1 Peter 3:1-12: Submission is a Gift

By Jamie Harms

Welcome to the UFC Women’s Ministry Blog! We are excited to enter the 21st century and provide a way to connect with one another during the week and to encourage one another as we dig into God’s Word. Our times together on Thursdays are heavy on the content side of Bible study, so this will be a space to take time to reflect and to apply what we are learning. Each Thursday evening you can expect to find a reflection post on the Bible study material we just covered, and on Monday mornings, you can look up a new prayer prompt for the week ahead. The blog is in no way a substitute for being in God’s Word face to face, but it can be used as a tool we utilize together to continue processing and connecting what we are reading in God’s Word. So let’s begin…

On Valentine’s Day this year, I received a text from my mom, who was taking care of my aging grandparents as my grandpa was on hospice. The picture was of two intertwined, wrinkled and worn hands with a caption reading “Valentines for 68 years.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the stories I had heard of them marrying young, having three babies in 21 months, and then welcoming three more. Stories of marital struggles with extended family and finances, of cross country moves and starting over, and of welcoming grandkids, just to name a few. Not everything was easy for my grandparents in their marriage, and yet, 68 years later, they continued to walk in faithfulness to their God and to one another. 

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This week as we study biblical submission in the context of marriage, these pictures of my grandparents have helped me think about submission in a new way.  So often we react to the word submission with negative feelings and associate it with words such as doormats, weakness, and slavery, but in reality, submission can only be a gift. As with any gift, submission is voluntary and meant to bless the receiver, and it will cost something.

We frequently view submission as something that we are made to do, but it is actually something that we choose to give. Submission happens when we see the needs and desires of another and put them before our own. It is not something that is demanded of us, or coercion. Instead, through submission in marriage, we voluntarily give of ourselves to build up our husbands. It is a bit like a soldier placing himself under the command of a military officer. The soldier made a choice to follow the officer and to help the officer complete his mission. If all the soldiers did their own thing, than the whole army would not be able to accomplish the mission. We too choose to place ourselves under our husbands, so that we together can accomplish the goal of furthering Christ’s kingdom on this earth.

Likewise, a gift is meant to bless the receiver. We can easily slip into patterns in our marriages where we manipulate our circumstances for our own comfort and gain. Instead, Peter encourages us to not use our words and bodies to manipulate our husbands to bend to our will, but to let our actions be the hands and feet of the gospel to them. Our actions demonstrate aspects of the gospel like unconditional love, forgiveness, and kindness. They are meant to build up our husbands and to help them flourish. This will look different for every couple just as a Christmas gift I give my husband would not be the same one you would give your husband. However, the idea is still the same. A wife giving the gift of submission to her husband blesses him and helps him grow into the man God created him to be.

As with any gift, submission costs us something. Jesus is our ultimate example of what it looks like to live in submission. We read in Philippians 2:5-8:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus Christ is not asking us to do anything that He Himself has not done. His submission to the Father cost Him His position in heaven, His appearance, and even His life, in order that we might live. It is by His submission to the Father that we can trust Him, knowing that He also has walked a hard road and was found faithful. It is this trust in Him that allows us to in turn submit to our own imperfect husbands, masters, and family in Christ.

Sixty-eight years of marriage does not happen by accident for a once-young bride. It comes from a daily submission first to her God, then to her husband. Daily a wife makes a choice to give of herself and see her husband as God sees him and to love him as Christ has loved us. Many days, months, and even years my grandma did not want to submit to my grandpa and my grandpa did not take care of my grandma as he should. Yet learning to follow Christ’s example allowed for grace to be shown and trust to grow over the years, so that 68 years later, they walked hand-in-hand until death parted them.

Questions for Thought:

Peter’s goal is to encourage the believers. Peter’s goal wasn’t to scold and “put women in their place.” So, in our passage this week, Peter’s encouragement shows us that we can live in our marriages while here on earth by trusting God, putting our hope in Him and continually entrusting ourselves to Him.

1. How does this passage encourage you in your relationship with your husband?

2. What does biblical submission in marriage look like? What does it NOT look like?

3. Have you ever thought of submission as a gift you can give? How does approaching it as a gift change your attitude about it?

6 thoughts on “1 Peter 3:1-12: Submission is a Gift

  1. Jamie, I love your “submission as a gift”! So often I think of submission according to what I’m giving up or what I’m missing or how it might inconvenience me. Then, I either brace myself and submit, or act selfishly and not submit. I’m challenged to think of giving submission as a gift and experiencing it this week. I’ll report in. Anyone want to take that challenge with me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was struck by these words doormats, weakness, and slavery- this is how I viewed submission until now- the gift of a different, one of choice is much more valuable.

    Thanks so much for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “We can easily slip into patterns in our marriages where we manipulate our circumstances for our own comfort and gain.” What a true statement! How tempting it is to seek our own comfort and gain not only in marriage (or seeking to be married, for those who are currently single) but also in the rest of life. I love your grandparents’ example of faithfulness and hope in God, even through a lifetime of difficulties and struggle. What a beautiful testimony!

    This 1 Peter study has revealed to me how prevalent the American Dream has become in my own vocabulary and mindset, and that of others around me. We want to be comfortable! Finding joy in the face of trials and persecution is the opposite of our natural human reaction and cultural pursuit of happiness. When I choose to submit first to God, as you said, and find my fulfillment and satisfaction in Him alone, it suddenly becomes possible to rejoice in the midst of fierce persecution, rejection, injustice from rulers, and the reality of being married to an imperfect human husband. When our goal becomes reflecting Christ’s example first rather than obtaining our own comfort or gain, we’re free to submit to human rulers and husbands even when they disappoint us.

    This week, I’ve been challenged by Peter’s description of Sarah and the other holy women who hoped in God, adorning themselves with the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Jen had us read through Sarah’s story, and I was struck by how many times she could have legitimately complained and objected to her husband’s leadership. He was definitely not a perfect husband! Yet, she hoped in God. Peter gives her as a positive example to us, despite her failures recorded in Genesis. As we are currently living through snow day #4, there are wet clothes, meals to be made with whatever is on hand, more frequent interactions with those who live with us as we’re cooped up together, and possible lack of internet or electricity. Today, 1 Peter encourages me to seek a beautifully gentle and quiet spirit that submits to God so that I am able to offer the gifts of submission to my husband and unconditional love to those around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written Jamie! I love the concept of submission as a gift, not merely a duty. It truly is an act of grace. Grace extended…grace bestowed.

    Like

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