Tag Archives: respect

Be a Blessing

This is the transcript for my post for today on our circuit ‘Going Deeper’ daily posts.

I’m just going to go straight in to the reading today.  It is ‘one of those’ passages in the bible.  You might have a knee jerk reaction to it, but we need to look further than that, beyond the first sentence.  Anyway, here goes.

Wives and Husbands

In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is. You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything.

In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.

Suffering for Doing Right

To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 10 As the scripture says,

“If you want to enjoy life
    and wish to see good times,
    you must keep from speaking evil
    and stop telling lies.
11 You must turn away from evil and do good;
    you must strive for peace with all your heart.
12 For the Lord watches over the righteous
    and listens to their prayers;
    but he opposes those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:1-12

“Use today’s set reading from the Prayer Handbook” the Superintendents said.

Nothing controversial to see here – at all!  When I had stopped laughing, I did look more closely.

Perhaps the most important part are the first four words, “in the same way”.  Before we get our chunter on, we ought to find out to what Peter is alluding.  This is not the start of the letter, but part way through.  We are not reading this passage in isolation; it follows on from the chapter before.  He has been giving instructions to different people about how to live out their Christian faith.  This is new to all of them, they are all working it out, and so Peter is sharing some helpful reflections on how that might be, based on how Jesus lived, and died.

So, in the same way as what?  He is pointing to Christ’s suffering, all that he gave for us, and that being our model for Christian living, especially amongst those that do not have that faith.

It would probably surprise most people to know that when Paul and I married 35 years ago, I opted to have the “honour and obey” vows in the service.  It was an option, but I deliberately chose to do that.  I think I shocked most people at the time doing that!  Perhaps it is especially because I am, and always have been known to be  a ‘Strong Yorkshire Woman’ that it seemed important to me to make that point, that we were in this together, it was not, and is not my show.

The rationale Peter gives behind this instruction is that it is about your conduct, how you live.  This passage is actually written in the context of a believing woman being married to a non-Christian husband.  She is not to use her faith as an excuse to pull against the marriage or her husband, but by quietly getting on with it, working together, she will bear testimony to that faith.  Living in the kind of way that makes someone else ask questions about why you behave as you do and seeing God in that, is a powerful lifestyle.

The next part becomes is equally as contentious – don’t use adornments to make yourself beautiful.  I do not live in the world of false everything and the latest high fashions, but I do like to look nice.  Something we have all stressed about during lockdown is our hair, and I have certainly been glad to get mine mowed and back into some sort of tidiness, if different.

I take this advice to pertain to not wasting time, energy and resources on all manner of ‘improvements’ when your life is not right.  We know the saying that true beauty comes from within, and I think this is what Peter is getting at.  True beauty comes from doing the right thing, living a good way – God’s way, sharing, loving, and seeking to bless others.

The advice does eventually turn to men, and how they should live as husbands.  In the time it was written, this would have been quite revolutionary news to men.  They would have been used to treating women as possessions, required to do their bidding.  But if a woman is being asked to obey her husband, he has to be acting the right way for that to be safe and sensible. 

So man are asked to treat their wives with respect.  Life is a joint effort with God.

The whole premise of this is then widened out much further – love one another, be kind and humble, don’t pay back evil with evil, but with a blessing.  All a very sound sensible way to live for all of society – essential if you are a Christian.

So from anger, frustration, despair at how outdated this advice is, perhaps we have managed to glean some important things for human, Christ based, living for today.  And that can never do us any harm!

Lord,
you ask us to love,
to live beautiful lives,
to live your way.
To live together
in mutual respect.

Teach me
to learn to live your ways,
to be a blessing
with those I live amongst,
may my behaviour point
always
to you.

Today’s song suggestion: Love God Love People by Danny Gokey

Stop Behaving Like Children… And Start Behaving Like Children

Sometimes Jesus must have felt like he was looking after a bunch of children!  He’s trying to teach them the things they need to know – and they’re bickering about who’s more important that whom…

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus Again Speaks about His Death

30 Jesus left with his disciples and started through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know about it, 31 because he was teaching the disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to people who would kill him. But three days later he would rise to life. 32 The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask.

Who Is the Greatest?

33 Jesus and his disciples went to his home in Capernaum. After they were inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you arguing about along the way?” 34 They had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and so they did not answer.

35 After Jesus sat down and told the twelve disciples to gather around him, he said, “If you want the place of honour, you must become a slave and serve others!”

36 Then Jesus had a child stand near him. He put his arm around the child and said, 37 “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.”

The very fact that being important and honoured is still an issue shows how little they have grasped of what Jesus had to say.  Life is not about receiving the honour we think we deserve, it is about looking only to do what’s best for others, and finding our reward in that.  In point of fact, no one is the greatest.  We are all worthy of love, respect and honour.  We bring that about by seeking to bring it to others, not trying to gain it for ourselves.  In the grand scheme of ‘what goes around comes around’, if everyone looks to bring those qualities to the lives of others, it will come back to us anyway – not because we deserve it more, but because we deserve it the same.

The great thing about children is that they take things as they are.  They just get on with chatting and playing with other children.  They don’t want to know their postcode, parent’s wage bracket, where they do their shopping, or make of car they drive.  They just accept and meet on a level playing field (sorry for the pun!)

And so that is what Jesus invites us to do.  To stop worrying about our place in the pecking order, and start worrying about how we love others in his name.

Lord,

I pray that I may stop being childish

– wanting the best place,

 and things my way.

I pray that I may become more childlike

– accepting people for who they are,

not what they’ve got,

or have to offer me.

May I seek

not to serve myself,

but to serve others

and in and through them

you