This morning, I was reading the Brave is the New Beautiful plan on my Bible app when I came across 1 Peter 3:3-4. Some of you A+ Bible-reading Christians may know what verse I’m talking about straightaway, but for those of you who don’t…
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
1 Peter 3:3-4
This passage is in the middle of Peter’s instructions to Christian wives. As a recovering black-and-white thinker who is anything but gentle, this verse has always been a bit discouraging. Perhaps you can sympathize. You scarcely think before you speak and have firm opinions that the world would surely be bettered by. You’ve been scolded more times than you can count for injecting your harsh, blunt voice where it was not needed or asked for. Since graduating high school, life experience has broadened my worldview and softened my tone a bit, but I have still never been described as gentle or quiet. I’ve always seen myself as a failure when it comes to these instructions. Not to mention the fact that I’m a millenial woman who’s tempted to become a “nasty woman” feminist who has to fight for my rights at gender equality and defeat the patriarchy. I mean, sometimes reading the Bible makes me angry because of how women were treated in that culture and historical period. Sometimes I dismiss biblical instruction for women because it seems outdated and sexist. Gentle and quiet are verbs more appropriate for children than for a 21st century woman, right?
This passage instructs women to have a gentle and quiet SPIRIT, a spirit that is pleasing to the Lord. Your spirit is very different from your personality. Your spirit is the state of your heart, your mindset, your motivations, guidance, and passions. Your personality is how those things are displayed. In other words, the Lord wants women to have a peaceful spirit. Gentle as the sunrise, quiet as a morning meadow. This does not mean God wants women to be silenced and tamed.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
If your SPIRIT is one of chaos and business, the opposite of gentle and quiet, then you will quickly grow weary. Your spirit depends on how close you are to the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of God within you. If you are trying to compete with other women, achieve fame for yourself, walk in your own power, and living for the temporary, then you are far from the Spirit. When you’re guided by the worldly more than the spiritual, your spirit will grow anxious and temperamental. When you invite the Holy Spirit into your life and seek to please God alone, your spirit will be peaceful and gracious as the Lord intended.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
When you read this passage as “clothe yourself with a gentle and quiet state of being” rather than “clothe yourselves with a gentle and quiet personality”, I hope you’ll be encouraged and enlightened. God created Eve because Adam needed her. Men need us to counter their weaknesses and fill in where they cannot. Humanity is supposed to exist in partnership, not competition. Ladies, whether you’re the CEO or the housewife, your role on this earth is essential to the Kingdom of Heaven. The world would be a darker place if you were not present to shine the light of Christ through your handcrafted personality. The light of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and a gentle and quiet spirit is the universal flame lit within every Christian woman. Your personality, whether you identify more with a lioness or a mouse, is the lampshade or lantern that reflects and spreads the holy flame.
The Message version of 1 Peter 3:4 tells women to “cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in”. Women were created to bring beauty and relationship to the world. That is a unique superpower that only we have. If your spirit is jaded and disgruntled, you’re hindering your ability to reflect Christ’s beauty and love to those around you. So shake off the burdens of comparison and achievement, and walk in your freedom as a daughter of the One True King. We have the freedom for a gentle and quiet spirit because there is no need for us to have fear. We don’t have to be loud to be heard, we don’t have to be harsh to be powerful. We have Christ to give us power and a voice, all he asks is that we cultivate inner beauty.
Photo Courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash