One approach to Bible study which can be especially helpful is found in asking questions of the passages to obtain greater insight. As part of a character study on Sarah, 1 Peter 3:5-6 (NKJV) was brought to my attention.
“For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”
An initial question which came to mind, due to my poor memory, was, “Where exactly did Sarah in conversation with Abraham call him lord?” (The word “lord” here is being used as a term of honor and deference.) Hmm. There are only a few instances in Genesis where actual dialogue is recorded between Sarah and Abraham. But in actuality, there are no conversations between Sarah and Abraham where Sarah addresses Abraham as lord.
Wait a minute, how can that be? Isn’t there a passage that refers to Sarah calling Abraham lord?
You may have already located Genesis 18:12 (ESV) which reads, “So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” Well, there it is. Okay, although she isn’t technically talking to Abraham, Sarah does call him “my lord.” But before hurriedly moving on, there is something more we can ask which may give us insight into God’s praise of Sarah in 1 Peter 3:5-6 and encourage us in adorning ourselves as holy women and godly wives. It is a simple question, really. If Sarah wasn’t speaking to Abraham, to whom was Sarah speaking when she expresses Abraham as “my lord”? The answer is clearly stated. Sarah was talking to herself. Even in something so seemingly insignificant, there is much that can be learned.
- Sarah’s respect for Abraham was not in word only. It was genuinely from her heart. Even when she believed no one could hear her, she referred to him honorably. If in her thinking Sarah so highly regarded Abraham, wouldn’t it follow that her actual words to Abraham and to others about him exemplified those same thoughts? Sarah’s speech and actions demonstrated the great esteem she had in her heart and mind for her husband.
- Sarah’s respect for Abraham was her habit. In a moment of stress or shock, we initially respond from the behavior pattern with which we are most constant and familiar. What we continue to think about on a regular basis is where we draw our first reactions (Luke 6:45). Sarah’s moment of surprise gives us a glimpse of how she thought about Abraham daily.
- Sarah respected Abraham knowing full well that he was not a perfect man. He had put her in a position years before where she was taken into Pharaoh’s house, and had God not intervened, the results would have been tragic for her (Genesis 12:10-20). Although Abraham was called the friend of God, he was still a man who needed God’s forgiveness (James 2:23; Romans 3:23). Sarah was aware of her husband’s faults and yet, in spite of that, made deference toward him anyway.
God presents Sarah to us in 1 Peter 3:5-6 as one who was submissive and obedient to her husband. Sarah could not maintain that behavior without first having in her mind and heart respect for God and her husband. We cannot be godly wives if our actions toward our husbands lack genuine regard and honor for them. Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV) commands wives to respect their husbands. Without it, our actions, regardless of how good, are hollow and empty. And if so, we know it, God knows it, and if we spend much time with our husband, he knows it, too.
Changing our behavior originates with alterations in our thinking on a continual basis. If we struggle in our relationship with showing respect to our husbands, then we need to consider how we actually think about our husbands (Proverbs 4:23). (A good indicator is to carefully listen to how we talk about them to others.) Those thoughts should be molded by the word of God, not on the culture’s standards, what I think my husband should be, or deserves from me. Setting up a new mental program—a new way of thinking takes effort and time, but God said He would aid us through prayer and His Spirit within us in conjunction with His powerful Word (Ephesians 3:16, 20). Taking time to meditate on God’s word and saturating our minds with directions which promote honoring our husband can begin changing our minds, which in turn, changes our behavior. The verses and the directives below can be a good place to start. (In place of the words “my husband” in the meditations, insert his name.) Click for February 2015 Divine Percolations printable.
(Note: If you are in a marriage where you or your children are experiencing abuse or your spouse is involved in adultery or pornography, please seek professional assistance as soon as possible.)
Ephesians 5:33b (NKJV)
“… and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
I am committed to thinking respectfully about ______________ (my husband). I guard my mind and heart against the temptation to scorn, slight, shame or insult him.
Proverbs 12:4 (ASV)
“A worthy woman is the crown of her husband; But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”
I will seek to build up ______________(my husband ) in prayer, thoughts, words and actions. In doing so, I find joy and peace in God’s approval and the knowledge that it blesses him and our marriage.
Proverbs 31:11a (ESV)
“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”
I make myself trustworthy by thinking and speaking about him to all others in a way that is honorable. I look for __________________ (my husband’s) admirable qualities and express it to him and others.
1 Peter 3:1-2, 4 (ESV)
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct…..but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Out of deference to ________________ (my husband), I will be a godly example in thought and deed even if I disagree in a matter of judgment. Regardless of his decisions, I will respond in a discreet, calm, thoughtful, and considerate manner which honors and pleases my Heavenly Father.
Titus 2:4-5 (ASV)
“that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed:”
I have the ability to learn to love and submit to ______________ (my husband). God has given me what I need to accept this challenge. In doing so I will be a bright reflection of Jesus Christ, glorifying God and His Word.
Colossians 3:18 (ESV)
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
I will genuinely honor and carry out ____________________ (my husband’s) decisions excepting only in those areas which he would require me to sin against God.
Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV)
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
The beauty of the comparison God makes between ______________ (my husband’s) and my marriage with Christ and the church elevates and encourages my spirit to trust in and obey God’s plan.
1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”
I will highly esteem God’s organization of authority by recognizing ________________ (my husband’s) and my role within our marriage. I will seek to prayerfully support _______________ (my husband’s) tremendous responsibility to God in carrying out this leadership position.
By Cheri Deaver
Cheri is wife to Weylan Deaver who preaches at the Sherman Drive Church of Christ in Denton, Texas. She is mother to Orrin, Lacey, Lexie and Ethan, as well as a new mother-in-law to Aubrie Deaver. She is blessed beyond measure for which God has so richly provided.