“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.” 1 Peter 3:7
The gospel of the Lord Jesus holds forth a high view of marriage and its holy callings as husbands and wives. Christians, having renewed hearts and minds, are given the great privilege of recognizing, experiencing, and reflecting the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of God in holy marriage. But this does not come easily nor automatically; we must consistently grow in it by the sanctifying power of the Spirit and the Word.
The passage quoted above is directed to Christian husbands. Peter instructs us to “live with [our] wives in an understanding way, showing honor….” Men, we are told to get to know our wives and respond accordingly. Therefore, we are to spend significant time with them in order to know them so that we may be understanding of them. In other words, the Lord has assigned us homework: study your wife. Get to know her. Learn her fears and weaknesses, strengths and abilities, likes and dislikes. Grow in understanding her emotionally, intellectually, sexually, and spiritually. We are to become consistent and proficient in communicating love to her the way she needs. We must humble ourselves in this, seeking to show honor to our wives since she is the “weaker vessel.” Simply put, as Christian husbands we are to use our God-given authority to selflessly build up and honor our wives, rather than our own egos.
Peter, then gives husbands two reasons for loving their wives this way. Firstly, our wives are co-heirs of “the grace of life.” Though we have differing roles in marriage, we have the same standing in Christ. Men, we should love our wives well because she is a daughter of the Father, a sister of the Lord Jesus, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a member of the church. Together, we confess one faith, one baptism, one hope, one Lord, and one God and Father of us all. Our wives are co-heirs of the grace of life.
Secondly, we are to understand and honor our wives so that our prayers are not hindered. Men, selfishness, carelessness, laziness, and neglect in marriage negatively affects our communion with God and effectiveness for Him. Our prayers will be hindered by not loving our wives well. The Lord is not pleased when we disgrace the very ones He has graced.
Who is adequate for these things? The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak. The calling of a Christian husband is impossible in our own strength. Thankfully, God has not left us to our own strength. The power to be Christian husbands is found in the previous chapter: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pet 2:24) Like every other responsibility we have as Christians, the power for obedience and faithfulness is found in the life-giving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
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Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.