Intro: Following along with the series of messages I am preaching through 1 Peter, as Peter writes to the dispersed and persecuted church in exile throughout Asia Minor, he encourages them by writing, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12). In chapter 2 verse 13 through chapter 3 verse 8 he gives us three specific ways that we are able to have “honorable conduct”, even while living in an environment that is hostile to God and the gospel. Those three ways all involve submission to authority in different realms of our daily interactions. We are to be (1) submissive citizens, (2) submissive servants, and (3) submissive spouses.
As we look at these three focal points for submission, I’ve titled this devotional series “Our Mission is Submission – 1 Peter 2:13-3:8.”
Today we will look at how a husband is to be submissive:
(3) Submissive Spouses – 1 Peter 3:1-7
Submissive Husbands – vs. 7
Now Peter goes on and after giving us instructions for how the wife is to be submissive in the home, he uses a very interesting word when he talks about the responsibility of husbands. This is often missed and misunderstood. Rarely do you hear that husbands are to be submissive to their wives. We’ve all been taught that in marriage the act of submission belongs to the wife and the husband is to love and lead. But think about this – Peter has told men and women both to be submissive to government and as servants to be submissive to their masters. Wives, likewise, or in like manner as these before, being submissive to their husbands. And now in verse 7 he begins this way, “7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” It is the same likewise as was there for the wives. Peter is telling men how to be submissive! We are still on the same topic within context – submission.
Now wait just a minute! There is never a time that a husband is to submit to his wife, right? See – that right there proves that we do not understand what submission is.
Now think about this. Back in Ephesians 5, before Paul told wives to submit to their husbands, he wrote in verse 21 that we are all to be “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” There is a time and place for husbands to be submissive. He tells us right here. He says, “Likewise,” continuing in this theme of submission, and that theme goes on even after this verse through verse 8 as we will see next week, where he says, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…”, he applies the lessons and lifestyle of submission to everyone one more time, saying “finally.” We’ve had citizens, servants, spouses, and finally, everyone, be submissive as a way of life.
So “likewise, husbands”, you are to voluntarily yield your rights and desires in order to serve and minister to your wife. Now you are still responsible to God in the role as head of the home, but we know already that those who lead must do so by serving. Now immediately some might protest and say, “If you both submit to each other then there is no leader. So the husband should not submit because you can’t lead and submit at the same time.” And yet God’s Word plainly tells us in Luke 22:26-27, “he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” Jesus by His words, and by His own example teaches us that to be the greatest leader you must be the greatest servant. He gave us an example to follow (leadership) by serving others and washing their feet. True leadership does not exist outside of an attitude of submission. Men, if we are not servant leaders then we are not leaders of any kind that matters. Leadership in the kingdom of God is service.
Ephesians 5:25 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” How did Christ demonstrate His love for the church? By pouring out His life for us in obedience to the Father. In Ephesians 5:29 Paul wrote, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Husbands, we nourish and cherish our wives. We serve them to make sure that their needs are met. Peter tells us how to do this. “Dwell with them with understanding,” The word for “dwell with them” refers to the totality of the marriage relationship. In every aspect of your life together, do it with understanding. Note – the task here is not “figuring them out”, it is living with them with understanding. Understanding what they need and what we are to provide for them. Understanding means “personal insight that leads to loving care.” That doesn’t mean when something is wrong that we men need to fix it – sometimes she just needs to be heard. So listen. (And then fix it!) :)
In the totality of the marriage relationship, in your life together, husbands, we need to be diligent to discover personal insights that help us love them more and show that love more. And more often than not, they will tell us what they need. We need to listen! We need to seek to understand. And that involves subordinating our needs, wants, desires, and rights, to them – it involves submission. This is exactly what Christ did in the Garden to secure our salvation. He yielded Himself to the will of the Father. That is submission.
Tomorrow we will learn how to dwell with our wives with understanding and trust.