1 Peter 3:1-7
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word…
Who is not fond of ornaments? Even those people who pretend to care only for "the useful" are not really quite indifferent to "the ornamental." We not only have some things simply for ornament, but things which are made for use we like to look as nice as possible. We do not bind books, nor make furniture, nor build houses and churches for the sake of ornament, yet we all admire a pretty book, handsome furniture, a fine house, and beautiful churches. You may remember, in reading your Histories of England, how the early Britons, in their savage state, like many of the heathen still, used to paint their bodies, thinking it improved them. Now, this desire for ornament is laid deep down in our nature, like one of the foundation stones of a house, and, therefore, it is quite right, so long as it is guided properly. St. Peter is certainly not speaking against all ornament. How could it be wrong, when our earth is full of it? But, certainly, St. Peter does not mean we are not to think at all of our appearance. It is not right to be untidy and slovenly in dress. What, then, you ask, is wrong? To make one's outward appearance the chief thing. Some people give you the impression that they are always thinking of what they have on; they seem to have just come away from the looking glass, for they are so "got up," as we say, and look more like dressed dolls than like real men and women. But there are other persons who always look nice without seeming to be conscious what they have on, and who never strike you as having spent much time over their toilet, or as if it had cost them much trouble. These are the truest gentlemen and ladies. Now St. Peter tells us what part of ourselves we should be most anxious to make beautiful, and what ornament we should seek for it. And what is the part to be adorned? He calls it "the hidden man of the heart." It reminds me of the Psalm which says, "The king's daughter is all glorious within." But, you say, who ever heard of wearing ornaments inside, where no one can see them? It must, surely, be silly to adorn something that is "hidden." But no! it is not. For anyone can see the difference between a heart that is adorned and one that is not, though you cannot see either the heart or the ornament itself. For look at the adornment which St. Peter recommends. It is "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." Let us try to think of some persons mentioned in the Bible who wore this ornament. Did not Isaac, when he took that long and tiring journey with his father Abraham, carrying the wood for the sacrifice, quietly obeying and meekly submitting without any explanation from his father? Did not Samuel, when he got up that night three times and went to Eli, thinking Eli wanted him, and saying meekly, "Here am I"? Did not David, when he bore meekly his elder brother's taunts, reproaching him for neglecting the sheep to come and see the battle; and afterwards in bearing so patiently with Saul's fickleness and bad temper? Above all, did not Jesus wear this inner ornament all through His earthly life? And how can you tell if you have this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit"? Answer some questions to yourselves, and you will know. Are you rude and rough, or gentle and polite? Are you wayward and wilful, as if you knew better than those who are older and wiser than you are; or do you at once and cheerfully obey your parents and your teachers? Now, people generally keep their best things for Sundays and "special occasions," when there are strangers or visitors to see them. At other times some persons do not seem to care how they look or what they have; but this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" is meant to be worn always, out-of-doors and indoors, at work and at play, at church, at school, and at home. And I think you will agree with me that we ought to seek first that kind of adorning which will best commend us to those with whom we live. Whenever you have on "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" they cannot fail to notice it, for, like a lustrous jewel, it will glance out at every turn through a pure, transparent life, and it will make you very dear to all your friends. Yes, this ornament is the most beautiful of all. But again, this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" is most precious. The apostle Peter says it is "of great price." It is precious, truly, in the sense of being scarce, like rare flowers and ferns and precious stones; for one person who possesses it, you may find a thousand without it, yet who have plenty of the commoner and cheaper kinds of ornament. But this one is so precious chiefly because it is an ornament of God's own making. There is yet another reason why it is so precious. Do you not think the more of a thing if it has cost your parents much money and trouble to get? Well, God made a real and very great sacrifice that we might have this ornament, giving up His Son to show it us in all its loveliness, and to enable us to get it. Then, too, this adorning is most lasting.
(C. S. Slater, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;