, you know what I've done? I've gotten online. I've Googled date night questions. I have bought conversation cards.
So, if you ever see Kat and me out on a date, and it looks like I'm looking under the table, I'm not checking my phone. I am rifling through this pile of questions I have, because I want to make the most of the time. I want it to be intentional. You can laugh at the cards, but you know what? They're helpful, because we're having really intentional conversations about "What are your dreams?" or "What's a fun memory from the past?" or "What's something different you want to do?" It gives us a chance to sync up.
My responsibility, as the husband, is to live with my wife in an understanding way. That understanding way means I am responsible for understanding Kat. I need to understand what her dreams are, what her desires are, what her strengths are, what her weaknesses are, what's frustrating her, what's causing her anxiety, what causes her to flourish. My responsibility is to initiate it. Wives, as your husbands initiate, it's going to feel clunky at times, and it's going to feel awkward in moments, but to the best of your ability, with a lot of grace, the best thing you can do is just lean in with him.
Peter goes on, and what does he say? He encourages the husbands to cultivate obedience. Now, when I say cultivate obedience, men, I'm not talking about cultivating your wife's obedience to you; I'm talking about you, husband, cultivating your obedience to God. When Peter says, "Live with your wife in an understanding way," that phrase understanding way literally means according to knowledge. Knowledge of what? Well, of your spouse, yes, but primarily of God's will.
Your responsibility, as the leader and the husband, is to create an environment in your household that is according to the knowledge of God's will. That means, husbands, it is your responsibility to treasure God's Word. It's to seek understanding about God's will for your marriage and to seek understanding of God's will for parenting your kids in a way that's pleasing to the Lord. It's to seek out understanding of God's will regarding money.
What this means, men, is that we should prioritize seeking out older couples for wise counsel and reading books, and then starting conversations with our wives to get on the same page about how God's will will be sought out in our homes, in our marriages, in our parenting, in our money, and on and on and on. Kat's and my greatest conflict is always around not being synced up on how we want to navigate the complexities, especially, of parenthood.
As I was thinking about it, what I was reminded of was, this week, my three boys (I have three boys, 13, 11, and 5) decided to make a movie together. They wanted to make a video together. I was in my bedroom working, and I could hear my son who was the director of the film getting frustrated with his other brothers.
So I came out, and here's what I told him. I said, "Hey, dude, they can't see what you see. What you want to happen…" It has all been envisioned in his mind, but he hasn't communicated what he has envisioned. His brothers aren't meeting his expectations because they don't know what his expectations are.
As I thought about marriage, that is the way it goes. So often, do you know where conflict arises? It's when there's a lack of clarity from the director. Husbands, if you're going to play the role of director, which I think is given to you by God, you need to make sure your wife even knows what script you're working off of. What you need to do, husbands, is to make sure the story you're wanting her to be a part of is even a story worth being a part of.
Like, where is this film of your parenting or your marriage going to land? Good directors make sure the actors and actresses are able to use their personalities to the fullest to flourish. What I'm saying is, husbands, our wives, 100 percent of the time, will not meet expectations that are not communicated. The reality is it's not about expectations; it's about communication.
Leading in marriage is not about you sitting with your wife and saying, "This is where we're going. I just need you to know. Here's the script. Act your part." Marriage is about saying, "You know what? As I've been seeking the Lord, here's the script I think he's calling us toward as we parent, as we pursue one another in marriage. How does that feel to you? Please speak into it. Use your personality. Use your gifting. What are your dreams? What are your desires? Let's work together to make this story the best one possible."
So, what you want to do is cultivate obedience to God. What you both want to do is to seek God in his Word to see what his will is for every aspect of your marriage, but, husbands, it's your responsibility to make sure to put y'all on the same page.
Then you want to cultivate safety. Did you see that awkward part of the verse where Peter said, "Showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel"? You need to know commentators across the board say Peter is referring solely to physical strength. This has nothing to do with emotional capacity or intelligence. This has nothing to do with anything other than physical strength. Peter's point is, in general, God has wired men to be physically stronger than women.
That isn't always true. I've been in the gym and looked right and left, and there have been women with just as much weight on the bars. These pythons kind of don't stand up to what is to my right or to my left. But in general… I love how Chuck Swindoll explained it. He said if you took 10 average men and 10 average women, and they were to have a tug-of-war, usually the 10 average men are going to win in physical strength.
So, what is Peter's point when he says, "Live with your wife in an understanding way, showing honor, knowing that she's the weaker vessel"? He's saying, "Do not ever use your physical strength to bully your wife into submission." If you ever use your strength or your stature to intimidate your wife into submission, you will give account to God for it one day. God has given you that strength to protect your wife.
Your responsibility is to create a home where your wife feels safe…physically safe, yes, but also emotionally safe. Your wife should feel safe coming to you and having conversations about the future or about how you discipline your kids or about how the money is being spent. You want to create an environment where your wife feels valued and seen and like she has a voice, that it's safe.
Then, husbands, it's our responsibility to create and cultivate a home with honor. One of the best things you can show your sons, if you have sons, or your daughters… He says, "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…"
Do you remember how I said at the beginning this passage actually speaks to equality, not inequality? It's because Peter refers to wives as co-heirs of the grace of God. It means we are brothers and sisters, and the same salvation husbands receive is the same salvation wives receive. The same death of Jesus on the cross for sin that counts for husbands counts for wives. It's the same sacrifice. It's the same grace. It's the same inheritance.
We are all headed toward the same destiny. When we get to heaven, there's not going to be a husbands section and a wives section, and the husbands section is closer to the front than the wives. No. We will all be together as brothers and sisters, co-equal heirs, enjoying the grace of God. So, one of the best things you can do is honor your wife as someone who has sisterly status in the kingdom of God and is destined for the same eternity.
Husbands, I want to make sure you see how Peter ended that verse. Look at what he says. "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."
Do you know what that's saying? Don't miss it. Peter is saying, "Men, don't expect God to act like everything is good when you are selfish, self-centered, arrogant, domineering, and controlling in your marriage. Don't expect for God to act like everything is good when you do things your way instead of God's way, when you're more in tune with your own wants than your wife's needs."
Husbands, our job, as leaders, is to make it easy for our wives to follow. Again, no wife complains about following a husband who is regularly surrendering to Christ, dying to self, and selflessly, sacrificially serving and leading his wife. And, wives, what does it look like to follow? Well, when your husband cultivates intimacy, obedience to God's will, safety, and honor, the best thing you can do is just lean in with him on it.
There are going to be times where you aren't thrilled with how he's directing the scene, but you can look at the overall story, and the plot of your story is all pointed toward Christ. It's okay to not sweat the small stuff, because in marriage we're going to have to extend a lot of grace to one another. It's going to be clunky sometimes. Leading is going to be clunky. Sometimes, wives, insecurity is going to creep in for us.
Then there are going to be times where you don't love what's happening, but you can look at the bigger story and just say, "Yeah, in the end, this is headed toward Jesus." If you want to show Jesus in your marriage, then the first thing is to fulfill your God-given roles. Then there are two other things that are a lot shorter than the first point. So, if you're doing the math, and you're like, "Wow! Okay. This is going to be a long message," no, the last two are really quick.
Remember, Peter's point is "Let your greatest attention be given to your heart and cultivating the beauty of your heart. Don't become preoccupied with what is external; be preoccupied with what is internal, because the end goal is for your life to show Christ." Yesterday, my family went to the Fort Worth zoo, and at one point, Kat was like, "Hey, let me take a picture. Get together with the boys." So I got together with the boys, she snapped the pic, and then we did the thing where she showed me the picture.
When she showed me the picture, honestly, I was horrified at what I saw. My literal words to her were, "It looks like someone put that picture through some aging software." Like, "This is what you will look like in 30 years." I looked weathered and worn, there were wrinkles, and my shirt was being pulled by my kids in the worst of ways. I just looked at that, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was like, "Is that what you see? Is that me?"
No one wants to realize that they're getting older. No one wants to look in the mirror and be like, "My best years are behind me." No one wants that. That is why, if you look in our culture, there is a fixation on anti-aging. I was Google searching. I found a list of 20 anti-aging cosmetics. There are 20 different things. There are more than that, because in our culture, the value is youth. We want to look young.
Here's the thing. That's fine if you want to look young externally, but internally, you want to look old. You want to look mature. You want to look as if you have aged internally. The greatest catastrophe would be to look young on the exterior, all put together, but on the inside still look youthful…full of pride, full of lust, full of insecurity, full of impulsivity, full of moodiness. You're difficult to be around. People never know what they're going to get from you. You're flaky. It's youth. Peter is saying, "No. Focus on the inside. Be transformed from the inside out."
What does it look like, then, to cultivate a Christlike character? Well, fight for daily uninterrupted time with God. A friend of mine used to say, "If I miss time with God one day, I know about it. If I miss time with God two days in a row, my spouse knows about it. If I miss time with God three days in a row, the whole world knows about it."
Fight for daily uninterrupted time with God where you sit with his Word, submit yourself to it, and allow God to speak to you and transform you. Live in community. Get into a Community Group. Be honest and accountable. Be known so that men or women can help spot the blemishes in your character. Go to re:gen on Monday nights to deal with the junk that just isn't getting any better.
Husbands, one of the best ways you can lead in your marriage is to cultivate a home where imperishable beauty is valued. What do you need to do, husband, to make sure your wife gets undistracted time with the Lord or to get away with other women in her Community Group or to attend a women's conference like IF:Gathering? What can you do to make that possible?
I remember in college Gregg Matte, when he was talking about dating, used to say, "Become the person you want to date." I just want to pull that into marriage and say, "Become the person you want to be married to." If you want to be married to a godly woman, make sure you're a godly man. If you want to be married to a godly man, then make sure you're a godly woman. Cultivate your character.
I'll close by saying this. Back in 2019, my wife and I were going through a tough time in our marriage. It was an extended season where marriage was just tougher than we wanted it to be. We always said we would go to counseling if we needed to, so we went to marriage counseling. It ended up being very helpful.
As we were in a season of just dealing with a tougher marriage, we were seeking out wise counsel from other people. People knew what was going on and how we were troubleshooting it. Somewhere along the way, someone gave us the challenge to sit down on the ground, to touch knees with one another, and to look into each other's eyes for 10 minutes without talking. Yeah.
We were like, "We're not going to do that." I'm an awkward person. Hopefully that has already become clear in my comments earlier. Kat and I tend to laugh a lot in our marriage, so it was like, "There's no way we'll be able to keep a straight face." But we were like, "Okay. Let's do it." So, we sit down on the ground, we touch knees, we begin to look into each other's eyes, and we're just giggling. It's tough to just stare at a person without talking.
For the first minute, two minutes, three minutes, we were giggling and fighting not to lose eye contact, but then something happened the longer we sat. We got into minute five, six, and then seven and eight, and we both had tears coming down our faces. What it was was we both finally began to see one another again. I tell you that because, for some of you, the key is just beginning to see your spouse for who they are again.
My hope is that this morning is, in some way, the beginning of you touching knees and beginning to look. Husbands, see your wife clearly for who she is. She's an heir with you. She's the recipient of the same grace, and she has been called by God to show Jesus through following. That's a huge responsibility. That's a tough responsibility. See her for who she is. Breathe life into her, and do everything in your power to help her flourish in the role God has given to her.
Wives, see your husband for who he is, that he's an heir of the same grace, and he has been given a huge responsibility to lead in marriage, so see the responsibility God has given him. God will hold him accountable. Breathe life into him. Support him. Encourage him along the way. Begin to see one another.
Finally, I'll just say maybe you're not ready to show Jesus because you have never seen Jesus personally. That's where it starts. It is by you realizing that Jesus came, that he died, that he rose from the dead so you could be forgiven of all of your sins and made right with God so that you can be made right with one another. If you don't know him, would you come to him today? Let's pray together.
Lord Jesus, I pray for the marriages in this room. I just pray for hope, as I would imagine there are some people who feel hopeless. They have divorce papers in their possession. They have plans this week to sign them. Lord, I just thank you that hope is not lost and that there are better days ahead. It's possible because of you, Lord Jesus. It can't be done in our own strength but by the power of your Spirit, Lord Jesus.
You have given us, first, the example of how we are to love one another, but not just that. You've given us your Spirit who gives us the power to actually show you in our marriages. So, I pray this would be a place full of people who walk out of here and imperfectly begin to show you, Jesus, in marriage. I pray that you would be glorified all over the Metroplex this week as we seek to more faithfully love one another as you, Christ, have loved us. We need you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.