Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A beautiful woman. 1 Peter 3:3-6

Thinking back to last week's study on the submission or wives, I came across this:

Put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
And go out to the car and change the tyre.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.
Come on, Baby!

Now, don't I let you wash the car on Sundays?
Don't I warn you when you're getting fat?
Ain't I gonna take you fishin' some day?
A man can't love his wife more than that!

Ain't I always nice to your kid sister?
Don't I take her drivin' every night?
So, sit here at my feet
'Cause I like you when you're sweet.
And you know it ain’t feminine to fight!
Come on, Baby!

You can fill my pipe. And then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire, Babe.
And come and tell me why you're leavin' me.

Is that your idea of submission? Let me warn you, that is a few verses time Peter will be dealing with husbands.

Meanwhile here are some suggestions from John Piper on what submission is not:
(1) Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. If as Peter surmises the husband is not a Christian, he will often have a different world view, so submission can't mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.
(2) Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. Peter does not tell her to retreat from her commitment to Christ.
(3) Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. Peter goes on to say that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.
(4) Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. There is a system of priorities: submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents.
(5) Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband. If he is a Christian a good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. Verse five says that her hope is in God in the hope that her husband will join her there.
(6) Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, "You are her [Sarah's] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening." Submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear.

But today's study is on what makes a beautiful woman: 1 Peter 3:3-6 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

We have a distorted view of beauty today. Have you been following the Tiger Woods saga? Every day another woman crawls out of the woodpile. They all look very much the same - blonde, buxom, thick-lipped and provocative. Young girls starve themselves to achieve the Victoria Beckham look. Others have plastic surgery or liposuction, or spend a fortune on skin creams with pseudo-scientific names for ingredients that in reality cost tuppence a ton. Someone should tell them you can't get beauty from a bottle.

Do you remember the film Sunset Boulevard? It was about the beautiful film star who had become 'past-her-prime'. We recognize the symptom in women. I am old enough to have seen the pretty young things on television become wrinkled old ladies playing grannies on the soaps. But what about William Holden? The bright young bachelor was featured in a BMJ as an example of how smoking turns your skin into parchment with as many wrinkles as an elephant's trunk.

There is nothing wrong with trying to look your best, but do it appropriately. Short skirts on fat thighs are repulsive no matter what your age. Gold rings with large diamonds can't hide arthritic knuckles.

If we look for beauty in physical appearance, it will soon fade. What will you do then, husband. Trade in your wife like you trade in your car? What will you do to stop him, wife? Cover yourself with gold and fine jewels? Bathe in ass's milk? Buy your clothes at more expensive shops? Color your hair with the latest shade?
Instead, your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.

You see, true beauty does not fade with age. As you grow older you become wiser. Men of fifty don't put up with simpering teenagers for long. If you saw the Steve Martin movie 'LA Story' you will remember how Martin, who must have been past 40, takes up with a a roller-skating, gum-chewing youngster. It was horrible!

It is possible for Christians to go to far the other way on this. Culture is important. At our church in the 1970s we used to see holidaymakers from Northern Ireland attend in the summer months. They used to dress in the fashion of the 1950s. Now they may have felt comfortable, but was it a good witness? Children of Christians often leave the church when they first go to University. One of the reasons for this is that they see their church as hopelessly old-fashioned. Believe it or not, even the dress of Church of England vicars was fashionable once. I'm not sure whether that was in the sixteenth century or the seventeenth century! We mistake culture for good behavior. A ban on television, cinema, dancing and pop music doesn't make young people more holy.

So how do you make yourself beautiful? Cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit, but don't become a doormat. I am amazed that so few Christian women have read the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs. Read there about a paragon of wifely virtue. You may not be able to live up to such an ideal. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Here is a paraphrase from The Message:

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.

She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.
(Who wouldn't be with a wife like that!)

She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!"

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

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