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Husbands, Honor Your Wives

Halim Suh    /    Oct 22, 2017

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Halim Suh continues our series in 1 Peter by teaching on husbands honoring their wives from 1 Peter 3:7.

Series: Hope in Exile: The Book of I Peter

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Sermon Transcript

Introduction: "Likewise, Husbands.."

We will be continuing in the book of 1 Peter today in 1 Peter 3:7. Last week we saw Peter addressing marriage and giving instruction to wives, and now we are going to see Peter give instruction to husbands.

Now, you may be single and wondering, what does this have to do with me?

What 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us is that because this is God’s Word, it is profitable for you. He wants you to be made complete and equipped for every good work. Perhaps He is teaching you and preparing you for a future marriage, but even more than that, we have an opportunity to see the beauty of the covenant between Christ and His bride, the church. So singles, God has a word for you here.

Now, what is important for us to see in today’s text is that while Peter is teaching on marriage, he is doing so in the larger context of how Christians ought live in submission. To be Christian, in essence, means that we are a people who have been bought with a price. We do not belong to ourselves, but we belong to another. We are a people who live in submission under the rule and reign of another.

And yes, we ultimately live under the rule and reign of God and His Word, but Peter has been instructing us starting in 1 Peter 2:13, saying, “ … be subject, for the Lord’s sake … to every human institution … ” He called us to submit to governments, even unjust ones that are persecuting us. He called us to submit to masters and employers, even unjust ones. Why?

Because when we do so, Peter tells us we are following the example of Jesus and displaying the gospel.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)

If anybody had the right to not submit or be under subjection, it was Jesus—the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But why did He submit Himself to unjust rulers, and why did He subject Himself to us and our sins and die on the cross for us? Because ultimately, He was entrusting Himself to His Father. And through the suffering and through the submission, He was accomplishing something amazing called the gospel. Through suffering and quiet submission, Jesus accomplished our salvation.

And it is in this context that Peter says next:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands … “ (1 Peter 3:1 ESV)

He says, “Likewise, wives…” Like who? Like Jesus. Peter is saying that wives have an opportunity and a calling. He says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.” He is saying that, likewise, as wives, you have an opportunity to display what Jesus did for us. How? By submitting to your husband.

Every time my wife, Angela, submits herself to me, even when my leadership is lacking and I don’t deserve it, she is in the gentlest and yet in the most powerful of ways reminding me of the gospel and pointing me to what Jesus has done for me. Countless times, she has helped me repent and has kept me from diving headlong into sin by pointing me to Jesus and what He has done for me.

He submitted Himself and subjected Himself for me and for you. He took our sins and died a horrific death for us to save us. That is the power of submission. The gospel was accomplished through submission.

So don’t you see how submission makes absolutely no sense at all if you don’t believe in the gospel? If you don’t believe that this is what Jesus has done for you to save you, then why in the world would you submit to anybody? It would be foolishness. The Bible says the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God. It is the wisdom of God. And if you do believe that it was through Jesus’s submission and subjection that He saved you, then what God’s Word is saying is to follow His example. As we do so, we are reminding our spouse of the gospel and pointing the world to Jesus.

So what about husbands? Wives are thinking, FINALLY, let’s get to the husbands.

Are husbands exempt? Are husbands called to submit and be subject? Is there a “Likewise, husbands … ” in there? Yes, there is. Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:7.

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 ESV)

What does Peter mean by “likewise”? Peter is saying that just as Jesus suffered and submitted and subjected Himself for you, husbands, you must submit too. There is a submission that the husbands must display. Let’s go back and read Ephesians 5:21. Paul tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ—wives to the husbands, husbands to the wives.

But because our roles as husband and wife are different, our submission looks different. Paul shows us how in Ephesians 5:22-27:

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. (Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)

And so again, wives are to submit to their husbands in the way that the church is to submit to Christ—by trusting and following His leadership and His authority. Then Peter shows us how we, as husbands, are to display our submission:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV)

Because the roles are different, husbands don't submit to the authority of the wife, to the leadership of the wife, or to the headship of the wife. But we do submit, listen to, and attend to the needs of the wife. We submit and subject ourselves in the way that Jesus did for the church, His bride. Jesus didn’t submit Himself to the headship or the authority of the church, but for the needs of the church.

Verse 25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” So do you see that? The husband’s submission for the wife means that he gives himself up for her just as Christ gave Himself up for the church. And that is the essence of the husband’s submission—to lay down his life for his wife. The husband submits himself to the needs of his wife by loving her and by honoring her.

What does it look like for the husband to submit and subject and give himself up for his wife? Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:7 again, and we will work through it step by step.

 

"Live with your wives in an understanding way"

What does this look like?

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 ESV)

Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way … ”

If you translate it literally, Peter says, “Live with your wives according to knowledge.”

What Peter is saying is that in order for a husband to be a picture of Christ to his wife, he is going to have to know some things. He is going to need to have some knowledge.

Husbands, it is going to be impossible for you to be the kind of husband God wants you to be without regularly, daily spending time in God’s Word—knowing it, studying it, and obeying it.

All the things that God is calling you to do and all the things you won’t want to do—like laying your life down for your wife—you won’t be able to do unless you go to God’s Word and see, taste, and experience that this is what Jesus has done for you. Drinking daily from a source of love that never dries up is the only hope you will have in loving your wife daily no matter what.

So first, you need to know God’s Word.

Next, you need to know your wife. You need to be a student of your wife. You need to have a knowledge of your wife’s desires, her goals, what makes her face light up, and the things she stays up late worrying about.

You need to know how she takes her coffee, what her favorite foods are, what her favorite book is, and why.

You need to know the gifts that God has given her. What are the things she does for the kingdom in which she finds true fulfillment? Find opportunities for her to do those things regularly.

What are the things that she finds most difficult in obeying God? Her greatest temptations? The things she daydreams about to escape reality? You need to know what Scripture you need to be regularly praying for her.

You need to know what her cues are when she is wanting to connect with you. A psychologist, John Gottman, and his wife have been working with married couples for 40 years, and this is what they found in their study:

Gottman and his wife have observed the regular “requests for connection” couples make to each other throughout any given day—call them “bids.” They are the small talk we make as we ride together in the car, or take a walk, or sit together over dinner. Each bid is an opportunity to “connect, however momentarily.” Spouses can respond to these bids for emotional connection by “turning toward” each other or “turning away.”

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t—those who turned away—would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or looking at their phone. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

Husbands, put down your phone and look at the love of your life when she is talking to you.

To live with our wives in an understanding way according to knowledge means that we are called to know and be a student of God’s Word. And we are also called to know and be a student of the wife that God has given us.

 

"Showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel"

Let’s look at the next part of the verse.

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 ESV)

The next thing Peter says is to show honor to your wife as the weaker vessel. Peter says that there is an honor she is due because she is the weaker vessel. Look at the next part, “ … since they are heirs with you of the grace of life … ” Even though they are heirs with you, even though she is in equal standing with you in God’s eyes—equal in personhood, dignity, and worth—there is a weakness God has assigned to her and entrusted to her so she can display what Jesus has done in becoming weak for us by taking on human flesh.

In a very real way, there is an honor she is due. Living in this fallen world, she has the more difficult role to play in many ways.

Specifically, what are some of the ways that the wife is weaker, making her calling more difficult and therefore worthy of honor?

This would certainly include the idea that, by and large, women are physically weaker than men. If you look at the history of mankind, men have always taken advantage of physical power to oppress women. Now, I’m not saying every single man is more powerful than every single woman. There are some CrossFit women who can kick my butt. But generally speaking, when we watch the Olympics, men and women compete separately because, in general, men are more powerful physically than women. Generally speaking, husbands can overpower their wives physically. Specifically, in a culture where this was happening and abuse was thought of as acceptable, Peter said that physical strength should be used to serve and honor your wife rather than subdue her. There are dangers and vulnerabilities that women will face in this world that do not even cross our minds as men, and it is Christian men who ought to be at the forefront defending and protecting and honoring women.

But as we further look at the context, what we also see is that wives are weaker in terms of authority in the marriage. The husband is entrusted with headship and authority within the marriage to lead. Peter says that instead of misusing your authority for selfish ends, you should use the authority and leadership God has given you to honor your wife—to love and serve your wife and her needs.

I want to mention one more way. I don’t think this is really a weakness. I think this is really an incredible strength, and yet it is something that husbands can take advantage of for their own benefit to serve themselves or to get their way. Wives tend to have more of an emotional sensitivity than their husbands. Again, that is not to say that every woman is more emotionally sensitive than every man. But generally speaking, Angela is so much more emotionally intelligent than me. She is so much more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit—of what is wrong and what is right—because God has created her that way. That is why it is said that if the women of society fall, the whole society falls. That is why it is said that women are the last bastion of morality and faithfulness, because if the women of the society lose their sensitivity to what is right and wrong, then the whole society will fall.

Because Angela is more “feeling” than I am, there is a way I could take advantage of that. When we are in a fight and I’m so angry, in that moment I know there are words I could use to hurt her in ways that she could not hurt me with her words. This is because I don’t feel things at the level she is able to feel. The Bible commands husbands in Colossians 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” God has given women and wives such sensitivity in their hearts and in their spirits, and it is an incredible strength. Do not treat it with harshness and criticism to hurt her in times of conflict.

So in these three ways—physically, in authority, and emotionally—wives are the weaker vessel. Again they are not the inferior vessel, not the lesser vessel, but weaker. My son, Malachi, is stronger than my daughter, Evie, but they are equally precious to me. If Malachi uses his strength to hurt Evie, he is going to have to answer to me.

Wives, I know you want this to be really practical. I know you might be thinking, just tell my husband all the ways he needs to change and all the things he needs to start doing. So I’ll try my best to answer this question: what are some ways we can honor our wives in light of them being weaker physically, in authority, and emotionally? And single men, much of this will apply to you in how you treat your sisters in Christ.

 

Physical

How can we physically honor our wives?

If you hear the door handle jiggle or a window shatter in the middle of the night, you get out of bed. You don’t say, “I checked the last time.” You don’t even say, “I checked the last 10 times, it’s your turn.” You get up every time. It is your turn. You always place yourself between your wife and any danger.

Any opportunity you get, you clean the house, you hold the baby, you take out the trash, and you kill the roach. In any and all domestic areas where having more physical strength is an advantage, you do it as much as you can.

Sometimes as husband and wife, you get into a competition at the end of the day about who had the harder day. I come home and I tell Angela, “You don’t even understand what kind of a day I had.” Then Angela says, “Oh yeah? I watched four kids all day.” And you get into a competition of who had the harder day. Why? Because you are saying, “I need you to serve me. I had the harder day.” To honor your wife physically means that no matter what kind of day you had, your wife had the harder day. You lead out in serving her.

 

Authority

How can we show honor to our wives with the authority God has given us to be the head of the family?

Wives, I don’t know all that you are feeling and all that is going through your mind when we read in Ephesians 5 that the husband is the head of the wife, and as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

The Bible does say, “Wives, submit to your own husbands … ” But we have to understand that nowhere does it say, “Husbands, get submission from your wives.” It doesn’t say anywhere for husbands to make their wives submit to them or get submission out of them.

Instead, what is the husband commanded to do? The only thing the Bible commands husbands to do is love. And not just to love, but to love as Christ loves the church, laying down His life for her. The only thing a husband is commanded to do in the Bible is to be understanding, to show honor, to not be harsh, to be tenderhearted, and to lay down his life to serve his wife.

Husbands, biblically, headship or authority is never something you demand or take. It is something that can only be received.

Husbands, if you are not laying down your life, sacrificially loving your wife, and putting her needs above your own, then she is not going to want to follow you or submit to you. You are being a hindrance to her obeying Jesus. She is still called to obey Jesus, but you are not helping her at all.

Husbands, if you want headship, you cannot tell her that the Bible says she must submit to you. That is the ultimate way of demanding it. Instead, love her like Christ loved you—not domineering and demanding but sacrificially laying down your life until she finds that submission is something she wants to do. If anybody had the right to demand submission through power, it was Jesus, right? But He didn’t do it that way. Instead of subjecting us by His power, He subjected Himself and won us by His love. And isn’t that ultimately why you submit to Jesus? It is because He has demonstrated His love for you in a way that has won your heart forever.

So what does it look like practically for husbands to use their authority and headship within the family to honor their wives? Let me share at least one way.

When you fail each other in submitting to one another, hurt each other, or get in a fight, husbands, you say, “I’m sorry,” first. In over 20 years of knowing Angela, there is not a single fight we have had where I have been completely innocent. Because God has given me the headship and authority over our family, I’m called to lead out in reconciling.

Even if you are absolutely right and she is absolutely wrong—which is never the case—lay it down. Jesus was absolutely right. He was absolutely sinless. But what did He do with that righteousness and that authority? He did not use it to crush us, but He laid it down for us and still went to the cross. Even if you think you are right, lay it down. Jesus gave Himself up for us. Give yourself up for your wife.

 

Emotional

How can we emotionally honor our wives and not take advantage of the fact that they are more emotionally sensitive than us?

Let me give you one practical way to do this. I’m preaching to myself here because this is another area in which I’m just terrible.

When you look at Genesis 1, you see “and God said” recorded 10 times.

  • “And God said, ‘let there be light.’”
  • “And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation …
  • “And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures … ’”

In Genesis 2, it is recorded, “Then the Man said … ” Genesis 2 records what man says for the first time. The first words of man that God sees fit to record in the Scriptures are these:

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 ESV)

The first recorded words of man in the Bible are what Adam says about his wife. The man rejoices over her because, at last, he has found bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. In other words, he has found his soul mate—the one who God created to be with him and he with her.

So husbands, I want to challenge you to love your wife in this particular way: with your words. What you say to her and about her is biblically significant. Do your words build her up and breathe life into her, or do they criticize and tear her down? When you are talking to your wife in front of your kids, can they sense a rejoicing in you? Do they think of how their mom lights up whenever their dad talks to her?

Dads, if your children see you regularly criticizing your wife, talking down to her, or having a demeanor of frustration and disapproval, what are we subtlety doing? We play the role of Christ, remember? We are subtlety teaching our children that Jesus regularly gets frustrated with them—that He regularly disapproves of them. We teach our children wrong things about Jesus.

The Bible tells us that God rejoices over us with great singing. Use your words to build up, not tear down. Carefully craft your words to heal and encourage and to show your wife that she makes you so happy.

"So that your prayers may not be hindered"

So husbands, how are we doing in submitting ourselves and subjecting ourselves for our wives as Jesus submitted and subjected Himself to suffer on the cross for us? How are we doing in giving up ourselves for our wives just as Christ gave Himself up for us?

There is a way for us to know. Peter tells us how we can know how we are doing at this—a litmus test. Let’s look at the last part of the verse:

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 ESV)

It says, “ … so that your prayers may not be hindered.” In other words, husbands, if you are not living with your wife in an understanding way or showing honor to your wife as the weaker vessel, then your prayers will be hindered.

So what is the litmus test to know how we are doing? If you were to ask Peter, he would ask you about your prayer life.

If your prayer life is terrible, perhaps it is because you are being a pretty terrible husband.

Why did God set it up this way? It makes total sense if you think about it. Peter says that your wife is a co-heir with you of the grace of life. That means that your wife is not just your wife, but she is the daughter of the King. She is, in a very real way, a princess.

Dads with daughters will especially understand this. My daughter, Evie, is my treasure. I always tell my sons, “Boys, I’ve got three of you, but I only have one daughter. You treat her the way that I would treat her. You protect her the way that I would protect her.”

Now, when that terrible day comes when my little Evie falls in love and gets married, how ridiculous would it be if Evie’s husband was mistreating her? How ridiculous would it be for him to want to hang out with me and have a relationship with me and ask me to do things for him? Any close feelings of her husband toward me would be delusional. You cannot mistreat my precious daughter and then want to come talk to me like nothing is the matter.

Husbands, God is so concerned with you living with His precious daughter in an understanding way, and He is so concerned with you showing honor to His daughter by loving her, serving her, and laying down your life for her that He would interrupt His relationship with you—He would hinder your prayers—when you are not doing so.

Husbands, you should not presume that any spiritual good will be accomplished by your life if you are not loving your wife. And you should not presume to have an unhindered relationship with God if you are mistreating His daughter. You should never think, oh, me and God are doing really well, but man … my wife … I’m struggling to love her.

He loves you so much and He loves His daughter so much that He would interrupt His relationship with you until you start giving your life up for her the way that Jesus has given up His life for you.

 

Conclusion

Marriage is ultimately about pointing each other to Jesus—husbands and wives reminding each other of what Jesus did on the cross. It is not going to be easy. Peter calls it suffering for a reason.

He said, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.”

Wives, because Christ was willing to submit Himself even to unjust rulers to go to the cross for you, submit to your own husbands.

Husbands, because Christ—your head and your authority—gave Himself up for you, give yourself up for your bride.

Only to the extent that you see what Jesus has done for you will you be able to do this for your wife or for your husband.

When you see Jesus suffering on the cross, do you see Him suffering for you? Do you see Him submitting and subjecting Himself for you? You are not to be only a receiver of that but a displayer of it.

Why did He stay there through all the pain and suffering? What kept Him there? Was it the nails that made Him stay? No, it was His love for you that stayed Him on the cross. Jesus on the cross for us is the ultimate picture of spousal faithfulness. And because He was faithful to us, let us remain faithful to Him and to each other.