Continuing the summaries of my series of sermons on I Peter. This sermon, for husbands, is the companion to the one I posted yesterday from 3:1-6.
Tried With Fire — I Peter
#6 LIKEWISE, YE HUSBANDS (3:7)
7 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.
“Likewise” — this verse is the continuation of the section that began in I Peter 2:11. We are to live as “strangers and pilgrims” — we are to be different from the world. In the preceding verses we looked at how wives are to be different, how they are to live. Peter gave six verses to wives, and only one to husbands, but that one verse contains more than enough to set apart Christian husbands as far different from the world.
I. Dwell With Them
A. Not Parted Asunder. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man part asunder.” Christian husbands are not to leave their wives, but dwell with them. No real discussion needed here, this is very clear.
B. With Them — Not “Together Apart”. Emotional divorce is not acceptable to God, either. Christian couples are not to be together physically but emotionally divorced. Men are not to retreat into their work or other pursuits. Too many couples only talk about the weather. A Christian husband is to be emotionally with his wife, to discuss his and her hopes, dreams, fears, hurts, and sorrows. He is to listen to her, and talk with her.
C. Not Bitter Against Them (Colossians 3:19). Everyone knows that in general (with some exceptions), women are more emotional than men. So therefore women should be most susceptible to bitterness, right? So why are men the ones that are told not to be bitter? Men also are very emotional, but less likely to express their hurts — and so they withdraw into their bitterness. A wall of bitterness goes up in the heart — and a man is no longer really dwelling with his wife. This God forbids.
II. According to Knowledge
A. In Close Intimacy. As we saw in I Peter 1:2, God’s knowledge of us is not simply an intellectual acknowledgment of a set of facts. It is a close, loving, intimate knowledge. This is the kind of knowledge that a man is supposed to have of his wife. He is to know her well, and lovingly.
B. Knowledgeable Leadership. A husband’s position as leader in the home is not explicitly stated here, but that has already been established in the preceding verses. This verse is telling him how to lead, and he is to lead according to knowledge. He is NOT to be ruled by his emotions, but directed by what he knows. God tells husbands to put their feelings and their own desires aside, to understand the situation and the needs of all involved, and to make decisions according to that knowledge.
The husband must consider his wife’s needs, feelings, and desires. He must also consider his own — these also are part of the entire picture. It can be very difficult for a man to have the wisdom and self-control to properly consider all those things, yet be ruled by none of them.
C. Knowing the Wife’s Strengths AND Weaknesses. The husband’s leadership must build on and take advantage of his wife’s strengths, and protect against her weaknesses. He has to be able to make an honest assessment, and act accordingly.
D. Knowing Her Needs. I Timothy 5:8 says that the man that does not provide for his own has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. This has application beyond just the financial support of the family, as we often think, and to other needs as well. A husband needs to listen to his wife in regard to her needs. He also needs to be aware of the needs that she cannot/does not express, and the needs of which she may be completely unaware.
E. Knowing the Lord. A man really can’t lead according to knowledge unless he knows the Person who is most important in every situation. And you have to know HIM! The Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, which house to buy, which route to take when we go for a drive. It doesn’t tell us which days we MUST put on a seatbelt (unless seatbelts are legally required where you live, and then the Bible says we must put it on every time). But there is One who guides us with His eye — if we know Him well. He directs us through the dangers, and He will direct our leadership as well.
III. Giving Honour As Unto the Weaker
It is here, perhaps, that the Christian husband is most different from the world. Too many men take advantage of women’s emotional weaknesses to manipulate them. Too many take advantage of their physical weakness to abuse them.
A. Acknowledging Her Weakness. A Biblical and godly approach to the differences between men and women is not to pretend that women do not have weaknesses, as the feminist movement sometimes tries to do. There is an open acknowledgment here by Peter that women are weaker.
B. Cherishing BECAUSE of Her Weakness, not Abusing It. Peter’s instruction is that her very weakness is a cause for honour. Terri and I have a pair of fine goblets from our wedding. They are far weaker than a sturdy (some might say clunky!) water-glass. Yet their very weakness adds to their beauty, and we value them far more than we do our water glasses. I would never use them for certain purposes because of that weakness, and because of the value we place on them. Nor would I place my wife in certain situations because it would dishonour her weakness, which I should be honouring.
C. God’s Pattern of Honouring Weakness. This is actually only one manifestation of a larger pattern. God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty (I Corinthians 1:27). This is something that God has placed within us, as well. One of the things we cherish most of all in this world is one of the weakest things we will ever see — a newborn baby. Just take a newborn into a crowded room, and watch the value human beings give that weak little creature. This is probably what lies beneath a man’s protective instinct that I discussed in the prior sermon. We value, and want to protect, that which is weak.
IV. Heirs Together
A. She is Your Sister — You Answer to Her Father! If you do not treat your wife as well as your sister, you are in violation of this Scripture. You are heirs together of the grace of life — you are in the same family. Your love for her should be beyond the love you owe a sister. But there is another aspect here as well. My sons know that, should they not treat their sisters in accordance with the standards I have established, they answer to me (at this point it was necessary in preaching for me to pound the pulpit firmly to emphasise the point :)). A Christian husband should have a measure of the fear of God in his treatment of his wife — after all, he will answer to her Father, and her Father is One with whom we must not trifle!
B. She is a Temple of the Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit dwells within your wife. To mistreat her is to mistreat His dwelling place, His loved one, His possession. She doesn’t belong to you, she belongs to Him. Many husbands would watch with care over a borrowed car, yet act as if their wife is their own possession (and not a treasured one), rather than a loan from God.
C. She May be Your Spiritual Superior (Galatians 3:28). In Christ there is neither male nor female. Yes, you have a different role, but just as a computer programmer may be smarter than his boss (or at least may like to think so :)), your wife may be far beyond you spiritually. A lot of husbands could use a good dose of humility — your wife may be a spiritual giant, and you may be a spiritual pygmy. You are still supposed to lead the home, but humbly before your God. One day, true spiritual strength will be seen clearly.
D. You Need to Protect Her Spiritually. She is an heir of God. You need to lead in a way that protects her from temptations in her weaknesses. Most of all, don’t tempt her to violate verses 1-6! If she nags you, there is a pretty good likelihood that YOUR actions have tempted her to do so. If she doesn’t give you the honour and respect she should, it is probable that your leadership has not been honourable and respectable, and you have thus tempted her not to honour and respect you.
This does not excuse wrong behaviour, for your husband or wife can never make you do wrong — but you can certainly tempt your spouse to do wrong by your own behaviour. Husband, do you wish verse 1-6 described your wife? The best thing you can do is make sure that verse 7 describes you, and that will make it a lot easier for her to be verses 1-6. Wife, do you wish he was a verse 7 man? Make sure that verses 1-6 describe you, and that will help him immensely. Seek to be what God wants YOU to be.
The husband who is not following verse 7 is strongly tempting his wife to not be a follower of verses 1-6. The wife who is not following verses 1-6 strongly tempts her husband to be other than verse 7. This is no way to treat a fellow-heir of the grace of life. Would you tempt your pastor or other believers to do wrong? Why do you tempt your spouse?
IV. Prayers Not Hindered
Matthew 5:23-24 tells us that, if we have wronged a brother in Christ, no service or prayer is acceptable to God until the matter is resolved. How much more if we have wronged our wife? Do you want to learn to pray, do you want to be a man of prayer? You can just forget about it until you start treating your wife the way God would have you. It isn’t going to happen. So start today to straighten out the way you lead your wife.
Concluding Thoughts — Remember Whom You Represent
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” Read that over, memorise it, quote it daily. Look at Psalm 45, a “psalm of loves.” It begins by talking about God, and it ends talking about One whose name will be remembered in all generations, and will be praised for ever and ever, which can only be God — specifically Christ, in this case. Yet the middle of the psalm is clearly referring to the wedding of the king and a king’s daughter. A description of God fades into a wedding, and then merges back into discussing God. Why? Because a major theme in Scripture, appearing in multiple places in both Old and New Testaments, is that marriage is a picture of God’s love for His people, who are His Bride.
Christian husbands, you are a picture of God! You are role-playing, having a part in a play which is only the shadow of the reality, a picture of the true Marriage Relationship. How will you play that role? How will you fulfil that picture? Will you mar the image of God’s love for you? Will you show the patience, the consistency, the strength, the mercy, and the forgiveness that you want Him to show to you?
Christian wives, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a husband like that? What if you had someone who loved you that way? Actually, you do! We all do. For we are the Bride of Christ, loved with a love which exceeds even the most loving earthly husband. When a Christian sees God’s instructions for Christian husbands, whether you are a husband or not, you have a glimpse of His love for you. His love is a love of which the depth, height, and breadth we cannot begin to comprehend. Human love is but a glimpse, but we thank Him for it.